Google
 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Students Can Now Guide Themselves In Google Expeditions

On Wednesday Google released an update to Google Expeditions that allows students and others to guide themselves on Google Expeditions. Expeditions are Google's Virtual Reality experiences that can be viewed through the Expeditions app on phones placed in Google Cardboard Viewers. The new "solo" mode in Expeditions (currently only for Android) lets students view Google's virtual reality Expeditions without guidance from a teacher. In the "solo" Expeditions students can choose "Explorer" mode and they will see highlighted information included about the places they're viewing in virtual reality.


Applications for Education
The critic in me wonders why it took so long for "solo" mode to be added to Google Expeditions. It will be great to let students choose what they see and experience in a virtual reality expedition rather than being guided along by someone else. That said, I still view virtual reality is a supplement to other instructional resources. Just dropping students into a virtual reality experience without having them first understand the context of the experience is a mistake.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Capture More Than Just a Visible Screen With Nimbus Screenshot

Recently, a reader asked me to suggest a tool for creating a screen capture image that would include more than just what was visible in the initial screen. In other words, the reader was looking for a way to capture both the top and bottom portions of a webpage that required scrolling. My suggestion was to try Nimbus Screenshot. Nimbus Screenshot will let you use a "select and scroll" function to capture as much or as little of a webpage as you need.

Applications for Education
Creating screenshots, particularly annotated screenshots, is a good way to create a set of directions to share with students and or colleagues when you are introducing them to a new web app.

Nimbus Screenshot also offers recording of screencast videos. It's a great option for people who want to make screencasts on Chromebooks.

9 Features of ClassDojo's Digital Portfolio Platform - Coming Soon

About this time last year ClassDojo introduced a digital portfolio platform that they call Student Stories. Since its initial launch ClassDojo has steadily added new features to Student Stories. Today, ClassDojo announced nine features that will be available for the start of the new school year.

1. User names and passwords are no longer required to join. You can have students can log-in instantly by scanning a secure class QR code. (There is still a user name and password option).

2. Video recording length is now up to eight minutes. You can also upload videos that are up to eight minutes long.

3. Students will soon be able to add voice notes to their portfolios in Student Stories.

4. New image filters, frames, and digital stickers are being added to Student Stories.

5. Improved drawing tools for students to use to create drawings and diagrams.

6. Post from connected apps and or your device's camera.

7. Speaking of devices, ClassDojo's Student Stories now works on iOS, Android, and in your web browser.

8. Students can now type journal entries in Student Stories.

9. Annotate images by using drawing tools in ClassDojo's Student Stories.

The Five Most Popular Ed Tech Tutorial Videos of 2017 So Far

Every week I publish a couple of tutorial videos on my YouTube channel. As we're now more than half way through the year, I thought it would be good to take a look back the the most viewed ed tech tutorial videos that I have produced this year.

1. A Tour of the New Google Earth


2. How to Add Music to Google Slides


3. How to Use Toontastic 3D on Chromebooks


4. How to Use Flippity's Google Sheets Add-on


5. How to Use Google Drive Videos in Google Slides

Monday, July 17, 2017

In Case You Missed It - The Periodic Table in Pictures and Words

One of the most popular posts of the month so far featured The Periodic Table of Elements, in Pictures and Words. In case you missed it, here's a video I made to provide an overview of the site.


Applications for Education
As I mentioned last week, The Periodic Table of Elements, in Pictures and Words could be a great resource for middle school science classrooms. It also provides a nice model for an assignment in which you have your students pick an element and then try to identify as many products as possible that contain that chosen element.

Save Time by Using JoeZoo Express to Give Feedback in Google Docs

JoeZoo Express is a Google Documents Add-on that can save you a ton of time when you are grading or editing your students' writing in Google Documents. The way that JoeZoo Express saves you times is by providing you with the ability to store canned comments to insert directly in your students' work. You can use standard comments provided by JoeZoo Express or you can create, store, and use your own comments. Additionally, JoeZoo Express offers an option to include links to tutorials and help pages in your comments.

