Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

I had to take some time away from the blog this week so the second part of the week featured posts from the archives. New posts will resume on Monday.

Here are the most popular posts of the week:
1. The Things I Wish Every Teacher Knew About Technology...
2. 10 Ideas for Using Comics In Your Classroom
3. Great Ideas for Using Scratch in Elementary Math
4. Two Ways to Add Audio to Google Slides
5. Great Tools for Making Videos on Chromebooks
6. Benefits of Using Backchannels In Your Classroom
7. Three Ways for Students to Create Digital Flashcards

Looking for a keynote or workshop? Click here to learn about my professional development services.

I am currently offering five online courses:

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.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
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.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

Saying Goodbye to a Great Friend

Good morning from Maine where I'm mourning the loss of my big buddy Max. Max was a wonderful dog who I adopted from Harvest Hills Animal Shelter five years ago when he was two or three years old. We had many wonderful years together and I was looking forward to many more, but it was not to be. Max passed away peacefully on Wednesday afternoon. I like to think that he's now free to run and swim with again with his older brother, Morrison, who passed away just 18 months ago. I'll miss them both and remember them both for the rest of my own days.

As long time readers of this blog know, I'm a huge advocate for adopting not shopping when it comes to pets. Max was a classic case of a second chance dog. Some members of the shelter staff thought he should have been euthanized, but I gave him a chance and he gave me a chance. We ended up having five wonderful years together. Please consider adopting from your local animal shelter. Just like kids, they all deserve multiple chances at a great life.

Finally, a huge thank you to the staff of Bridgton Veterinary Hospital for providing great care for Max until the very end.

Friday, May 26, 2017

27 Ideas for Teaching With & About Topographic Maps - From the Archive

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

The USGS offers free topographic maps for most of the United States. The maps can be downloaded as PDFs through the USGS store. The maps can be used in the 27 suggested topographic maps lessons found in the USGS education site. All of the lessons are rated by grade level and time required for completing the activity. In the list of lesson ideas you will find suggestions for lessons about typical geography topics like coordinates, scale, and map projections as well as lesson suggestions for less common things like analysis of stereo aerial photographs and analysis of humans and hydrography.

How to Create a Progress Chart in Google Sheets - From the Archive

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

Flippity provides a handful of great Google Sheets templates. I've featured their Random Name Picker, Flashcard, and Jeopardy templates in the past. The latest Flippity template that I've tried is their Progress Indicator template. With that template you can create a progress chart that will update whenever you update the data in the chart. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of how to use Flippity's Progress Indicator template.

10 Ways to Use Adobe Spark in School - From the Archive

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

On Tuesday morning I published a video about how to use Adobe's new creative suite called Adobe Spark. That video was focused on how to use the three parts of Adobe Spark; post, page, and video. If you haven't seen the video, it is embedded below.

Now that we know how the tools work, let's take a look at some ways that teachers and students can use Adobe Spark.

Post is the part of the Adobe Spark that lets you create graphics like posters, announcements, and Internet memes.
  • Students and teachers can create simple posters to print and post in their schools to announce club meetings, campaigns for class elections, or to post encouraging messages to students.
  • To help students understand and show that they understand what propaganda messages look like, I have had them create simple early 20th Century-style propaganda posters of their own. Adobe Spark has built-in Creative Commons search that can help students find pictures to use for those posters. Students can also upload pictures they've found in the public domain.
  • Create a meme-style graphic to share on your classroom, library, or school website. The graphic could be intended to encourage students and parents to remind each other of an upcoming school event. You could also create a meme to encourage students to continue reading over the summer. 
As the name implies, this is the Adobe Spark tool for creating videos. Videos are created by adding text and images to slides. You can record yourself talking over each slide. A library of free music is available to layer under your narration or you can use that music in lieu of narration.

