Aussie’s view of America; can you do as well for Australia?

November 2, 2013

An Aussie's attempt to label the state of the U.S.  Don't laugh -- how well can you do labeling a map of Australia?  From Texas Hill Country's Facebook feed, and unknown origin past that.

An Aussie’s attempt to label the state of the U.S. Don’t laugh — how well can you do labeling a map of Australia? From Texas Hill Country’s Facebook feed, and unknown origin past that.

Found this at the Facebook site of Texas Hill Country.  A little rough for high school geography, especially if it’s ninth grade geography (surely you can moderate this a bit, teachers), but a good idea for a quiz?

How well can your students do labeling the U.S.?  Will they find this person’s obvious anguish and creative non-answers amusing?  Can they do better?

Now turn the tables:  How well can your students in the U.S. do labeling a map of Australia?  Canada?  Mexico?

Ask your students:  Is it important to know such stuff?  Why?

And you, Dear Reader: What do you think?

Here you go, a map of Australia to practice with:

Unlabeled map of Australia to label!  Royalty free produce of Bruce Jones Design, Inc., copyright 2010

Unlabeled map of Australia to label! Royalty free produce of Bruce Jones Design, Inc., copyright 2010


True or false? Deception, with iPhones, to tell the truth

September 11, 2011

Magician Marco Tempest pushes the boundaries on use of iPhones in magic tricks — is it magic, pure electronics, or what we want to see?

Tell us in comments how you could use this shorter-than-usual TEDS video as a bell-ringer, teachers — or as an ice-breaker, meeting facilitators and corporate trainers:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Michelle Gardiner, who suffered my bass playing with quiet equanimity.


7 Billion: Are you typical? Year-long Nat Geo special reports

March 13, 2011

7 Billion: Are you typical?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

7 Billion: Are you typical? Year-long Nat Geo s…, posted with vodpod

I could see a bell-ringer in there somewhere.  Who do you think ought to see this thing?  What classes in public schools should see it, for what purpose?

I hope the year-long series lives up to the video.  I hope there are a lot more videos to go along with it.  As a piece of persuasive rhetoric, it does make a decent case for subscribing to National Geographic for a year.  How’s that for rhetorical criticism?


American Icons: Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

February 2, 2011

One of what should be an occasional series of posts on American iconic places, natural features, sights to see, etc.  For studies of U.S. history and U.S. geography, each of these posts covers subjects an educated American should know.  What is the value of these icons?  Individually and collectively, our preservation of them may do nothing at all for the defense of our nation.  But individually and collectively, they help make our nation worth defending.

This is a less-than-10-minute video you can insert into class as a bell ringer, or at the end of a class, or as part of a study of geologic formations, or in any of a number of other ways.  Yosemite Nature Notes provides glorious pictures and good information about Yosemite National Park — this video explains the modern incarnation of Half Dome, an enormous chunk of granite that captures the imagination of every living, breathing soul who ever sees it.

Potential questions for class discussion:

  • Have you put climbing Half Dome on your bucket list yet?  Why not?
  • Is it really wilderness when so many people go there?
  • How should the National Park Service, and the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, manage these spectacular, completely unique features, both to preserve their wild nature, and allow people to visit them?
  • What are the federalism issues involved in protecting Half Dome, or any grand feature, like the Great Smokey Mountains, Great Dismal Swamp, Big Bend, Yellowstone Falls, or Lincoln Memorial?
  • Does this feature make you wonder about how glaciers carve mountains and valleys?  (Maybe you should watch this video about glaciers in Yosemite.)
  • What is the history of the preservation of the Yosemite Valley?
  • Planning your trip to Yosemite:  Which large city airports might be convenient to fly to?  (What part of which state is this in?)
  • What other grand sights are there to see on your trip to Yosemite?
  • What does this image make you think?  Can you identify the people in it?

    John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt in Yosemite Valley

    Who are those guys? Why might it matter? (Answer below the fold)

  • How about this image? Who made this, and so what?

    Albert Bierstadt, Sunrise, Yosemite Valley, ca. 1870 - Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

    Photo or painting? Where could you see this work?

Read the rest of this entry »


Reading for government classes: Obama’s shift in governing philosophy

January 28, 2009

No, Obama didn’t change his mind.  He’s changing the way government does business — putting government on a more solidly-based, business-like model for performance, according to at least one observer.  That’s the shift discussed.

And it’s about time, I say.

Max Stier’s commentary on the Fed Page of the Washington Post quickly lays out the case that Obama’s making big changes.  Copy it for students in your government classes (or history classes, if you’re studying the presidency in any depth).  Stier wrote:

There are some fundamental reasons why our federal government’s operational health has been allowed to steadily deteriorate. It’s hard to change what you don’t measure, and our government operates in an environment with very few meaningful and useful measurements for performance. Perhaps more significantly, it is run by short-term political leadership that has little incentive to focus on long-term issues.

A typical presidential appointee stays in government for roughly two years and is rewarded for crisis management and scoring policy wins. These individuals are highly unlikely to spend significant energy on management issues, when the benefits of such an investment won’t be seen until after they are long gone.

(According to the Post, “Max Stier is president and CEO of Partnership for Public Service, a group that seeks to revitalize the federal government.”  I don’t know of him otherwise.)

Political appointees can be good, but too many have not been over the past 25 years.  A bad enough political appointee can frustrate even the most adept, dedicated-to-the-people’s-business career federal service employees, and frustrate the law and good management of agencies.

Let’s wish them all good luck.

Potential questions to follow-up this article in discussions:

  • Constitution: Under the Constitution, who specifically is charged with managing the federal agencies, the “federal bureaucracy?  What is that charge, in the Constitution?
  • Constitution, politics: What is the role of Congress in managing the federal bureaucracy?
  • Evaluating information sources: Do some research on the internet.  Is Max Stier a credible source of information on managing federal agencies?  Why, or why not?  Who provides an opposing view to Stier’s?  Are they credible?  Why or why not?
  • Evaluating information sources: Is the Fed Page of the Washington Post a good source of information about the federal bureaucracy?  (Students may want to investigate columnists and features at this site; the Fed Page was started as a one-page feature of the newspaper in the early 1980s, covering for the public issues that tended to slip through the cracks of other news coverage, but which were very important to the vast army of federal employees and federal policy wonks in Washington.)  What other sources might be expected?  What other sources are there?  (Federal News Radio is another site that focuses on the functions of the federal agencies — Mike Causey started out writing the column on the bureaucracy in the Washington Post; this is an AM radio station dedicated to covering federal functions in the federal city.  Other sources should include National Journal, and Congressional Quarterly, especially if you have those publications in your school library).
  • History, maybe a compare and contrast question: How has the federal bureaucracy changed over time?  Compare the size, scope and people employed by the federal government under the administrations of George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant, James Garfield, William McKinley, Dwight Eisenhower, and Bill Clinton.  What trends become clear?  What major changes have occurred (civil service protection, for example)?
  • Analysis: How does the transition process from one president to the next affect federal employees and the operation of government?
  • Analysis: How does the transition of President Barack Obama compare with past transitions — especially that of President Franklin Roosevelt, who also faced a tough economic crisis, or Ronald Reagan, whose transition signalled a major shift in government emphasis and operation?

What other questions did your students find in this article?  Comments are open.


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