Tuesday’s Tool: Online Voting

Image from Geek & Poke, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 License.

One of the most engaging aspects of our Presidents is the election process. Even with our current president in the middle of his term, there is still talk about the next election. The election process is a great way to engage students when talking about our governmental officials.

Now, there are several great online tools one can use when holding your own elections.

Google Forms is the feature in Docs that allows users to set up online quizzes, surveys, applications, and even voting ballots. Forms are easy to set up and share. Results are automatically recorded on a spreadsheet. Real-time results in attractive graphs can be shared quickly. The only issue is that Google Forms offers very few options when it comes to limiting the number of times participants vote. One can assign unique codes or usernames that are easy to monitor on the spreadsheet, but this doesn’t allow for privacy. If your school has the Google Apps suite, ballots can be required to include a unique email address or user name.

Survey Monkey is another popular survey tool that allows for elections or polls. Using the email invites, you can avoid double-voting. Survey Monkey also has some advanced features for viewing and analyzing results. The best part is that like Google Forms, it’s free!

While these are the two most popular survey sites that can also serve as voting tools, there are many other online tools out there for voting purposes. BallotBin is an easy-to-use and simple service to collect votes. eBallot takes ridding the world of paper ballots seriously as they provide top-notch security features, analysis tools, and even a paper-hybrid option. For an extensive list of online voting tools, check out Mashable’s list of 40+ online polling tools.

Are there other tools or techniques for running online voting? How do you teach the election process to your students?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

Monday Message: U.S. Presidents (Day) Week

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In a continued effort to bring you resources and ideas that fit neatly into a theme each week, we here at NT&L are dedicating this week to U.S. Presidents, past and present. With Presidents Day approaching (February 21), we have a week of excellent posts planned to help you to take advantage of the holiday. Stay tuned all week as we post online tools, resource links, and provide a few teaching tips as to ways educators can make Presidents Day more meaningful to their students.

In the meantime, check out the new and updated eThemes available:

New eThemes for the week of February 7, 2011

Country: Argentina<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1899>
Learn about Argentina and its geography, history, and culture. Read about the country’s noted national heroes, an overview of Latin America, and links to Spanish language sites. Includes eThemes resources on Latin American Culture and Spanish for Middle and High School.

Literature: “The Barcode Tattoo” by Suzanne Weyn<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1901>
Learn about Suzanne Weyn, author of “The Barcode Tattoo” and her other novels. Some of the student activities on propaganda include a webquest,interactive advertising games, and an activity using newspaper ads.

Literature: Romanticism in American Literature<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1897>
These sites provide information about Romanticism in American Literature. Learn about the tenets of Romanticism as well as the lives and works of prominent writers of the time including Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Kate Chopin, and others. Also includes literature units designed to encourage a greater understanding of the authors from this time period. There is a link to eThemes resources on Edgar Allen Poe.

Multicultural Literature: High School<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1900>
This site provides recommended book lists, the historical background of multicultural literature, and informational articles about multicultural literature. Author interviews and book trailers are provided.

Personal Finance: Investing<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1902>
Learn about personal finance and investing. Learn how to adjust your spending habits, play interactive games designed to teach the importance of personal finance concepts such as simple and compound interest, forms of saving and investing, and understanding stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Practice solving compound interest problems. Understand the importance of planning ahead for your retirement. Includes eThemes resources on Personal Finance and Budgeting and Budgets.

Roller Derby<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1903>
These sites are about the sport of roller derby. Includes game vocabulary, the current Male and Female Flat Track Derby Leagues, the history of the sport, rules involved in playing the modern version, and protective gear you need to get started. Includes suggested drills and skills to get your club into skating shape.

Updated eThemes for the week of February 7, 2011

Author Study: Edgar Allan Poe<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/750>
Learn more about American Gothic author Edgar Allan Poe. Includes full-text versions of his stories and poems, plus information about his life. There are lesson plans and suggested classroom activities. Includes an eThemes resource on the short story “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

Author Study: Laura Numeroff<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1776>
This is a collection of sites about author Laura Numeroff and her circle stories. Includes biographical information about her life and work. There are several suggested classroom activities to go along with the books: “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” “If You Give a Pig a Pancake,” “If You Give a Moose a Muffin,” “Dogs Don’t Wear Sneakers,” and “If You Take a Mouse to School.” There is a link to an eThemes Resource on mice.

