Monday, February 15, 2016

The Electoral College Explained

We're choosing a new President of the United States this year. We're still in the primary and caucus phase of picking candidates. Once that's done we'll be moving toward the general election in the fall. But unlike other elections in which popular vote decides the winner, the president is chosen based on the outcome of the Electoral College votes. It's a bit of a complicated process. Both of the videos embedded below do a good job of succinctly explaining how the Electoral College works.

How the Electoral College Works, embedded below, gives a nice overview of the Electoral College. The video isn't perfect, I wish the producer had included that the number of Electoral votes a state receives is tied to the number of Senators and Representative it has. Instead the video simply stated that the number of Electoral votes is tied to population. Overall, it's not a bad summary of the Electoral College.

Another good video overview of the Electoral College can be found in Common Craft's Electing a US President in Plain English. The video can be viewed on YouTube, but cannot be embedded unless you're a subscriber to Common Craft's service. (Disclosure: I have an in-kind relationship with Common Craft).

The Clear Alternative to Evernote Clearly

Clearly was a popular Chrome extension that allowed you to view and save web pages without all of the sidebar and header content that appears on most websites. Evernote ended support for Clearly earlier this year. I've had a few people ask me for alternative options. The easiest alternative is to use the Evernote web clipper and choose "simplified article" when you want to save a page without saving the sidebar content. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how this works.

How to Create Video-based Quizzes on Blubbr

Blubbr is a neat quiz creation service that enables you to create interactive quizzes that are based on YouTube clips. Your quizzes can be about anything of your choosing. The structure of the quizzes has a viewer watch a short clip then answer a multiple choice question about the clip. Viewers know right away if they chose the correct answer or not. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Blubbr to create a video-based quiz.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Reading Lessons for President's Day

Presidents' Day (in the United States) is tomorrow. ReadWorks offers a collection of articles and question sets to support your lessons about President's Day. ReadWorks is offering articles and question sets are available for every grade from Kindergarten through twelfth grade. Every article is indexed with a lexile score. You can download the articles and question sets as PDFs.

Applications for Education
Some of the topics covered by the ReadWorks Presidents' Day articles include the story of George Washington chopping down a cherry tree (Kindergarten lesson), the role of the President as outlined by the Constitution (high school lesson), and a letter from Jackie Robinson about civil rights (middle school lesson).

For more resources about Presidents' Day, check out Larry Ferlazzo's ever-growing list of Presidents' Day resources.

The US Presidents in Google Earth

Monday is President's Day in the United States. In celebration of that day, Google has published a kmz file containing images and links to information about each former President of the United States. You can download the file and launch it in Google Earth or preview it here. The file shows where each president was from, offers an image of each president, provides a link to more information about each president, and shows how many states were in the Union when each president was elected.
Applications for Education
In the past Google offered some good suggestions for using Google Earth on President's Day. This is what they suggested:
  • Explore the White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and other historical monuments in 3D and have students explain how architecture is used to honor people, concepts and establishments
  • View a 3D model of Valley Forge National Park in Google Earth
  • View a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln and map the areas where slavery ended, as well as the areas that were not initially covered by this executive order
  • Discuss the famous painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by German American artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze and use the ruler tool in Google Earth to measure the width of the Delaware River.

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