In June JoeZoo Express published a new set of tutorials for teachers and students. The playlist of tutorials is embedded below.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

View and Print 3D Models of Smithsonian Artifacts

Smithsonian X 3D (SIx3D) offers a neat way for students to learn about artifacts from the Smithsonian museums. The site is the result of a collaboration between Autodesk and the Smithsonian Institution. More than artifacts are currently featured on Smithsonian X 3D. The artifacts can be viewed as 3D models that you can virtually manipulate. Many of the artifacts have accompanying fact sheets through which you can learn about the artifact's history and significance. A screenshot of the fact sheet accompanying the model of the Philadelphia (a gunboat) is included below.


If you have access to a 3D printer you can print models of many of the artifacts featured on Smithsonian X 3D.

Applications for Education
The Smithsonian video embedded below provides an overview of how the Smithsonian envisions teachers using Smithsonian X 3D with students.

Math Shorts - 21 Math Lessons from Planet Nutshell

I became a big fan of Planet Nutshell the first time that I saw their series of videos on Internet Safety. Math Shorts is another great series offered by Planet Nutshell.

Math Shorts is a series of 21 animated math video lessons. The majority of the videos are designed for third through eighth grade. Each of the videos has a Common Core standard aligned to it. All of the videos have supporting materials from PBS Learning Media attached to them. The first video in the series is embedded below.


In addition to the math videos and Internet safety videos, Planet Nutshell has also produced great videos on Financial Aid and Climate Science.

The Week in Review - Fun and Learning at UTC

Good evening from Maine where I'm wrapping up a busy week that included hosting four webinars and two days of presenting at the Upstate Technology Conference in Greenville, South Carolina. UTC was a great event. It was a pleasure to meet so many new people including YouTube sensation Tom Richey and to reconnect with old friends. If you're in the Greenville area, make sure you put UTC on your calendar for next year. And if you're interested in having me speak at your conference, please get in touch.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 5 New Google Forms Features
2. The Periodic Table in Pictures and Words
3. Try Book Creator In Chrome to Create Multimedia Books
4. Tutorials to Help You Get Started Creating Apps in Your Classroom
5. More Than 40 Examples of Classroom & School Blogs
6. Workbench Offers Good Hands-on STEM Activities
7. Anchor Offers the Easiest Way to Publish Podcasts

Individual and group registration is still open for the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp and the BYOD Camp. Register with a group and get a great discount!

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.
Beyond Tech Ed is hosting a great Chromebook training in Palm Springs. 
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
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, July 14, 2017

The Periodic Table in Pictures and Words

The Periodic Table of Elements, in Pictures and Words is an interactive site that shows students how each element is used or is present in familiar products. When students click on an element in the interactive display an image of a familiar product or object appears along with a description of the element and its characteristics. For example, if you click on aluminum an image of airplane appears along with a description of aluminum, its uses, and its characteristics.

The Periodic Table of Elements, in Pictures and Words was created by Keith Enevoldsen. He also offers free PDFs of The Periodic Table, in Pictures and Words. Should you choose, you can support Keith by purchasing a poster of the table.

Applications for Education
The Periodic Table of Elements, in Pictures and Words could be a great resource for middle school science classrooms. It also provides a nice model for an assignment in which you have your students pick an element and then try to identify as many products as possible that contain that chosen element.

H/T to Lifehacker

Metaverse - Program Your Own Augmented Reality Apps

Metaverse is a free platform that lets anyone create an augmented reality app. I had the opportunity to have a guided tutorial through the Metaverse platform last week and I was so impressed that I'm now planning to include it along with the MIT App Inventor during the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp at the end of the month.

Metaverse's programming platform is based on the premise of using a storyboard to outline the actions that you want your app to perform. You then connect each frame of the storyboard with action commands that you pick from a menu of action commands. The more scenes you add to your storyboard, the more options you can add to your app. Essentially, creating an augmented reality app through Metaverse is the same process as designed a good choose-your-own-adventure story. The video embedded below provides an overview of the Metaverse design tool.


Applications for Education
Metaverse could be used by students to bring the characters from a favorite story to life in augmented reality like in this example. Or you could create an educational augmented reality scavenger hunt as this person shared.

