Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Good Directory of Where a Bill Becomes Law

Where a Bill Becomes a Law is a Google Maps-based site designed to help visitors determine where and when a bill was presented to the US Congress. The site links directly to the sponsors of each bill, a summary of each bill, and the complete text of each bill. Where a Bill Becomes a Law also shows you the movement of the bill through committees to final votes by Congress.

Applications for Education
Where a Bill Becomes a Law could be a good resource for teachers and students of U.S. Government. The site provides an easy way for students to determine who sponsored legislation. Using Google Maps you could have your students create a similar map of legislation from their state's legislature. Have your students pick a piece of state legislation and put a placemark on the district of the legislator who proposed that legislation.

Here are a few other resources that can help students understand how a bill becomes a law.
US Civics Infographics
How a Bill Becomes Law - Interactive Flowchart
Videos for Learning About Congress

H/T to Google Maps Mania

PortfolioGen - Create a Teacher Portfolio Page

PortfolioGen is a service that offers a platform on which teachers and pre-service teachers can build simple webpages to highlight their portfolios. Teachers can write "about me" pages, highlight their certifications, upload documents, and link to other examples of their work. PortfolioGen pages have contact forms for potential employers to use to get in touch with teachers. Click here for an example of a PortfolioGen page. One thing that PortfolioGen does offer yet is an option to embed videos.

Applications for Education
If you're an educator looking for a new job who doesn't have a digital portfolio yet, PortfolioGen provides an easy way to quickly create one. Even if you're applying for jobs that don't require digital portfolios, it is still a good idea to have an easily-accessible page that highlights your work.

Another digital resume service that you might want to try is Visual CV. Visual CV allows you to include videos in your digital resume too.

Backpack TV - Organized Academic Videos

Last night I received an email from a student intern at a new start-up company called Backpack TV. Backpack TV is a site that is creating a library of academic videos from across the web. You can browse for videos by subject, topic, and video duration. Backpack TV has also organized videos according to content providers. Some of the content providers are Khan Academy, Patrick JMT, and 60 Second Recap. According to the email that I received from Backpack TV, the videos have been selected and tagged by a team of high school and college students.

Applications for Education
Backpack TV, like many similar sites, could be useful for teachers and students to find short video lectures and demonstrations to supplement classroom instruction. The videos could be helpful for students who need a quick tutorial when they get stumped on a homework assignment.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Interactive Maps of Travel Routes Throughout the Roman Empire

On Friday Open Culture posted a resource that I think anyone who teaches about the Roman Empire needs to check out right away. ORBIS is Stanford University's Geospatial Network Model of the Roman Empire.

On ORBIS students can calculate the distance and travel times between 751 settlements in the Roman Empire. The calculations happen according to the modes of travel that would have been used during the time of the Roman Empire's greatest height. For example, I calculated the time and cost to travel by foot, wagon, and boat between Roma and Chalcis in March. The calculations include the cost of feeding donkeys along the way.

Click for full size image. 

Applications for Education
While you could certainly have students use Google Earth to map distances between settlements in the Roman Empire, ORBIS is a step above that because students can calculate travel times and distances according the modes of transportation that were available during the Roman Empire.

Video - How GPS Works

In the past I've run a couple of posts about geocaching activities. This guest post by Jen Deyenberg outlined student geocaching activities. Geocaching relies on the use of GPS. On Friday The Atlantic's Picture of the Day was of the interior of a satellite. That picture as well as thinking about GPS got me to search for a video explanation of how GPS works.

NASA's eClips channel on YouTube has a good student-friendly explanation of how GPS works.