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John Stossel Lesson Plans and Worksheets

John Stossel Lesson Plans and Worksheets

John Stossel Lesson Plans and Worksheets

I would often use John Stossel Lesson Plans and Worksheets in my government class as he highlights different aspects of government and highlights what the role of the government in society and economy should or should not be. These came as videos on a DVD but now can be found in YouTube or his site below.

You can find and order his videos off his website here: http://stosselintheclassroom.org/

I’ve also included some of his video guides below.

John Stossel Teacher Guide 2012

John Stossel Tacher Guide 2011

John Stossel Teacher Guide 2009

John Stossel Teacher Guide 2008

John Stossel Teacher Guide 2007

John Stossel Teacher Guide Best of

One of my favorite videos was Greed. Particularly, when discussing the role of the economy.

John Stossel Greed Lesson Plan

The video comes in 6 parts below. I’ve added it as a playlist on YouTube

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Second Great Decoupling: Separating Students from Schools

Second Great Decoupling: Separating Students from Schools

The purpose of this article is to briefly describe education policy within a historical narrative

Decouple: to cause to become separated, disconnected, or divergent; uncouple.

The first Great Decoupling occurred around the turn of the last century when students were separated from their immediate community and as some argue their family. The origin of which were contained in the kernel of the Industrial Revolution and brought to froth in the post-Civil War business climate. Those original one-room school houses of an agrarian 1830s/1840s past were combined with adjacent and localized school communities in order to achieve maximum efficiency. Indeed, at one point in the US we had over 200,000 school districts (although some were a one-room, one school, school district)! Currently, we have about 15,000 school districts.

This first Great Decoupling was important and necessary as it prepared students to work in a factory setting. The preparation was so realistic it even included a bell which would ultimately mimic the changing of the factory shift. Students would be taught in an assembly-line fashion , expected to conform to rules, not question authority, and above all “produce” for a nascent superpower.  This first Great Decoupling worked very well. It brought the US an increased standard-of-living, introduced waves of immigrants to democratic ideals, fought a Great Depression, won two World Wars, and brought down the Evil Empire.

However, by the mid-1970s cracks begin to appear. The Oil Embargo, cheaper airline travel, cable TV, the opening of China (predicated upon Mao’s death) and other foreign markets begun erode US factory dominance in two ways. Indeed, the movie the Deer Hunter (1977) opens-up with a nondescript yet in-decline Pennsylvania steel town.

1. The factors helped charge-up globalization which put new competitive pressures on US manufacturing which they were unable to cope. After all, the world is the market NOT just the US.

2. The new technologies helped people connect with each other from around the globe. This helped established improve relations, particularly those of in an business/economic sense.

In fact, US education had eroded so far in about 10 years that by 1983 the seminal report, A Nation At Risk was produced that identified:

declines in educational performance are in large part the result of disturbing inadequacies in the way the educational process itself is often conducted

The American Education system worked well for over 100 years until with in a 10-year time frame it no longer worked! The educational model that made the US a Superpower no longer fit!

Following the report, policies were put into place that sought “boost” educational achievement by mandating a rigorous testing regime. Various states experimented with “test till your blessed” programs that sought correct the “sins” of an educational model through high-stakes standardized testing policies. The various state programs become crystallized under the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which federally mandated a testing program for all schools receiving government funds

Since NCLB, high-stakes testing regime as taken hold across all states (although some are beginning to reject it). These “test till your blessed” programs will not work because the model they are grafted to is broken. Elected leaders are touting a treatment for a symptom rather than a cure for a disease.

Nevertheless, a cure is not elusive!

Since the Great Recession there has been a trend towards the Second Great Decoupling. The second Great Decoupling relies on the technological advancement and investment in the 1990s which brought high-speed/wireless internet access to large swaths of America and the investments made by millennials in mobile internet via smartphones. Additionally, the Great Recession has placed financial difficulty on states, which have often turned to axing education budgets (education is often the state’s most costly service) in order to achieve a balanced state budget (without raising taxes, of course). School districts have responded in-kind by NOT hiring teachers (which increases class sizes) and NOT increasing pay/benefits (which drives potential candidates away) all the while continually to decree that pre-recession goals still be achieved, mandates met, and budgets maintained. It is truly a feat that in-spite of all odds, American teachers have stepped-up to the plate and delivered.

In the end though, the herculean efforts of American teachers can only do so much against the ruthlessness of economic efficiency and maximization, and perhaps that is for the best. Nothing gets a paradigm shift like a financial crisis.  The second Great Decoupling will result in students being separated from their schools. After staff, capital or “operations”  (such as buildings and buses and the money spent to maintain them) is the second largest expense for most districts. Districts under such economic pressure may decide to sell off school real-estate and in return provide lower-taxes (or at least a slow-down on tax increases) and guarantee online educational access via subsidies for internet access and/or district supplied computers.  One could envision a lively insurance market to insure district computers (loaned out to students) against fraud, theft, and breakage.

In the second Great Decoupling students will be part of a virtual district in a virtual school in a virtual classroom. Teachers may be hired “at-will” with one-year contracts without benefits (mimicking those who are already part of the “freelance” economy) which may result in a further decline of the teacher profession. In such a model, districts may elect to “outsource” teaching to global teacher-temp agencies which may provided better quality services at a lower price. Students may find themselves with a math teacher from Kazakhstan, an English teacher from China, and a history teacher from Peru. One may find American Teachers leaving the US to teacher enclaves/communities in foreign countries with low-standards of living in order to continue to practice their “profession”.

