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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Variety of Ways for Students to Explore National Parks Online

Last week the edublog-o-sphere was buzzing with the news of Google's publication of new National Parks virtual tours available in the Google Arts & Culture apps for Android and iOS. At the same time Google also published new Expeditions virtual tours of the "hidden treasures" of National Parks. Both of those releases do provide students with great looks at National Parks. But if you don't have Android devices or Google Cardboard viewers, the tours aren't really available to you. There are some other ways that your students can explore and learn about U.S. National Parks online.

Web Rangers offers seven categories of games about different subjects related to the National Parks. The game categories are people, animals, parks, science, history, nature, and puzzles. Each category contains games of varying difficulty rated from easy to difficult. Some of the game topics include dendrochronology, animal tracking, animal identification, fire fighting, and map reading. Students can play Web Rangers games as visitors or as registered users. Registered users can track their progress and earn virtual rewards. Registered users can also create their own customized virtual ranger stations

The National Parks Service's Digital Image Archive is an excellent place to find images of U.S. National Parks. You can search the archive by park and or subject. All of the images are free to download as they are in the public domain. The National Parks Service also offers a b-roll video gallery. The videos in the galleries are in the public domain. The b-roll video gallery can be searched by park, monument, building, or person. All of the videos can be downloaded. Some files are quite large so keep that in mind if your school has bandwidth limits and you have all of your students searching for videos at the same time.

From Yellowstone to Bryce Canyon to Acadia the United States is full of national parks that showcase wonderful geology. The National Park Service has organized all of the parks and their geological features on one Tour of Park Geology page. The Tour of Park Geology highlights fifteen geological features including fossils, caves, shorelines, and plate tectonics. Click on any feature on the Tour of Park Geology page to jump to more information about that feature and the park(s) that contain that feature.

Google Earth offers a great way for students to view national parks in the United States and beyond. Your students can explore imagery in Google Earth to learn about the topography of a national park. In a lot of cases there is Street View imagery available within national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Your students might also benefit from viewing tours within Google Earth.To locate a tour you can refine a Google search by file type to .KMZ and then launch the tours that appear in your search results.

Over the years PBS has produced many videos about the National Parks. You can view some of those videos in their entirety on the PBS video website. Search on the site for "national parks" and you'll have a big list of videos to view. Here's a list to get you started.

Timers, Word Clouds, and Kahoot

At the end of every month I like to take a look at the search terms visitors frequently use on Free Technology for Teachers. It gives me a sense of what people are interested in learning about. That information helps me brainstorm new blog posts for the next month (by the way, I have a running list that I keep in a notebook). The three most commonly searched terms in August were "timers," "word cloud," and "Kahoot." Here's some information about all three.

Timers
Simply type into Google search "set timer" followed by an amount of time and a countdown timer is displayed. An alarm beeps when time is up. You can make the timer appear full screen without advertisements by clicking a little box icon to the right of the timer.

Russel Tarr's Classtools Countdown Timer has two slick features. You can create and set multiple timers on the same page. This means that if you had students sharing in rapid succession you wouldn't have to reset the timer for each student, you simply move onto using the next timer on the page. The second feature of note in the Classtools Countdown Timer is the option to add music to your timers. You can have your countdown timers set to music. Mission Impossible, The Apprentice, and Countdown are the standard music options. You can add other music by using the YouTube search tool built into the timer.

Word Clouds
Word cloud generators provide students with a nice way to visualize the most frequently used words in a passage of text. There are plenty of word cloud creation tools on the web. There is even a Google Docs Add-on for making word clouds. One relatively newer tool for making word clouds is found at WordClouds.com. In my video embedded below I demonstrate the features of WordClouds.com


Watch my video embedded below to learn how to make word clouds in Google Documents.


Kahoot:
In April Kahoot released a new team mode. The team mode is designed to be used with students who are sharing computers, tablets, or phones. In team mode students arrange themselves in teams around a shared computer or tablet. When you start a Kahoot game you'll now choose "team mode." With team mode selected your students will be prompted to enter a team name and a list of the team members. After the teams have entered their names you will be ready to start the game. One of the nice features of team mode is that students have time to discuss their answer choices before they are allowed to submit a response. From there the game is played and scored as any other Kahoot game is scored.

Kahoot's ghost mode essentially gives students the opportunity to play a Kahoot review game against themselves. In ghost mode students measure their progress against themselves. First, run a Kahoot game as you normally would. At the end of the game select "ghost mode" to run the game again. In ghost mode students play against their own scores from the previous game. Then when you run the game students will be competing against the "ghost" version of themselves from the previous running of the game. For example, I play a game as a student in the first running of a game then in the second running of the game I'll be competing against my previous score as well as those of my classmates.

One of the features of Kahoot that I frequently demonstrate in my workshops is the option to duplicate and edit quizzes that teachers have contributed to the public Kahoot quiz gallery. Duplicating and editing existing quizzes can save you a lot of time when you need to find a quick review activity for your students.

