Monday, October 4, 2021

A Solution When Google Forms or Microsoft Forms Won't Do What You Need

Google Forms and Microsoft Forms can be used to accomplish a lot of common school tasks like creating self-grading quizzes, managing sign-out/sign-in sheets, and collecting survey data. But there are some tasks that Google Forms and Microsoft Forms can't do or can only do in a rather convoluted way. I was reminded of this when a reader sent me an email looking for help creating an online form that parents could complete to book a parent-teaching conference while simultaneously submitting information about the concerns they want to discuss during the meeting. My first suggestion was to try Google Calendar appointment slots, but that didn't offer enough structure for responses. My second suggestion was to take a look at JotForm. 

JotForm is an excellent alternative to Google Forms and Microsoft Forms because it offers capabilities that Google Forms and Microsoft Forms don't offer. For example, without the need for a third-party addon you can set limits on the number of times a response choice can be chosen. Another great feature is the ability to turn form responses into a fillable PDF. For those who manage after-school clubs or other groups that need to collect payments, JotForm offers that option. But the best aspect of JotForm is the gallery of more than 10,000 premade form templates that you can use. 

Within JotForm's gallery of templates there is a collection of more than 200 appointment form templates. You can customize the templates to fit your needs as well as integrate them with Google Calendar, Excel, Zoom, and a bunch of other helpful services. So if you're looking for an alternative to using Google Forms or Microsoft Forms to manage meeting scheduling, take a look at JotForm. I've included a couple of tutorials below to help you get started. 

How to Create an Online Form and Fillable PDF With JotForm

How to Create an Appointment Scheduler With JotForm

A Small, Helpful Change to Google Slides

Last week I shared a couple of updates to Google Docs, including watermarking documents, that teachers and students should find helpful. There was also a small update made to Google Slides last week. That update was to replace the "Present" button with a "Slideshow" button. 

If you don't already see it, in the next week or so the "Present" button in Google Slides will be replaced by the "Slideshow" button in Google Slides. The functions will remain the same. The only change is to the name of the button. 

Applications for Education
The Google Workspace Updates blog says that this change is being made to differentiate between presenting in person and presenting in Google Meet. There's also the added benefit of helping new Google Slides users identify how to see their slides as a slideshow and not just the editor view. Speaking of new Google Slides users, I have a series of tutorials designed for teachers who are new to using Google Slides. Those tutorials are included below. 

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

Thank you for your support!
In September many of you joined me for my Practical Ed Tech webinar titled Search Strategies Students Need to Know. Your registrations from that webinar and enrollment in my other courses (listed below) help me keep Free Technology for Teachers going.

A big thank you also goes to the companies whose September advertising helped keep the lights on.
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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.