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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February's Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers

Good evening from North Carolina where I'm getting ready for the NCTIES 17 conference. I look forward to this conference every year. There are so many engaged educators learning and sharing with each other. In some ways it feels like a huge EdCamp with structure (some of us like structure). If you're going to be at NCTIES 17, please say hello. I am running two workshops on Wednesday and my first presentation is on Thursday afternoon in Ballroom B where I'll be sharing Best of the Web 2017.

As I do at the end of every month, I have assembled the list of the most popular posts of the month. This list is based on total views and shares.

Here are February's most popular posts on FreeTech4Teachers.com:
1. The Things I Wish Every Teacher Knew About Technology...
2. My Five Most Frequently Recommended Google Forms Add-ons
3. How to Insert Videos Into Google Slides Without Using YouTube
4. Practical Ed Tech Handbook - 2017 Edition
5. 21 Tools for Conducting Digital Formative Assessments
6. Get a Free Presidential Timeline Poster for Your Classroom
7. 7 Places to Find Free Music & Sound Effects for Multimedia Projects
8. Tools for Creating, Hosting, and Printing Infographics
9. 5 Great Google Sheets Add-ons for Teachers
10. Quickly Create Bingo Boards In Google Sheets

Join me this summer for the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp or the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp. Early registration and group discounts are available.



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.
EdTechTeacher is hosts workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

Google Keep Is Now Part of G Suite's Core Services

Google Keep is my favorite tool for bookmarking, taking notes, and setting reminders. I use it on my laptop, Chromebook, my phone, and my iPad. For a couple of years it has been my go-to recommendation for anyone looking for a bookmarking tool, a reminder app, or a note-taking app. But the one drawback to it was that it wasn't a core part of G Suite for Education. That changed today.

Earlier today it was announced that Google Keep will become a core service in G Suite. This means that you'll be able to use Google Keep with your G Suite log-in. It also means that you will now be able to quickly more your Google Keep notes into your Google Documents. In Google Docs you will now see a "Keep notepad" option in the Docs toolbar. Open the toolbar and you will be able to drag notes from Keep into your document.

Learn more about how to use Google Keep in my playlist of tutorial videos about it.


It is important to note that the roll-out of the new Keep integration into Docs will take a few days for all users to see it. G Suite Admins may need to activate the Keep option in their admin panels.

Teach Your Monster to Read Minigames

Teach Your Monster to Read is a fun online environment in which students play games that are designed to help them improve the speed and accuracy with which they recognize letters, sounds, and words. Students play the games as friendly monster avatars that they are helping learn to read. This week, Teach Your Monster to Read added a new section of minigames.

Teach Your Monster to Read Minigames are games that students can play in a short amount of time and can quit at any time. The idea behind this being that students can quickly jump into a game and get a bit of practice in intervals rather than having to play through a longer game. There are six minigames that let students practice sound identification for every letter of the alphabet. There are three minigames that have a basic spelling component to them.
Applications for Education
Teach Your Monster to Read Minigames could be a great resource to have bookmarked on the computers in your classroom. When you need some quick and fun practice activities for your students, these games could be just what you need.

Currently, Teach Your Monster to Read Minigames only work on computers and interactive whiteboards. A tablet version is coming later in the year.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Google's Guides to G Suite Accessibility Options

Google offers two G Suite accessibility guides. There is a guide for administrators and there is a guide for users.

The G Suite user guide to accessibility is designed for end users. The user guide is divided into sixteen sections. In the first section you will find recommendations for the best screen readers to use while using G Suite on Mac, Windows, and Chrome OS computers. The other sections of the guide are devoted to specific products within the G Suite including Google Classroom. Each section contains information on accessibility shortcuts, screen reader instructions for each app, and in some sections you will find how to videos like this one for using a screen reader with Google Docs.



The G Suite administrator guide to accessibility covers much of what you will find in the user guide, but also includes recommended settings to apply within your Google Apps admin console.

Virtual Reality in Education

This afternoon I joined Greg Kulowiec for a Google Hangout on Air discussion about virtual reality in education. We had a dozen or so people join us in the live chat during the Hangout. If you weren't able to watch the live session, you can now view it as embedded below. The resources that we shared during the Hangout are available at EdTechTeacher.org/VR


In the video above Greg and I talk about watch virtual reality is, how we've used it so far, what some of the research about VR in education tells us, and how to get started using virtual reality in your classroom.

Nixon's Visit to China - Documents and Video

Last week the National Archives Today's Document feed featured two artifacts from President Nixon's landmark visit to China in 1972. The first document was actually a photography of Air Force One arriving in China. The second document was the menu from one of the dinners in Peking. Looking at these documents reminded me of some other resources that I've used when teaching students about evolution of relations between the United States and China.

The Nixon Presidential Library's website has a section about Nixon's visit to China. In this section you can listen to recordings of Nixon discussing the rationale for the trip and his post-trip reflections. You can also listen to Mrs. Nixon discuss the arrival of two Pandas at the National Zoo.

The PBS American Experience website has a map of Nixon's visit to China. The map highlights the places that Nixon visited during his seven day visit in February 1972. The map and the rest of the website are designed as companions to the PBS American Experience film "Nixon's China Game."

And you can learn even more about President Nixon in the three hour American Experience documentary about him. That video can be watched here or as embedded below. 



RefME is Becoming Cite This For Me - Changes to Free Plan Coming

RefME is a great service for organizing your research and creating bibliographies out of your collections of online and offline resources. I've been a supporter of the service since I first tried it a few years ago. It appears that I'm not the only one who likes RefME because it was recently acquired by Chegg. Chegg is rolling RefME into their existing bibliography generator called Cite This For Me.

RefME will become Cite This For Me next week. Starting on March 7th you will have to go to http://www.citethisforme.com/premium/login. As that URL indicates, there is a premium version of Cite This For Me. If you don't purchase the premium version, on June 1st you will access to your existing RefME projects. The free version of Cite This For Me only allows you to store your projects for seven days before they are deleted.

A couple of alternatives to RefME and Cite This For Me are refDot and Easybib (I like the Google Docs Add-on they offer).

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Week in Review - Back from Vacation

Good morning from Maine where I am back to work after my annual ice-fishing vacation on Moosehead Lake in Rockwood, Maine. While it wasn't the best fishing we've ever had, we still had a great time unplugging and relaxing. This year I was even captured some great footage of bald eagles circling over our heads.

If you were on vacation this week too, I hope that you had an equally good break. And for everyone else, I hope you have a great weekend.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. The Things I Wish Every Teacher Knew About Technology...
2. Get a Free Presidential Timeline Poster for Your Classroom
3. Nudge - Interactive Algebra Lessons on iPads and Android Tablets
4. Pattern Matcher Helps Students Prepare for ACT and SAT
5. 10 Ideas for Using Comics In Your Classroom
6. Simple, Effective Search Challenge Lessons
7. Padlet Now Has Desktop and Mobile Notifications

Join me this summer for the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp or the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp. Early registration and group discounts are available.


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.
EdTechTeacher is hosts workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

All About Bison

There is a chilling scene in Dances With Wolves in which Kevin Costner's character and the Lakota Indians come over a hill to see hundreds of bison carcasses left to rot on the plains. I have, on occasion, shown that scene to students. It's a good illustration of what Americans did to the bison herds that once roamed the west. It is remarkable how bison populations have rebounded from near extinction. This topic is covered briefly in a recent SciShow Kids video titled Meet the American Bison.

Meet the American Bison does a fine job of showing younger students basic facts about bison. If you look carefully, you'll also notice that it does a great job of modeling how to cite the sources of images used in a video.



Older students who want to learn about bison should turn to the resources available on the Yellowstone National Park website. Those resources include the following video about the challenges of bison conservation.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Quill Connect Helps Students Understand Sentence Structure

Quill Connect is a new feature on the Quill writing lesson platform. Quill Connect presents to students a collection of short sentences that they then have to combine to create a new sentence with the same meaning. Quill Connect also gives students run-on sentences that they need to correct. Students receive immediate feedback upon completion of each Quill Connect activity. Try a Quill Connect activity here.

A short demonstration of the Quill Connect feature is included in the video embedded below.


There are three other activity categories within Quill. Those activities are Quill Proofreader, Quill Grammar, and Quill Writer. In Quill Proofreader students are shown students passages that have grammatical errors placed in them. Students have to identify and correct the errors in the passages that they read. Quill Grammar requires students to complete short exercises in which they finish the construction of sentences by inserting the correct words and or punctuation marks. In Quill Writer activities students work together to construct sentences from a shared word bank.

Two More ClassTools Templates for Showing Content Connections

Last week I shared the Hexagon Learning Template offered by ClassTools.net. That template is great for helping students make connections between topics in a subject area. The Hexagon template is not the only one of that style that you'll find on ClassTools.net. The Diamond 9 template and the Jigsaw template will also help students make connections between topics.