The Month in Review - The Most Popular Posts

It's the end of a busy month for me and I'm sure a busy month for everyone reading this blog who started the new school year this month. If you're trying to get caught up on some ed tech news that you might have missed over the last month, take a look at the list of the most popular posts of the month on Free Technology for Teachers.



The most popular posts of the month:
1. Finally! Google Classroom Lets You Share With Parents
2. Two Ways to Visually Show Classroom Noise
3. 5 Handy Google Slides Features You Should Know - Here's How to Use Them
4. Displaying YouTube Without Distractions
5. Google Cast for Education Gets Your Students on the Same Page
6. 5 Google Apps Updates You Might Have Missed This Week
7. How to Create a Simple Check Out / Check In System in Google Forms
8. Click to Spin - A Fun and Free Random Name Picker
9. Annotate Documents In the Updated Google Classroom Apps
10. Control What's Projected With Chromecast or Extended Display

I Will Come To Your School or Conference
Click here to learn about my professional development services. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
Haiku Deck offers the best alternative to PowerPoint.  
Pixton provides a create way to create comics.
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.
D2L offers a great LMS and they want your input to make it even better.
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.
Buncee offers a great tool for creating visual stories.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

6000+ Children's Books Available for Free

The University of Florida's Digital Collections offers a huge library of digitized children's books. Thanks to Open Culture I discovered this collection this afternoon and immediately started to browse through it. The books that you will find in the collection consist of works that are in the public domain. You can search for books according to topic, language, publisher, genre, and publication date.

All of the children's books in the collection can be read online. Reading the books online could be a bit difficult for some as there is a border with menus surrounding each page of the books. To avoid that, you can print all of the books for free. The printed version does not display anything but the book as it was scanned.

Applications for Education
The children's book available through the UFDC aren't books that your students or their parents are likely to see on bookstore shelves. The value of this collection is that it could introduce parents and students to books that they might enjoy reading together and wouldn't have otherwise found.

CNN Student News Is Back for 2016-17

For many years CNN Student News has been my go-to resource for current events lessons for middle school and high school students. Every summer CNN Student News goes on hiatus and comes back in late August. This year, for the first time that I've noticed, CNN Students News is available on iTunes as well as on the CNN website.

The video format for this school year is the same as it has been for years. The roughly ten minute episodes feature U.S. news stories, a world news stories, "shout out" to a classroom, and a quick quiz. Transcripts for each show are available for download. Unfortunately, it appears that CNN has stopped adding discussion question suggestions to the transcripts.

Two Ways to Visually Show Classroom Noise

Bouncy Balls is a free online noise meter that shows students the volume of the noise in your classroom. Bouncy Balls does this by displaying a set of colorful bouncing balls on your screen. The louder your students are, the higher and more frequently the balls on the screen bounce. To use Bouncy Balls simply go to the website, click "begin bouncing," and then click the microphone icon to allow the site to access your computer's microphone.

Calmness Counter is similar to Bouncy Balls. The difference is that Calmness Counter displays a dial meter to display the decibel level in your classroom. You can adjust the microphone input sensitivity directly on the Calmness Counter screen.

Applications for Education
Projecting either of these meters for all of your students to see could be a good way to help them understand the appropriate volume for conversations while working on group activities in your classroom.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Three Tools That Help Students Take Notes While Watching Videos

Creating flipped lessons in which students answer questions about a video that you make them watch can be one way to check whether or not they watched a video. Another way is to have them simply record their own observations and or write their own questions while watching a video. The following three tools are excellent options for those purposes.

VideoNot.es is a great tool to connect to your Google Drive account. With VideoNot.es you can take notes on one side of your screen while watching a video on the other side. Your notes are automatically synchronized with the timestamps in the video. You can share your notes just like you share any other file within Google Drive. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how VideoNot.es works.



Vialogues is a website that is designed to enable users to host conversations around a video. Users can upload videos to Vialogues or use YouTube videos as the centerpieces of their conversations. After you have selected a video from YouTube or uploaded a video of your own, you can post poll questions and add comments that are tied to points in the video. Your Vialogue can be made public or private. Public Vialogue's can be embedded into your blog or website. Watch the video below to learn how to use Vialogues.


With the TurboNote Chrome extension installed your students can take notes while watching any video. To take notes students just need to click the TurboNote extension icon in their browsers and start writing notes in the menu that appears on the right side of the screen. Any notes that studetns type are automatically time-stamped. Notes can be edited while the video is playing or while the video is stopped. All notes can be shared via social media and email.

6 Tools That Can Help Students Keep Track of Tasks

Services like Cel.ly and Remind are great for sending reminders about important school and classroom events to parents and students. That said, students shouldn't rely on teachers to remind them of their assignments. These are some of my favorite tools that students can use to keep track of their assignments and other school-related tasks.

