“As a mapmaker, I can have more impact on an election than a campaign. More of an impact than a candidate. When, I as a mapmaker, have more of an impact on an election than the voters, the system is out of whack.”
Republican redistricting consultant following 1990 Census
I don’t think we spend enough time having kids explore the whole gerrymandering thing as part of our government / civics engagement instruction. David is right. And I don’t think enough of us understand the power that redistricting can have on the democractic process.
Quick primer. Gerrymandering is the legislative act of creating voting maps that favor your particular political party. And according to a recent Wired article, it usually involves one of two different tools: Read more
Here in the great state of Kansas, we’re busy working to develop and implement a standards-based assessment tool that needs to measure a ton of things. Historical thinking. Reading. Writing. Problem solving. Connecting past with contemporary issues.
Oh . . . and civic engagement.
And not just the book learnin’ civic engagement as in . . . there are three branches of government and you need to vote and people can demonstrate and there is a Bill of Rights and it’s a good idea to help others.
Our Kansans Can state board vision requires civic engagement that involves students actually doing something. Getting out of the classroom. Increasing voter registration. Raising awareness and funds for malaria mosquito nets. Organizing a Breast Cancer 5K run. Creating and staffing an after-school club for latch key kids. Buddy programs that connect new students with current students.
So how do you measure that? What can that look like K-12? Yeah . . . well. We’re not completely sure yet. But lots of people are working on it – including official KSDE civic engagement guy and social studies guru Don Gifford. Don recently communicated some of his personal professional learning with Kansas educators and I want to share what he’s starting to figure out. Because it seems like the sort of stuff that can help not just Kansas teachers but Read more
I’m spending the day at the KSDE Impact Institute – loving the learning and connecting with teachers from around the state. This afternoon has been spent nerding out with Kim Wahaus, awesome Olathe South HS government teacher. We talked about a ton of stuff but my walkaway?
That as social studies teachers, we need to be deliberate about connecting our social studies content and process with the lives of our students.
Nothing new for most of you, I know. But it was a good reminder of how important this idea really is.
Real world connections are used to help students see that learning is not confined to the school, allows them to apply knowledge and skills in real world situations, and personalizes learning to increase and sustain student engagement.
Kim shared some ideas of what that sort of conversation might look like. She started by showing a New York Times Learning Network clip highlighting the timeline of the recent Orlando shooting. Ask kids to use this clip and article to collect basic information.
Five W’s and H – who, what, where, when, why, and how.
Then she suggests showing a clip from the TV show Read more
I’m not necessarily fond of politicians but I do love the political process. I love elections and all of the conversations that come with them. The commentary. The analysis. It’s like March Madness bracketology and the NFL playoffs all rolled into one. For a political science nerd like me, a brokered Republican convention? Yes, please.
But even for me, some of what’s taking place during this year’s election season is a bit much. Seriously? Hand size?
So a couple of tips to help you and your students survive the next eight months: Read more
I love election season.
I hate politicians that say stupid things and do stupid stuff. But I love elections.
Because when you think about, the democratic election process is such an incredibly unique event. Try and ignore for a minute the billion dollars worth of Koch Brothers PAC money and the racist comments and the focus on soundbites and lack of policy discussions that might actually improve lives. And focus instead on the amazing process that ends with a peaceful transfer of power in one of the most powerful countries in the world.
It’s a system that’s worked fairly well for over 200 years.
And we need to continue sharing that idea with our students. The problem? The process is more complicated than it looks. Take, for example, an article describing why Donald Trump really doesn’t have a chance of winning the Republican nomination. Like most things, the political process (especially the primary system) is much more complicated and nuanced than pundits and politicians seem to suggest.
How can we help kids start to understand the process? Use more tech. Specifically, start using mobile apps that simulate the process in ways that make sense. Today you get a few of my new favorites. Read more
“He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
Article II, Section 3, US Constitution
Back in the day, George Washington delivered the first state of the union address to Congress in New York City in 1790. Thomas Jefferson believed that a face to face version was too much King George the IIIish and so began sending written reports instead. Other presidents followed suit with the report being read to Congress by a clerk. Woodrow Wilson re-started the face to face idea in 1913.
Other #SOTU trivia?
Jimmy Carter delivered the last written message to Congress in 1981. Of course, it was also the longest message at over 33,000 words, so maybe that was a good thing. Nixon’s 1972 speech was the shortest at just over 28 minutes.
But enough poly sci nerd talk. How best to use last night’s festivities? Some quick thoughts: