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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Month in Review - Ten Most Popular Posts

Good afternoon from Maine where it feels like the month of November came and went in the blink of an eye. The month started out warm and now is ending in a snowy, icy glaze.

In November I had the pleasure of working with teachers in Georgia and Connecticut. Next week I'll be in Tennessee for a conference. Getting to work with teachers all over the world is the best thing that has come from writing this blog. Thank you all for making that possible.


Here are the most frequently visited posts of the last month:
1. Three Ways That Students Can Create Talking Pictures
2. All of my #GaETC16 Slides
3. 5 Fun Geography Games for Geography Awareness Week
4. Literature Map Helps You Find Authors You'll Like
5. Create MadLibs Through Google Sheets
6. How to Create Kahoot Games
7. How to Use a Whiteboard in Google+ Hangouts
8. How to Create a Word Cloud in Google Documents
9. 5 Handy Chrome Extensions for Teachers
10. Six Tools for Creating Classroom Quiz Games - A Comparison Chart

Need a keynote for your conference? 
Click here to learn about my keynotes and workshops.

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.
Pixton provides a great way to create comics. 
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
Math Playground offers hundreds of math games and tutorial videos. 
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.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosts workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explainer videos.

Receive Email Notifications from Google Forms

In the past I have shared instructions on how to use the Form Notifications Add-on for Google Forms. Lately, that Add-on hasn't worked as well as I would like. So I recently started using a similar Add-on called Email Notifications for Forms. This Add-on lets me receive not only a notification in my email when someone completes one of my Forms, it also lets me see their complete responses in my email. In the video below I demonstrate how it works.



How to Share Google Docs With People Who Don't Have Google Accounts

A couple of nights ago in my G Suite for Education class I shared the following quick tip about sending Google Docs to parents who don't have Google Accounts. Rather than downloading your document as a Word file or as a PDF then sending it as an attachment from your email client, you can simply select "file," "send as attachment" to email directly from Google Docs. Doing that makes it quick and easy to send things like permission slips to parents from your Google Docs account. Watch the following short video to see how this works.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Telegraph - Super Simple Blogging

Alan Levine's Cog Dog Blog is one of my absolute favorite blogs. I skip over many others in my Feedly list to read his posts first. I almost always learn something new when I read his blog. Yesterday, I learned about super simple publishing tool called Telegra.ph

Telegra.ph gives you a simple place to publish your writing and pictures without the need to create an account on the site. To publish you simply go to telegra.ph and start writing. You can include pictures in your writing, but you cannot include videos. Your writing will be given its own URL that you can share with those you want to read your work. The whole process of publishing on Telegraph is quick and easy. Here's my first Telegraph entry.


Here are the shortcomings of Telegra.ph. Once you close your browser, you cannot go back and edit your writing. The other limitation is that every new piece that you write will be given a different URL which means that people can't simply follow you like as they might if you had a full fledged blog.

Applications for Education
Telegra.ph could be a good tool for those teachers who are looking for a way for their students to share their writing online without the hassle of having them register for a blog or use the ugly interface of a publicly published Google Doc.

HSTRY is Now Sutori

Over the last couple of years HSTRY has become a popular multimedia timeline creation tool. One of its best features is the option to include quiz questions in the timelines that you share with your students.

Over the weekend HSTRY rebranded itself as Sutori. Other than the name, nothing else has changed on the platform. If you currently have projects in HSTRY, they are safe in Sutori. You can log into Sutori using your HSTRY credentials. Likewise, if you have created an online classroom in HSTRY all student account credentials are the same in Sutori. All timelines that you have embedded into blog posts will remain unchanged.

Learn more about how to use Sutori, formerly HSTRY, by watching the video embedded below.

Flubaroo Adds a New Feedback Option - Stickers & Badges

Back in June when Google added a scoring option to Google Forms many people wondered if Flubaroo was still a necessary Add-on. The answer to that is yes for anyone who wants to grade quizzes that have multiple correct responses, fill-in-the-blank questions, and for those who who want do more advanced grading tricks like case-sensitive answers, extra or partial credit, and numerical ranges. And now Flubaroo offers another feature that you won't find in Google Forms' built-in grading tool.

Flubaroo now offers the option to include a sticker/ digital badge when you distribute grades to your students either through Google Docs or through email. Flubaroo includes some standard stickers that you can use or you can upload your own stickers to use.

To include stickers in your Flubaroo grade distribution simply select the "advanced options" when you are sharing grades. Then select "sticker set-up"to choose the stickers that you want to use. You can choose a grade cut-off line for when a sticker is or isn't distributed to students. See the complete process here.

Applications for Education
Distributing stickers probably won't change the way that you score quizzes, but it is a nice option for giving students a bit of visual feedback.

If Flubaroo is new to you, take a look at my playlist of tutorials embedded below.

Monday, November 28, 2016

World Population History - An Interactive Map and Timeline

Last night on the Practical Ed Tech Facebook page I shared a post from Randy Krum that included a visualization of U.S. population growth. Watching that visualization led me to a related visualization about world population growth.