Google Calendar has a great "add reminders" feature that works on the Google Calendar mobile apps as well as in the browser-based version. Students who have the mobile apps can If on their iOS or Android devices should see a red "+" button on the calendar. Students just need to tap that button to add a reminder to your calendar. In the browser version of Google Calendar students can click on a block of time on their calendars then select the "reminders" option to schedule a reminder. The reminders should synchronize across all of the devices a student uses while logged into his or her Google Account.

Strike App is a simple to-do list creation and management tool. To use Strike App just title your list of things to do and start typing your list. When you've completed a task just come back and strike it out by clicking on it, dragging it off the screen, or "x-ing" it out. You can share your to-do lists by sending people the link to your list. For those people who like to experiment with different backgrounds and themes, Strike App offers a handful of designs to choose from.

Fetchnotes is a neat service for creating and keeping notes online. Fetchnotes uses an interface for creating and sharing notes that will feel familiar to Twitter users. When you write a note, just use a hashtag to label your note. Then whenever you want to search for a note just enter a hashtag. For example, if I was a student taking notes in a history course I might use the hashtag "#revolution" for all notes related to revolutions. Then I could go back and read all of my notes about revolution by just searching for that hashtag. When you want to share a note with someone in your contacts you can do so by just putting "@" before the person's name. Fetchnotes works in your web browser and offers Android, iOS, and Chrome apps.

Dayboard is a free Google Chrome extension that opens your daily to-do list every time you open a new tab in Chrome. When you open a new tab for the first time Dayboard will appear and ask you to enter your to-do list for the day. After creating your to-do list for the rest of the day whenever you open a new tab you will see your list. You can place a checkmark next to items as you complete them. Dayboard does not require you to create an account, it works offline, and when I installed it it only asked for permission to view activity on the Dayboard website.

Any.DO is designed for creating to-do lists and sharing them with your friends and colleagues. On Any.DO you can type out a list of tasks or enter tasks by speaking into your phone. Once you've entered your task you can assign it to a day and time for completion. After assigning a completion deadline you can share that task with anyone in your contacts list even that person doesn't have the Any.DO app installed on his or her phone. Any.DO also gives you the option to attach notes to your tasks, set reminders for your tasks, and put notes into folders that you've created. For example, if I have notes of a personal nature like my grocery shopping list I can put that list into my "personal" folder instead of my "work" folder.

Google Keep can be an excellent to-do list app for Android and Chrome users. You can color code notes, make lists, and share notes. Google Keep includes reminder functions for students too. The videos embedded below illustrate the features of Google Keep.


Khan Academy Adds 21 Free iPad Apps to Their Offerings

In what looks like a clear move to try to reach the elementary school market, Khan Academy has acquired Duck Duck Moose. Duck Duck Moose is the developer of 21 popular iPad apps including ChatterPix, Draw and Tell, and Moose Math. Duck Duck Moose has also published eight Android apps.

ChatterPix and Draw and Tell are great apps for students to use to create animated videos. One of my favorite student-produced videos of the last year was created by Kindergarten students and their teacher using the ChatterPix app. That video is titled A Healthy Meal.

A Healthy Meal, provides a great example of using ChatterPix to create talking images to use in a video. As you can see in the video below, the students used ChatterPix to create talking vegetables and other foods. Those clips were then put together in a video editor (I can't tell for certain, but I'll guess that they were assembled in iMovie or WeVideo). Watch the video below. It just might be the cutest academic video you'll watch this year.



H/T to Danny Nicholson.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Download Your Videos - Knowmia and ScreenChomp Close In Three Days

Earlier this summer TechSmith announced that they were closing some of their free apps that teachers loved. That list includes the whiteboard video creation apps ScreenChomp and Knowmia Teach. On August 31st those apps will stop working. If you have created videos in either of those apps, you'll want to download them ASAP!

Watch this video to learn how to download your Knowmia Teach videos. 

Watch this video to learn how to download your ScreenChomp videos. 

In related news, SnagIt for Chrome is also being discontinued by TechSmith. Fortunately, all of that content should already be automatically stored in your Google Drive account.

Earlier this month I published a list of alternatives to Knowmia, ScreenChomp, and SnagIt for Chrome.

Remind Introduces a New Way to Coordinate Activities

Remind is one of my favorite tools for keeping parents informed about what's happening in your school. Last week Remind released a new feature that could help you organize and keep track of registrations for school events like field trips. The new feature is called activities.

Remind's new activities feature enables you to create activity registrations that are sent through Remind's platform to parents and students. Teachers and or school administrators create the activities and invitations are sent to specified students and or parents. Parents and students can respond through the Remind apps to register for the activity.

Activities created in Remind can be free events or events that require a payment such as for a field trip. If you choose to create an activity that requires a payment, parents can pay through the Remind app. Remind charges a transaction fee for events that require a payment. The transaction fee is paid by the parent in a manner that is similar to buying tickets to a sporting event and having a "convenience fee" tacked on to the purchase. As Audrey Waters pointed out, the transaction fee is clearly part of Remind's plan to move away from reliance on venture capital funding.