Hyperdocs, Chromebooks, and Customized PD

A couple of weeks ago I featured two Chromebook training opportunities. One of those I'm hosting next week in Portland, Maine. The other is being hosted by my friends Ernie Delgado and Malia Hoffmann in Palm Springs, CA on August 2nd and 3rd. Yesterday, Ernie and Malia joined me on Zoom to talk about hyperdocs, Chromebooks, and how they customize their Chromebook trainings for each participant. The video of our interview is embedded below.


As mentioned in the video, readers of FreeTech4Teachers.com can receive a by using the code "Family25" when registering for Malia and Ernie's Beyond Tech Ed professional development course.

Disclosure: Beyond Tech Ed is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Thursday, July 13, 2017

More Than 40 Examples of Classroom & School Blogs

Earlier this week at the Upstate Technology Conference in South Carolina I gave a couple of presentations about using blogs and social media in school. One of the best ways to learn about using blogs in school is to see how others are doing it. That's why a few years ago I put together a survey and asked for teachers to share examples from their own blogs. The slides below feature more than 40 examples of classroom blogs.


Try Book Creator In Chrome to Create Multimedia Books

Book Creator is a one of the most popular iPad apps in schools. It's a fantastic app for creating multimedia stories. Now that platform is available in a web version too.

The Book Creator web version is currently in beta and open for teachers to use. Book Creator's web version supports creating multimedia books containing videos, images, drawings, and text. To create a book on Book Creator's web app just sign and choose a layout for your book. There are comic book layouts as well as traditional book layouts. After you have selected a layout for your book's pages you can add pictures and videos by either uploading them or by using your webcam. You can add text and drawings by using the drawing and typing tools built into Book Creator. Your completed book can be saved as a ePub or published online with a private Book Creator link.

Learn more about Book Creator's web app in the video below.



Applications for Education
Students can use Book Creator to create multimedia fiction stories, to publish non-fiction stories, or to create digital portfolios of their best work.

Anchor Offers the Easiest Way to Publish Podcasts

Anchor is a free audio publishing service that I started using last winter. I was drawn to Anchor by its ease of use. Recording on Anchor is simple of matter of just holding down the record button on your phone then releasing it when you're done talking.

When I started using Anchor it only let you record and publish in two minute increments. That changed in March when Anchor added the option for uploading audio to your Anchor channel. In March Anchor also added the option to have your spoken words automatically transcribed and displayed in a video suitable for sharing on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

This month Anchor moved into direct competition with other full-fledged podcasting platforms by automating the process of submission and distribution to Apple Podcasts and Google Play. Watch the short video below to see how easy it can be to publish a podcast through Anchor.


Applications for Education
In December and March I wrote that Anchor could be a good option for teachers who want to publish their own short episodes on the Anchor network. However, at that time I didn't recommend it for students because Anchor itself didn't have comment moderation. Now with the option to publish straight to Apple Podcasts or Google Play effectively bypassing the comments of Anchor I think it could be a good option for students to publish podcasts.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Workbench Offers Good Hands-on STEM Activities

Workbench is a service that offers a huge catalog of hands-on learning activities for students. Last month at the ISTE conference I got to see one of the activities in action. That was a project in which students create and program their own controllers for a Sphero ball. You can see the results of the project in this short Instagram video.

The project that is shown in my video is just one of dozens of hands-on STEM projects for students. Some require electronics and others can be completed with nothing more than soda bottles, paper, or Legos. For example, one of the currently featured projects is this composting activity.

All Workbench projects include a list of required materials and the sequence of steps to guide your students through to completion of the project. Of course, you could also let students figure out the steps they need to take and let them learn a bit more by trial and error.

Try YouTube Live To Reach More Students

Back in May I shared how Tom Richey was using YouTube Live to host AP World History review sessions for students. That's one way to use YouTube Live to help your students. Another way to use YouTube Live is to broadcast and record lessons from your classroom.

As I explained and demonstrated yesterday at the Upstate Technology Conference in South Carolina, you can rather easily broadcast yourself teaching a lesson. Get a cheap tripod for your phone and point it in the direction of where you're standing to give a short lesson. Turn on the YouTube Live broadcast from the YouTube app for iPhone or Android and it starts broadcasting and recording. The recording can then be embedded into your blog or shared in your Google Classroom.


