Tag Archives: political science

Video of the Day – 3/22/13 (The Debt Limit Explained)

Daily Video — “The Debt Limit Explained”

As the news becomes inundated more and more each day with news about Federal spending, budgets and the debt limit it is vital that we all remain educated about what these things are, what they mean, and how they work.  Today’s video provides a short and simple explanation of one of those key points of contention in Washington D.C. — the debt limit.  Also included is information on the budget in general, the responsibilities of Congress and the President in the process, and the Constitutionality of it all.

All videos are owned by their respective YouTube channels and users and are embedded here for your benefit to use in class in compliance with the appropriate copyright provisions.
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Posted by on March 22, 2013 in Daily Video


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Video of the Day – 3/8/13 (Gerrymandering)

Daily Video — Gerrymandering

We often hear the term gerrymandering around election time, but what does it mean? What does gerrymandering do?  Why is it important come election time?  How in the world does it work?  Today’s Video from TED helps explain and answer all these questions.

All videos are owned by their respective YouTube channels and users and are embedded here for your benefit to use in class in compliance with the appropriate copyright provisions.
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Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Daily Video


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Playing History — A Source for Historical Games

Playing History

If you’ve been looking at ways to try livening up your lessons, some alternate assessments, or if you have some of that ever elusive spare time in your lesson planning, you might want to take a peek at Playing History.

Playing History advertises itself as a source for historical games, but you’re not going to find old versions of Pong, Pac-Man, Mario, or even Final Fantasy here (thought you can still die of dysentery in the original Oregon Trail!).  All the games on Playing History are centered on key events or concepts in history – primarily American and British – with the other social sciences mixed in throughout.

Close to 130 games are available and the front page of Playing History allows you to pinpoint areas of interest through a prominent tag cloud or you could search and/or browse all the games to find something appropriate for your classes.  A free registration allows you to rate and review the games as well, but these are not limited to educators so take them with a grain of salt.

Make sure that you test any of the games on Playing History before using them with class to ensure they are appropriate for your students and that they will work on your systems.  Just remember that any flash-based games will not work on Apple products like an iPad.

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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Websites


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Video of the Day – 2/25/13 (The (Secret) City of London)

Daily Video — The (Secret) City of London

I was astounded by today’s video and the history tidbits I picked up!  I never knew that there was a “secret”, autonomous City of London within the city of London!! (Note the capitalization, it’s important.)  Learn about this small city within a city , how it came to be, and how it remains independent even to this day.

All videos are owned by their respective YouTube channels and users and are embedded here for your benefit and use in class in compliance with the appropriate copyright provisions.
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Daily Video


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Teaching the Constitution — Interactives

US Constitution Interactives

American politics and the US Constitution seem to be on peoples’ minds more and more these days.  From debates about gun control, taxation, and governmental powers to procedural events such as the second inaugural of President Obama to new Cabinet nominations it is hard to avoid Constitutional questions today.  It is critical that we work hard to help our students not only understand these issues, but also the key documents continually referenced in the debated – the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.  The key is helping them understand the importance and relevance of documents that are over 225 years old in their daily lives in 2013.

Several sites are available that have great interactive lessons and games that can help you teach them the importance of these documents and how losing them, or any of the rights they protect and guarantee could affect your everyday life:

  • National Constitution Center – You can read through the Constitution and use hyperlinks throughout the text lead to exhibits at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia.  There are also lots of lesson plan ideas and activities for teaching specific aspects of the law, rights, and protections guaranteed to all citizens.
  • Constitution Facts – A collection of online quizzes, puzzles, word searches, dates, glossaries, and more for use in teaching the US Constitution.  The activities are broken down by grade levels from K through adult.
  • Celebrate the Constitution – From Scholastic, this is their Constitution Day activities page.  A great deal of information, primarily for upper elementary & middle school students is available that walks them through the writing and meaning of the Constitution as well as activities including a scavenger hunt at the Constitution Center, an online quiz, and the ability to write their own Bill of Rights.
  • Annenberg Classroom – Eight interactive, flash based games that allow students to work with not only the Constitution and Bill of rights as living documents, but that also allow them to try their hands at governing as the President of the United States or attempt to navigate the nation’s legal system from local courts all the way to the Supreme Court.
  • Bill of Rights Institute – Four flash based games are available where students can see what life would be like without certain protections of the Bill of Rights, where they can see all the ways in which their personal information and activities are monitored, where they can interview the Founders to reconstruct James Madison’s missing convention notes, and a quiz of Constitutional knowledge in which they can “duel” classmates.

