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Geography of Virginia,
Charles A. Grymes
Created by a professor at George Mason University, this website provides an extensive directory of websites related to everything from education to Virginia and the internet. The website provides some introductory articles, such as an excellent overview of energy in Virginia that includes graphs and history. Each section also includes a list of links. The Virginia Government section alone contains more than 100 links to further resources. While each external website is of excellent quality, it may take time to navigate from such a large body of links to the right resource.
U.S. Conference of Mayors,
U.S. Conference of Mayors
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is an organization of mayors throughout the United States. The website contains a number of press releases and reports on issues facing mayors and local government, which range from a few pages to hundreds of pages in length. The Mayors at a Glance feature is perhaps the most useful feature those studying Virginia government. Users can search for mayors by last name, city, state, and population. Each mayor featured has a picture, contact information, and short biography. Does your jurisdiction have a mayor? Try finding out more about mayors in your area.
Commonwealth Data Point: Transparency at Work in Virginia,
Commonwealth of Virginia
Commonwealth Data Point is an excellent tool for understanding the basic implementation of financial expenditures. Find out budget data, or what was purchased on the state credit card. The website also provides demographic data, such as university enrollment and food stamp use. While browsing the website, you may want to consider how state and local governments implement policy decisions. What changes could you make to policy or spending practices?
Virginia Performs: Measuring What Matters to Virginians,
Commonwealth of Virginia
Virginia Performs is part of Virginia's open government initiative. The website includes information on Virginia's progress in areas such as health, education, and transportation. For example, users can find information on high school graduation rates in Virginia and surrounding states. The website also includes information on government initiatives to increase high school graduation rates. Questions to consider include: What is the role of state and local government? How are policy decisions implemented at a state and local level?
Many Eyes from IBM,
Many Eyes is a collaborative, innovative resource for graphs, maps, charts, and other interactive resources. Users may browse data ranging from the status of smoking in Virginia restaurants (by county) to food safety or sports statistics. The website offers detailed information about different types of data visualizations (pie charts, histograms, maps, etc.) and ways to create such visualizations. Users may then input their own data into the website, complete with charts or maps. Many Eyes is an excellent tool for learning how to create and interpret many types of data sets.
Swivel Data Website,
Swivel is an interactive website which allows user to explore, share, and upload "tasty data goodies." Data sets include such diverse information as the Life Expectancy in Virginia, Interest rate data from the Federal Reserve Board, and the number of people who read newspapers online. As with any source, users should evaluate the source of each data set for accuracy. Some are contributed by anonymous individuals, others come from sources such as the National Weather Service. Swivel is an excellent tool for locating and analyzing data sets for accuracy, relevance, and content.
Executive Branch of the Federal Government
This website is part of President Obama's Open Government Initiative. It provides free, open access to quanitative datasets created by the Federal government. Some state/local governments have also added data, but as yet Virginia is not one of them. Data sets include categories such as geography and environment, education and transportation. This data provides excellent primary source material, and offers many opportunities to create and interpret maps, diagrams, tables, charts, graphs, and spreadsheets.
Gapminder provides free access to statistics (usually gathered from the United Nations) presented in moving data visualization charts. These statistics aren’t boring—data sets flow over time and offer surprising insights into public health, trade, and other issues. Users can select states such as Virginia and compare them to hundreds of countries throughout the world, including China, the United Kingdom, and Mexico. Statistics track a variety of indicators, including income, insurance “uncoverage,” immigration, and “best teeth.” Users can watch a video tutorial, as well as videos applying the information to real-world scenarios. This website is particularly useful for anyone learning about graphs, public policy issues, and the relationship between Virginia and the rest of the world.
Oyate: a resource for teaching about Native Americans,
Oyate is a Native organization working to see that Native American lives and histories are portrayed honestly. One function of the organization is reviewing books featuring Native American peoples, histories, and cultures, and providing a list of positive books and books to avoid. The website also offers teaching materials. Some materials are free, and others (such as books and DVDs) may be purchased from Oyate. Everyone can benefit from reading the Living Stories about the classroom experiences of some Native American parents and students.
United Kingdom Parliament Education Service,
Education Service, Houses of Parliament
This website was created by the British government to educate students about Parliament in the United Kingdom. It includes lesson plans, games, and resources for students of varying ages. It's also an interesting glimpse into another country's legislative branch. How does it work? How is it similar or different from our legislative branch?