Applications for Education
Broadcasting your lesson can help you reach students who are absent from your class. They can either watch live and ask questions via the Q&A feature of YouTube Live or they can watch the recording later.

Monday, July 10, 2017

5 New Google Forms Features

Earlier today Google announced the release of five new features for Google Forms users. Four of the five new features are significant for most users. 

The first update to Google Forms to note is a new response format option. A new "checkbox grid" response format lets you create questions that require multiple responses. For example, you can ask people to pick a day from a list of choices then choose a time from a list of choices. 

The second update that stood out to me is an improved file upload option. Google Forms can now accept file uploads as responses from respondents outside of your domain. For a while now you have been able to create questions to which respondents upload a file as a response. That option was previously limited to only accepting files from people who had a G Suite account in the same domain as you. (The caveat to this being that your domain and the respondent's domain both allow cross-domain sharing). 

The third update of note is a new option to choose your own default settings for new Forms that you create. This means that you could set default point values for quiz questions on every Form that you create. 

A new response validation option is the fourth update that some teachers will appreciate. Google is calling this feature "intelligent response validation." This means that if you ask a question like "what is your email address?" and the response isn't a properly formatted email address, the Form will prompt respondents to correct the submission. 

Finally, there is a new option to move entire sections of a Form through a simple drag-and-drop. This works the same way as reordering individual questions. 

It's important to note that it could take a few weeks for all of these new features to appear in your G Suite for Education domain. 


TagCrowd Offers Three Ways to Create Word Clouds

TagCrowd offers three ways to create word clouds. You can create a word cloud by copying and pasting text into TagCrowd, you can upload a plain text file, or you can copy and paste a web address into TagCrowd. After using one of those three methods you can specify how many words you want to display, you can select to show the word count in your word cloud, and you specify words to exclude (common words like "the" are automatically ignored). TagCrowd supports fifteen languages.

Applications for Education
TagCrowd, like other word cloud generators, can be useful in helping students identify the words that are emphasized in a written article or a speech. After creating their word clouds ask your students to think about why the author or speaker used some words so frequently.

Word clouds can also be used to help students see which words that they have frequently used in their own works. Have your students create word clouds of their work during the revision process of writing a story or essay. The word cloud will quickly show students which words they have used a lot. Then ask them to think about synonyms for the words that they have used most often in their writings. 

Join Me Tomorrow Night for a Practical Ed Tech Jumpstart

The landscape of educational technology is constantly changing and it's easy to feel like you don't know where to start. That's why I created the Practical Ed Tech Jumpstart for you. This three week online course will walk you through a simple yet powerful framework for using technology in your classroom. You'll come away from this course with a playbook of activities that you can adapt to use in almost any classroom setting from elementary school through high school.

In the first week we'll take a look at a handful of tools and strategies for helping students conduct better online research. Then we'll look at methods and tools for improving communication between you, your students, and your students' parents.

The second week of the course has us looking at methods for conducting fun and powerful formative assessments through the use of laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, and mobile phones. We'll then dive into ways that students can help each other learn through the use of technology. The second week wraps up with a look at some simple podcasting activities that you can do with your students.

Finally, in week three we'll help students show what they know through videos that they create. Those videos will ultimately become a part of the digital portfolios that we will learn how to create before the course ends.

July 11, 18, and 25 at 7pm EDT - Register Here

All live webinars are recorded so that you can go back and watch them at your leisure if you have to miss a meeting.  

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Guide to Creating Explanatory Animated GIFs

In yesterday's episode of Practical Ed Tech Live I answered this question:

Is there anything that pieces the snapshots back together in a single frame? So you see the same object in one picture at different positions?

My suggestion was to create an animated GIF by following the guide that Common Craft published a couple of years ago. In Common Craft's How to Create ExplainerGIFs you will learn how to create animated GIFs using software that you probably have already. Through the guide you'll learn how to publish and share your explanatory GIFs. If you need images to use in your GIFs, How to Create ExplainerGIFs has a section devoted to finding images appropriate for crafting explanations.

Applications for Education
Having students create an animated GIF to explain a concept could be a good way to get them to think about how the individual parts of a concept come together to form one cohesive process.