World Population History is an interactive map and timeline of the world's population growth from 1 C.E. to today. The map is essentially a heat map of population centers. The timeline at the bottom of the map features little placemarks that feature developments in science, trade, and major political events. Students can click on the markers in the timeline to learn more about each development.

Applications for Education
The combination of the map with the timeline can help students see the correlation between scientific advancements and changes in population growth. For a classroom activity you could have students create a similar map and timeline of population changes in their local areas. For example, my students in Maine might make a map and timeline that depicts changes in forestry practices and the corresponding changes in populations throughout the state.

9 Lessons Learned Through Nine Years of Blogging

Today marks the ninth birthday for this little blog that I started on a Wednesday evening in 2007. Read that first post and you'll see that I didn't have much in the way of goals or expectations for this blog. It was just something I was doing to help other teachers. Back then I didn't have any idea that I would publish nearly 12,000 blog posts about educational technology. Along the way to publishing I've learned a lot about education, blogging, and business. Here's a short summary of the highlights of the last nine years.

1. Publish early, publish often.
This is a tip that I learned early on from Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable. Not only does this help for SEO purposes it helps me maintain the habit of writing everyday.

2. Ad revenue is a terrible business model for a blog.
Ad revenue relies on pageviews, pageviews rely on constantly publishing new content. Constantly publishing new content can be a challenge when you feel like you've written everything that you can think of. You need a team of writers to produce the quantity of content needed to survive on ad revenue alone. I don't want to manage a team of writers.

3. People are generally good and nice. 
This lesson has been reinforced to me many times over the years, but there are two times that stand-out from the rest. First, in 2009 when a Twitter follower, Beth Still, organized the NECC Newbie Project to crowd-source the funds to get me to the NECC (now ISTE) conference. Second, when my beloved dog, Morrison, passed away in September last year I received hundreds of emails people expressing their condolences. Larry Kelly's email moved me to tears and still does when I think about it.

4. A few rotten comments can stick with you for a long time.
Fortunately, I can only remember of handful of these.

5. Read, read, read!
Read blogs, read books, read magazines, read the flyers in a doctor's office waiting room. You never know when something you read will inspire a blog post. There have been many times when I was reading a book completely unrelated to educational technology when something I read sparks an idea for a blog post here.

6. Cite your sources and fight plagiarism. 
When someone else inspires a blog post that you write, acknowledge that person even. I forgot to do this once and I was thoroughly embarrassed.

If someone is copying and pasting your blog posts verbatim, call him/ her out on it. Don't let them get away with, "I was just trying to share it with my teachers." Tell them to direct people back to you. A lot of plagiarism in the ed tech world seems to originate from the idea that it's okay to copy and paste if you're doing it to share with other teachers. Educate others on proper ways to share blog posts.

7. Give the people what they want.
When someone makes a reasonable request for help, answer them. Turn those answers into blog posts. I learned this lesson from the late Allen Stern who ran Center Networks. I miss that guy.

8. Everything changes.
When I started this blog MySpace was still more popular than Facebook. iPads and Android tablets weren't a thing. Chromebooks didn't exist although we did have netbooks running Windows XP (I used one throughout 2009). What I wrote about in 2007 and 2008 seems like ancient history. Some of the things I reviewed back then is still relevant, but a lot of it isn't. Adapt or die...

9. It's the readers that matter.
This blog wouldn't still be going today without all of you who follow this blog and share it with your friends and colleagues. Thank you!

Quick & Powerful Video Projects - A Wednesday Webinar

When I was a middle school student (decades ago now) my classmates and I made some videos about the countries that we were studying in our geography class. Those projects took us weeks to complete because our video creation tools were limited to the one video camera that we had to use. Today, that same project could be completed in a class meeting or two. In my first Wednesday Webinar, Quick & Powerful Video Projects, you will learn how to plan a video project that your students can complete in a class or two.

In Quick & Powerful Video Projects, this Wednesday at 4pm EST, you will receive ideas and instruction on how you can engage your students in video creation projects. You don't need any special software to complete the projects that we'll look at in this webinar. Registration is open now.

Five things you will learn in this webinar:
1. How to plan a video project that will engage your students.
2. How to safely share videos in K-12 environments.
3. Discover and use public domain and Creative Common licensed media.
4. How to build a classroom media gallery.
5. Ideas for assessing students’ videos.

Registration for my Wednesday Webinars is $20 each which includes participation in the live webinar, unlimited access to the recording of the live webinar, hand-outs, and a PD certificate.

Register by 9pm EST on Monday and you can save 50% by using the code "cybermonday" at checkout.

This webinar will be available as a recording
If you cannot make it for the live webinar at 4pm on Wednesday, I will send you a recording of the live webinar. 