The Diamond 9 template has students write text into nine boxes that form a diamond shape. Students have to sort the boxes into order of importance and connection to ideas in other boxes. A space is provided for students to write a justification for placement of each box.

The Jigsaw template has students write keywords or phrases into jigsaw pieces. Students then arrange the pieces to show the connections between the keywords in the those pieces. Students can color code each piece in their puzzles.

Applications for Education
The Hexagon, Diamond 9, and Jigsaw templates on ClassTools.net all provide excellent formats for students to use to illustrate their understandings of how topics are connected within a subject area. All of these templates can be saved online so that students can revisit and revise them as needed.

TinyTap Handbook - Tutorials for Making Interactive iPad Activities

TinyTap is a great tool for creating interactive, educational activities that your students can play on their iPads, on their Android tablets, or on their laptops. I have recommended TinyTap to at least five people in the last week. If you're looking for a way to create iPad games, TinyTap is the first tool that I'd try. To get started, take a look at the videos in the TinyTap handbook to learn all of the formats in which you can create activities for your students. The TinyTap handbook playlist is embedded below.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pattern Matcher Helps Students Prepare for ACT and SAT

Pattern Matcher is a feature of PrepFactory's free ACT and SAT preparation service. Pattern Matcher is a game that students can play after they have completed the eight interactive strategy lessons in PrepFactory. The game is designed to help students recognize the types of questions that they will see on the ACT or SAT. After identifying the type of question students can try to match the strategy they should use to the questions they are seeing.

Applications for Education
The next ACT test date is just a week away. Reviewing the types of questions and the strategies needed to answer them is a good way for students to sharpen their skills before the ACT.

Learn more about PrepFactory in the videos embedded below.



Disclosure: PrepFactory is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Nudge - Interactive Algebra Lessons on iPads and Android Tablets

Nudge is a free iPad and Android app that provides students with interactive, on-demand algebra tutorials. The free app provides students with practice problems that they attempt to solve on their iPads or Android devices. When they get stuck on a problem students can ask for hint or for a demonstration of how to solve the problem. In addition to showing students hints and demonstrations, Nudge will show them where they made their mistakes in solving a problem.

Learn more about Nudge in the video below.


Applications for Education
Nudge could be a good app for students who are motivated to practice algebra outside of the assignments that you give to them. Unfortunately, without becoming a Nudge partner, there doesn't appear to be a way for teachers to track students' practice activities.

Simple, Effective Search Challenge Lessons

One of my favorite ways to reinforce the use of good search strategies to students is to show interesting pictures and have students try to make a long list of questions about what they see. Then I let the students try to find the answers to those questions. When they get stuck, I intervene to remind them of one of the search strategies that they have been taught. (Google's search education page has great lesson plans for teaching core search strategies).

Creating image-based search challenges:
1. Locate three public domain or Creative Commons licensed pictures to use as search prompts. If you have pictures of your own that you want to use, that’s okay too.
2. In Google Slides create a list of questions that your students might ask about the image. Put one question on each slide.
3. Arrange the slides in order of difficulty. On each slide give a search hint in the speaker notes.
4. Publish your search challenge activity and share the link in this form.

My "Big Truck" example:
Some of the most common questions that are asked when I show this picture to students or adults.
Where was this picture taken?
How big is the truck?
How much fuel does the truck consume?
How big are the tires?

All four of the questions above can be answered by using various search strategies and tools. Using the "similar images search" in Google Images will help you answer these questions. Google Maps Street View will help you answer the questions too. And while not essential to answering the questions, refining your search to a specific top-level domain could help too.

How to help students become better researchers is one of the topics covered in depth at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps

Make Your Videos Lively With Puppets

This is a guest post from Rushton Hurley. Rushton is the founder of Next Vista for Learning and the author of Making Your School Something Special.

Getting a thought across to students in a short video can happen in all sorts of ways, and using puppets is one of the better ones for making content that can appeal to all ages.

In this contest-winning video, Dennis Grice of Concordia International School in Shanghai made a piece to help students learn how not to spam each other, as well as what to do when getting messages that make you mad.

Spam: Don't Do It


A follow-up to watching this 90-second video might be having students think of some of the most important pieces of what they've studied, and to brainstorm what puppet PSA's could be that would help them remember the concepts going forward.

If they go ahead with making the videos, you might have them follow the rules in the Next Vista for Learning Creative Flight '17 contest, which runs through April. Find all the details here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

VocApp - Multimedia Flashcards on iOS and Android

Last week I shared a few tools that students can create digital flashcards. Two of those tools offer the option for including audio in flashcards. Another option is to use the VocApp app for iOS and Android.

To create flashcards on VocApp you need to create an account and sign-in. Once you're signed-in you can click "create flashcards" and begin writing out a list of words. Choose the language that you want to learn and VocApp will automatically translate words from English to the language you've selected. On the flashcard creation screen you can add an image to represent the words you're entering into your flashcards. The case of common words, VocApp will automatically add images to your flashcards. To help students learn how to pronounce words, VocApp offers audio support.

VocApp does offer some pre-made flashcard sets for sale, but you don't have to purchase anything in order to use the service to create and study your own flashcards. There is also a large gallery of public flashcards created by other users and made available for free.

Applications for Education
There is certainly not a shortage of flashcard services on the web. That doesn't mean we should ignore it when a new one comes around.  I like to give students a few options and let them choose. Some students may prefer the interface of VocApp over that of similar services. The ability to use VocApp in a web browser as well as on an Android tablet or iPad makes it a good option for BYOD settings.

Memrise - Learn New Languages

Memrise is a service through which you can learn vocabulary for a new-to-you language, study science flashcards, review math problems, or review content from any of the hundreds of online course offerings on Memrise.

Review on Memrise happens in a manner that is a blend of flashcard flipping and quiz question answering. After signing into your Memrise account select a category that you want to study. Then within that category choose one of the many sub-topics. For example, I chose History & Geography then selected Capitals and within that topic I selected Canadian Capitals. To review the capitals Memrise showed me a few capitals and locations in a flashcard style before hitting me with a few quiz questions. That pattern repeated until I had worked through all of the capitals. I earned points for correct and timely answers. My points helped me move up the leader board for the activity that I chose.

The content on Memrise is generated by users who develop and share materials. If you don't find materials suitable to the topic you're studying, you can develop and share your own online review course on Memrise.

Memrise offers Android and iPad apps to complement the online platform.

Applications for Education
Memrise offers Memrise for Teachers. Memrise for Teachers will allow you to add students to your online account, assign courses of study (sets of review materials) to them, and track your students' progress through Memrise activities.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Padlet Now Has Desktop and Mobile Notifications

Padlet's latest update adds the option for creators of Padlet walls to receive notifications on their desktops or mobile devices. Notifications on desktops come through the Chrome or Firefox browsers. Notifications can be enabled in the Padlet iOS and Android apps. From the browser notifications users can approve or deny new posts on Padlet walls and approve or deny requests to join a private Padlet wall.

This is the latest update in a string of Padlet updates over the last nine months. Some of the other updates in the last year include a complete overhaul of the user interface and the option to allow commenting on Padlet notes. Learn how to use commenting in the video embedded below.

How Search Works - An Illustrated Explanation

Google search is a part of our students' daily lives (most of them have never lived in world without Google), but often they don't know how the search results displayed before them got there. How Search Works is an animated graphic that reveals the basics of how websites are sorted, ranked, and presented to you in your search results. More information is revealed as you scroll down the How Search Works graphic.

A couple of years ago the folks at Canva created a Google Search Tips infographic for me. You can see that infographic below. Feel free to print it for display in your classroom. 



Last week I hosted a sold-out webinar called Search Strategies Students Need to Know. The content of that webinar is available on demand.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Things I Wish Every Teacher Knew About Technology...

On Friday morning I had the idea to write a list of the things that I wish every teacher knew about technology. Before I started writing the list I put the prompt on Twitter and watched the responses come in. The responses covered just about everything that I would have written in one way or another, but there is one thing that I will add to the Tweets embedded below. The thing that I wish every teacher knew about technology is that even the most tech-savvy colleague or student in your school doesn't know everything about technology. Remember that when you're not feeling confident about using technology in your classroom.



All of the Tweets above were organized into a Twitter moment. You can learn how to create moments here.

