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Choices: Lessons and Multimedia Resources on Current Events

News and current events are an important part of any good social studies curriculum. Incidentally, it’s also part of my dissertation study, but more on that another day.

The trouble with creating lessons around the news and current events is that it’s time consuming, and it’s always new. A good webquest or other lesson involving Internet-based resources requires time to research, collect, and curate those resources. It’s quick and easy to pull a NY Times article for reading and discussion; it’s time consuming to collect six to eight rich resources that cover a topic in some depth.

Well, if that’s your problem, here’s a potential solution: Choices and Teaching with the News.

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Lesson Plan on Executive Power Using C-SPAN and Washington Journal

As part of my application for the C-SPAN Teacher Fellowship, I was required to video tape one of my classroom lessons that involved C-SPAN video material. The lesson plan and materials below are from the lesson that I used in my application.

The American colonists rebelled against a king who wielded executive power capriciously, and they created a presidency that was far weaker and balanced by other elements of the government. Yet over the past 200 years, American presidents have constantly expanded the power of the chief executive. This has been particularly noticeable in 21st century, as the war on terror has justified a range of unprecedented presidential power.

Have American presidents gone too far in fighting the war on terror or are their actions within their constitutional powers as commander in chief?

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Supreme Court Oral Arguments Audio and Transcripts

The last couple weeks have been real big on Supreme Court news. The court heard two cases on same sex marriage – Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor. Conveniently, we were also embarking on our unit on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in my AP Government and Politics class.

In the first couple days, we discussed some key elements of how the Supreme Court hears cases. We eventually talked about the role of oral arguments and rendering decisions. I thought, given the interesting cases before the court this week, wouldn’t it be interesting if we could actually hear some of those oral arguments?

Well, you can. That’s one of the wonderful parts of the Oyez project (pronounced “oh yey”).

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The Problem With Docx Files and Proprietary Solutions

Note: I originally wrote this article in 2008 and published it on a different education blog. The blog is now defunct, but the article is cited by several others around the Internet. I’m re-publishing it here, with some minor modifications, and updating those links because my old blog will eventually disappear into digital oblivion.

I’m a big fan of open source products. I’ve written about my distaste for closed, proprietary solutions before, like Flash.

Microsoft Office is another beast I dislike. Why? Recent changes to the office suite are a perfect example of how users (and schools) are at the mercy of commercial software publishers. When they move on, you don’t have much choice. And if you can’t afford to move on, then you’re left in the dust.

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