More Wednesday Webinars
Later this month I will be hosting two more Wednesday Webinars. On December 14th I will host Winning Blog Strategies. And on December 21st I will host YouTube, It's Not Just Cats & Khan Academy. Registration is now open for both webinars. Use the code "cybermonday" to save 50% if you register before 9pm EST today.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Get More Room to Work In Google Docs With Just One Click

One of the complaints that I often hear from teachers and some students about Chromebooks is that the screen is too small. I agree. There are times when even on my full-size laptop I wish that I had a bit more room to work. That's why when I am writing in Google Docs I often collapse the top menu bar until I need it.

When you're using Google Documents and you want a little more room to view your pages, you can make that space appear with just one click. In the upper, right corner of your screen you will now see an option for "compact mode" in each of your Google Documents. Click the compact mode arrows to collapse the formatting menu and receive about an inch of more space to work in your documents. Below you will see my screenshots showing you where to find the compact mode arrows. (Click the images to view in full size).

Wednesday Webinars - A New Professional Development Series

I teased this earlier in the month, but now I'm ready to officially announce a new series of Practical Ed Tech webinars that I'm calling Wednesday Webinars.

Wednesday Webinars is a series of one-hour webinars designed to give you practical ideas that you can use in your classroom right away.

Each webinar will provide you with five concrete ideas that you can use as your own in your classroom. You will learn how to use the free ed tech tools necessary to conduct each activity by participating in each webinar. Unlike many webinars in which you just sit back and watch, in these webinars you will have an opportunity to participate in hands-on activities as if you were a student in my classroom.

All webinars take place at 4pm EST. If scheduling doesn’t allow you to participate live, don’t worry because every webinar is recorded and emailed to everyone who registers.

The cost for each Wednesday Webinar is $20. But if you register by Monday at 9pm you can save 50% by using the code "cybermonday" at checkout.

Wednesday Webinar topics and dates:

Quick & Powerful Video Projects – November 30, 2016
Winning Blog Strategies – December 14, 2016
YouTube, It’s Not Just Cats & Khan Academy – December 21, 2016

More Wednesday Webinars will be announced in early December.


About the costs and my decision to advertise these opportunities on my blog:
Sometimes when I advertise one of these webinars I get messages from people who are upset that I am advertising it here and or that I am charging for it. I understand why some people feel that way. I thought long and hard about how to offer these opportunities. The purpose of this blog and my goal for years has always been to help people use free technology in their classrooms. The tools and strategies featured in my webinars and at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp are free to use. However, my time for teaching isn't free. Further, I pay licensing fees to GoToTraining and to Wistia for hosting all of the media content of the courses.

Creative Commons Explained In Simple Terms

Whenever I give a presentation or run a workshop about student video projects, I spend time explaining what Creative Commons licensing is and its benefits for consumers and producers of media. Sometimes in my workshops I use Common Craft's explanation of Creative Commons licenses and what they mean for consumers and producers of media. I've embedded the video below.

 
Applications for Education
Copyright and Creative Commons Explained by Common Craft can be very useful in helping students understand why they cannot simply copy and paste whatever images they like that they find online.

For my Canadian friends the rules of copyright are different than they are for me in the United States. David Wees has a good presentation about Copyright for Canadian educators.

Common Craft videos can be viewed for free online but to download them or embed them you do have to be a subscriber to their service. In the interest of full disclosure I will tell you that I have an in-kind relationship with Common Craft which means that I have received a subscription in exchange for advising Common Craft on some product offerings.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where an inch of fresh snow is coating the woods around my house. The fresh snow provides a great canvas on which various animals to leave their tracks behind. It's fun to find discover the various animals that come so close to my house. Over the years I've seen moose, deer, bear, coyote, and bobcat tracks as well as many smaller animals like squirrels and rabbits. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope you have time to enjoy your neighborhood too.


Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Six Tools for Creating Classroom Quiz Games - A Comparison Chart
2. How to Create Kahoot Games
3. 7 Tools for Creating Flowcharts, Mind Maps, and Diagrams
4. How to Create a Google Earth Tour
5. Print Posters With Almost Any Printer
6. A New Facebook Page for Practical Ed Tech Tips
7. Analyzing Word Choice in a Presidential Statement

Need a keynote for your conference? 
Click here to learn about my keynotes and workshops.

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.
Pixton provides a great way to create comics. 
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
Math Playground offers hundreds of math games and tutorial videos. 
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.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosts workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explainer videos.

How to Use a Whiteboard in Google+ Hangouts

On Friday I shared three tools that you and your students can use to host online tutoring sessions. One of my suggestions was to try using Google+ Hangouts with a whiteboard app called Web Whiteboard. Web Whiteboard makes it easy to include a whiteboard in your Google+ Hangout. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how easy it is to use Web Whiteboard in a Google+ Hangout.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Four G Suite Updates You Might Have Missed Recently

Google is constantly developing new features and sometimes eliminating old features from the tools that many of us use every day. It can be hard to keep up with all of the changes. In the last ten days there have been four changes to G Suite products that you should know about.

