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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

5 Ways to Find Free Images - From the Archive

Due to an injury and some pressing personal matters requiring my attention, posts for the rest of the week will be favorites from the archive.

Google's recent introduction of the "Explore" tool in Google Slides retained the option for students to find images for their slides, but removed the option to filter the images according to usage rights. There are other ways to find free images to legally use in slides, videos, and other multimedia projects. In the following video I demonstrate five tools that students can use to find free images.

Great Tools for Making Videos on Chromebooks - A Handout from the Archive

Due to an injury and some pressing personal matters requiring my attention, posts for the rest of the week will be favorites from the archive.

Making videos is one of my favorite digital media projects to do with students and teachers. Chromebook users aren't able to access iMovie, Final Cut, and some of the full-fledged video production tools that you'll find for desktops. But that doesn't mean there aren't some good alternative options available. In the handout embedded below I highlight twelve good options for creating videos on Chromebooks.


Please note that if your school blocks Box.com you won't be able to see the PDF.

You can learn lots of ways to use Chromebooks in your classroom during the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp this July. Register this month and you'll save $50 on the registration cost.


7 Lessons About Electricity - From the Archive

Due to an injury and some pressing personal matters requiring my attention, posts for the rest of week will be some favorites from the archives of the blog.

One of my most memorable elementary school science lessons included all of us creating working circuits with multiple switches to illuminate light bulbs. Our power source was 120 volt standard outlet. I don't think that would be allowed in most classrooms today, but our teacher, Mrs. Carlson, was young and fearless. I was reminded of that lesson this morning when I watched SciShow Kids' new video about the power of circuits. The video provides students with clear visuals and explanations of how a circuit works including the function of a switch. The video then demonstrates creating a circuit with a battery, small switch, and a light bulb.


Not all electricity is distributed in the same way. Some is distributed through direct currents like batteries in a flashlight and some is distributed through alternating currents which is what you find in the power lines running through your neighborhood. The following from Derek Owens explains the differences between direct current and alternating current.


An interesting TED-Ed lesson on The Science of Static Electricity.



Brain Stuff has a video that offers a good explanation of why we hear a buzzing sound coming from fluorescent lights found in many schools and office buildings. The video is embedded below.



Minute Physics offers a short video explaining how modern light bulbs work and how light bulb design has changed over the last 100+ years.The video also includes explanations of the different types of modern light bulbs and their applications. The video is embedded below.



Hydro to Home is an interactive story of hydro-electric power from raindrops to homes. The story walks visitors through each step of the process of generating hydro-electric power and delivering to consumers' homes. The story is narrated and along the way there are interactive images that visitors can click on to learn even more information about hydro-electric power.

The Blobz Guide to Electric Circuits is a neat series of interactive animations designed to help students of elementary and middle school age learn how electric circuits work. There are five sections to the series. Each sections builds upon the lessons of the previous section. The series starts with the basics of what makes a circuit complete and concludes with diagramming and building circuits. Each section in the series has a few short lessons and is followed by an animated interactive activity to which students can apply what they have just learned.

Online PD Opportunities With Me Starting Next Week

Last summer more than 200 people joined me for online professional development. This summer is shaping up to have even more people earn professional development hours and graduate credits through my online courses. The next section of courses is going to begin ten days from now. A description of each course, it’s dates and times, and registration links are included below. If you’re a subscriber to the Practical Ed Tech newsletter be sure to use the discount code “subscriber” when you register.

Getting Going With G Suite
Getting Going With G Suite is a webinar series designed for teachers and administrators who are new to using Google Apps for Education. Getting Going With G Suite is a five week course covering everything you need to know to integrate Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Calendar, and Google Sites into your practice. Three graduate credits are available for the course through my partnership Midwest Teachers Institute and Calumet College of St. Joseph. Graduate credits require an additional fee and completion of weekly assignments. The next course starts on June 1st at 7pm EDT. Register here.

Teaching History With Technology
In Teaching History With Technology you will learn how to develop engaging and challenging learning activities through the use of tools like Google Earth and Maps, video production tools, primary source databases, and how to help your students become better researchers. This course features three interactive online meetings along with a discussion forum in which you can further interact with me and your classmates. The cost of the course is $97 including access to the live sessions, recordings of the webinars, handouts, and PD certificate. The next course begins on May 31st at 3pm EDT. Register here.

From Blog to Job – A Teacherpreneur Jumpstart
I’ve been earning money through my blog for eight years. I’ll teach you how to do it too! In this four week course I’ll give you the blueprints for developing an online presence through which you can earn money. All the questions that you’ve always wanted to ask about making money through blogs and social media will be answered for you in this course. Learn more and register here. The next course begins on June 4th at 7pm EDT.

Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders
Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders is a three week webinar series during which teachers and school administrators will learn the how to choose the best blogging platform for their situations, how to set-up a blog for classroom and school-wide use, and learn about strategies on how to manage blogs in classroom and school-wide settings. Participants will also learn how to avoid the mistakes that often lead to blogging endeavors being abandoned. After establishing blogs we’ll jump into using social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to reach out to parents, students, and other members of school communities. The next course begins June 6th at 7pm EDT. Register here.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Benefits of Using Backchannels In Your Classroom

Over the years I've introduced a lot of teachers to using  tools like Padlet, TodaysMeet, and Socrative in their classrooms. All three of these tools can be used as backchannel and informal assessment tools. I've written about various ways to use each of these tools in the past. (Click here for TodaysMeet, here for Padlet, and here for Socrative). Here are some of the key benefits of using backchannels in your classroom.

1. Shy students are given a place to ask questions and contribute to conversations.

2. Students who process information by asking a lot of questions can ask an unlimited amount of questions without dominating the classroom conversation. Everyone can see their questions and you can choose when to address their questions.

3. Gauge your students' interest in and or prior knowledge of a topic.

4. Extend your classroom conversations beyond the time in your school's schedule. If you have started a backchannel during a classroom conversation and it's going well you don't have to worry about running out of time because you can have students continue the dialogue later in the day. Students who thing of a question or comment later in the day can add them without having to wait until the next class meeting to share that question or comment.

5. Gauge the effectiveness of an activity in real time. By having students share questions and comments during an activity, you can get an immediate sense of the effectiveness of that activity by gathering feedback from all of your students.