Applications for Education
Free events should be fairly easy to create and track in Remind's activities function. There could be plenty of problems enabling the payment option in schools. The people at Remind must be anticipating that because they have published a bunch of resources about managing activities and money collected through the app.

Padlet's Remake Feature Lets You Use & Create Templates

Last week the folks at Padlet introduced their fourth update of the summer. In June they overhauled the user interface and published a best of education gallery. Earlier this month they added a new post attribution feature. And late last week they added a new template copying feature they're calling "remake."

Padlet's new remake feature lets you make a copy of your own Padlet walls as well as those of anyone else who chooses to publish and enable the remake option. When you click on the remake option on a Padlet wall a copy will be created in your account. You can choose to copy all of the posts on a wall or you can choose to copy just the template/ layout of the wall. See the screenshot below for an illustration of the remake options.
Click image for full size.

Applications for Education
Padlet's remake feature could be quite handy when you want to use the same format for a wall, but don't want to reuse the posts on a wall. For example, I often create Padlet walls to use as exit tickets in which I want students to share something they learned that day and to share something that they still have questions about. Rather than recreating a wall for each class, I can now simply click remake and reuse the template across multiple classes.

Check out my playlist of Padlet tutorial videos to learn more about the many features that Padlet offers to teachers and students.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Week in Review - A New Team Member

Good morning from Maine where I'm writing my first blog post since Tuesday morning (yes, I write and schedule posts in advance). I haven't written a post since Tuesday because I've been a bit busy as my partner Jess and I welcomed our daughter this week. Isla was born on Tuesday evening. The room that she was born in overlooks the Portland Sea Dogs baseball stadium so on Wednesday evening we watched our first baseball game together. The Sea Dogs won and fireworks were displayed. Maybe years from now I'll tell her the fireworks were for her.

And for those who have followed my dog stories over the years, the dogs are adjusting well to have a new little sister.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. How to Create a Simple Check Out / Check In System in Google Forms
2. 15 Google Forms Tutorial Videos
3. How to Create a Map and Timeline Mashup
4. 11 Google Apps Updates You Might Have Missed This Summer - PDF
5. Google Expeditions Will Soon Be Available to iPad Users
6. How to Impose Time Limits on Google Forms
7. Remember to Sleep - A Lesson for Students

I Will Come To Your School or Conference
Click here to learn about my professional development services. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
Haiku Deck offers the best alternative to PowerPoint.  
Pixton provides a create way to create comics.
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.
D2L offers a great LMS and they want your input to make it even better.
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.
Buncee offers a great tool for creating visual stories.

How to Import and Convert PowerPoint to Google Slides

One of the questions that I often receive when I conduct Google Apps workshops for schools goes something like this, "what do I do with my old PowerPoint slides? Aren't they useless now?" The answer is, "no, they're not useless. It's easy to convert PowerPoint to Google Slides." In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to import and convert PowerPoint to Google Slides format.

A Good Way to Refine YouTube Search Results

When you search on YouTube the results will be a mix of current videos along with videos that could be many years old and no longer relevant to the topic you're researching. There is a quick and easy way to filter the results to show just recently published videos. I demonstrate how to do that in the video embedded below.

Friday, August 26, 2016

How to Use Simplenote to Take Notes

Simplenote is a free service for taking notes on just about any device. You can use it in your web browser, on an Android device, on a Kindle Fire, and on an iOS device. Simplenote also offers free desktop apps for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Simplenote is different from tools like Evernote and OneNote in that it doesn't offer any kind of web-clipping or bookmarking tools. It's just a pure note-taking tool. In the video embedded below I provide an short overview of Simplenote's key features including the very simple printing option.


Applications for Education
Simplenote is worth a look if you or your students are looking for a simple, straight-forward notes tool that works on almost every device. The simple nature of it lets students focus on taking notes without being distracted by other features. The default structure of notes could also help students organize notes across multiple subject areas.

Cite This For Me - Cite Websites In One Click

Cite This For Me is a free service designed to help students keep track of the resources that they use in their research work. Cite This For Me offers a free Chrome extension that lets students cite a webpage with just one click. The free extension will format citations in APA, MLA, Harvard, or Chicago style. Students can also use the extension to highlight and save portions of the webpages that they are citing.

All Cite This For Me citations are saved in students' free Cite This For Me accounts. In their account dashboards students can edit citations as well as manually enter citations of books, journals, and other references.

Applications for Education
As with all automatic citation tools, you will need to remind your students to double check that the citations created are properly formatted. Aside from that little quirk, Cite This For Me could be a great tool for students to use to keep track of the webpages that they use while conducting research online.