This week Google released the new version of Google Sites to all G Suite users. In terms of visual aesthetics the new version is definitely an improvement over the old one. However, the early reviews are mixed as some of the customization options of the old version have been removed from the new version. Read more about the new Google Sites on the Google product blog.

There is a new Google Drive product designed specifically for team use. Team Drives is a version of Google Drive that will offer instant access to all files to all team members who are sharing a Team Drive. Team Drives is in beta and only open to G Suite domain administrators for now. Read more about it on G Suite Update Alerts.

Google Docs and Slides have long let you export to Word and PowerPoint formats. You can now export Google Slides presentations to ODP (Open Document Presentation) format for use in OpenOffice and LibreOffice. Google Docs can be exported to ODT format for use in OpenOffice.

The old Google Drive templates gallery is going away. It will be replaced entirely by the templates that you see when visiting Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Forms directly. G Suite for Education users will be able to create their own templates to share with students and colleagues. I wrote a more detailed post about this last week.

Three Ways to Host Online Tutoring Sessions

I recently received an email from a reader who was looking for some tools that she could use for online tutoring/ instruction. The catch was that she needed to be able to share a whiteboard with her students. That's not an unusual request because whiteboards can be invaluable when trying to explain a mathematics concept online. These are the suggestions that I offered to her.

Web Whiteboard for Google+ Hangouts. This little tool adds a whiteboard to your Google+ Hangout. You can draw on the whiteboard while still taking advantage of all of the other features of Google+ Hangouts like voice, video, and text chat. To use Web Whiteboard in Google+ Hangouts simply go to the site and click G+ Hangout.

Stoodle is a free collaborative whiteboard tool hosted by the CK12 Foundation. You can use text chat while sharing your whiteboard. Registration is not required in order to use Stoodle. In the video embedded below I demonstrate the features of Stoodle.



Join.me offers a whiteboard tool in their video conferencing system. There is a free version of Join.me available. The free version does limit some of the functions, but you can try the full version for free for up to three weeks. The other limitation is that you do have to install the desktop client or the iPad app in order to use Join.me so it's not an option for Chromebook users.

Google Drive vs. Padlet

Earlier this week I received a message on the Practical Ed Tech Facebook page from a reader who asked, "What do you suggest as the best way to share resources such as documents and webpages for teachers? Google Docs? Padlet?"

File sharing comparison
Comparing Google Docs (or Drive) to Padlet for file storage is a bit of an apples to oranges comparison. Google Drive was created for creating and sharing files in an orderly manner. Padlet, while it can be used to share files, wasn't designed for file sharing and lacks the organization tools needed for making sense of large collections of files. Google Drive lets you create folders and subfolders with various levels of sharing permissions. Google Drive also has a search tool that makes it relatively easy to find a file if you forget which folder you stored it in. Padlet has none of those features. Therefore, Google Drive is the clear choice for file sharing.

Bookmark sharing comparison
The part of the question was about sharing webpages. This is where Padlet gets the nod because it actually has a tool designed for sharing links. Padlet Mini is a Chrome extension that you can use to send links directly to Padlet wall. You can then just share the wall with your colleagues so that they can see your links. Google Drive wasn't designed for sharing links so again we have a bit of an apples to oranges comparison.


There are better tools for sharing bookmarks than either Padlet or Google Drive. Tools like Diigo or the ubiquitous Pinterest will give you better options for organizing your bookmarks before sharing them with others.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thank You!

Good morning from Connecticut where I am watching my brother and other members of his club run in the 80th annual road race in our hometown. To borrow a line from Jim Nantz, in my family watching the race "is a tradition unlike any other." But enough about my family...

On this Thanksgiving morning I'd like to say thank you to everyone who has helped keep this blog going for the last nine years. Without your support this blog wouldn't survive. Whether you've taken one of my courses, invited me to your school, or simply shared some of my blog posts with others, you have helped me keep this little project going. Thank you!

A Simple Alternative to Blubbr for Making Video Quizzes

On Wednesday morning I received an email from a reader who had been using Blubbr to create video quizzes for her students. Unfortunately, Blubbr seems to have gone offline so she was looking for a replacement. My immediate suggestion was to try Vizia. Vizia lets you build multiple choice questions into any YouTube video. The responses that you gather appear in either a Google Sheet or a CSV file to download. If you use the Google Sheet option you can then use Flubaroo to grade your students' responses to the quiz. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to use Vizia.

The Search for Alice's Restaurant

Radio stations all over the United States play Alice's Restaurant Massacree on Thanksgiving Day. While I was looking for a recording of the song on YouTube it occurred to me that many other people were surely doing the same thing. That thought prompted me to go to Wolfram Alpha where I found a chart of Wikipedia traffic for the search term "Alice's Restaurant." So the question/ cultural history lesson for students is "why do people search for that term around Thanksgiving?"

Here's the song:


Happy listening! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

7 Lessons About Electricity

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.