  • Create a short flipped-lesson with Adobe Spark. The recording tool makes it easy to precisely record your narration over the slides in your lesson. 
  • Have your students create video lessons. The slide aspect of Adobe Spark's video tool lends itself to students creating short Ken Burns-style documentary videos. Have them use Spark's search tool to find images to use in their videos or have them use a place Flickr's The Commons to find historical images. I've had students make this style of video to tell the stories of people moving west across the United States in the 19th Century. 
  • This is the time of year for end-of-school assemblies and celebrations. Use Adobe Spark's video creation tool to make a video of highlights of the school year. Rather than narrating the video you can use music from Adobe Spark's library. 
Page is the tool for creating simple web pages to showcase pictures, posters, videos, text, and links. 
  • Create an event invitation page. Create a page that outlines the highlights of an upcoming school event like a fundraiser or open house night. Include images of past events, images of prizes, or include a video about the event. Should you need people to register for your event, include a link to a Google Form. (Learn how to use Google Forms).
  • Create a digital portfolio. Spark pages provide a great format for digital portfolios. Students can organize their pages into sections to showcase videos they've made, documents they've written, and their reflections on what they've learned. 
  • Make a multimedia timeline. While it wasn't designed specifically for making timelines, Spark Page's formatting does lend itself to timelines. Ask your students to research a series of events, find media representative of those events, caption the events and media with dates, and then place them into the proper order.
  • Write an image-based story. Students can write a story about themselves by using pictures they've taken placed into a Spark Page. Another way to think about image-based stories is to have students search for images and use them as writing prompts. Ask them to choose five pictures and write a story that connects the images. 

Adobe Spark works in your web browser including on Chromebooks. Adobe Spark is also available as a series of iPad apps for Page, Video, and Post. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Practical Ed Tech Handbook 2017 - From the Archive

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

In 2015 and 2016 I published a 30 page PDF that I called the Practical Ed Tech Handbook. Those have been accessed more than 100,000 times. Today, I revised the Practical Ed Tech Handbook for 2017. Within the pages of the 30 page document you will find short reviews of my favorite tools for creating videos, the best tools communicating with parents including blogging and text messaging, and my favorite options for creating digital portfolios. The Practical Ed Tech Handbook also includes reviews of tools for recording and publishing audio files and tools for conducting formative assessments. Finally, the Practical Ed Tech Handbook includes resources for teaching digital citizenship and for helping students improve their web search skills.

The free Practical Ed Tech Handbook can be downloaded here or through the display embedded below.

The file is hosted on If your school blocks you won't be able to see the embedded display. 

7 Good Tools for Creating Timelines - From the Archive

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

Timeline creation is a go-to project for many history teachers. When I made timelines as a student and in my first year or two of teaching, timelines were made on paper. Today, there are better ways to have students create timelines. In their web browsers and in stand-alone iPad and Android apps students can create multimedia timelines. In the chart embedded below I showcase the key features of seven multimedia timeline creation tools.

Join Teaching History With Technology to learn more about these tools including how to use my favorite timeline tools in the chart.

The Origin of Memorial Day

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

Memorial Day is on Monday. Here are a couple of quick resources that you may want to include in a lesson about Memorial Day.

The Meaning of Memorial Day is a two minute video covering the origin of the holiday in the United States. The video is embedded below.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers the following video overview of the history of Memorial Day.

For more resources for teaching about Memorial Day, visit Larry Ferlazzo's list of resources.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

5 Ways to Find Free Images - From the Archive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 Lessons About Electricity - From the Archive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online PD Opportunities With Me Starting Next Week

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

Benefits of Using Backchannels In Your Classroom

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

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

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

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

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

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

DOGO News - Current Events Lessons to Share in Google Classroom

DOGOnews is a student news site that features articles for K-8 students. DOGOnews covers current events stories in the areas of science, sports, entertainment, and variety of topics that fall under the banner of social studies. Teachers can find stories by browsing the categories, filtering by grade level, or filtering by grade level.

All articles on DOGOnews are accompanied by an embed code that you can use to put the story into a blog post for your students to read. There are two other ways to share articles and questions from DOGOnews. You can create an DOGOnews classroom account. In your classroom account you can post articles with notes and questions attached to them. When your students log into the classroom account they will see the articles you've posted along with the notes and questions you've added to the articles.

DOGOnews has a Google Classroom integration. The following video demonstrates the Google Classroom integration.

How to quickly show or hide your Chrome bookmarks bar

In a webinar last week I incidentally showed a quick way to show or hide the bookmarks bar in Chrome. The webinar was not about Chrome or anything Google-related so I was surprised when someone asked me to show the trick again. There is not a trick, just hit CTRL+Shift+B to show  or hide the bookmarks bar. Watch my video below to see the tip in action.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Adapting by Using Voice Commands in Google Docs

As I mentioned in my post about how medicine works, I injured my right hand on Friday evening. There are stitches in my hand which make it hard to type or use a mouse. To adapt, I'm slowly using a mouse with my left hand and using my voice to type in Google Docs. So far the only drawback to voice typing in Google Docs is that I can't play music on my computer at the same time without the input getting garbled. If you've never tried voice typing in Google Docs, watch my video embedded below to see how easy it is to use.

How the Human Body Processes Medicine

As some of you may have seen on Instagram, I injured my right hand on Friday evening. After looking at the cuts on my hand, the emergency room doctor prescribed a round of antibiotics and a mild pain reliever. So it was with some extra interest that I watched a new TED-Ed lesson titled How Does Your Body Process Medicine? The lesson teaches viewers how medicine swallowed as pills end up in the bloodstream and how the medicine targets an ailment. Viewers also learn about the many variables that can affect the speed and efficacy of a medication in a patient.

The video from the lesson is embedded below.

Dream Seeds - A New eBook of Writing Prompts from Make Beliefs Comix

Plant Your Dream Seeds is a new eBook from Make Beliefs Comix. The book is a fillable PDF in which students can write their responses to the prompts within the free eBook. The prompts in Plant Your Dream Seeds are intended to get students thinking about their hopes and dreams for the future. The book also includes prompts to help students think about how to achieve their dreams.

Plant Your Dream Seeds is the latest of nine free eBooks from Make Beliefs Comix. All of the books are fillable PDFs that feature thematic writing prompts.

Applications for Education
All of the Make Beliefs Comix eBooks provide a nice source of writing prompts for elementary school and middle school students. If your classroom does not have enough computers for every student, you can print the eBooks of writing prompts for students to complete by hand.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining, the grass is finally green, and pollen is coating any car left outside overnight. I hope that it is equally nice wherever you are this weekend.

As the weather turns decidedly toward summer many of us are thinking about professional development opportunities. I'm going to a couple of events for my own professional development. And I'm also hosting a couple of events. Tickets are still available for the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp and the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp. Both events are happening in July.

Here are the week's most popular posts:
1. 7 Blogging Tools for Teachers Compared and Ranked
2. 5 Google Calendar Tips for New Users
3. 21 Real World Math Lessons for High School Students
4. DocsTeach Adds New Analysis Activities for Students
5. How to Disable Google Drive Email Notifications
6. Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality
7. How to Create Gmail Filters

Looking for a keynote or workshop? Click here to learn about my professional development services.

I am currently offering five online courses:

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.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
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.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Two Ways to Add Audio to Google Slides

In yesterday's Practical Ed Tech Live session I answered a question that I seem to be getting asked a lot lately. That question is, "do you know how to add audio to Google Slides." You can add audio to Google Slides if you use YouTube or Google Drive to host videos that contain audio tracks. In the videos below I explain and demonstrate how you can add audio to your Google Slides presentations.

And if you just want to make an audio slideshow that plays on its own, you can use the YouTube Audio Slideshow creator. My video below shows you how to use it.

Practical Ed Tech Live - Episode 6 Recording

Yesterday afternoon I hosted the sixth episode of Practical Ed Tech Live on YouTube and Facebook. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions and to everyone who attended the live session. If you missed it, the recording of the broadcast is embedded below. The text of most of the questions that I answered are copied below the video.

1. A colleague asked about curriculum mapping software,suggesting “Atlas” but that is pricey. Do you know of, or could you recommend anything free or inexpensive…even an app would be good.

2. I read about DropItToMe closing down. Do you have any alternatives that you can recommend?

3. I guess I don’t understand the big deal about Google Classroom. Can you explain why I would want to use that instead of just posting things on my Google Site like I have for years?

4. This summer I am changing school districts. I have a ton of stuff in my current Google Apps account that I want to be able to move to my new district. Other than just sharing with myself, can you think of a better way to move things?

5. Can you do a post comparing digital portfolio tools? I’m trying to find the best one. I’d like to pick something that I can use for a few years.

6. Do you know if there is a way to add audio to Google Slides?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mindful Movements With ClassDojo

Since its launch last year ClassDojo's Big Ideas series has steadily grown in size. This month ClassDojo added to the series with a new collection of videos and activities organized around the idea of mindfulness. The Mindfulness series is a set of videos and activities that were designed in partnership with Yale University's Center for Emotional Intelligence. The series is focused on helping students understand and manage their emotions.

