TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Jul 20, 2014

Here are this week's features. Clicking the tags in the description area of each listing will present a list of other resources with this topic. | Click here to go to the Featured Sites Archive

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Memofon - memofon.com

Grades
8 to 12
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Memofon is an online mind mapping tool that creates mind maps and lists easily from your notes or text. Click on the playground link to try different options for mind ...more
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Memofon is an online mind mapping tool that creates mind maps and lists easily from your notes or text. Click on the playground link to try different options for mind maps such as to-do lists, icon maps, and formatting maps. Include links to images in your maps for more visual appeal. Create your free account to make and save your own mind maps.

tag(s): concept mapping (22), graphic organizers (45), mind map (25), organizational skills (87)

In the Classroom

Memofon's application is a bit more complicated for use than some other mind mapping applications so it may be better suited for use with high school students. Share this site with your gifted students to help them stay organized. Use this tool to help organize learning units and share the organization on the screen so students see how pieces fit together. It would be a good idea to have a student emcee share HOW to use this site on your projector or interactive whiteboard. Share the unit map with other teachers, students, or parents. Highlight goals, objectives, learning tasks, assessments, and resources. Share before your unit, and expectations become very clear. Use as a yearly overview for parents at the beginning of the year at Open House. Let parents see the multiple ways their child will be assessed through the year. Have students use this tool for direction in problem based learning situations. Use this tool in science for collecting data, experiments, or science fair outlines. Use the tool in writing class to make writing guides for narrative or expository writing. In reading, use for predictions, sequencing of stories, inferences, or organizing genres of books each student has read. Have students map multiple ways to solve a single problem in math class. Have students keep daily requirements or schedules with readily available resources as links. Let students enjoy taking notes from content based classes. Have a student scribe create the notes each day and share with the class. Have student groups map the current unit before the test as a review activity. Or use an ongoing map as a whole class visual diagram of concepts learned, adding new knowledge throughout a unit. Don't miss the chance to color code to "sort" ideas and concepts!

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Gamestar Mechanic - E-Line Media

Grades
4 to 9
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Level up your learning with Gamestar Mechanic. Gamestar Mechanic is a fantastic free site to learn about web-based game design and 21st Century skills. Your journey begins with a series...more
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Level up your learning with Gamestar Mechanic. Gamestar Mechanic is a fantastic free site to learn about web-based game design and 21st Century skills. Your journey begins with a series of mini adventure quests that teach you the core principles and fundamentals of game design. Earn new game design elements such as blocks for constructing levels, characters, and other items with each level of completion. The levels scaffold from learning about gaming principles to "repair" games to fix improper mechanics. Unlock more items to widen your workshop experience with the more missions you master. The workshop offers drag and drop tools to create your own original games without having to program. You must be able to beat your own game to publish it for friends, family, and the Gamestar Community to play. Game Alley is a space for players to publish and review games. Teachers have an extensive collection of lessons at their disposal, with clear goals provided for the student. This game contains no inappropriate content, but contains a fair amount of reading and may be too complex for younger players. All communication on the site is moderated, and there is no live chat of any kind, nor any use of personal information. Premium options are available for purchase. This review is for the FREE portion only.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): creativity (92), design (77)

In the Classroom

Game design allows learners to build technical, technological, artistic, cognitive, social, and linguistic skills. Students can collaborate in small groups or with partners to work through the Quest adventure. Use Gamestar Mechanic as a platform for creative writing opportunities. Each level of the game unlocks the next section of the story. Games are an emerging form of self-expression and communication. Integrate spelling words, vocabulary words, and word wall words in the story. Challenge your gifted students to create math problem solving activities for each level of an original game. Students can collaborate by linking multiple games on a Smore (reviewed here), which allows students to provide the exposition to a multi-level challenge. Have students unlock content or clues for a unit by conquering Gamestar quests. Students can create review games for their peers with content from various subjects. Create an educational scavenger hunt for your students. Each level of the game unlocks a task or clue to a physical task around the classroom.