The examples section of How to Create ExplainerGIFs are a good source of ideas for using animated GIFs in school. In the examples you will see animated GIFs used to bring graphs to life, a GIF used to explain how a sewing machine works, and a GIF to illustrate a soccer rule.

The Week In Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and I'm ready for a bike ride with some old friends that I haven't seen in about twelve years. Even if I wasn't riding with friends, it would still be a great day to get outside for fun exercise. In my life there is an amazing correlation between the amount of time I spend exercising and my mood and general productivity. In short, when I exercise I feel better and I teach better.

Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you get some time to do something fun outside too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. A Calendar of G Suite Updates
2. A Good Tool for Quickly Creating Comics
3. An Interactive Display of the Declaration of Independence
4. How to Use Unio to Deliver Lessons to Students' Screens
5. A Random Name Picker for Your Classroom
6. How to Add Images to Google Slides
7. How to Find Google Docs Published by Others

Individual and group registration is still open for the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp and the BYOD Camp. Register with a group and get a great discount!

Two online courses starting next week:
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.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
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, July 7, 2017

Practical Ed Tech Live - Episode #11

This afternoon my daughter and I recorded the eleventh episode of my almost weekly series, Practical Ed Tech Live. In every episode I answer a handful of the questions that I've received from readers. The recording of the episode is embedded below.


The list of questions and my recommended resources can be found in this Google Document.

More Than 8,500 People Get Their Ed Tech Tips This Way

My virtual mentor, Chris Brogan, says that watching and listening is the new reading. He's been saying this for a while which is why I've made an effort to publish a few new videos every week. Chris appears to be right because every week more people subscribe to my YouTube channel. As of Wednesday, more than 8,500 people have subscribed to my YouTube channel for tips, tutorials, and live Q&A sessions. Check it out.

Here's one of my recent tutorials published on YouTube.

Five Uses of Comics In Your Classroom

On Thursday afternoon I hosted a webinar about using comics in the classroom. The recording of the webinar is only available to those who registered, but the slides that I used can be seen as embedded below.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Students Can Discover Careers Through Next Vista for Learning

As many readers of this blog already know, Next Vista for Learning is one of my favorite video sharing sites for students and teachers. Videos hosted on Next Vista are created by teachers and students for the purpose of sharing good news and good lessons with other teachers and students.

The careers section of Next Vista is one that guidance counselors and anyone else helping students learn about careers should bookmark. The careers section of Next Vista contains 110 videos about a wide variety of career fields. Some of the videos are available in Spanish and most of the videos include interviews with people talking about their jobs. Two of the videos are embedded below.


Live Nature Webcams In Google Earth

When the new version of Google Earth was released in April, it signaled the beginning of more things to come for Google Earth on Chromebooks. Since then Google has steadily added new features to Google Earth for Chromebook users. The latest update brings a new Voyage that features live nature webcams from Explore.org.

 The Explore.org Voyage features webcams from Katmai National Park. The Voyage includes five live webcam feeds including one underwater webcam which captures images of salmon and bears fishing for salmon.

Watch my video below to learn more about the browser-based version of Google Earth.


Applications for Education
Depending upon the time or year, the new Explore.org Voyage could provide a nice way for students to see brown bears in their natural element. More importantly, it's a demonstration of what you and your students could create by inserting live webcam feeds into your own Google Earth tours.

How to Use Speech-to-Text in Gmail

In Sunday's Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week I mentioned a Chrome extension that you can use to dictate messages in Gmail. That extension is called Email Dictation. With the extension installed you can quickly have your spoke words appear as text in a Gmail message. In the video below I give a short demonstration of how to use Email Dictation.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp Starts in Two Weeks

The Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp starts two weeks from tomorrow. There is still time to register and join us in Portland, Maine for two days of hands-on learning about all things Chromebook and G Suite. The time isn't limited to just "how-to" activities. We'll spend lots of time on making media on Chromebooks and developing interactive learning experiences for our students.

Discounts are still available for groups of four or more teachers registering together.



And if you're a teacher in a Maine school, email me for information about a special rate just for you.

How to Use ClassTag to Streamline Communication With Parents

ClassTag is a free service that lets you send email, push, and SMS/text announcements to parents. Additionally, ClassTag offers free tools for scheduling conferences, events, and for coordinating parent volunteers. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of how to use ClassTag.