These five sites are only the tip of the iceberg when looking to find great activities and web-based projects for learning and teaching the US Constitution.  If you know of anymore, please feel free to let me know, I would love to hear what you use!

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Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Tips & Tricks, Websites


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Education of US Presidents — Infographic

The Education of the US Presidents

From, learn about the education of the Presidents of the United States:

Online Colleges

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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Infographics


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270 to Win — Understanding the Electoral College

270 to Win

Well, today is Election Day.  All the campaign ads have run, the debates finished, hands shaken, and babies kissed – now it’s time for the voters to hit the polls.  Every four years, there are questions about how the electoral system works as we vote on our next President, and I expect this year to be no different.  The site 270 to Win does a fantastic (bi-partisan) job of helping to understand the process.

Focused on the current election, the site is currently set to display and allow you to manipulate the interactive map as it applies to the 2010 Obama/Romney election.  However, there is much more here that can be used outside of the election season.

In addition to the current interactive map, you and your students can view the electoral maps for every presidential election, beginning in 1789.  They will have the ability to compare and contrast trends in how the states voted throughout history as well as the changes in how some states assigned electors and would then cast their votes.  You can also view this data through the top menu bar by choosing the “States” option.

Election simulations can be run for the 2012, based on the polling data that is kept under the “polls” section.  It is an interesting exercise to see how the polls shift based on certain events and state by state as election season progresses.  Students can even clear the map on the front page and run their own simulation, or prediction, from there.  A fantastic exercise is to try and make a prediction based on the constant polling that is done, especially in the “battleground states”.

Try reading and subscribing to 270 to Win’s blog as well to learn many items about how elections, polls, and their simulations are run.  There is also a great deal of history and “what if” scenarios addressed in their blog.  Try having students take the Electoral College quiz to see if they understand how the system works – maybe even you can try your hand at it!

Regardless of your personal politics or how you might use this site, I ask you only that you take the time today to not only go out and vote, but after tonight, regardless of outcome, continue to be active in your local, state, and national politics.  We are most active in exercising our rights around the election, but to continue to remain active and diligent in holding our leaders accountable throughout the year is our most important duty in this republic.

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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Websites


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C-SPAN Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates

Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates

Whether you are teaching history, current events, politics, rhetoric, or even public speaking, these are a great resource!  Very timely given that we are in the middle of the presidential debate season for 2012, C-SPAN has made available through their video library both the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates, as broadcast on C-SPAN and without commentary or spin, from 1988 through 2008.

Each video comes with a short synopsis of the key points raised during that debate as well as a full transcript that you can read or print out for students to follow or use in research.  Also, within each debate C-SPAN has allowed you to jump to specific clips or answers.  Each of these can be anywhere from the 2-minute opening and closing remarks, down to some 18-second individual answers.  This makes for easy navigation to what might otherwise be an unwieldy hour and a half of coverage.

You can use these in your classroom to compare and contrast the current debates to those from the recent past.  Some may be useful as a primary source for teaching modern election history.  Perhaps you can use examples (good or bad) from the debates for your public speaking or rhetoric lessons.  If you need a cross-curricular lesson, print the transcripts and have the students read along and test comprehension and understanding as they read through the various talking points and positions of the candidates.  There are many possibilities for how to use these.

Explore the other offerings in the C-SPAN video library as well.  Coverage of past Congressional hearings, Senate debates and many other events are all available in the same format.

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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Websites


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