Teach Civics: Use Project Vote Smart

Project Vote Smart is a wonderful website for any civic or government teacher. The website is designed to be practical informative, and useful when teaching about Congress, political parties, campaign finance, the Constitution, elections, state government and much more. There are lessons, interactive activities, and so many other resources. 


The Voter’s Self-Defense System

Every candidate and elected official from President to local government can be easily and instantly accessed through the Voter’s Self-Defense System:

  • Voting Records — Project Vote Smart digests key legislation in Congress and all 50 states into easy-to-understand summaries, making it easy to compare what your representatives said during the campaign with how they actually voted on the record.
  • Biographical & Contact InformationBiographical & Contact Information — From their previous professions, education, family life, and organizational memberships, to their latest e-mail address; we gather it all.
  • Issue Positions (Political Courage Test) — We test thousands of candidates for President, Congress, Governor and State Legislature with our Political Courage Test. The Test accurately measures candidates’ willingness to provide voters with their positions on the issues they will most likely face if elected.
  • Interest Group Ratings— See how over 150 competing special interest groups evaluate your representatives. Despite their bias, special interest group ratings can help indicate where an incumbent has stood on a particular set of issues.
  • Public Statements — Vote Smart is constantly collecting speeches and public comments made by the president, governors, and congressional representatives. Just type in a word, say; ‘immigration’ and all public utterances containing the word ‘immigration’ will appear. Compare what they said while campaigning in California a few years ago to what they are saying now in New Hampshire.
  • Campaign FinancesCampaign Finances — How much money did your representatives raise and from whom?


First Week Lesson Idea: The Danger of a Single Story

The Danger of a Single Story is an interesting first week of school activity that I plan to implement in my classroom. My students will start the lesson by writing three facts, stories, or generations OTHER people see or think about themselves on one side of the post it. We will then watch the TED Video called “Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story.” We will discuss the “single story” stereotypes and what it means in our society.

Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. ” The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story,” Chimamanda Adichie. Lesson Conclusion: I will then have students write three facts, generations, or stories that most people don’t know about them on the post it. I am ideally encouraging them to challenge the single story in their lives. I will then shuffle the post it’s around and have students “guess who” the post it’s belong to. The end of the lesson will conclude with a discussion about stereotypes, prejudice, and the importance of understanding and learning a story before judging it.


SoundGecko Converts Any Article Into an MP3

I learned about SoundGecko from Lifehacker blogSoundGecko is an interesting resource for teachers and students of all ages.   SoundGecko is a FREE text-to-audio transcribing service that lets you “read” any article or written content from the web on the go in an audio format.

All you have to do is paste a URL into SoundGecko and it converts the article into speech. You can send the new audio file via email, Dropbox, or Google Drive for immediate syncing. You can also use the iphone app and chrome extension for quicker conversion. Hopefully, they will come out with an ipad app soon! SoundGecko would have been so useful in college and it can help all ages of students in education. SoundGecko works efficiently and simply to use. Pretty amazing website, check it out today!


Awesome Economic Video/Audio Clips and Creative lessons

I am a new instructor teaching economics this coming school year. I was looking for ways to make the curriculum more engaging and interactive for my students. I stumbled upon Dirk Mateer from @NortonEconomics. Dirk Mateer is a lecturer in economics at Penn State. He is truly an AMAZING instructor who helps his students understand and appreciate economic concepts. He uses pop culture and creative teaching ideas to enhance his curriculum. His website has a massive collection resources to help students learn about economics and have fun while learning.

Share My Lesson: 228,000+ Free Teaching Resources

Share My Lesson is an interesting resource for any educator to collaborate, connect, and share with our teachers. It is a FREE website that gives teachers access to teaching resources such as worksheets, learning materials, lesson ideas, activiities, and lesson plans. The lessons are divided by grade level, subject, and unit.


Start using the site today with your TES login. Simply enter your TES username and password and then accept the Share My Lesson terms. Do so before 31 July and you’ll be entered automatically into a prize draw to win the new iPad!*

The website also connects teachers to an online community to build your PLC. Share My Lesson was developed by the American Federation of Teachers and TES Connect, the largest network of teachers in the world. Check it out today and improve your teaching repertoire!


As a US educator Share My Lesson offers you:

Civics Resources: Games, Videos, Lesson ideas

I have used the The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands for numerous civics videos and online books in the past but was recently introduced to the Sunnylands Civics games by @melissalindinja.  The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands is developing interactive games about the Constitution. The games seem well suited for middle school or lower high school levels.


There are games about the first amendment, branches of government, laws, executive brach, couts, being John Marshall, and the constitutional convention. This games are interactive and if you create teacher and student accounts you can use the scores for progress monitoring or a classroom competition. Check it out today!

Gilder Lehrman and 9/11 Memorial Resources

I attended the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History on 9/11 and American Memory.  The seminar was absolutely amazing! We learned from experts  about how the United States and the world have dealt with tragedy and loss with events such as the Civil War, Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, Vietnam, and 9/11. We worked with the amazing team of 9/11 memorial experts who are involved in the planning of the 9/11 Memorial Museum, Fire Chief and 9/11 survivor Jay Jonas, and experts in the field of memory such as  the seminar leader David Blight.


Our seminar took a personal tour of the 9/11 museum that is NOT open to the public. Even though it is still under construction, we could instantly observe the beauty, sacredness, and careful planning involved in creating the museum.  I am so impressed with the planning and extensive collection the 9/11 historic site, website, and museum will offer to visitors and generations to honor the victims of September 11th, 2001.


9/11/01 Online Resources 

The 9/11 memorial has a wonderful collection of online resources for teachers to educate our students about September 11th, 2001. The website has an extensive collection of multimedia orientated resources such as an interactive timeline, audio, webcasts, video, images, primary documents, and essential artifacts and collections.  Each lesson is tied to the Common Core Standards and based on the 9/11 collections that can be used throughout the school year and across all subjects and divided into different themes. 






Gilder Lehrman K–12 EDUCATOR PROGRAMS 


For more information visit: Gilder Lehrman Institute  and 9/11 Memorial 



Great American Hall of Fame Project

I found this project on twitter #sschat and can’t but help but rave about it. I can’t think of a better post AP United States History Exam Project. Mr. Howe’s classes created a Great Hall of Fame for American History. Here are sample projects. Awesome project!

Step 1: Who do you think belongs in the top 25? Reflect on that question and type your bulleted list of individuals you think are worthy  Include a sentence for each person on your list explaining how they contributed significantly to America.  Do this or you won’t earn any points for the assignment!

Step 2: You may select anyone from your list to nominate to the Great American Hall of Fame. 

Step 3: Next, research your nominee in more detail. Prepare your nominee bid and submit. 

Step 4: Selecting Americans for admission to the Great American Hall of Fame 






Bring the World into your Classroom with World Wonders Project

I recently discovered the Google World Wonders Project  which is a website that brings historical sites online.  The website is very interesting and educational because it uses Google’s Street View technology, 3D modelling, photos, videos and information to deliver an interesting medium to go on a virtual field trip. You and your students can truly explore the world from your classroom!


There are many interesting historical locations available to explore on the site, including the Palace of Versailles, the Historic Centre of Cordoba, Stonehenge and Hiroshima. I recently explored Independence Hall and was amazed at the collection of resources: videos, google maps, images, and in depth information about the location. I can’t think of a better way to learn about history, other than actually visiting the historic site!
Google also offers free, easy-to-use, and downloadable history resources which are designed in support and engage students in the study of history. The resources are clear, very well organized and FREE. I already found myself bookmarking specific historical sites to use for next school year.  Check it out today!