5 Handy Google Slides Features You Should Know - Here's How to Use Them

This is the time of year when many teachers and students start to use Google Apps for Education for the first time. It's also the time of year when people who have used Google Apps before discover that new features were added while they were on summer break. If that describes you and or your students, take a look the following video overview of five Google Slides features you should know.


Discover more Google Apps features in my playlist of Google Apps tutorial videos.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

4 Ways to Create Image-based Quizzes

Whether it is a graph for a math class, a diagram for a science class, or a map for a geography class there are plenty of times when an image provides a better question prompt than just words. Likewise, there are times when images provide better answer choices than words provide. Here are four free tools that you can use to create image-based quizzes.

In Google Forms you can now use images as answer choices to questions. You can also use images as question prompts in Google Forms. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use images as answer choices in Google Forms.



Wizer is a neat tool for creating a variety of interactive assignments including writing assignments, multiple choice quizzes, and labeling assignments. You can distribute your Wizer activities to your students through Google Classroom or through the use of a link and pin system. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to create an assignment in Wizer, how to distribute it, and how to view your students' responses to an assignment.



Thinglink Classroom combined with Thinglink's remix function can provide you with a nice way to build image-based review activities. One example of this is taking an image of a map and inserting questions on top of it. After building your questions on top of the image share it with your students and have them remix it to answer your questions. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to go about creating a map-based review activity in Thinglink.



Formative offers an nice way to create image-based quizzes. The image-based quizzes that you create in Formative can be embedded into your classroom blog where your students can then answer the questions in the quiz. In my video embedded below I demonstrate how to create the quiz, how to embed it into your blog, and I show you a student's perspective of the quiz as embedded into a blog.

5 Tools to Help Keep Your Students and Yourself Active & Healthy

The new school year always feels like a new calendar year to me as many students and teachers have "resolutions" for the new school year. If one of your resolutions for the new school year is to keep yourself or your students active and healthy, the following free resources are for you.

GoNoodle is a free service that is designed to promote physical fitness in a fun environment. GoNoodle features tons of free videos that lead students in short, 2-5 minutes, exercises. These are fun exercises like dancing that can be done in your classroom or at home with parents. GoNoodle provides an online environment in which students track the minutes that they spend exercising. Students choose avatars to represent themselves in the GoNoodle environment. New avatars are available once a student completes enough activity time to reach a new level.

Sworkit Kids is a similar app (Android versioniOS version) that will also help you get your students moving for short exercise breaks. Sworkit Kids doesn't have animated videos like GoNoodle does. Sworkit Kids simply features short video demonstrations of a movement like diagonal hopping accompanied by a countdown timer.

One of the simple improvements that I made to my diet a couple of years ago was cutting out sugar from my morning coffee (I never used cream). The CDC's Rethink Your Drink helped me understand how many extra calories I was taking in through sugar. Rethink Your Drink provides a chart of sugar content and calories found in popular beverages. The PDF also contains a chart of suggested alternatives to drinking sugary beverages. In addition to the charts Rethink Your Drink provides suggestions on ways to cut sugar calories safely while not sacrificing nutrients.

Space Chef is a free iPad app from the Lawrence Hall of Science. The purpose of the app is to introduce students to healthy foods and recipes that they may not have ever tried or even heard about. Space Chef features a fast-paced game in which students have to quickly grab the ingredients for a recipe. The ingredients scroll past them in three streams or flight paths. Students are shown a recipe at the top of the screen and they must grab the appropriate ingredients as they stream across the screen.

Arthur Family Health is a free resource from PBS Kids. Arthur Family Health is designed to help parents, teachers, and students learn about common health challenges children face. Through videos, games (online and offline), and data sheets visitors to Arthur Family Health can learn about asthma, allergies, nutrition, fitness, and resilience (dealing with tragedies).

Wonderville - Science and Technology Games for Kids

Wonderville is a great website for kids on which students can find games, videos, comics, and hands-on activities for learning about science and technology. The gallery of activities, games, videos, and comics is divided into three categories; fun science, awesome tech, and cool jobs.

A couple of the Wonderville games that I like are Reaction Action and Medieval Levers. In Medieval Levers students watch a short animated video about the physics of levers before trying to build their own catapults to use to attack the castle. In Reaction Action students learn about combustible gasses. The object of the game is to collect combustible gasses that can be used to create energy.

Applications for Education
Wonderville's games, comics, and videos can be used by elementary and middle school students on their own. The hands-on activities could be used by teachers as the basis for an elementary school science lesson plan. The hands-on activities include experiments in which students need to record observations.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Cautionary Note About Using Public Cloud Printers

A couple of weeks ago I went to a national office supply store to print sixty documents in color in high resolution. I only need to do this about once a year so it's cheaper to pay the office supply store to do it than it is to own and maintain a color printer. In years past I've brought in a USB drive and printed directly from it. This time I decided that I'd just use my Google Drive credentials to print from the store's networked printer.