Author Study: Patricia Polacco<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1686>
These websites are about author Patricia Polacco and her books. There are lesson plans, interactive activities, interviews, and biographies. Includes information about the learning disability of dyslexia, which Polacco has. There are links to eThemes resource on the Civil War, farming, and Christmas.

Author Study: Robert Munsch<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/532>
Find out about children’s author Robert Munsch. Read interviews and biographies to find out what books he has written. Online activities, classroom activities, discussion questions, and lesson plans are included.

Literature: “Math Curse” by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1669>
These sites have classroom activity ideas for the book “Math Curse.” Read what other children have written about their own math courses and try to solve word problems. There are biographies for author Jon Scieszka and illustrator Lane Smith. Includes a link to an eThemes Resource on Everyday Uses of Math.

Literature: “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/583>
There are summaries, suggested activities, and online quizzes about the book “Number the Stars.” Also learn about author Lois Lowry. Includes a link to an eThemes Resource on the Holocaust.

Literature: “Pictures of Hollis Woods” by Patricia Giff<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1799>
These websites are about the book “Pictures of Hollis Woods” and author Patricia Giff. See her official website to learn more about her. There are also worksheets, games, and lesson plans to go along with the book. Includes links to eThemes resources on hands-on crafts students can do in class in conjunction with reading the book.

Literature: “The Best School Year Ever” by Barbara Robinson<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/747>
These sites are about “The Best School Year Ever” and author Barbara Robinson. There are various reading and vocabulary activities for the classroom. Includes some sites on kindness, cooperation, and bullying. There are links to eThemes Resources on Book Activities, Story Elements, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson, and “The Best Halloween Ever” by Barbara Robinson

Literature: “The Tale of Despereaux” by Kate DiCamillo<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/375>
These sites are about the book “The Tale of Despereaux” by Kate DiCamillo. Includes biographies on the author, book summaries, discussion questions, suggested activities, and a webquest. There are links to eThemes Resources on Fairy Tales, Recommended Reading for Elementary Students, “Ella Enchanted” by Gail Carson Levine, Cinderella Stories, and “Because of Winn-Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo.

Literature: Recommended Reading for Elementary Students<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1003>
This resource is a compilation of booklist web sites for elementary school students. The lists were compiled by teachers, librarians, and students. Some of the lists are divided by grade level, readability, or genre. There are also links to eThemes resources on various literature awards and literature genres.

Logic Puzzle Games for Lower Grades<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/302>
These sites have logic puzzles and mind-challenging games for elementary students to practice logic reasoning skills. There are many Sudoku and variations. Included are both online and printable versions.

Physics: Potential and Kinetic Energy<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/57>
Learn about the different types of potential energy. Discover how potential energy transforms into kinetic energy while conserving the total amount of energy. Find out how to measure and calculate these types of energy. Includes animations, potential energy online calculator, lesson plan, in class activities, quizzes, and experiments. There are links to eThemes resources on roller coaster designs and forms of energy.

Propaganda<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1239>
These websites are about propaganda. How is propaganda used to influence political opinion? How is advertising like propaganda? Here you can find articles and lesson plans, sites about the persuasive techniques used in propaganda, examples of real life propaganda, and information on critical thinking skills.

Reading Skills: Context Clues<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1641>
These sites focus on using contextual clues to determine the meaning of unknown words. The sites introduce different types of contextual clues and strategies on using the clues. Exercises, lesson plans, and a song are included. There are links to eThemes resources on Text Structures, Teaching Tips for Decoding Strategies, Synonyms and Antonyms, and Prefixes and Suffixes.

Reading Skills: Inference for Elementary School Students<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/1675>
These websites can help elementary students learn how to infer while reading. There are activities, graphic organizers, and short lessons on inference. Includes a link on inference for middle school students.

Space: International Space Station<http://ethemes.missouri.edu/themes/725>
These sites are about the International Space Station that orbits earth. Learn about the history of its development, its mission, and the astronauts who have lived there. Includes videos, animations, and photographs. There is a link to an eThemes resource on space exploration.