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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Case Maker - Civics Lessons Built on Primary Sources

Case Maker is a free service designed for middle school social studies teachers and their students. Case Maker uses primary sources from the Library of Congress as the basis of activities in which students have to build a case in response to real civics scenarios. For example, the first cast that I tried was about anger toward immigrants. In that scenario students had to use evidence in the form of primary sources to support the claim that many of those who are angry toward immigrants come from families that were once immigrants themselves.

Case Maker has twenty pre-made scenarios that you can assign to your students. You can also use Case Maker to build your own challenge scenarios for students. To give a challenge scenario to your students you have to create a free account on the service. Once you have created an account you can give your students a code to enter to complete a challenge scenario. The code that students enter matches up to your account where you can then see the work that your students do. Students create a case by reading then writing about the evidence available to them in primary sources from the Library of Congress. Watch this video to learn more.

How Teachers Can Use Case Maker from Bean Creative on Vimeo.

Case Maker reminds me a lot of Docs Teach in which you can also create challenges for your students to complete by utilizing primary sources.

H/T to Glenn Wiebe for his review of Case Maker a couple of weeks ago. 

A Science, Math, and History Lesson in One Short Video

Reactions is a YouTube channel produced by the American Chemical Society and PBS Digital Studios. The videos in the channel focus on explaining how chemistry concepts as they relate to things we see every day or to interesting "what if" scenarios. Recently, Reactions published a video to explain how much tea it would take to turn Boston Harbor into tea.

In How Much Tea Would It Take to Turn Boston Harbor Into Tea? viewers learn how much tea was dumped into Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party, how tea diffuses in water, and the math behind calculating how many tea bags it would take to turn Boston Harbor into a giant cup of tea.


Applications for Education
Ask your students to attempt to calculate how many tea bags they would need to turn Boston Harbor into tea before showing them this video.

When I was teaching U.S. History I had more than a couple of students ask if the water tasted like tea after the Boston Tea Party. My answer was always a quick "no." Now I have the math to support that answer. 

A New Vertical Ruler and New Margin Settings in Google Docs

Google has added two new formatting features to Google Docs. First, there is now a vertical ruler that you can use to evenly space the rows in tables in your Google Documents. Second, you can now adjust the size of the margins in your headers and footers. 

Both of these changes will be helpful to those who use a lot of tables and charts in their documents. I wish that the vertical ruler feature had been available last week when I was trying to format a table to align to a sheet of name tag stickers I was trying to print. 

Like most updates to Google Docs and other G Suite products, this update will be gradually rolling-out over the course of the next couple of weeks. If you don't see the new features today, you will see them before too long. 

Halloween Articles for ELA Lessons

ReadWorks is a popular service that offers a huge library of standards-aligned ELA lesson plans for K-12. You can search the ReadWorks library according to grade level and topic. Throughout the year ReadWorks publishes curated collections to align with holidays and other major events.

This week ReadWorks published a collection of forty-two articles and lesson plans that have a Halloween theme. When I looked through the collection it  appeared that all of the articles were for a  K-8 audience with a few 9-12 articles mixed in. The articles covered topics like the history of Halloween, pumpkin farms, and the history of ghost stories.

More Halloween resources can be found in these articles: