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Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Week In Review - The Most Popular Posts of the Week

Good evening from Maine where it was a beautiful day for a walk in the woods. This week I had the privilege to work with teachers in the New York City Department of Education's Assistive Technology Center. I also conducted a few webinars and Skyped with a high school class for their career day. Teaching and talking with teachers and students always energizes me. Thank you to all that invited me in this week whether virtually or in-person. And if you ever want me to speak to your group, please visit my speaking page or email me directly at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. New Features Added to Google Classroom
2. Wiki Summarizer Can Help Students Start Their Research Projects
3. Use GoSoapBox to Survey Your Students In a Variety of Ways
4. Create Instructional Videos on Your Chromebook With Clarisketch
5. Canva Launches an iPad App for Creating Beautiful Infographics and Slides
6. How to Enable Offline Use of the Latest Version of Google Drive
7. Poll Your Students With Google+ Polls

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is offers professional development workshops in Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
BoomWriter and WordWriter are fantastic tools that help students develop their writing skills.

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Check Out the K12 Online Conference - Igniting Innovation

Earlier this week Dr. Wes Fryer kicked-off this year's K12 Online Conference with a great keynote video. The theme of this year's conference is igniting innovation. Wes put together a great video in which he talks about what motivates his innovation and how we can help students become innovators. Wes did a great job of including not only his perspective but also those of twelve other educators (I make a brief cameo in the video).

In his keynote post Wes included a call to contribute your voice to the conversation about sparking innovation. To contribute, create a 60 second video about one of the following questions then submit your video here.

  • What ignites your spark for teaching and learning inside and outside the classroom? 
  • What sustains your spark for creativity and innovation? 
  • What can be a spark of innovation to encourage teachers who are not early adapter / innovators in our schools?

The K12 Online Conference is an annual event in which presenters post video presentations that align to that year's theme. New videos are released at 8am Eastern Time every day from October 20th through the 31st. You can view the presentations on YouTube and iTunes. Find the schedule of presentations here.

It's Not You, It's Everyone! - How to Tell If a Website Is Down

We've all had that feeling of frustration that rises up when you want to use a website and it just won't load. Sometimes the problem is on your end. Sometimes the problem is the site itself. A quick way to check is to enter the site's URL at Down For Everyone Or Just Me? Down For Everyone Or Just Me? won't fix the problem of not being able to access a site, but it will at least let you know if your computer or network is the cause of the problem.

Along the same lines of determining if a site is down or not, the incognito mode in Chrome and privacy mode in Firefox can be useful when you want to see or demonstrate how a site will look to your students when they visit it for the first time.

There are two other occasions on which I use incognito mode in Chrome. First, I use incognito mode when I'm demonstrating how to use a web app or website that requires my username and password. Second, I use incognito mode when I want to show people what a shared or published Google Document looks like when you're not signed into a Google Account. In both cases opening a new browser in incognito mode saves me the hassle of signing out of an account when I know that I'm going to be back into it in a few minutes. Incognito mode thinks that I'm a new user and doesn't have my saved usernames and passwords so I'm able to show sites and documents as they appear when I'm not signed into them.

How to Create Timelines With the RWT Timeline Creator

Read Write Think offers a bunch of great web, iOS, and Android applications for students. Their timeline creation tool is a good one for elementary school and middle school use. RWT Timeline is available as a web app (Flash required), as an Android app, and as an iPad app. All three versions make it easy for students to create a timeline for a series of events. In the video below I demonstrate how to use the web version of the RWT Timeline creation tool.



Applications for Education
The Android and iPad versions of RWT Timeline support multiple user profiles making it a great choice for classrooms that have more students than tablets. The web version of RWT Timeline also supports multiple users.

The aspect of RWT Timeline that I appreciate the most is the flexibility of date formats. In fact, if you look at the following screenshot of my sample timeline you'll see that I didn't use specific dates at all. The use of RWT Timeline doesn't have to be limited to history courses. Students could use RWT Timeline to create timelines of the plot of a story they've read. Or they could use it to plan the plot line of a story they're planning to write.