I logged into the store's network printer using my Google Drive credentials and attempted to open the file that I needed to print. I wasn't logged in for more than ten seconds before I got kicked out and had to sign-in again. That should have been my first clue that something was wrong. I logged-in again and this time I didn't get kicked off, but I couldn't preview my file. At this point I was frustrated and logged-out of my Google Drive completely and left the store to go home and get a USB drive. Not more than five minutes after I left the store my phone blew-up with alerts from Google asking me to confirm or deny log-in activities. It appears that my Google Account was compromised by using that store's networked printer as there were multiple log-in attempts on my account from multiple locations around the globe. Fortunately, I caught it and responded to it quickly enough that nothing seems to have been compromised in my account other than my passwords which I reset.

The morale of the story is if you use a public networked printer and something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't. And always pay attention to alerts from Google about suspicious log-in activity.

A Simple Way to Make Your Own Google Maps Street View Game

Earlier this week I stumbled upon a local radio station's blog in which they had posted a little game called How Well Do You Know Maine Roads? That game was nothing more than ten Google Maps Street View images that you had to try to identify. The answers to the game prompts were posted at the bottom of the blog post.

As I looked at the game I thought that it was an instructive model for creating games to use with students. You could embed a series of Street View images into a post on your classroom blog and then have students submit their answers into a Google Form that provides them with instant feedback. Your Street View images could be of local places to test your students' knowledge of local geography. Alternatively, you could test your students' knowledge of world geography by embedding Street View imagery of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to embed Street View imagery into your blog posts.


If you want to use Google Forms to collect responses from students and give them instant feedback, watch the following video to learn how to do that.


11 Google Apps Updates You Might Have Missed This Summer - PDF

Over the summer Google released a bunch of updates to teachers' and students' favorite Google Apps. If you took a little break from your school Google Account over the summer and have just started to look at it again, you might notice that there are some new features available to you. I put together a summary of those new features, including some tutorial videos, in document that is embedded below. If you're the person who will be leading Google Apps PD at your school this fall, feel free to print this document and circulate amongst your staff. A Google Docs copy is also available to view here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How to Create a Map and Timeline Mashup

myHistro is a free multimedia timeline creation tool. When you create a timeline on myHistro each event that you add can be simultaneously displayed on a map on the same screen. Every event that you add to your myHistro timelines can include pictures and videos. On myHistro you can build a personal timeline or build a timeline about a theme or event in history. myHistro timelines can be created online or you can use the free iOS app to create events on your timeline. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create a multimedia timeline on myHistro.com.

TurboNote - Take & Share Notes While Watching Videos

TurboNote is a great Chrome extension that enables you to take notes while watching a video in the same web browser window. Unlike some similar extensions, TurboNote isn't limited to working with YouTube videos. TurboNote can be used on Vimeo, Netflix, and Facebook videos.

With the TurboNote extension installed you can take notes while watching any video. To take notes just tap the TurboNote extension icon in your browser and a menu for taking notes appears. Any notes that you type are automatically time-stamped. You can go back and edit your notes at any time by opening the TurboNote sticky notes option as seen in the video below. All notes can be shared via social media and email.


Applications for Education
TurboNote could be a great extension for students to use to write questions that pop-up while they are watching a video that you've assigned to them or that they have found on their own. They could then share those questions with you and or their classmates. I would have students share their questions with me then research the answers and share those with me too.

A Google Apps Guidebook Published by Students

My friend Kern Kelley and his students at Nokomis High School in Newport, Maine have spent most of this year putting together The Google Apps Guidebook. Kern and his students, collectively referred to as the Tech Sherpas, created the book for teachers who are new to using Google Apps for Education. The guidebook takes teachers through the core features of Google Apps for Education including Google Drive, Docs, Slides, Sites, Forms, Sheets, and Classroom. They also share tips for learning and leading Google search lessons.

Kern has long been my go-to person for questions regarding advanced aspects of Google Sheets and Forms. I jumped to that section when I received a copy of the book. I quickly found a great tip about using case-sensitive data validation to password-protect Google Forms. I also found a handy tip on conditional formatting in Google Sheets that will help me automate some functions in future Google Sheets.

For visual learners, The Google Apps Guidebook offers plenty of visuals that illustrate key steps in formatting of Documents, Slides, Classroom, Sheets, and Slides.

Like any physical how-to book about technology, The Google Apps Guidebook does suffer a little bit from recent changes to Google Apps. For example, this week Google rolled-out new features in Forms and Classroom. Those new features won't be found in the book. Fortunately, the book has more than enough evergreen content, the search lesson for example, that the book is worth your investment.

