On the Impending Debt Ceiling Problem

The government shut down is news everywhere and the debt ceiling is looming.

This is a great graphic  from NPR that depicts the entities to which the US Government owes money, approximately $16.8 trillion. This image could easily be used in any Social Studies course, and is interesting for general reference.

Linking Magic with Google Drive

Google Drive’s sharing options are great. Today my seniors discussed some research

about cases on the Supreme Court’s 2013-14 docket. Some of them typed their notes into a Google Doc, others used Pages and even one used paper (amazing, isn’t it?). Once we were finished, all of the research needed to be turned in and it was my goal to allow the students to see the work of the others so I created a Google doc that had a table in it and each student typed the name of their court case into the document. The students who created their notes in a Google doc clicked “Share” and set the privacy settings to “Public: Anyone With the Link Can View.” They then copied the URL, went to their case name in our shared document, highlighted it, clicked the link button, and added their URL so their case name became a hyperlink to their research. For those who created their notes in Pages, we uploaded the document to Google Drive, didn’t convert it, and then shared it with the same process. For the one who wrote out in pencil? We scanned the paper to pdf, uploaded it to Google drive and shared that too. It was great.

This same process could be used to make a great class fake “Facebook” assignment. Have each student pick and research an author, famous person, event, something like that. Then, each student will make a copy of a “Fake Facebook” Google template like this one. They fill in the required information, share their links with the class, and then in the “Friends” column, they can select their classmates’ URLs and create hyperlinked “Friends” like the real Facebook allows so an historical period could be linked together like this! (Only JFK & LBJ are linked in this example.)  Pretty sweet…

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.

.

Trial Scripts and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals

Love it! My Constitutional and Criminal Law students are learning about the differences between state and federal cases and I was looking for a scripted federal trial they could do (they prepare one later in the semester, I just wanted a quick one-day activity. After finding a bunch of random mock trial cases (like this one), I finally found what I was looking for! A scripted trial set in federal district court. We used the materials provided by the United States District Court and had  great class. Today we compared what we heard yesterday in our scripted trial to what we heard in an audio recording of a case heard in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Who knew the Eighth Circuit had a channel in iTunes? Nice!