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Posts from the ‘vote’ Category

Online resources for controversial topics

The Teaching History website always has great stuff. A recent article by Ben Bohmfalk, a high school teacher from Colorado, continues the tradition of excellence. Ben shares a few websites that can help you and your students gather un-biased information about current events, policy issues, and election topics.

He highlights three and I’ve added four of my own.

ProCon.org
An independent non-profit designed “to provide resources for critical thinking and to educate without bias.”

National Discussion and Debate Series
Video, text, and links from debates at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. This program was created “to encourage a vigorous, well-informed discussion on the national stage about the major issues of our time.”

Debatepedia
“The Wikipedia of debates . . . an encyclopedia of pro and con arguments and quotes. A project of the International Debate Education Association

PolitiFact
Every day, PolitiFact and its partner news organization examine statements by anyone who speaks up in American politics. They research these statements and then rate the accuracy on the handy-dandy Truth-O-Meter.

Factcheck.org
A nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.

FactCheckEd.org
The aim is to help students learn to be smart consumers of information, not to accept it at face value; to dig for facts; and to weigh evidence logically. Lesson plans, resources, and frameworks for analyzing information.

Flackcheck.org
Uses parody and humor to debunk false political advertising, poke fun at extreme language, and hold the media accountable for their reporting on political campaigns.

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Eight History Wonders of Kansas

The Kansas Sampler Foundation’s mission

is to preserve, sustain, and grow rural culture by educating Kansans about Kansas and by networking and supporting rural communities.

It does this in a variety of ways including a great state-wide contest that began several years ago. State residents were encouraged to vote for the 8 Wonders of Kansas from a larger list of potential sites.

Since then, the Foundation has sponsored additional Wonders contests with my favorite being the 8 Culinary Wonders of Kansas. Great BBQ, chicken, burger and steak restaurants from all over the state. And you’ll be happy to know that I’ve tried them all.

But I’ve got a new favorite. The current Wonders contest focuses on historical sites around the state with 24 finalists. There are the traditional sorts of things such as the many forts built throughout Kansas, museums focusing on the state tradition of airplane design / construction and sites showcasing cowboys and Indians.

But there are also some interesting nominations that highlight such things as Orphan Trains, the Brown vs. Board of Education case and Exodusters.

There is no real criteria so it’s gonna be tough to decide on just eight. But head over anyway and vote on your favorites.

You could use this in your Kansas history classes as a way to engage kids in the content by having kids vote as individuals or as a class. You could have kids rank them from most important to least important or place them on a timeline. Kids could select one of the finalists (or you could assign them), research their finalist and then campaign for class votes.

If you’re not from Kansas, you could create a similar contest within your class that focuses on specific historical sites and events within your own state.

Either way, head on over!

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Video Your Vote!

Already one of the most documented elections in history, The Google folks, together with PBS, have created the Video Your Vote youtube channel. Millions of videos have already been posted that document the democratic process in all its glory (and messiness!).

The Video Your Vote channel hope is simple:

we want this to be the most transparent election day in history, so that the world can see — through the eyes of voters — just how the election transpired.

This is important because not only will there be more people voting in this election than ever before, but there undoubtedly will be bumps along the way: long lines, broken machines, confusion over the registration process, and even voter intimidation and fraud are all unfortunate election realities. Video can help document where problems occur in a more compelling and concrete way than other media. By documenting your voting experience, you can help make this a more transparent election.

I think it’s a cool idea. We always talk about taking kids along as you vote to help create the idea of civic participation. Video the Vote provides another way of ensuring the openness and transparency of the democratic process.