Overall, The Google Apps Guidebook is a good publication for new Google Apps for Education users. It can be purchased in bulk for professional development purposes. Tell Kern that I sent you.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mac Users Can Now Quickly Move From Evernote to OneNote

If you're one of the many people considering leaving Evernote after the latest round of "updates" made its free plan almost worthless, Microsoft has something for you. OneNote is a free tool that works on every platform. Microsoft has offered an Evernote to OneNote transition tool for Windows users for a while. Late last week Microsoft introduced a similar tool for Mac users. Evernote to OneNote transition tool for Mac lets you quickly move all of your Evernote content to OneNote.

OneNote offers a free web clipper tool that works in Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox. OneNote also lets you take notes online and offline, digitize printed material like business cards, and share your notes with other users.

If you're considering a switch to OneNote, take a look at some of Jeff Bradbury's tutorials on how to use it in your classroom.

Applications for Education
OneNote can be a great tool for students to use to organize research projects. The web clipper lets them save articles and other resources while conducting web searches. The notes features lets them create outlines for their projects and share those outlines with you for review.

Google Expeditions Will Soon Be Available to iPad Users

Last week Google released another round of updates to their Expeditions program. Expeditions is the virtual reality program that lets students experience immersive views of more than 200 places including the International Space Station, coral reefs, the Taj Mahal, and the White House.

Currently, to experience Expeditions you must have a Google Cardboard viewer and a supported Android device. According to last week's Google for Education blog post, soon you will be able to experience Expeditions on iPads. On your iPad you will be able to use full screen mode to view the Expeditions virtual field trips.

At the Google I/O conference the Expeditions product manager shared some of the early lessons learned by using Expeditions in classrooms. The video of that presentation is embedded below.

How to Impose Time Limits on Google Forms

Google Forms is a great tool for creating and delivering online quizzes and surveys. Like with any quiz or survey, you may find yourself needing to impose a time limit for responses. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to impose a time limit on a Google Form.


You can find fifteen more Google Forms tutorials in the playlist embedded below.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Remember to Sleep - A Lesson for Students

As the new school year gets going there will be plenty of students and teachers who are adjusting to a new sleeping schedule. It can be tempting to stay up late to get "just one more thing" done. We're actually better off going to bed and getting up early than we are if stay up late trying to get something done. The Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep is a TED-Ed lesson that teaches us about the importance of sleeping on a steady schedule.

In The Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep, embedded below, we learn how sleep "resets" the brain. The video also explains how memories are formed and retained by our brains.

50 for 50 Writing Contest for Students

Middle school and high school social studies teachers in the U.S. who are looking for a writing project to start the year, should take a look at PBS Election Central's 50 for 50 writing contest. The contest asks students to draft open letters to Presidential candidates. The letters should include ideas and suggestions on what needs to change in government to get more accomplished. One winner from the middle school category and one winner from the high school category will be chosen to attend the final Presidential debate in Las Vegas.

September 21st is the deadline for submissions to the 50 for 50 contest. Teachers need to register and submit the letters written by their students.

15 Google Forms Tutorial Videos

On Friday I published a new video guide to using Google Forms for new users. As I noted when I published that video, there are many other features available in Google Forms. Over the last year I've created a bunch of videos on some of the advanced features available in Google Forms. Those videos are all in my Google Forms tutorials playlist that is embedded below. Of course, the playlist will be updated as I create more videos about Google Forms.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where we're still enjoying summer even if there are a few leaves starting to change. One of the hallmarks of late summer in Maine is the surplus of tomatoes that you see people trying to give away or trade away. I don't grow any myself and I don't trade for them. Nonetheless, I always seem to end up with more tomatoes than I can handle. I guess that's just one of the things I love about living in a rural community.



Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Finally! Google Classroom Lets You Share With Parents
2. Displaying YouTube Without Distractions
3. GoogleCast for Education Gets Your Students on the Same Page
4. Annotate Documents In the Updated Google Classroom Apps
5. Control What's Projected With Chromecast or Extended Display
6. The Four Things Students Need to Create Good Book Trailers
7. How to Use Images as Answer Choices in Google Forms

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Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
Haiku Deck offers the best alternative to PowerPoint. 
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.
D2L offers a great LMS and they want your input to make it even better.
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.
Buncee offers a great tool for creating visual stories.

5 Google Apps Updates You Might Have Missed This Week

This week Google released a bunch of updates to many of their tools that are popular with teachers. Here's a short overview of those updates.

1. Google Classroom now supports sharing with parents. You can now invite parents and guardians to subscribe to a daily or weekly summary of activities in your Google Classroom classes. The process for setting this up includes a few more steps than you might anticipate. You can read the full directions on this help page.

2. In the Google Classroom mobile apps you can now draw on, highlight, and write on top of students' Google Documents, PDFs, and Microsoft Word documents. The iOS version of the app will also let you type on top of a document. With both apps students can annotate items that teachers have shared in Google Classroom and teachers can annotate items that students have shared back to them.

3. You can now use images as answer choices to questions created in Google Forms. You can also use images as question prompts in Google Forms. I created a video about how to use images as answer choices in Google Forms questions. You can watch that video on my YouTube channel.