Such a model may result in a win for the students as they experience a truly globalized education, a win for the district as they can provided cheaper services at better quality, and a win for educators who for once may actual be paid what they are worth (though, they may have to leave the country).

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Salmonella in my Oregano?

Salmonella in my Oregano?

While purchasing some items at the local Food Lion, I ran across one of those haphazardly posted messages displayed only with a sad single piece of tape holding it up to a random post behind the cashier. It was a recall notice for McCormick Oregano.  I was totally blown-away! What could possibly get in oregano that would cause it to be recalled?

Continue reading Salmonella in my Oregano?

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My Two Favorite Federal Laws

I am certain that very few people have favorite federal laws. After all, who wants to talk about federal legislation at a party (hint: I do). However, being a bit of a policy wonk and government guru, I enjoy reading and learning about federal laws. In fact, I actually have TWO federal laws that I consider to be my favorite. They both involve the stomach.

Continue reading My Two Favorite Federal Laws

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Penny Stocks Advice

Penny Stocks Advice: The one thing you need to know

During the mid-aughts, fresh out of college, young, single and flush with cash I decide to invest in penny stocks. Penny stocks typically trade for, you guessed it, in the pennies for each share. They are very risky, trade Over-the-Counter (that is the name of the stock ‘exchange’ where they trade in, sometimes it is referred as the ‘Pink Sheets’), and are lightly regulated. The lack of regulation makes them a susceptible for various fraud schemes such as the classic, ‘pump-and-dump’. However, if the right penny-stock begins to increase the margins for profit (on such a small investment) could be in the thousands!

Either way, I had invested about 500 dollars into a penny-stock called LOGO that was seeking to create a gay/lesbian themed TV network. I used to follow the stock and post in penny-stock forums and discuss the pitfalls, buy-points, sell-points of various penny-stocks (including LOGO). Thinking back on it, it wouldn’t surprise me if some of those people were plants, operating an online version of a “boiler-room”.

When I met with my financial adviser she gave me this look of horror and disgust. When I couldn’t explain to her why I bought Penny-Stocks or why I selected LOGO, her and I agreed to sell my penny-stocks and invest in mutual funds (which have since earned more money than my penny-stock).

Now, LOGO TV is actually a channel, though I am not sure whatever became of the penny-stock.

I write this post because Bloomberg Business has a great article that represents a ‘case-study’ on the perils and profits of penny-stocks.

Cynk was a company with 1 employee, no assets, and 0 revenue that became worth 6 billion dollars.

Cynk: The 6 Billion Dollar Penny Stock Debacle

The take-away from my experience with Penny-Stocks (and what one person in the aforementioned article calls them) is that they should be treated as Lottery-Picks. If you like investing and want to invest in penny-stocks than do so but do so with moderation (500 dollars was way too much) and with the understanding that you are properly getting taken for ride and will not win.

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Diplomacy: Destroyer of Friends

Diplomacy or how to lose friendships

Diplomacy is a strategy board-game whereas you try to control supply depots, build armies and navies, and attempt to conquer Europe by controlling 18 depots. It takes place in pre-WW1 Europe with the Seven Great Powers: Ottoman Empire, Russia, England, Germany, Austria-Hungary[affectionately called AH], France, and Italy [I won’t give the nickname used to describe Italy as it is not appropriate].

Diplomacy Current Release
Diplomacy Current Release

What makes Diplomacy different is that in order to win you have to work together, collaborate, coordinate and build-trust with other nations in order for you to achieve. Implicitly, of course, is the notion that your “allies” could easily turn on you, stab you in the back, not support you, and all-around sabotage your actions.

This is way diplomacy is often described as a “friend-destroyer” because you play the game with your friends, use your friendship to build-trust, and then stab your friend in the back.

I was introduced to Diplomacy at a very young age. I recall hanging out in the basement of one of my friends playing the game and enjoying the political elements of it such as: strategy and alliance-building. Now that my friends and I have moved to various cities, we have migrated to diplomacy smart-phone apps such as: Droidippy to play the game.

Some links for Diplomacy Lovers:

Boardgame Geek Diplomacy

Diplomacy Boardgame of the Alpha Nerd: A radio story sponsored by Grantland and broadcast on NPR. Takes place during the Diplomacy World Championship.

Allan Calhamer Inventor

 

 

 

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Creative Commons License for Teachers

Creative Commons License for Teachers

Recently a teacher friend of mine asked me for some files related to a class I used to teach. I responded with an ebullient “Yes!”  As a teacher, I am often reminded that I stand on the shoulders of giants and that it makes no sense to re-invent the wheel when so many talented teachers are willing to give you what amounts to their life’s work…for free. I decided to make my work I gave her a Creative Commons License. It allowed her to use the work but could not sell it.

I am firm believer that knowledge should be free and accessible, however I am not naive, and should you give stuff away you should provide a license. This protects you and the recipient from any future misunderstanding regarding your works.

Much like an Open Source License for software, a Creative Commons License is what I use for published works.