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Extracting Natural Gas From Rock - New York Times

Grades
5 to 12
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Learn the steps in extracting natural gas using hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" with this interactive. The platform shows each step in drilling to fracture shale rocks to release...more
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Learn the steps in extracting natural gas using hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" with this interactive. The platform shows each step in drilling to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas. On the left side of many of the frames are explanations of problems that may occur in that step in the process.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): energy (167), environment (287), geology (71), natural resources (47), oil (44), resources (101)

In the Classroom

Use this resource in science, current events, government or civics classes when studying environmental issues or for issues about regulation. Before sharing this interactive article with students, identify concepts that need an explanation in class. Have students create a four square chart (fold paper "hamburger" style) and list what they know about fracking in one square. Students then explore this interactive to determine whether their statements are correct or false. In the square next to their brainstorm, have students correct their misunderstandings. In the third square, they can list the possible problems with each step. Use ProConIt, reviewed here, and search for fracking debates. In the fourth square have students record the "pros" for fracking in the ProConIt debates. Students in current events and language arts classes can then write opinion pieces or argument and persuasive papers. Read the site to become informed about this controversial topic as it may become a political issue in upcoming elections in some locations. For younger students, have pairs go through the interactive sections and write down key phrases for information they learn. Then have the pairs create a word cloud of the important terms learned from this site using a tool such as Wordle, reviewed here, Tagxedo, reviewed here, or WordItOut, reviewed here.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Smithsonian: Energy Innovation - Smithsonian

Grades
6 to 12
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Explore the leading U.S. states in the production of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." There are three parts to this interactive map. Major Shale Plays shows where...more
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Explore the leading U.S. states in the production of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." There are three parts to this interactive map. Major Shale Plays shows where extraction is considered both technically possible and profitable. In State by State Comparison, simply click on each state to show a chart of production rates and reserves. Where is Fracking Happening? provides a legend displaying Shale gas wells and Plays and Basins. Click on the map to zoom in. The accompanying article provides information about technology, earthquakes, and the liquids used in fracking.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): energy (167), environment (287), geology (71), natural resources (47), oil (44), resources (101)

In the Classroom

Introduce this site with an interactive whiteboard or projector and big screen. View together as a class to show students how the interactive map works. Have pairs of students go through the interactive maps and write down key phrases for information they learn. Then have the pairs create a word cloud of the important terms learned from this site using a tool such as Wordle, reviewed here. This site could be used in a unit on contemporary environmental issues or energy. Use it for background research for a class debate on fracking. It would also provide evidence for a Common Core-style writing piece developing an argument and supporting evidence. In a government or civics class, this information could be part of a class discussion on how government policies can affect the environment.

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Fracking Across the United States - Earth Justice Org.

Grades
6 to 12
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View this interactive Google map to discover where "fraccidents" have occurred and a description of what happened. A "fraccident" is when something goes wrong at a fracking site. Hydraulic...more
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View this interactive Google map to discover where "fraccidents" have occurred and a description of what happened. A "fraccident" is when something goes wrong at a fracking site. Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" is drilling to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas. Fracking is a controversial technology, and this site is one organization's efforts to slow the pace of industrial gas development. So you will notice some bias. Find out if anything like this has happened near you. At the bottom of the page is a video, "Finding Their Way." It is about a Williamsport, PA couple who developed strategies to stop industrial gas development in Rider Park, land consisting of forests, rivers, and fields. The video also gives statistics about how quickly fracking wells were built in Pennsylvania from 2007 - 2010.

tag(s): disasters (36), energy (167), environment (287), geology (71), natural resources (47), oil (44), resources (101)

In the Classroom

Introduce this site on an interactive whiteboard or projector during a study of fossil fuels, geology, or energy and government policy. Show students an overview of the interactive map and the states listed below it. Have partners select a state, click on the skull and crossbones, and read about the "fraccidents" that have happened. Have students record the state and the facts about the "fraccident" using an online bulletin board and stickies such as Lino reviewed here. At this point, have students research the positive side of fracking and/or alternative versions of what happened in this "fraccident." Students could then write argument/persuasive papers. Math students could determine the frequency of accidents from fracking over the years and predict what might happen in the states targeted for fracking in the future (listed below the map). Students could view the video at the bottom of the page and discuss the steps taken to stop fracking in Williamsport, PA.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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ShareDrop - Cowbell Labs

