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Posts tagged ‘government’

Battleground 538 and 5 other apps to increase election fever

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

2016 #SOTU, word clouds, blackout poetry, and thinking historically

“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:
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Tip of the Week: 5 glorious government goodies

I’m a history guy. My shelves are full of history related titles. (Current reads? The Wright Brothers and the Oregon Trail.) I taught US history to 8th graders and World History to college kids. Did my graduate research on the Kansas Mennonite reaction to World War One.

But my first love was political science. I earned my high school government credit by campaigning for Kansas governor John Carlin and registering voters in Garden City. Graduated with a BA in political science and thought briefly about taking the civil service exam so I could apply to the State Department.

Several weeks ago, I was called to task by a secondary government teacher because there’s not enough civics and government stuff on History Tech. And I realized, yeah . . . maybe I could spend a few more minutes here and there focusing on some government resources. So today? Five of my favorite go to government goodies. Read more

50th Anniversary. Voting Rights Act. Awesome!

This is why we do what we do. Isn’t it?

Isn’t this a major part of our task? Create students that are informed and thoughtful citizens as they enrich their communities, state, nation, world, and themselves? Develop active engaged citizens 
that collaborate, contribute, compromise, and participate as an active member of a community?

Voting is essential piece of participatory democracy. Without this sort of input from actual citizens, seriously . . . what’s the point? And the various founding documents and historical interpretations of those documents define what the voting / election process looks like. One ugly piece of American history is that many times, those interpretations excluded huge swaths of citizens from that process.

That is why Voting Rights Act of 1965 was so powerful. Important. Necessary.

Why was it needed?
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Tip of the Week: Fantasy GeoPolitics

I got the chance yesterday to spend time with some of the middle / high school teachers from Manhattan. We chatted about primary sources and DBQs and historical thinking and Sam Wineburg and all sorts of social studies stuff.

Doing tech integration stuff is fun. But spending a whole day with other history and social studies nerds is good for the soul. These are my people. And I always walk away from those types of conversations smarter than when I walked in – teachers share ideas, resources, web sites, strategies, all sorts of goodies.

I, of course . . . steal all of those great ideas, resources, web sites, and strategies and pass them on to you.

Yesterday was no different. Shane and Alex, a couple of world history guys, shared how they use what looks like a very sweet tool for geography, world history, and current events teachers. Called Read more

#NCSS14: Session Two – Connecting Your Government Class and the Real World

Presented by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, my #NCSS14 session two focused on ways to engage students directly with actual issues in their communities through direct civic action.

They suggest that you can turn your government classroom into a hands-on civics lab to teach the workings of government by empowering students.

They shared about their Civics Action Project, a  Read more

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