4. You can now add topics labels to posts in your Google Classroom stream. This allows you to search and sort your stream by topic instead of date. Directions on how to use topics can be found on this help page.

5. Starting on September 12th Google will no longer offer Hangouts on Air. Hangouts on Air will be replaced by YouTube Live. YouTube Live will let you create public, private, and unlisted broadcasts. Broadcasts will be automatically stored in your YouTube account. The most significant change for many users will be the removal of the Q&A feature that was in Google Hangouts on Air. Now to host a Q&A you will have to share Google Slides and use the Q&A feature integrated into the presenter mode in Google Slides.

Padlet Adds a New Post Attribution Feature

It is a not a secret that Padlet is one of my favorite ed tech tools for all classrooms. From creating KWL charts to simple blogging activities to creating digital portfolios,there is not a shortage of ways to use Padlet.

This week Padlet introduced a new way to identify who writes what on a collaborative Padlet wall. Padlet's new post attribution feature allows you to automatically display user names on notes. Of course, your students will have to be logged into Padlet accounts in order for that feature to work. The post attribution tool will make it possible for you to ensure that each student gets credit for his or her contribution to your Padlet walls. It is also possible to turn off the attribution feature and let students post anonymously.

Friday, August 19, 2016

How to Get Started Using Google Forms for Classroom Quizzes

Google Forms can be a powerful tool for creating and delivering quizzes to your students. It also has a bunch of great features for gathering feedback from students in a survey format. To take advantage of any of the features of Google Forms, you have to know how to get started. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of how to get started using Google Forms to create, deliver, and grade online quizzes.

Science Bob Helps Students Start Science Fair Projects

Science Bob is a good resource for elementary school and middle school students in search of ideas for science fair projects. Science Bob has dozens of suggestions for science fair projects. Beyond the suggestions, Science Bob offers tips on how to build the projects and additional support resources. In the experiments section of Science Bob teachers and students will find printable directions for carrying-out more than two dozen experiments. If you're looking for videos about science concepts and science experiments Science Bob offers videos that may be of interest you.

Applications for Education
As Science Bob mentions, developing an idea for a science fair project can be a difficult first step. Even if students don't pick one of the ideas in Science Bob's list, they may be inspired to design a project of their own.

Two Graphing Tools for Google Docs

The question that I often hear from mathematics teachers about Google Documents is, "are there any features for me?" The answer is, "yes, but they don't always jump out at you." Google Docs does have a built-in equation editor that you can access from the insert drop-down menu. To create graphs in Google Docs you'll want to grab either the g(Math) or the Wizkids CAS Add-ons for Google Docs.

g(Math) for Google Docs offers other features in addition to a graphing. Besides creating graphs you can insert handwriting entries and statistical displays. g(Math) also supports voice input. Extensive tutorials for g(Math) can be found on the g(Math) Help website.

Wizkids CAS is another Google Docs Add-on that offers a graphing calculator feature. Wizkids CAS offers tools for solve=ing equations and plotting graphs, finding numerical and exact solutions, and simplifying and factoring expressions with variables. The video embedded below provides an overview of the features in Wizkids CAS.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Create Beautiful Presentations in Haiku Deck Classroom

Disclosure: Haiku Deck is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Haiku Deck is a great visual storytelling tool that I have raved about since the first time that I tried it back in the fall of 2012. The features that won me over way back then were the integrated search for Creative Commons licensed videos and the automatic controls on font size and quantity. The font controls forced students to think about how they use images and words in presentations. Those core features still remain and more features have been steadily added over the years.

Last fall Haiku Deck introduced an option to share visual stories in Google Classroom. This fall they're taking things one step further with the introduction of Haiku Deck Classroom. Haiku Deck Classroom offers an online gallery that you and your students can use to showcase visual stories in private setting managed by teachers. Speaking of management, Haiku Deck Classroom offers teachers the ability to import users from Google Classroom. Students can sign-in using Haiku Deck accounts or Google Accounts without an email address. An overview of Haiku Deck Classroom can be seen in the Haiku Deck presentation embedded below.


Introducing Haiku Deck Classroom - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

If your school can't get Haiku Deck Classroom right now, there are still plenty of features available to you for free. The integrated Creative Commons image search, automatic font controls, and the ability to create and present from just about any platform have made Haiku Deck popular everywhere that I've shown it.

My friend Ken Shelton used Haiku Deck to demonstrate how make effective use of visuals in slide presentations. That demonstration is embedded below.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Disclosure: Haiku Deck is advertising on FreeTech4Teachers.com this month.

How to Use Images as Answer Choices in Google Forms

In addition to the exciting updates to Google Classroom that were released yesterday, Google also released a great update to Google Forms. You can now use images as answer choices to questions created in Google Forms. You can also use images as question prompts in Google Forms. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use images as answer choices in Google Forms.


Check out my other Google Forms tutorial videos in the playlist embedded below.