How to Use the Hexagon Learning Template from ClassTools

On Friday I wrote a post that featured links to blog posts about using hexagonal learning in elementary school and high school classrooms. That post also featured the ClassTools hexagons generator. That tool lets you create online and offline hexagonal learning activities for your students. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use the ClassTools hexagons generator.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where I'm getting ready for my annual ice fishing trip on Moosehead Lake. Every year during the February vacation week I join 15-20 other teachers for a few days of ice fishing and relaxing at a camp that doesn't have Internet access or reliable cell phone coverage. In other words, it's a great break. Whatever your plans are for this weekend, I hope you have time to relax too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Practical Ed Tech Handbook - 2017 Edition
2. Tools for Creating, Hosting, and Printing Infographics
3. Quickly Create Bingo Boards In Google Sheets
4. Three Ways for Students to Create Digital Flashcards
5. My Five Most Frequently Recommended Google Forms Add-ons
6. How to Search for Creative Commons Images
7. The Art of Storytelling - Pixar in a Box

Join me this summer for the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp or the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp. Early registration and group discounts are available.

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.
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 explanatory videos.

This Creepily Named Site Reminds Us To Check Facebook Privacy Settings

Stalkscan is the creepy name of a website that lets people enter the URL of a Facebook profile and view all of the public information for that profile. The site is a good reminder to check your Facebook privacy settings regularly. You can can always view your own profile as another person by going to the "view as" menu found in the header of your Facebook page. The "view as" option will also show you how your profile looks when it is returned in a search conducted by someone who is not your Facebook friend.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned above, Stalkscan is a good reminder for students and adults to keep tabs on their digital footprints. It's also a good reminder to read those privacy updates whenever Facebook changes their privacy policies.

H/T to Lifehacker.

Presidential Historians Survey Ranks the Presidents of the United States

The Presidential Historians Survey is a ranking of U.S. Presidents based on the responses of dozens of Presidential historians as surveyed by C-SPAN. The survey asks historians to rank the past Presidents of the United States according to ten leadership characteristics. Some of those characteristics are vision/ agenda setting, persuasion, and moral authority. Abraham Lincoln ranked at the top of this year's ranking while James Buchanan was last in the ranking.

Applications for Education
The Presidential Historians Survey could be a good jumping-off point for research into the attributes that people seek in a President. It's also a good starter for conversations about the events that define the terms of some Presidents.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Get a Free Presidential Timeline Poster for Your Classroom

C-SPAN Classroom is currently offering a free timeline poster depicting all of the past Presidents of the United States. The poster shows each President's time in office, a short biography, the era of American history in which each President served, and a couple of major events that happened during each President's time in office. The poster is free for anyone who has a free C-SPAN Classroom account. The first posters will be mailed during the week of March 6th.

Applications for Education
C-SPAN Classroom offers a number of suggestions for using the poster in your classroom. I had a similar poster in my classroom seven or eight years ago. I let my students choose a President from the poster and create a short video biography of their chosen President.


Hexagon Learning Template

Earlier this week I Tweeted Terri Eichholz's blog posts about hexagonal learning. In those posts she outlined how hexagonal learning worked in her classroom. It's notable that Terri also shared the mistakes she made when trying to use visual hexagonal learning lessons with her students. Terri works with elementary school students. Hexagonal learning can also be used at the high school level as Russel Tarr outlines in his blog post about using it in his history classes. Russel offers a hexagonal learning template on his Class Tools website.

The Class Tools Hexagons Generator lets you create an online hexagonal learning activity to share with your students. To use the template just enter a topic then a minimum of five terms related to that topic. For example, I entered the topic of "American Revolution" then entered the terms "Stamp Act," "Sugar Act," "Boston Tea Party," "Intolerable Acts," and "Olive Branch Petition." The generator then created five hexagons that my students can arrange online to show the connections between the topics. Students can also edit the hexagons to add explanations to the connections.

If you're in a classroom that isn't 1:1 you can print the hexagons created by the Class Tools Hexagons Generator.

Applications for Education
As Terri and Russel explain in their respective blog posts, hexagonal learning can be a great way to help students see how multiple topics within a subject are connected to each other. This can be an excellent activity for students to do when they are preparing to write a long research or editorial piece.

Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp FAQ

We've had three snowstorms in less than a week here in Maine. In other words, it is the perfect time to think about summer. This summer I'm hosting the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp in Portland, Maine. In the video below my assistant Isla and I answer one of the most frequently asked questions about the BYOD Camp.



The Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp on July 27th and 28th will be a hands-on exploration of how to use free technology tools in your classroom. This two day workshop is based on my framework for using technology to help students discover new information, discuss their ideas, and demonstrate their knowledge. Registration is limited to 25 participants to ensure that every participant gets the attention he or she deserves.

