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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mailbag - Answers to Questions from Readers

Every week I receive a questions from readers of FreeTech4Teachers.com. Some of those questions are very specific to a classroom or school while others have a more broad appeal. Those with a broader appeal end up in my periodic mailbag columns. Here are some questions that I've recently received whose answers may benefit a number of people. If you have a question for me you can email me directly at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or if you're an email subscriber just hit the reply button on any email I send out.

Question:
My colleagues and I are looking for a way for students to post ideas (but not a polling site). Do you have any suggestions?

Padlet.com is a tool that makes it easy for students to post ideas. Tozzl.com is another that I like for that purpose. A video on how to use Padlet is available here. A video on how to use Tozzl is available here.

Question:
I teach journalism and have been exploring apps to help my students record, edit and post audio interviews and, if possible, narrated slideshows. Any free apps for iPhone and Android that you can recommend?

A few options come to mind for your situation. First, StoryCorps.me is designed to help people conduct and record great interviews. The app includes a set of questions that you can use in your interview. The question sets are varied depending upon the relationship that you do or don't have with your interviewee. While recording your interview you can swipe through the questions to help you keep the interview on track. Completed recordings can saved on your device and or shared with the StoryCorps community. Second, AudioBoom offers an app (iOS and Android) for creating audio recordings. You can apply a background image to display with the recording when it is posted online. Finally, I often recommend ShadowPuppet Edu for making audio slideshows on an iPad, but I fear that university students might find it a little too simple.

Question:
My local professional org. wants to create a free website for our group. And, we are using smore for a monthly newsletter. Is there a way we can combine our needs into a website with pages that archive monthly content say with Google? Where would we find info/training vids on this?

When you say, "say with Google" I assume you're talking about a Google Account. If that is the case then Google Sites is a good option for developing a website for your organization. You can have multiple page formats including an announcements page within your site. If you're trying to divide the workload in your organization then you can add multiple editors to the site too. As for training, I have a tutorial on Google Sites that can be viewed here. I also offer online training on Google Apps.

Question:
With my students I have created bilingual dictionary in Google sheets (two columns, one for English and one for translation). Do you happen to know of any way to turn it into online dictionary with a search box?

If you share the Spreadsheet with students in a "view only" mode they should be able to search within the spreadsheet (Ctrl+F will bring up the search box). The process for doing this would be to publish the spreadsheet to the web as "view only" (that setting is found under the File menu) then post the link on your blog or simply direct to students to the link through a Goo.gl shortened URL.

The Week in Review - The Winds Are Changing

Good evening from Woodstock, Maine where the wind is howling as the temperature is dropping. At this time of year around here we see a lot of rapid shifts in the weather. The shifts make it hard to plan outdoor activities (I should have ridden my bike before the wind picked up) and it creates some really cool colors in the sky like that in the picture to the left. From my office window on Thursday I shot a neat video of a thunderstorm rolling in. You can see that video here on my Instagram feed.

Speaking of summer. I'm offering a few online PD opportunities this summer. Teaching History With Technology begins in July, Getting Going With GAFE is offered in June and July, and Blogs & Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders is offered in July. 

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Making the Most of Google Keep
2. Ten Great Tools for Telling Stories With Pictures - A PDF Handout
3. Create Animated Videos and Presentations at the Same Time on Wideo
4. Dozens of Story Starters in One Free eBook
5. A Crash Course for Kids on Weathering & Erosion
6. Try Scratch Jr. for Programming Fun on iPads and Android Tablets
7. How to Create, Edit, and Share Notes on Google Keep

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
MidWest Teachers Institute offers online graduate courses for teachers.
HelloTalk is a mobile community for learning a new language.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
SeeSaw is a great iPad app for creating digital portfolios.