Spicing Up Note Taking….With Google Drive!

Yes, a computer can be used as a replacement of paper and pencil for taking notes, but I would love to see a regular piece of paper do what we did in class for the past couple of days (and as quickly)!

Yesterday my Constitutional and Criminal Law class started to delve into the 5th Amendment. As we “unpacked” the amendment (thank you for the help, Teaching Civics/Civically Speaking and the Minnesota Center for Community Legal Education – both have great civics resources), my students took notes on a Google doc. After we discussed “indictment,” they learned about the news search feature on Google and they found two news articles involving indictments, added the links into their notes, wrote a brief summary of each story and then shared their findings with a neighbor. We repeated the process with the term grand jury.

Today I wanted the students to further explore details about a grand jury. Using some of the content from long ago and a source that I can no longer find online, I created this Google Doc with fact sorting and photo identification activities for my students to complete. They added the content from this activity to their notes page from yesterday’s class. The categorizing of bullet points was impressively effective at generating thought and discussion (I will certainly use that strategy again in the future), and the photo exercise went so well I am trying to find other places the concept could be used.

A great day in the classroom. Cheers!


Public Domain? Meet Government Shutdown

A neat trick for finding many public domain resources has been thwarted by the partial government shutdown.  Recognizing that the resources created by the Federal Government (images, video, documents), are funded by tax dollars, they are in the public domain thereby free (and great for education!). It may or may not be well known that a Google search for the thing you are looking for followed by site:.gov (all lowercase) returns to the searcher results limited to government websites. (e.g. hot air balloon site:.gov  will result in many images from NASA and other .gov sites with hot air balloons that are in the public domain.

With the events of the past week, many of the Federal Government websites including the National Park Service’s Public

USG Closed Sites

Domain Image Library, NASA and NIST are not available. Frustrating for people who like this great resource for presentations, webcreations, and multimedia projects, but it is good to be aware. Looking for some alternatives? Maybe not as diverse but the MorgueFile is one of many other great resources for education-friendly images.


There is a chance

After some reflection, I realized that I have been reading blogs since “attending” a K12 Online Conference session in 2006 on RSS and how to use it. I have learned about so many things and feel like I know some of the people whose blogs I have been reading for so long. I have now also been thinking more about Twitter as a professional development tool. I know some bloggers have migrated from blogs to Twitter, some take a hybrid approach and do both, and some on Twitter never blogged, they just Tweet and the information is great (some of my colleagues and friends love it) but for whatever reason I have had a tough time getting into Twitter.

Today I read a blog post by Wesley Fryer (Moving at the Speed of Creativity) which introduced me to TweetChat – a tool that looks very user-friendly and allows one to easily follow and participate in scheduled educational chats. Simply enter your Twitter account information (yes, I have an account, though it is pretty quiet), select the desired hashtag to follow, and I think I have a chance at successfully following some of the chats now. Thank you, Wesley Fryer I love your blog and – I am looking forward to a new adventure. 🙂

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