ClassDojo's Mindfulness series begins with an introduction to the "Beast." The Beast is used to symbolize the powerful emotions that students sometimes feel in stressful moments. The second part of the series helps students identify what their "Beast" is. The third and fourth of the series introduce students to some simple breathing and stretching movements that can help them calm and refocus themselves.

The first video in the ClassDojo Mindfulness series is embedded below.

Applications for Education
The mindful movements and mindful breathing portions of this series could be just what you and your students need as end-of-the-year stress starts to appear. A few minutes with these activities might have a nice calming effect on your classroom, even if only for a little while.

Ten Fun Things You Can Add To Your Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp Experience

Today is the first true taste of summer that we are having here in Maine. The sun is shining, the air temperature is 85F, and everywhere you look there are pale legs wearing shorts for the first time this year. All this has me thinking about all of the fun things that you can do around Portland, Maine before and after the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps. Discounted registration is available for just 12 more days.

1. Take a sunset cruise around Casco Bay. Casco Bay Lines offers day and evening cruises to see the islands and forts dotting Casco Bay. The cruises depart just a few blocks from the host hotel.

2. Try your hand at lobstering. Summer lobstering is nothing like Deadliest Catch. Lucky Catch Cruises will let you experience the process of catching a lobster in Maine. You'll see a nice part of Casco Bay too. 

3. Eat a lobster. A summer trip to coastal Maine is not complete without enjoying lobster. From hole-in-the-wall lobster roll stands to 5 star restaurants, there is no shortage of great places to enjoy the quintessential Maine meal. 

4. Bike or walk the Eastern Trail. The trail starts at Bug Light lighthouse and runs south to Kennebunk. You can start or stop almost anywhere in between the two ends of the trail. 

5. After you enjoy the Eastern Trail, take a tour of one of many microbreweries in Portland. Portland, Maine has the highest number of breweries per capita of any city in the United States. I'm fond of Allagash and Bissell Brothers. 

6. Maine Children's Museum offers great learning opportunities for toddlers, tweens, and teens. 

7. The Portland Museum of Art is across the street from the host hotel. Admission is free on Friday evenings so head over after the Chromebook Camp or BYOD Camp ends. 

8. Go see Portland Headlight lighthouse and have a picnic in Fort Williams Park. On a summer day, it's hard to beat laying out a picnic blanket at the park. Or walk the grounds at dusk and enjoy the cool ocean breeze as you smell the sea roses. 

9. If you're the shopping type, take a quick ride up to Freeport to see the LL Bean flagship store. Don't forget to get your picture taken by the giant boot or the moose locking horns. 

10. Just chill on the beach. There are plenty of public beaches in the area. 

Discounted registration is still available for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps happening this July. Unlike a lot of conference settings, Portland, Maine offers the perfect combination of plenty to do without being so busy that you don't want to do anything. I hope you'll join us. 

How To Use Emojis In Google Keep

Earlier this week I shared that I had stumbled into adding emoticons/ emojis to my lists in Google Keep. A couple of people have asked how I did this. The answer is that you have to use the app on your Android phone or iPhone. I haven't found an easy way to do it in the desktop version of Google Keep. In the video embedded below I give a quick demonstration of how to use emoticons in Google Keep lists.

Applications for Education
Using emojis in your shared lists in Google Keep could be a nice way to add some character and fun to your task lists and reminders. Whether you're sharing lists and reminders with students or with colleagues, everyone likes a little fun element mixed into an otherwise boring list.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Write - A Minimalist Writing Platform

Write is a free writing platform with the simplest design of all of the minimalist writing platforms that have popped-up in the last couple of years. On Write you simply choose the length of time that you want to spend writing then start writing. Write Surge will show a countdown timer in the right hand corner of the screen. Other than that, you don't see anything else on the screen. Write until time expires then save your work in your browser or download a Write file that you can then upload and edit again later.

Write doesn't have any formatting tools at all. You can't change fonts, insert pictures, or even insert hyperlinks. The user interface is designed to focus you on your writing and that's it.

You don't need to have an email address or create an account to use Write. In fact, there is not even an option to create account.

Applications for Education
Write could be a good little tool for creative writing students who could benefit from "writing against the clock" to get themselves started when they claim that they "can't think of anything to write."