Grades
3 to 12
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Frustrated when trying to transfer files from one device to another? This resource is a free service that easily transfers files between devices without creating any kind of account....more
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Frustrated when trying to transfer files from one device to another? This resource is a free service that easily transfers files between devices without creating any kind of account. Use this resource in Opera, Chrome, or Firefox (not Safari or Internet Explorer!). It will work on your laptop, desktop, tablet, or mobile device. Please note: both devices must be connected to the same wireless network. Simply drag files into ShareDrop on one device and then open it on the other. For users familiar with AirDrop on Apple products, this tool looks and works similarly.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (61)

In the Classroom

This would be a good tool to use in a computer lab or with laptop carts, iPads, or Chromebooks where students don't have email addresses or Google Accounts for sharing work with their teachers or each other. Students and teachers simply go to the ShareDrop site. When students are ready to share their work with their teachers, they can drag it into the ShareDrop page on their laptops, desktops, or tablets. For those interested in security, files are not actually uploaded to a server. Instead, ShareDrop is a peer to peer connection. Teachers can "push out" files to students quickly and easily using this tool. During curriculum development and other professional development activities, members of a specific department (or even school-wide) can share resources and documents easily to each other. This is a MUST in 1:1 and BYOD classrooms! Student groups working on projects in class can gather and share files easily.

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Would You Rather? - John Stevens

Grades
5 to 12
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Find terrific prompts for writing in math or language arts. Would You Rather? offers the engaging prompts you need to ignite writing about math and/or consumer decisions in the...more
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Find terrific prompts for writing in math or language arts. Would You Rather? offers the engaging prompts you need to ignite writing about math and/or consumer decisions in the real world. Each entry is a picture offering two options. You choose which one you prefer and justify the response. Examples include comparing wireless phone plan rates or choosing slices of pizza. Each prompt includes enough information to decide; the rest is up to each writer. Click on the conversation icon in each picture to read answers from other users. Add your email address to follow the blog and receive notification of new entries.

tag(s): blogs (78), writing prompts (80)

In the Classroom

Use this site on a projector or interactive whiteboard to share journal prompts. Use the prompts as prompts for student blog posts in math or consumerism units. If your school policy permits, allow them to response ON the Would You Rather? blog or simply share responses within your class on a wiki or blog. As a prewriting activity, have students use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here) to compare and contrast different points of view. Although entries are math-based, you could also use these questions in your language arts class as a writing prompt to teach writing an argument with supporting evidence and/or writing from alternate points of view.

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Biomimicry in Youth Education - Biomimicry 3.8 Institute

Grades
10 to 12
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Inspire your students to SEE the natural world differently! Biomimicry is the imitation of nature's best design ideas to solve human problems. This tool provides a free resource toolkit...more
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Inspire your students to SEE the natural world differently! Biomimicry is the imitation of nature's best design ideas to solve human problems. This tool provides a free resource toolkit for K-12 educators. View the desktop or mobile version of the toolkit. Immerse yourself in the lessons, videos, activities, and tools offered in this resource. Be sure to check out the links along the side that include Curricula Divided Among the Fundamentals, Youth (K-12), and University. Be sure to notice the extensions, homework, assessments, and other ideas offered with each of the activities. Lessons in the toolkit are arranged in sections: Introduction (exploring what is Biomimicry), Exploring Nature (connecting students with nature), Case studies, Function (how strategies of other organisms can help with our own functioning), Pattern, and Design Projects (to teach the design process). Battle of the Beaks and Velcro Race Game are lesson examples in the Function section. Join the Biomomicry network and connect with others. Find examples of Biomimicry and Cool Biology topics under the Categories section of this resource. Note: Not sure what Biomimicry is? Learn more about Biomimicry in this article.

tag(s): design (77), engineering (78), STEM (52)

In the Classroom

Be sure to spend some time with the toolkit to see all that it offers. Use the resources to engage students in content that would otherwise be considered dull to some students. Use the lessons to change from teacher-led information about topics to research-driven student investigations. Use the lessons to provide a vital connection students need to the natural world that is becoming increasingly lost with each generation. Find simple activities found on the Core Concepts pages. Each section has articles and other resources for better understanding. Many of the resources encourage questioning, the creation of ideas, and formation of solutions. Other resources (such as in the Core Concepts), encourage students to look at nature differently and understand how we are part of nature and the biodiversity on Earth. Expand many of the Patterns lessons to identify how humans have copied patterns found in nature around us and how these patterns improve our designs (ex. the shape of an egg/strength of an arch). This resource would be a wonderful extension of the classroom for motivated students, especially gifted! Include it as a challenge level during a unit on plants and other science topics for your gifted middle schoolers. Assign each group a specific concept of Biomimicry to learn and understand. Have students create a simple infographic sharing their findings using Easel.ly, reviewed here or Venngage reviewed here.