Who should come to the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp?
K-12 teachers and curriculum directors who want to discover the best tools and strategies for teaching with technology in the new school year. You do not have to have any prior technology skills in order to learn a lot during the Practical Ed Tech Summer BYOD Camp. Just bring your laptop, iPad, or Android tablet and you’re ready to go. If you are a more experienced user of educational technology, there will be plenty of new tools and ideas for you too.




What’s included in registration?
Breakfast, snacks, and lunches are included for both days. Hotel accommodations and dinners are not included in registration. Mention “Practical Ed Tech” or "Byrne Instructional Media" when making reservations at Holiday Inn By the Bay to receive discounted rates.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Three Ways for Students to Create Digital Flashcards

Take a look down the hallways of your school before the next big test that you're giving to your students and you will see students flipping through flashcards. Those might be paper flashcards or, increasingly, those flashcards are digital. If you or your students are looking for ways to create digital flashcards, take a look at the following options.

Vocabulist, developed by a high school student in Florida, enables students to upload a list of words and terms that they need to learn. When the list is uploaded each word in it is matched to a definition. If the definition rendered isn't exactly right, students can modify it within Vocabulist. Once the list of words and definitions is set students can download the list as a PDF or export the list to Quizlet where it will then be turned into a set of digital flashcards. (Students must have a Quizlet account).

Quizlet is probably the most well-known digital flashcard tool. Quizlet lets students create flashcards from scratch, import lists to create flashcards, or browse for sets of flashcards created and shared by others. Flashcards created from scratch can include pictures and audio (audio is available only with a paid upgrade). The flashcards students create can be viewed online and on their mobile devices even if they lose their data connections.

If you want to create flashcards that include audio for free, Flippity's flashcard creator is the way to go. Through Flippity.net you can quickly create a set of flashcards that include pictures, videos, and text. You can even turn your flashcards into a printable quiz. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how easy it is to use Flippity to create flashcards from a spreadsheet.

Quickly Create Bingo Boards In Google Sheets

Flippity provides teachers with easy-to-use Google Sheets templates. A bingo board generator is the latest template added to Flippity's catalog of offerings. The bingo board generator lets you quickly create sets of unique bingo boards that you can print or have your students use online during a game of bingo in your classroom.

You can access Flippity's bingo template from the Flippity homepage or you can access it from within Flippity's Google Sheets Add-on. The Google Sheets Add-on is easy to use. My video embedded below teaches you how to use Flippity's Google Sheets Add-on.


Applications for Education
Flippity's bingo template could be handy when you want to create a set of unique boards for a review game. Or you could use the generator to create boards for a scavenger hunt activity on a field trip.

The Art of Storytelling - Pixar in a Box

The Art of Storytelling is part of the Pixar in a Box a project from Pixar and Khan Academy through which students can learn how the stories they see in Pixar movies come to life.

The Art of Storytelling is a section of Pixar in a Box that teaches students about four elements universal to good storytelling. The Art of Storytelling is comprised of six instructional videos and four lesson activities for students. The videos and activities can be shared through Google Classroom.


Applications for Education
Part of the fun of making a video is in sharing your stories with others. Telling a story is an art and comes in many styles. Regardless of the style used to tell a story, there are elements universal to all well-told stories. The Art of Storytelling could be a good lesson for your students to work through before embarking on their next video creation projects.

H/T to Lifehacker

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Games@NOAA - A Gallery of Educational Games About Oceans and Weather

NOAA's Games Planet Arcade offers twenty-six educational games for young students. The games are intended to help students learn about oceans, wildlife, and weather. Twenty of the games address topics related to marine life.

While the games are not terribly complex or fancy, they do offer some solid information for young students. For example, the Humpback Whale Migration game isn't much more than a board game that provides students with information about Humpback whales. As students move across the board they are stopped at spaces offering facts about the annual migrations of Humpback whales.

Sea Turtles and the Quest to Nest is one of the headline games of NOAA's Games Planet Arcade. The object of the game is to help a sea turtle avoid common obstacles on while navigating the ocean and the beach before laying her eggs and returning to the sea.

About half of the games are hosted on NOAA's website and the others are linked to the websites of PBS, National Geographic or the Environmental Protection Agency.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for some simple games to supplement a lesson on oceans, ocean wildlife, or weather, take a look at NOAA's Games Planet Arcade.

Virtual Reality in Education - A Conversation With Greg Kulowiec

Virtual reality has the potential to provide our students with great learning experiences. It is still in its early stages of adoption in schools and there are lots of questions about how it works and how it can be used in classrooms. On February 27th Greg Kulowiec from EdTechTeacher and I will host a Google Hangout On Air to talk about virtual reality in education. I hope that you can join us for this free event.


In advance of the Hangout you might want to take a look at these studies about virtual reality in education.

If you think virtual reality headsets are too expensive for your classroom, take a look at this DIY project for making virtual reality headsets.

Tools for Creating, Hosting, and Printing Infographics

About a week ago I was asked if I could write a post about tools for making infographics with students. A well constructed infographic can convey a lot of information in a compact, visually-pleasing manner. The process of creating a good infographic requires students to analyze and succinctly summarize data and facts that they've gathered through research. Here are some good tools that students can use to create infographics.

Canva is always the first tool that comes to mind when I'm asked about creating infographics. Canva offers a large variety of templates for creating infographics. Those templates can be modified with free clip art, drawings, and your images. The catalog of fonts that Canva offers will not leave your students wanting for more options. Canva recently added the option to collaborate on designs. Many of Canva's templates can be published as simple webpages too. Finally, Canva has a great education section in which you will find lesson plans created by teachers. A couple of my Canva tutorials are embedded below.



iVisual Info Touch is an iPad app that you can use to create relatively simple infographics. The app makes it easy to create your infographics. It is not necessary to create an account in order to use iVisual Info Touch. To get started just open the app and select a background for your infographic. After choosing your background you can add clip art and text. When you are finished designing your infographic, you can save it directly to your iPad’s camera roll. iVisual Info Touch is available in a free version and in a paid version ($2.99). The paid version includes more clip art, more backgrounds, and allows you to import and insert your own images.

Posting your students' infographics online is one way to display them. A computer screen or a phone screen often doesn't show the full effect of an infographic. Printing your students' infographics in full size can be accomplished with Block Posters. Block Posters is a web-based tool to which you can upload a high quality graphic then divide it into letter-sized chunks for printing. Print out each section and put them together on a poster board to make your own poster.

Search Strategies Students Need to Know - Last Call

Today 4pm Eastern Time I'm hosting a webinar called Search Strategies Students Need to Know.

In Search Strategies Students Need to Know you will learn why informational searches are the hardest types of Internet searches for students to conduct. You will learn how to help students break-down complex search topics into manageable pieces then put the whole picture together. You’ll learn how to help your students save students tons of time by thinking before searching. And you’ll how to develop instructional search challenge activities to use with students of any age.

Search Strategies Students Need to Know will be held live today 4pm EST. Your registration includes the live webinar, unlimited access to the recording, handouts, and a PD certificate. Register here. The webinar will be recorded for those who cannot attend the live session.

In this webinar you will learn:
  • The types of searches that give students the most trouble and why they are so difficult.
  • How to get students beyond the first pages of Google results.
  • The search tools students often overlook.
  • How to create your own search engine.
  • How to develop engaging search lessons for students of all ages.

Register here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Lantern - Search Thousands of Media History Documents

The Media History Digital Library is a massive archive of books and magazines about the history film, television, and radio. The Lantern is the name of the search engine that lets you search through more than 2,000,000 pages of scanned copies of the books and magazines in the MHDL. In those books and magazines you will find reviews and critiques of movies, radio programs, and television shows. You will also discover many periodicals about the movie, television, and radio industries in general. Your search can be refined according to date, language, and publication type. You can also browse through collections curated by MHDL.

Applications for Education
Two thoughts came to mind as I browsed through MHDL's Lantern. First, it's obviously an excellent resource for students studying the history and development of media. Second, through MHDL's Lantern you could find some good examples of how to write a critique. Your students could use those as models for writing their own critiques of movies or even of books.

Radio Garden - An Interactive Map of Radio Stations Around the World

Radio Garden is an interactive map that showcases radio stations around the world. Go to Radio Garden and the site will try to locate the radio station nearest to your current location. Then you can click around the map to find and listen to the live streams of other radio stations around the world. Through the interactive Radio Garden map you will find a mix of commercial FM radio stations playing music, AM radio stations hosting news talk shows, and some public broadcasting stations like one near me that simply relays police and fire service calls.

Applications for Education
Radio Garden could be a good resource for world language teachers who are looking for ways to give their students some different ways to hear the languages they're studying. For example, in the screenshot above I located some radio stations in Montreal. The live feeds from those stations provide students with the chance to practice listening to conversations in French.