One of the things that you could do with Write is have students choose the one minute countdown and try to write a quick story starter. When the minute is up have them share their story starters with the class. The process of sharing the story starters can help all of the students in the class generate ideas for their next fiction stories.

How to Change Your Google Profile Image

Many of us have multiple Google Accounts. It's not uncommon at all to have one account for school in G Suite for Education and one account connected to your personal Gmail account. If you use the default "initial icon" for your Google Account profiles, it's easy to forget which account you're logged into at a given moment. The solution to this problem is to set a different profile image for each of your accounts. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to change the image avatar associated with your Google Account profile.

How to Create Gmail Filters

At one time or another we have all stared at our email inboxes and instantly felt like marking everything as read or deleting everything and starting over from scratch. It doesn't have to be this way. By using filters in Gmail, including the G Suite for Education version of Gmail, you can apply some automatic organization to your inbox. In the following video I demonstrate how to create filters in your Gmail account.

Three Alternatives to DropItToMe for File Collection

Yesterday I shared the unfortunate news that DropItToMe is shutting down on July 15th. DropItToMe provided users with an easy way to collect all manner of files in their Dropbox and or Google Drive accounts. The best part of DropItToMe is that people sharing files with you did not need to have a Google Drive or Dropbox account.

In the 24 hours since I posted the news of DropItToMe's impending demise I have had a nice email exchange with Eli Shaheen about alternatives to DropItToMe. My first suggestion was to just use a shared Google Drive folder with notification emails turned off so that you don't get overwhelmed with emails when you're collecting files. Eli responded with the suggestion of using this script to collect files via Google Drive regardless of whether or not users have a Google Account.

Eli's suggestion reminded me of the Google Forms upload option which is available to most G Suite for Education users. The shortcoming of this method is that all users must be logged into a G Suite for Education account. So this method won't work if you're trying to collect files like permission slips from your students' parents.

Finally, Dropbox users can use the "request file" option to collect files from people who don't have Dropbox accounts.

Applications for Education
The Google Drive script that Eli Shaheen shared with me and the Dropbox file request feature provide a good way to collect files like permission slips from parents without the need for them to send you email attachments. Both methods also provide a good way to collect large files. Finally, both methods will let you collect files that were not made on cloud-based services.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How to Disable Google Drive Email Notifications

Just a few minutes ago I received an email from someone who was considering using Google Drive folders as a temporary replacement for DropItToMe. She was concerned about getting too many email notifications when people share files in the folder. My quick solution was to disable email notifications in Google Drive. In the video below I demonstrate how to do that.

5 Google Calendar Tips for New Users

My life runs on Google Calendar. From keeping track of the classes I'm teaching to remembering when the babysitter is available, Google Calendar keeps me on track. If your school is transitioning to G Suite for Education, you need to get to know Google Calendar. Once you understand it, you'll find that it runs your life too. In the video embedded below I provide five tips for new Google Calendar users.

If you want to learn more about Google Calendar and all aspects of G Suite for Education, check out Getting Going With G Suite. In the course you'll learn everything you need to know to feel comfortable using G Suite in your classroom next fall. You can even earn graduate credit for completing the course. 

Lessons from 12,000 Blog Posts - Video

For the last six weeks on my YouTube channel I've been sharing short lessons that I've learned from publishing more than 12,000 blog posts over the last ten years. This morning I created one more video to summarize all of those lessons. That video, which was recorded live on YouTube, is embedded below.

Information about the edupreneurship course that I mentioned at the end of the video is available here. The course starts on June 4th.

DropItToMe Is Shutting Down

Thanks to a Tweet from Tony Vincent, this morning I learned that DropItToMe is shutting down on July 15th. DropItToMe provided a seamless way to collect files from anyone without the need for email attachments. I will be testing alternatives to DropItToMe in the coming days and I'll be sure to share a recommended alternative tool soon.

Join Me For Practical Ed Tech Live This Thursday

Last Thursday was the most attended edition of Practical Ed Tech Live that I've hosted this spring. I'll be hosting another episode this Thursday at 3:30pm EDT. You can join me on my YouTube channel or on the Practical Ed Tech Facebook page. I'll answer your questions live as they appear. I'll also answer questions that are sent to me in advance via email or Facebook.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel and turn on alerts to be notified when the broadcast starts.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Clipular - Create Screenshots on Chromebooks

Clipular is a free Chrome extension that can be used to capture a screen image. Clipular lets you capture all of your screen or a portion of your screen. It also gives the option to scroll while capturing to make an image of an entire webpage even if it doesn't fit into your current screen view. For example, if you're looking at this page on a small Chromebook right now, you might not see all of the page until you scroll down.

Clipular does require that you create a free account. All of your screen capture images are stored in that account. Within your library of screen capture images you can create groupings of images, edit your images, and share your images. You can connect Clipular to your Google Drive account and have your images saved directly to Google Drive.

Applications for Education
From showing a student or colleague the steps for using a web app or capturing an image of how a webpage looks at a moment in time, screenshots can be valuable in many school settings.

Here are three other tools that you can use to capture screen images on your Chromebook.

Topics like this one and many others will be covered in this summer's Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp. Early registration discounts are available for just two more weeks.

21 Real World Math Lessons for High School Students

Getting to teach economics lessons is one of my favorite things about being a social studies teacher. In economics lessons high school students start to see how many of the math concepts, logic concepts, and political theory they've learned can apply to them in the "real world" after high school. Econ Ed Link is a great resource for lesson plans, videos, and interactive activities for teaching economics concepts. They recently published an updated list of their Math In the Real World lesson plan library.

Math In the Real World lesson plans include activities to teach students how to analyze business profit and loss, how the stock market works, and how distribution of income can influence government policies. The Math In the Real World lesson plans also include activities that have a more personal appeal to students. Those lesson plans include building credit, building a savings, and the dangers of payday loan schemes. The payday loan lesson plan is one that has previously been featured here on Free Technology for Teachers.

Applications for Education
To develop a good understanding of economics concepts students need to also develop a good understanding of mathematics and logic concepts. These free lesson plans from Econ Ed Link can help you help your students develop a better understanding of how math concepts do apply to the real world.

Make Lists Fun With Emojis In Google Keep

Last week's most popular post was 7 Ways to Use Google Keep In Your Classroom. This morning I was using Google Keep on my phone to make a shared shopping list and I stumbled into the option to use emojis in my list. You can use the same emojis/ emoticons that you use in text messages in Google Keep. You can even use emojis in notes that have pictures included in them.

Applications for Education
Using emojis in your shared lists in Google Keep could be a nice way to add some character and fun to your task lists and reminders. Whether you're sharing lists and reminders with students or with colleagues, everyone likes a little fun element mixed into an otherwise boring list.

My playlist of Google Keep tutorials is embedded below.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Kids Bowl Free - A Summer Activity for Rainy Days

I had planned an outdoor activity for Mother's Day (a cruise in Casco Bay) but the pouring rain cancelled that plan. So instead we went to a relatively new bowling alley that had lots of other families this afternoon. The experience reminded me of a free program called Kids Bowl Free. 

For the tenth year in a row Kids Bowl Free is offering two free games per day to students in the United States and Canada. Kids Bowl Free is a program funded by bowling alleys to provide students with a safe and fun activity during the summer.

To receive coupons for up to two free games of bowling per day, parents need to register on Kids Bowl Free. Each bowling center sets its own start and end date for the program so check the listings for a bowling center in your area.

The History of Mother's Day

Happy 1st Mother's Day to Jess.
Isla's awesome mom!
Happy Mother's Day to all of the moms reading my blog today! Hi Mom! (Yes, my mom reads my blog). Until today I never really wondered about the origin of Mother's Day. So I did what most people do when they wonder about something now, I Googled it and found the following short video from

Applications for Education
It's probably too late for a relevant lesson this year, but bookmark this video and use it next year for a short flipped lesson that you create in EDpuzzle or TES Teach.

DocsTeach Adds New Analysis Activities for Students

DocsTeach is a great resource for teachers of U.S. History. DocsTeach, produced by the National Archives Foundation, provides teachers with a free platform on which they can create online history lessons based on images, documents, audio recording, video recordings, and maps. The lessons that teachers create can be shared with their students through a free DocsTeach online classroom environment.

DocsTeach recently added a new document analysis template for teachers to use to create activities for their students. The document analysis template has teachers choose a document or portion of a document for students to analyze. Teachers can then choose from a menu of pre-made document analysis questions for their students to answer while reviewing a document. Teachers can also create their own questions to add to the analysis activity. After completing the activity set-up it is ready to be shared with students. When students complete the activity online, the teacher can view all of the responses online.