The History of Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

For millions of Americans watching Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning is as much a tradition as watching football after the turkey dinner. The Macy's Parade is 90 years old this year. It has evolved quite a bit since its early days. Macy's Parade History offers an interactive timeline of the parade's history. You can select any decade on the timeline to view 360 interactive images of the parade. Each decade on the timeline also includes some video clips. Scroll through the decades and you'll see that the parade reflects the popular culture of each decade.

History offers the following short video about the history of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.


The Next News Network also offers a nice, concise summary of the history of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Emojis and More Special Characters in Blogger

This isn't groundbreaking, but you can now use emojis in Blogger. About a week or two ago a new icon appeared in the "compose" mode in Blogger. That icon represents the special characters that you can insert into your Blogger blog posts. Those special characters include emojis. They also include more practical things like arrows, math symbols, and special characters needed for properly writing a variety of languages.

You can search for special characters by name, by drawing a symbol, or you can just browse through the galleries.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Analyzing Word Choice in a Presidential Statement

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on this day in 1963. Later in the same day Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President of the United States. President Johnson took the oath of office on Air Force One. When the plane landed at Andrews Air Force Base he gave a short statement. His speech card is today's featured document in the National Archives' daily document series.

One of the interesting things on President Johnson's speech card is the freehand editing that was done to it. I would have students look at the speech card and analyze why President Johnson edited out things like "every American" and replaced it with "all people." When looked at in light of the Cold War that choice and some of his other editing choices are significant.

An audio recording of President Johnson's statement can be heard here on the LBJ Library website.

See Larry Ferlazzo's blog for a long list of more resources about the assassination of JFK.

Create Narrated Map Tours on a Chromebook

On Sunday and Monday I shared a couple of videos about making narrated Google Earth tours. Unfortunately, Google Earth doesn't work on a Chromebook. So if you want your students to create narrated map tours, the best thing to do is to have them map a series of placemarks in Google's My Maps tool then record a screencast in which they talk about the places on their maps.

You can learn how to use Google's My Maps tools by watching the video embedded below.


A couple of good options for recording a screencast on a Chromebook are Nimbus Screenshot and Capture Cast.

Apply Now for Early Access to Google Team Drives

A couple of months ago Google announced the development of a new product called Team Drives. Team Drives is a version of Google Drive designed specifically for team use. Rather than just sharing a single file or folder, Team Drives will give everyone in the team access to everything in the Team Drives account by default. 

Team Drives is a feature that will only be available to G Suite for Education and G Suite for Business users. G Suite for Education domain administrators can apply today for early access to Team Drives. Learn more about Team Drives in this post on the G Suite Update Alerts blog. 

Applications for Education
The default sharing settings in Team Drives might be a bit too open for use by younger students. But it could be great for high school and college students working together on long-term projects. Team Drives could also be a great asset for academic departments that want to have all members sharing lesson ideas and resources. 

Pic4Carto - Find Creative Commons Images Based on Location

There are plenty of places to find public domain and Creative Commons licensed pictures on the web. Some of my favorite places were featured in this post on Practical Ed Tech. Pic4Carto is an interesting site that I will probably add to that list in the future.

Pic4Carto is a site that lets you browse for street level images (don't call them Streetview because that is specific to Google Maps) all over the world. The vast majority of the images found through Pic4Carto are labeled with a Creative Commons license. The images come from Flickr, Mapillary, and the Wikimedia Commons.

To find images on Pic4Carto you simply have to zoom-in on a location until you see a grid appear over the map. Once the grid appears you will see a number inside each square. Those numbers indicate how many pictures are available for that area. You can then click on the number to see the images (be patient because it takes a minute to load).

Applications for Education
Pic4Carto could be a good tool for students to use to find images specific to a place that they are studying in a geography or history lesson. I can see myself using it when teaching current events to show students what a place that they are reading about in the news looks like.

H/T to Maps Mania.

Monday, November 21, 2016

A New Facebook Page for Practical Ed Tech Tips

Many readers of this blog are already familiar my Practical Ed Tech weekly newsletter in which I share my favorite tip of the week and a short list of the most popular posts from this blog. Last night I decided to create a Facebook page to complement that newsletter.

The Practical Ed Tech Facebook page will feature my tip of the week, but it will also feature posts from other bloggers and video producers in the ed tech world. For example, this morning I featured a podcast produced by Dr. Wesley Fryer and a blog post from Larry Ferlazzo. And because the page isn't labeled as "free" I'll be able to share a wider variety of tips including things like articles on purchasing hardware and software. I hope you will follow the new page.

Use Google Earth to Create Narrated Tours of Mars & the Moon

Last night I published a video about how to make simple Google Earth tours. This morning I was greeted by an email in which a reader asked me if it was possible to create tours of Mars by using Google Earth. The answer to that question is yes. You can use Google Earth to create tours of Mars and of the moon by using the same process used to create tours of the Earth. The only difference is that you need to change from "Earth view" to "Mars view" or "Moon view." In the following video I demonstrate how to create, save, and share a narrated tour of Mars and the moon.

Record History on Thanksgiving Day

For many Americans Thanksgiving is one of the few times, perhaps only time, that extended family gathers together. It can be a great time for grandparents and grandchildren to talk to each other. I know that my mother cannot wait to talk to Isla even though she's only three months old and doesn't say much yet. As I mentioned in a post last month, StoryCorps wants people to record some of the conversations that happen between generations of families during Thanksgiving.

The Great Thanksgiving Listen is an initiative intended to facilitate conversations between students and adult family members over Thankgiving weekend. StoryCorps has released a toolkit for teachers to use to guide students in the process of recording interviews with family members. In the toolkit you will find an interview planning sheet and two pages of interview question suggestions. The toolkit recommends using the StoryCorps mobile apps to capture the conversations. The StoryCorps mobile apps includes question prompts and a suggested script for conducting interviews.

As an alternative to using the StoryCorps apps, your students could record by using The History Project's free recording and timeline tools. That tool lets you make audio recordings to add to a timeline of events.

A Quick, Last-minute Thanksgiving Lesson Plan

American Thanksgiving is just a few days away. Some schools are closed this week while others are open for the first few days of the week. If you're school is open and you're looking for a quick Thanksgiving lesson activity, try this idea that I originally shared a few years ago.

1. Create a Padlet wall for your students on which they can share what they are thankful for this year.

2. Let students create drawings of what Thanksgiving means to them then take pictures of those drawings to post on your Padlet wall.

3. Use Padlet as a KWL chart on which students share what they know about the origins of Thanksgiving and what they would like to know more about.

Don't forget to take advantage of the new comments feature in Padlet. It offers a great way to give your students direct feedback on their notes.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

How to Create a Google Earth Tour

Google Earth can be used for all kinds of lessons in math (see Real World Math), science (try these resources), and language arts (try Google Lit Trips) in addition to the obvious social studies applications. One of the best ways to use Google Earth in social studies and in language arts is to have your students create narrated tours of significant places. Those places might be the sites of significant events in history, the setting of a favorite book, or a favorite place close to home.

In the video below I demonstrate how to quickly create a Google Earth tour, how to save a Google Earth tour, and how to share a Google Earth tour.

How to Create Kahoot Games

For the last eleven months "create Kahoot games" and "Kahoot" have been the most frequently searched terms on this blog. While I have published videos about specific parts of Kahoot, until today I didn't have a video on the complete Kahoot creation experience. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create a Kahoot game from scratch, how to use Kahoot games created by other teachers, and how to play a Kahoot game.


A Reminder About Black Friday Electronics

Sadly, Thanksgiving in the United States has almost become synonymous with the start of holiday shopping season. On the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, retailers everywhere will put all manner of products on sale. It can be a good opportunity to save money on something that you have been planning to purchase. But when it comes to electronics many of the products that appear to be deeply discounted aren't as good as the products that cost just a little bit more sitting next to them on the shelf. So if you're planning to buy a Chromebook, a phone, a laptop, or some other electronic on Black Friday, do a bit research and see if you can get a much better product for marginally more money.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and I'm looking forward to a day of walking in the woods around my home (with orange clothing on because it is hunting season). Snow is in the forecast for later this weekend. As a skier I love the snow even though I have to shovel it from my driveway. Before any outdoor fun can happen, I have to share this week's list of the most popular posts of the week.


Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 5 Handy Chrome Extensions for Teachers
2. How to Create a Word Cloud in Google Documents
3. 5 Fun Geography Games for Geography Awareness Week
4. Three Ways That Students Can Create Talking Pictures
5. Four Tools for Making Audio Recordings on Chromebooks
6. G Suite for Education Has a New Templates Option
7. My Three Favorite Video Creation iPad Apps for Elementary School

Getting Going With G Suite begins on Monday. There is still time to register. In the five week course you can learn how to effectively integrate G Suite into your practice. Learn more here.

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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.
Pixton provides a great way to create comics. 
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
Math Playground offers hundreds of math games and tutorial videos. 
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.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosts workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explainer videos.

How to Enable Commenting on Padlet Notes

On Thursday Padlet unveiled a new feature that lets you comment on the notes that your students write on Padlet walls. Commenting on your students' notes could be a great way to ask them clarifying questions or to just let them know that you are reading what they share. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Padlet's commenting feature.

Friday, November 18, 2016

A Brief History of Timezones

When I signed into Facebook this morning I was greeted by a notice that on this day in 1883 the railroad industry in North America began using the four timezones that are still in use today. Upon reading that notice I immediately remembered a TED-Ed lesson on the topic. Where did timezones come from? What is "standard time?" The answers to those questions and more can be found in the short TED-Ed lesson How Did Trains Standardize Timezones in the United States? Watch the video below.