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Veezzle - Vezzle

Grades
K to 12
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Use Veezzle to search for royalty free stock photos and clip art. Veezzle sources its images from a variety of royalty free sites to provide you with an efficient experience. ...more
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Use Veezzle to search for royalty free stock photos and clip art. Veezzle sources its images from a variety of royalty free sites to provide you with an efficient experience. Preserved photographer notes on the images allow you to see what the photographer said about their work and any requests for credit. Veezzle is quite fast to find photos, and it's free of banners and pop-ups. Sort your search by relevance, popularity, and latest. Buttons under the search bar also allow you easily to navigate through the photo sets. Please note that license details for images found on source sites marked with an asterisk should be carefully checked as some copyrighted material can slip through the search filters for these particular sites. Disclaimer: The use of any image found using Veezzle is at your own risk. It is your obligation to verify, read, and respect the license of each photo and use it responsibly.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): copyright (46), creative commons (17), images (209)

In the Classroom

Is there a copyright conundrum in your classroom? It is important to teach students about copyright and owner's rights. Demonstrate good search practices as well as how to save the images on the student's computer. Teach the students how to provide full credit to the owner of the image. Use Veezzle to search for photos for presentations, projects, or research. Use the images for ESL/ELL students or speech/language students to create their own visual dictionary. Challenge your students to use images to illustrate vocabulary words using the images from Veezzle or to accompany their writing. Project an image or post it online to use as a writing prompt or to create descriptive sentences. Have one student describe the image as another creates a sketch from the description. Then, compare the described image to the real image. Have students create a multimedia presentation using Prezi reviewed here or another presentation tool. Be sure to hold students accountable by including a "digital citizenship" category in your project rubric, requiring proper credit for all images. You will want to spot check a few of the urls to be sure they are actually correct credits. Share Veezzle on your class web page, wiki, or blog so students can access it anywhere, anytime.

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A List of Twitter Educators by Subject Area - Alice Keeler

Grades
K to 12
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Are you looking for other educators to follow on Twitter? Check out this lengthy list of educator Twitter handles arranged by subject. The easiest way to view the full document ...more
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Are you looking for other educators to follow on Twitter? Check out this lengthy list of educator Twitter handles arranged by subject. The easiest way to view the full document is to click the link located under the heading "A Twitter Win." This link leads to a Google document with headings for all content areas as well as Ed Tech, Counselors, Administrators, and more. Use the scroll bar at the bottom of the document to view all categories. Add your own Twitter handle in the appropriate category for inclusion on this document.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): social networking (101), twitter (43)

In the Classroom

Explore the site to discover and follow educators who match your interests and needs. Read the Tweets about what is happening in other classrooms to gain some fresh, new ideas. Looking for more ways to use Twitter in the classroom? If you are the only person in your building who teaches a particular subject, such as gifted or learning support, this list can help you find like minds to share ideas or to set up collaborations between your students. Read more about Twitter at TeachersFirst's Twitter for Teachers page.

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Writing House - Writing House

Grades
9 to 12
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Creating and formatting bibliographies and citations can be one of the most frustrating barriers students face in doing research, and Writing House will take the pain out of the process....more
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Creating and formatting bibliographies and citations can be one of the most frustrating barriers students face in doing research, and Writing House will take the pain out of the process. Simply choose the format (MLA, APA, Chicago or Harvard) and enter some information about the source. Writing House searches the OCLC WorldCat for sources that match. Select the source and add it to your bibliography. When you're finished, simply download the completed bibliography. The interface is clean and uncomplicated. There is no need for an account or login. Several brief articles cover the basics of citations and bibliographies. A word counter function is also available for those using a word processor that doesn't do that automatically.

tag(s): citations (23)

In the Classroom

You may want to introduce this resource after teaching students how to do citations "manually," as Writing House really does all the work for them. Once you have shared it in class, add a link to your teacher webpage for students who are working on research from home. Writing House will be particularly useful for students who really struggle with organization and detail. They need to have only the author's name or the book title to access a complete citation. You will also find it useful for your own grad classes!

