Monday, October 4, 2021

Supreme Court Lesson Plans

C-SPAN Classroom is a must-bookmark for anyone who teaches U.S. History. The large collection of free lesson plans is one of the things that keeps C-SPAN Classroom on the top of my list of go-to resources for more than a decade. And if you're a member of C-SPAN Classroom (membership is free) you'll get regular emails about updates to the collection of lesson plans. For example, the latest email highlighted the collection of free Supreme Court lesson plans.

C-SPAN Classroom's collection of Supreme Court lesson plans is divided into four sections. Those four sections are The Process and Structure of the Judicial Branch, Judicial Interpretation, Supreme Court Cases, and History of the Supreme Court. All of the lesson plans follow the same structure of using video clips from C-SPAN's library to introduce and explain a concept or court case followed by a set of discussion questions for students to answer. In most cases there is also a handout containing background information for students to read prior to watching the video clips. 

The Supreme Court Cases section includes lesson plans covering more than thirty landmark cases including Marbury v. Madison, Plessy v. Fergusson, Dred Scott v. Sandford, and Miranda v. Arizona.

The C-SPAN Classroom Supreme Court lesson plans are appropriate for high school classrooms although some of the lesson plans may be appropriate for a middle school classroom. 

On a related note, you can always use Google Scholar to locate federal and state court rulings. Here's a demonstration of how to do that. 

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Docs, Guesses, and Hats - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it definitely feels like Fall. This week I had to break out my stash of winter hats (my Canadian friends would call them toques). It's cheaper to put on a hat and sweater than it is to turn on the furnace. Before I had kids I always tried to make it to November before turning on the heat. That made for some cold nights come mid-October. Now that I have little kids making it to October without turning on the heat is a win. 

Anyway, this weekend we're putting on our hats and sweaters and going to watch a soccer game. We'll also be spending some time playing in leaf piles as there are now enough leaves on the ground to make some piles. I hope that you also have something fun planned for your weekend. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Two New Google Docs Features to Note 
7. Tract - Project-based, Peer-to-Peer Learning

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This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

The Physics of Riding Bicycles

Last Sunday afternoon something happened in my life that I will never forget. That event was my oldest daughter roding her bicycle down our driveway on her own! No training wheels, no Dad holding on to the back of her seat, completely on her own! It was awesome! She did it a few more times this week and we got it on video. 

The process of helping my daughter learn to ride her bike reminded me that there is a lot happening at once to make a bike go forward while keeping your balance, particularly keeping your balance while turning. It's one of those things that you kind of just have to experience to understand. That said, once you've mastered it you might be curious about the physics of riding bicycles. 

Minute Physics offers two videos about the physics of bicycles. In How Do Bikes Stay Up? we learn how bikes stay upright, how design and weight influences balance, and why bicycles are difficult to balance in reverse.

The Counterintuitive Physics of Turning a Bike explains how we turn bicycles.

Applications for Education
Both videos provide physics lessons based around an activity with which most students are familiar. Before letting students watch the videos ask them to try to explain how bikes stay up and turn. The first of the two videos could also provide inspiration for an outdoor physics lesson.

Friday, October 1, 2021

How to Add Watermarks to Google Documents

Earlier this week Google announced that a new watermark feature would soon be added to Google Documents. That new feature appeared in one of my Google accounts this morning so I immediately gave it a try. The new watermark feature in Google Docs is very easy to use. In this short video I demonstrate how it works. 

How to add a watermark to a Google Document:
1. Open your document. 
2. Open the "insert" drop-down menu. 
3. Select "watermark" from the drop-down menu. 
4. Click "select image" to choose an image to use as the watermark on your document. You can upload images, choose from Google Drive or Google Photos, or conduct a Google Images search to apply an image as your watermark.
5. Choose the size of your watermark. 
6. The watermark will appear on all pages of your document. 

Applications for Education
Applying a watermark to a Google Document could be an easy way to include your school or school district's branding on documents that you plan to print and send to parents. It's also helpful to anyone who is creating materials like lesson plans that they plan to distribute for others to use but want to make sure that credit is given to them. For example, I plan to use the watermark feature on documents that I create for distribution during my webinars and workshops

How to Turn a Spreadsheet Into Multimedia Flashcards

This fall I've answered more questions about creating flashcards than I have in the previous few years. In almost every instance Flippity has been my suggestion for a free tool to create sets of multimedia flashcards. 

Flippity's flashcard template lets you create multimedia flashcards by simply entering terms into a Google Sheet. Your flashcards can include audio, video, images, and text. In this new video I demonstrate how to create a set of multimedia flashcards by using Flippity's Google Sheets template. 

A bonus of using Flippity is that, as I point out at the end of the video, when you create a set of flashcards with Flippity's template you're also creating matching activities and practice quizzes at the same time.

Applications for Education
You could make flashcards for your students or students can use this template on their own. As the template is a Google Sheets template, you could have students collaborate to create a set of flashcards together.