Feedly Limits New Users to 100 Feeds In Free Plan

Feedly has been my favorite RSS reader since Google shuttered for good Google Reader back in 2013. Feedly makes it easy to subscribe to your favorite blogs and websites and read them all in organized collections on your phone, tablet, or laptop. Yesterday morning I noticed that Feedly is now charging to subscribe to more than 100 feeds. I Tweeted to Feedly about this and they clarified that the limitation will only apply to new users and not to existing users.

Watch the video embedded below to learn how I use Feedly and Google Keep together on a daily basis.


Monday, February 13, 2017

How to Make a Terrarium

Build a Tiny Plant World! is the title of a new SciShow Kids video. The video explains how plants stay alive inside of terrariums and what you need to create your own plant terrarium. The video does a good job of explaining what students will need to create a terrarium and the elements within the terrarium create an ecosystem. If you would like printable directions for building a terrarium, take a look at this National Geographic page or this Climate Kids page. Both pages were recommend by SciShow Kids.

How to Search for Creative Commons Images

screenshot of CC search site
Last week, through Larry Ferlazzo, I learned about a new Creative Commons image search engine. The search engine is a part of the Creative Commons website. One of the best aspects of the search engine is that the results generated include a quick way to copy the correct image attribution information that you need when you use an image. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use the new Creative Commons image search engine.



If you're not sure what Creative Commons is, watch the following short video from Common Craft.



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.

Valentine's Day Math, Science, and Philosophy Lessons

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Whether you buy into the "holiday" or not, your students probably do. Here are three short video lessons related to Valentine's Day.

The following video from It's Okay To Be Smart (produced by PBS Digital Studios) explains why humans kiss, the history of symbols associated with kissing, and some cultural views of kissing. When I saw this video I immediately thought of my friends who teach middle school and high school health classes.


The following fun video, also from It's Okay to Smart, attempts to use math to determine the odds of a 25 year old woman finding love in New York. (Remember, the video is just for fun).



Why Do We Love? is a TED-Ed lesson that explores some philosophies on why people love. The lesson won't provide you with any clear answers, but it will make you think. And isn't that what philosophers want you to do?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

View Animals and Their Ranges Through WWF Apps

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) offers a neat app and corresponding website for learning about animals around the world. The WWF Together app (available for iPad and some Android devices) features interactive stories about endangered animals around the world. Each of the interactive stories includes beautiful images and videos, facts about the animals and their habitats, and the threats to each of the animals.

WWF Wildfinder is an interactive map through which you can see the distribution of more than 26,000 animals around the world. You can browse the map, search by region and ecosystem, or search for a specific animal. When you find an animal on the map you can open a tab of information about its habitat, whether or not its population is threatened, and view pictures of the animal.

Applications for Education
Students can explore the WWF Together app in a couple of ways. Students can choose an animal by selecting it from the menu that unfolds when the origami polar bear is tapped. Alternatively, students can find animals by spinning a globe in the app and tapping on the blue dots that represent the locations of animals. If students have location services enabled on their iPads they can quickly learn how far the animals are from where they are using their iPads.

WWF Wildfinder could be a great resource for students to explore to learn about the species native to various eco-regions of the world. I would have students attempt to make correlations between maps of the distribution of a threatened species to maps about pollution and or population density.

Practical Ed Tech Handbook - 2017 Edition

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 Box.com. If your school blocks Box.com you won't be able to see the embedded display. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Snowy Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from snowy Maine where we're getting ready for the third snowstorm of the week. "Getting ready" for a snowstorm for me means making sure the snowshoes and skis are ready to go. Whether you're preparing for a snowstorm, basking in warm sunshine, or somewhere in between, I hope that you have a fun and relaxing weekend.

Speaking of weather, it might be snowy here now, but will be warm and sunny this summer when I host the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp and the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp.The first registrations were received this week. I hope that you can join us.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. How to Insert Videos Into Google Slides Without Using YouTube
2. 21 Tools for Conducting Digital Formative Assessments
3. 7 Places to Find Free Music & Sound Effects for Multimedia Projects
4. My Five Most Frequently Recommended Google Forms Add-ons
5. Tutorials to Help You Get Started Creating Apps in Your Classroom
6. How to Make Your YouTube Videos Interactive
7. 4 Audio Editing Tools for Chromebooks - A Comparison Chart

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.
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 explanatory videos.