How to Collaboratively Create YouTube Playlists - Updated

Last year I published a video about how to collaboratively create YouTube playlists. Since then the steps for doing that have changed a little bit. Also this week I had someone ask if I could make a video about making YouTube playlists. To address both items I created the new tutorial video, How to Collaboratively Create YouTube Playlists, that you should see embedded below.



Applications for Education
There is a lot of great educational content on YouTube. The challenge that many teachers and students have is finding and keeping track of it all. Turn on the collaboration feature when you start making a playlist and then work with your colleagues to develop lists of educational videos for your students. Or have students collaborate to create a playlist of helpful videos.

Padlet Now Offers Commenting on Notes

Padlet is one of my favorite all purpose ed tech tools. With Padlet you can create a place to collect digital exit tickets, a place for collaborative brainstorming, a place to create digital KWL charts, a place for collaborative bookmarking, and even a place to create a simple classroom blog. My YouTube channel contains a playlist of tutorials on using Padlet in a variety of ways.

This week Padlet rolled out a new feature that I think you'll like. You can now allow students to comment on individual notes added to a Padlet wall. The new comments feature can be turned on or turned off by the creator of a Padlet wall (use the modification settings to do that). Comments can be made anonymously or you can require users to sign-in to comment. As the creator of a Padlet wall you can delete any comments written by others.

Applications for Education
If you use Padlet as a tool for group brainstorming sessions the comment feature offers a great way for classmates to ask clarifying questions. If you use Padlet to host a simple classroom blog you can use the commenting feature to give your students feedback on their posts.

Learn how to use Padlet by watching the videos in my playlist embedded below.

A Video About Making Screencast Videos

The questions that I answer in my email more frequently than any other are about making screencast videos. Most people want to know what tool I use for creating screencasts and or how to create a screencast on a Chromebook. In the video embedded below I explain and show the three tools that I use to create nearly all of the tutorial videos that appear in my YouTube channel.


The tools featured in this video are Blue Snowball microphone, Screencast-o-matic.com, and Nimbus Screenshot.

Protagonist vs. Antagonist - A Student Video

Throughout the year Next Vista for Learning hosts student video contests. All of the contests ask students to create short lessons about a wide variety of topics. The latest contest winner was announced earlier this week. The winning video was Protagonist vs. Antagonist. The 86 second video provides students with a clear explanation of the roles of protagonists and antagonists in a story. Watch the video as embedded below or see it on Next Vista where you can download a Creative Commons licensed copy of the video.


Applications for Education
As a follow-up to this video you could have your students create videos to explain other elements necessary for the creation of a compelling fiction story. Ask your students to use examples from their favorite books or movies.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

G Suite for Education Has a New Templates Option

On Wednesday Google announced some changes to the Google Docs, Slides, Forms, and Sheets templates galleries. The old version of the templates gallery found at drive.google.com/templates will be going away at the end of the year. It will be replaced by the templates that you currently see when you go to docs.google.com, slides.google.com, sheets.google.com, or forms.google.com. These template galleries can be enhanced by G Suite for Education users. 

Beginning today and rolling out over the next couple of weeks there is a new option for G Suite for Education users to share templates to a domain-wide gallery. G Suite administrators should already see an option to submit templates to a domain-wide gallery (admins, you must enable the feature if you had disabled the old template gallery option). Beginning later this week and throughout the next couple of weeks end-users (teachers and students) will be able to submit templates to your domain gallery. Those templates will be available to anyone in the domain when they go to create a new document, forms, spreadsheet, or slide presentation. 

Applications for Education
Creating and distributing templates is a great option for teachers who want their students to follow a prescribed format for things like lab reports or research outlines. 

You can learn more about creating and using templates in my online course Getting Going With G Suite.

EDpuzzle Offers an Android App for Students

Thanks to David Kapuler I have just learned that EDpuzzle now offers an Android app for students. The EDpuzzle Android app lets students join your EDpuzzle classroom, find assignments, watch videos, and answer the questions that you have added into videos in your EDpuzzle classroom. Students who have more than one teacher using EDpuzzle can join and receive updates from multiple courses within the app.

At this time the EDpuzzle Android app is only available in a student version. According to their description on the Google Play Store, a version for teachers is on its way.

For folks who are not familiar with EDpuzzle it is a service that lets you create video-based lessons by adding multiple choice, true/false, and open response questions to videos that you have created as well as to videos you find on YouTube. One of the great features of EDpuzzle is that you can require students to answer a question in a video before being allowed to proceed to the next part of the video. In the videos embedded below I demonstrate how to use the main features of EDpuzzle including how to integrate EDpuzzle into your Google Classroom.




EDpuzzle also offers an iOS app and a Chrome app.

C-SPAN StudentCam 2017 - Student Messages for Washington

C-SPAN's StudentCam contest is an annual event that invites students to produce short videos about current issues related to United States government. The 2016-17 version of the contest asks students to deliver a message to Washington about the most urgent issues for the new President and Congress to address.