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Creative Routines - Info We Trust

Grades
6 to 12
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Creative Routines, a simple infographic, analyzes the self-reported daily routines of 16 creative geniuses from history. Traditional lessons on time management are so predictable. This...more
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Creative Routines, a simple infographic, analyzes the self-reported daily routines of 16 creative geniuses from history. Traditional lessons on time management are so predictable. This infographic makes creative time management personal (and more meaningful). Did they get the recommended 8 hours of sleep? Did they exercise regularly? When were they most productive? What did they do for fun?

tag(s): biographies (38), creativity (92), gifted (78), organizational skills (87)

In the Classroom

Display the infographic on an interactive whiteboard as a springboard for discussion about time management, creativity, study (or work) habits, perseverance, or multi-tasking. Surprise! Mozart spent 0 hours checking his Facebook account! The site might also be instructive in a discussion about what habits contribute to creativity or as information about the lives of famous people. Using these 16 24-hour clocks as exemplars, students can make their own "creative routines" clocks for comparison. As you talk about creativity or study skills, encourage your students to pay attention to the time of day that is best for them to generate creative ideas, write, draw, write music, etc. They may find that altering their routine can have a positive impact on both grades and creative satisfaction.

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Numbeo - Numbeo

Grades
9 to 12
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Numbeo is a crowd-sourced database of statistical information about cities across the world. It includes information about quality of life factors like cost-of-living, crime, health...more
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Numbeo is a crowd-sourced database of statistical information about cities across the world. It includes information about quality of life factors like cost-of-living, crime, health care, pollution, and traffic. Select a category and a city to view data about that location. Compare locations on that criterion. See the information displayed on a map. There is an enormous amount of data here; however, keep in mind that the data is user-generated and will only reflect what others have entered. Consequently, it is constantly being updated and revised. Numbeo provides real-time numbers that students can use to learn how to analyze statistical information and graphs.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): consumers (17), statistics (106)

In the Classroom

Send students to this site to research quality of life factors across the globe. How does the price of gas in Indonesia compare to the price of gas in their hometown? What income is required to rent an apartment in New York City? At another level of inquiry, WHY is the cost of living higher in some parts of the world than it is in others? What factors contribute to the quality of life? In a math class, use this data as "meat" to learn about comparing and displaying data. Your students will find the data interesting enough to pay attention.

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Legislative Explorer - Center for American Politics and Public Policy

Grades
9 to 12
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With so much data out there, how are we, as citizens, to manage this information to make good choices? The University of Washington's Center for American Politics and Public Policy...more
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With so much data out there, how are we, as citizens, to manage this information to make good choices? The University of Washington's Center for American Politics and Public Policy takes the massive amount of information about US legislative activity from 1973 to the present and helps us visualize the progress of bills through the legislative branch. Color-coded "particles" represent each bill on an interactive field for each two-year legislative session. Set the field in motion and watch bills move through committees and onto the floor of the House or the Senate. Notice how many "particles" (each representing a bill) remain clustered in committees throughout the legislative session and how many actually make it to the President's desk and become law. The animation is much more powerful (and informative) when you select an issue, a state, a legislator, a committee, or a party from the drop down menus, but the "big picture" visuals are also informative.

tag(s): advanced placement (15), branches of government (39), congress (23)

In the Classroom

Despite being fairly wonky (political geeks will LOVE this site!), Legislative Explorer will also help civics and government teachers present the overall picture of how a bill makes its way (or doesn't) through the legislative branch. On an interactive whiteboard (or projector), the visual impact of how many bills are proposed in a session is stunning. Once past that, however, students can research the activities of their local legislators, by name or by state. What issues matter enough to them to result in bill sponsorship? Alternatively, divide students into groups and have each group research a specific committee. What bills come to that committee? How successful is that committee in moving bills to the President's desk? How does the activity in the most recent Congress compare to that from 40 years ago? Have the issues changed?

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