DocsTeach will let you publish your activities to be shared with other teachers. Activities that you publish will appear in the public catalog of activities. That catalog can be searched according to topic, era, activity type, skill, and grade level.

Applications for Education
DocsTeach's new document analysis activity template could provide you with a great way to guide students through difficult primary source documents. I've always found that even the best readers in my classroom need some help when it comes to analyzing primary sources that are more than 100 years old.

DocsTeach now offers thirteen activity templates for teachers to use in building lessons based on the thousands of artifacts available through the DocsTeach website.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

7 Good Resources for Learning About Mount Everest

Next week many mountaineers will be making their summit attempts on Mount Everest. As long-time readers of this blog may recall, one of my bucket list items is seeing Mount Everest in person. Until then I have to entertain myself with books, videos, and imagery of the mountain. Here are some of the resources that I like to consult when teaching students about Mount Everest and the area surrounding it.

Why is Mount Everest so Tall? is a TED-Ed lesson in which students learn why the peak of Everest is so high, why other mountains are longer from base to summit, and how mountains in general are formed. Through the lesson students can also learn why the heights of mountains change and why Everest may not be the tallest mountain forever.

Through Google's Street View imagery of Mount Everest Basecamp (south side) students can zoom and pan around the foothills of Mount Everest. Students viewing that imagery for the first time might be surprised at how different the view is compared the to the typical pictures of Everest. After viewing the imagery students can click forward to see Street View imagery of other places in the region.

Most educational resources give a very western perspective on Mount Everest. There's another side of Everest and that is the perspective of the Sherpa people who are native to the area and have climbed Everest more than any other group. Kraig Becker at The Adventure Blog shared a great BBC documentary about Sherpas who work with westerners on the mountain. You can watch the video below. Before showing the video to your students, you may want to remind them that Sherpa is an ethnic group, not a job title., hosts dozens of other interactive panoramas from around the world. Included in that list is a 360 degree interactive panoramic image taken from the peak of Mt. Everest. Using that panoramic image students can see what mountaineers see when they stand on the peak of Mt. Everest. The image includes views of the famous Khumbu valley as well as Everest's neighboring peaks Lhotse, Changtse, Makalu, and Nupste.

Snow in the Kingdom: My Storm Years on Everest by Ed Webster (a fellow Mainer) is one of the best books ever written about Mount Everest. If you enjoy good adventure stories and or stories about overcoming personal struggles, I think you will enjoy Webster's book. For my money, and I own two copies of it, it does a far better job of explaining how it feels to be on Mount Everest than any of the two dozen or so books that I've read about Mount Everest and the Himalaya.

Scaling Everest is an infographic that goes beyond the usual scale of Everest comparisons to buildings and jet flight paths. In the infographic you will find audio of three Everest climbers talking about the approach to Everest basecamp and the nuances of the climb itself. The infographic also provides some interesting facts about plants and animals in the region.

Mount Everest Base Camp to Summit in 3D is a Google Earth tour that takes viewers up the South Col route to the summit of Everest. A video of the tour is embedded below.

The Week in Review - Sunshine!

Good evening from Maine where we finally had a sunny day after what has felt like weeks of clouds and rain. As I shared on my Instagram account during the week, I still rode my bike and walked my dogs in the rain, but it's always better do those things in the sunshine. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you got some time outside too. Whether it's raining, snowing, or the sun is shining life is always better when you can get some time outside.

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers reading this. I hope your children treat you extra well this weekend. Hi mom!

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 7 Ways to Use Google Keep in Your Classroom
2. 5 Ways to Show YouTube Videos Without Related Content
3. 10 Ways to Use Google Earth in Your Classroom
4. How to Create a Flowchart on Padlet
5. Screencast-o-Matic Now Offers Background Music
6. Cite It In - A Free Tool for Creating Reference Citations
7. Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp & BYOD Camp Discounts Extended

Looking for a keynote or workshop? Click here to learn about my professional development services. 

I am currently offering five online courses:

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
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Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
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.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality

Yesterday, I was asked about the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality. I made the following video and short slideshow to further explain the differences between the two.

Click here to learn more about the AR app that I mentioned in the video.

