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iPad App Task Challenges – Alpha versions

It’s Podstock week. I’m sure you’re all coming, right? I mean, it’s Podstock. Nobody wants to miss that. Part of what I’m doing for the conference is to present a quick three-hour iPad 101 workshop during the pre-con and then host a digital make-it, take-it session.

The idea is that we review the basics of the iPad – the settings, buttons, multi-finger gestures, App Store, default apps, etc – in the morning and then facilitate a fun, supportive sandbox where participants can work together to actually use their iPads to create stuff. Stuff they can use at a personal level and in their classrooms.

We’re calling the afternoon sessions iPad Learning Labs and decided that we would provide a series of challenges as a starting point for participants. By working with a bit of structure and with others, teachers can practice hands on learning in a safe environment.

The cool thing? Read more

Tip of the Week: Poly Sci Nerd Goodness

Yes. I am a poly sci nerd. Love elections. Love debates. Love the data. So meeting in DC this last week was . . . awesome.

And this morning, I ran across LegEx. A great way to close out a Poly Sci nerd week.

Short for Legislative Explorer and maintained by the University of Washington Center for American Politics and Public Policy, the site is a interactive visualization that allows you and your students to explore actual patterns of lawmaking in Congress. The graph provides a great way to get the big picture while providing opportunities to dig deeper. Compare the bills and resolutions introduced by Senators and Representatives and follow their progress from the beginning to the end of a two year Congress. Go back in time and compare / contrast different years, bi-partisan vs. partisan, parties, or House vs. Senate.

You can Read more

Chronicling America – 1000s of historical newspapers

Are you kidding me? Seriously?

Thousands of historical newspapers from all over the country? Yup. And over 7,892,470 actual newspaper pages? Let that sink in for just a moment. Yup. But where, you ask, can I find such an incredible research tool? The very useful Chronicling America site from the Library of Congress, of course.

You’d think I’d be happy with almost eight million pages to play with. I mean, it’s 7,892,470 pages. Which is . . . you know, a lot. The 7,892,470+ pages cover newspapers from almost all 50 states and the District of Columbia from 1836 to 1922.

But once you get in the collection, it’s easy to get a little greedy. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some coverage from the Civil War? The Great Depression? Prohibition? WWII? Vietnam? Hippies? 9/11?

Still . . .  Read more

What would you say to your Senator?

I get the chance this week to spend time with some pretty amazing people. Michelle Herczog. Peggy Jackson. Kim O’Neil. All leaders of the National Council for the Social Studies Board of Directors. And almost 30 other social studies educators from around the country representing state level councils.

We’re meeting in Washington D.C. to discuss ways to support classroom teachers and to advocate for the Social Studies at the local, state, and federal level. Good times. Seriously. I mean, how often does someone like me get the chance to hang out with the movers and shakers of the social studies world? These are all excellent classroom teachers, committed to social studies, and history geeks like me. So I’m loving it.

We’ve had formal and informal conversations about all sorts of stuff and will continue those conversations through tomorrow. But one of the main reasons we’re here is to chat with representatives from the House and Senate, urging continued support for the teaching of high-quality social studies across the country.

Later today, Read more

Happy Birthday!

On June 7, 1776, the Second Continental Congress listened as Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed a resolution declaring the United States independent from Great Britain.

“Resolved, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”

It was a bold move. Several states including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and South Carolina were not yet ready to support this potentially fatal step. Failure to approve the resolution could lead to the collapse of the shaky alliance between the 13 colonies. And earlier Preamble proposed by John Adams on May 15 declaring that “it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the said crown should be totally suppressed” barely passed. Four colonies voted against it and the delegation from Maryland stormed out of the room in protest.

Congress agreed to delay the vote on Lee’s Resolution until July 1. Read more

Smarty Pins – Google Maps, geography trivia, and video games

Google Maps. Geography trivia. And video games. Three of my favorite things. And now, they’re all together in one place.

Google’s new Smarty Pins. (Get it? Smarty Pants – Smarty Pins? You nutty Google engineers!)

Smarty Pins is basically a simple trivia game that asks questions with geo-tagged answers using the Google Maps interface. Read more

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