The StudentCam contest is open to U.S. students in grades six through twelve. The contest deadline is January 20, 2017. Students' videos should be five to seven minutes long. Students can work individually or in teams of two or three. All videos must include some C-SPAN footage. This year more than $100,000 will be awarded. There are separate judging categories for middle school and high school submissions. Complete contest rules can be found on the C-SPAN StudentCam homepage.

Applications for Education
Even if your students don't enter the contest, the topic of the contest does make for great discussion topic in a social studies lesson. You could use the topic, "what is the most urgent issue for the new President and Congress," to host your small video contest in your school or school district.

Six Ways to Create Videos on Chromebooks - Updated

Last night on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page someone asked me for recommendations for creating videos on Chromebooks. Back in March I published a review of six tools for creating videos on Chromebooks. Since then a new tool has emerged, Adobe Spark, and one has been removed from the Chrome store, Snagit for Chrome. Here is my updated list of tools for creating videos on Chromebooks.

Adobe Spark is a suite of free tools for creating images, videos, and simple web pages. Key features of Adobe Spark's web app include an integrated Creative Commons image search tool, the option to download images as JPEGs, and the option to download your videos as MP4 files. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create images, web pages, and videos with Adobe Spark in your web browser.


WeVideo offers the most features of any of the tools in this list. It is an online video creation tool that I have written about many times over the last few years. WeVideo offers templates that new users can follow to create their first videos. Advanced WeVideo users can skip the templates, use the full editor, and apply themes to their videos by choosing them from the themes menu in the editor. In the video editor you can upload your own media clips or use stock media clips to produce your video. WeVideo's Google Drive app allows you to save all of your video projects in your Google Drive account. WeVideo also offers an Android app and an iPhone app that students can use to capture images and video footage to add to their projects.

Wideo is a neat video creation service that allows anyone to create animated videos and Common Craft-style videos online through a simple drag-and-drop process. Earlier this year Wideo started offering templates to help users start their video projects. Wideo templates provide a basic framework for a video's theme. A couple of the templates that might be of interest to teachers are the slideshow template and the curriculum template. Wideo also includes options for creating interactive videos. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to do that.


PowToon is similar to Wideo and is also a great tool for creating animated videos online. PowToon provides a drag-and-drop editor for creating animated videos. The videos that you create feature digital paper cut-outs on a colorful background. Think of PowToon as an online tool for creating videos in the style made popular by Common Craft. PowToon provides drawings of people and objects that you can arrange on blank canvas. After adding your narration to the arrangement you can publish your video.

Within YouTube there is a free tool for creating audio slideshows. You supply the images and YouTube supplies the audio track. You can pick from thousands of audio tracks to match to your slides. After adding your slides and selecting an audio track you can add speech bubbles to your slides. I demonstrate all of these steps in the video embedded below.



Nimbus Screenshot is my favorite tool for creating screencast videos on Chromebooks. It is easy to install, includes customizable countdown timer, and offers multiple ways to save and share your videos. Screencasts recorded with Nimbus Screenshot can be saved to your local drive or to an online Nimbus account. I chose to save to my local drive then upload to my YouTube channel. You could also save to your local drive then share to Google Drive or another online storage service.

Take a look at the video I created with Nimbus Screenshot.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

How to Use WriteReader to Collaboratively Create Multimedia Books

One of last month's most popular posts was about WriteReader. WriteReader is a free service designed to help elementary school students create multimedia books with the help of their teachers. Teachers can create online classrooms in WriteReader in which they can view and edit their students' work. This afternoon I created a tutorial to show you how WriteReader works from a student's perspective and from a teacher's perspective.


Disclosure: WriteReader is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

5 Handy Chrome Extensions for Teachers

After seeing my browser in one of my tutorial videos or one of my presentations, people often ask me about the extensions that I have installed. Here are five Chrome extensions that teachers should try.

1. Nimbus screenshot - Rather than answering the same question dozens of times, create a screencast video to explain how to use a website. Or use the extension to make a flipped classroom video.

2. Bitly - Create a free Bitly account and you can create custom, shortened URLs for any webpage. Rather than relying on a randomly generated shortened URL, which is often hard for students to copy correctly, choose the characters that you want to appear in your shortened URL. This is a great way to direct students to specific webpages.

3. Hootsuite - Use Hootsuite to schedule updates to appear on your school or classroom Twitter and Facebook pages. Schedule your Tweets and Facebook posts to appear even when you're not online. Don't forget to repeat your Tweets because not everyone that follows you will see your Tweets the first time around.

4. Google Keep - This has been my preferred bookmarking and note-taking tool since Evernote essentially eliminated their free plan.

5. Share to Classroom - If your school uses G Suite for Education, then you need to try the Share to Classroom extension. With the Share to Classroom extension installed you will be able to push webpages to your students' devices by simply opening the extension and specifying which of your Google Classroom classes you want to receive the page. Students do not need to do anything because the page will automatically load in their web browsers. You can also have students push pages to you through Share to Classroom.