Try YouTube Live for Review Sessions - Breakfast With Tom Richey

This morning I opened YouTube to see a notification from my friend Tom Richey that he was going live with a review session for AP European History students. When I joined in there were nearly 2,400 viewers and at one point there were over 2,500 viewers. Tom was talking to students in his own classroom and broadcasting the review for anyone who wanted to watch. A bunch of classrooms around the U.S. were watching.

What Tom was doing is something that many other teachers could do for a small or large audience. If you're hosting a review session for students during school hours or after school hours, streaming it on YouTube Live will let the students that can't be in the room with you, follow along and ask questions too.

Broadcasting on YouTube can be done from your Android phone or iPhone. You can also broadcast from your laptop, but the set-up is a little more difficult than it is on a phone. Here are the directions for broadcasting YouTube Live from your laptop.

How to Find Old Maps Online

In yesterday's Practical Ed Tech Live episode I answered a question about where to find old maps to layer in Google Earth. One of the resources that I suggested was Old Maps Online. Old Maps Online is a map that you can browse and search to find historical maps to view online, to download, and to print. You can search the map by entering a location or you can just pan and zoom around the world to find historical maps. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Old Maps Online.

Applications for Education
The maps that you and your students find could be used as overlays in the Google Earth layers. You might also use the maps for a local history comparison activity by comparing your students' current vision of where they live with what it looked like in the past.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

How to Grade Vizia Quizzes in Google Sheets

In this afternoon's Practical Ed Tech Live session I answered a couple of questions about the video quiz platform, Vizia. One of those questions was about how to grade the responses in Google Sheets. I suggested using the Flubaroo Add-on for Google Sheets to grade responses to Vizia quizzes. In the video below I show how to do that.

Here's how to create a quiz in Vizia.

Practical Ed Tech Live! Episode 5

Earlier today I hosted the fifth episode of Practical Ed Tech Live. Thank you to all who submitted questions in advance to those who joined in during the live broadcast. I'll be hosting another episode next week at 3:30pm EDT on Thursday, May 18th. If you missed today's episode, the recording is embedded below. The text of the questions that I answered are copied below the embedded below.

Questions answered in the show:

What’s your email address?

I’ve been following you for a while. I watched for the webinar you did with Greg Kulowiec about virtual reality. I’m still a little confused about the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality. Do you have anything I can read about the differences?

I am going to be a technology coach in our small district next year (I just found out last week). I’ve been following your blog for years. Do you have any tips for new technology coaches?

I was looking at your list of ten ways to use Google Earth in the classroom and I want to try layering old maps onto Google Earth. Do you have recommendations for places to find old maps?

Will work in Google Classroom?

I’m trying to join a Google Classroom with a code that a colleague gave me so that we could learn Classroom together. The code she sent me keeps saying “invalid” no matter how many times she resets it. Do you have any idea why this might be happening?

My Two Most Requested Documents

Last night I forgot to silence my phone before bed. Not ten minutes after putting my head on my pillow I heard a Google Drive alert. I looked over at my phone to see that someone had requested access to my file titled Life on Minimum Wage. That is one of the two most frequently requested documents that I have. The other is titled Captains of Industry. Both documents outline hands-on economics lesson for middle school and high school students. I have now uploaded both documents to and I have embedded them below for viewing and downloading.

The purpose of Life on Minimum Wage is for students to recognize how difficult it is to save money when your only job(s) pay minimum wage without benefits. To win at Life on Minimum Wage the students have to reach five financial goals that they select. To earn money the students have to complete the tasks of their assigned jobs. The students then have to pay required bills before using money for their selected financial goals. As the game progresses students will be issued "surprise" cards which require them to spend money on things like speeding tickets, trips to a health clinic, and increases in rent.

All of the jobs in Life on Minimum Wage are connected so that if one "business" slows production or closes, the workers of another business are also effected. The goal here is to demonstrate the effects of a business closing on a small town's economy.

Captains of Industry is an economics simulation activity. The original version of this activity was developed by my colleague Jason Long. What I'm sharing here is the activity as I've modified it for my classroom. My version is about 75% the same as Jason's original. The point of the activity is for students to experience and experiment with the tactics of American businessmen in the second half of the 19th century. Before trying the activity it is best for students to have some familiarity with the business practices of Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt, and Morgan.

(Note, before you email me about the Browning rifle goal card in Life on Minimum Wage, please understand that these were goals chosen by my students in a rural community. You're welcome to change that card for use in your own classroom).