How to Use Unio to Deliver Lessons to Students' Screens

Unio is a free platform for creating lessons and delivering them directly to your students' laptop screens. It's designed to let you project a lesson and quizzes onto your students' screens and have them follow along with you. You can include quiz questions at various points throughout your lessons. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to use Unio with students.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fun DIY Projects To Complete With Your Kids

DIY.org is a neat website on which kids can find dozens of DIY projects that they can do on their own or with their parents. DIY.org provides videos and instructions on how to do the projects. After going through the directions kids then try to complete the project. When they've completed the project they can take a picture and upload it to their DIY.org portfolios. Kids can share examples of their projects through DIY.org.

Kids cannot register on DIY.org without a parent's permission. Parents have their own DIY.org dashboards that they can use to track the activities of their children. Children registered on DIY.org have aliases and cartoon avatar pictures.

Applications for Education
DIY.org could be a great source of project ideas for parents and their children to work on together. Through the project challenges students can learn about biology, electricity, music, computer science, physics, geography, and more.

Have a Teenager Still Looking for a Summer Job? - Take a Look at These Options

One of the talks that I give from time to time is titled Preparing Students to Work and Learn Independently. The focus of the talk is to help people understand the learning and employment opportunities that exist today that didn't exist 10-15 years ago. One part of the talk includes examples of the kinds of self-employment opportunities that are available to students today that didn't exist 10-15 years ago. Here are five of those opportunities.

1. Tee-shirt design and sales. There are plenty of online services that let students design and sell tee-shirts without any start-up costs. SunFrog is a service that I have personally used for that purpose.

2. Drone piloting. Students who have drones might offer their skills for sale to real estate agents. I know one realtor in my area who has hired students to fly drones to photograph the properties they are listing for sale.

3. YouTube publishing. YouTube allows you to monetize your videos through the use of their ad network, AdSense. Students could publish tutorial videos for their favorite games, demonstrate DIY projects, or publish videos about any other topic that strikes their fancy. It takes a lot of video views to make significant money this way, but it's  not unrealistic for a teenager to make $50-100/month.

4. Design and sell 3D printed objects. I've seen students create cell phone cases and speakers with 3D printers. A simple e-junkie or eBay store is a fine platform for resale of those items.

5. Virtual tech help. This has been an in-person option for years, but free tools like Skype, Zoom, and Google+ Hangouts make it possible for students to offer tech help remotely.

Disclaimer: Most online stores and advertising programs require people to be 18 or older. Therefore, students will need to have their parents register and let their teens manage the materials sold. Depending upon how much students earn, there may be tax implications to consider. 

A Random Name Picker for Your Classroom

Name Picker Ninja is free tool for quickly randomly selecting a name from a list. Using Name Picker Ninja is a simple matter of pasting or typing a list of names into the "add names" field in Name Picker Ninja and then clicking "go!" The names in your list will scroll and stop on a randomly selected name. Once a name has been selected you can remove it from the list or keep it in the rotation. In the video embedded below I provide a short demonstration of Name Picker Ninja.


Applications for Education
Name Picker Ninja is useful for choosing students for all kinds of classroom activities. In elementary school you might use it to pick your line leaders for the day. In middle school or high school you might use it to choose the order in which students make presentations to their classmates.

If you want to put a random name selector in your blog or website, watch the video here to learn how to do that.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Newspapers, Timers, and Name Pickers

Every month I take a look at how people find Free Technology for Teachers and what they search for when they land on the blog. "Google Newspaper Archive," "classroom timer," and "random name picker" were the most frequently searched terms on Free Technology for Teachers during the month of June.

The Google News Newspaper archive offers a large selection of newspapers both in terms of years and geography. In the Google News Newspaper archive you can search for a specific newspaper, search for article titles, or as demonstrated below you can search for a topic.



The Random Name Picker from Russel Tarr's Classtools.net  is one of those tools that can be used in almost every classroom setting. You can use it as a stand-alone tool or you can embed it directly into a page on your classroom blog. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to embed a random name picker into your classroom blog.


Zero Noise Classroom is a free Chrome App that lets you simultaneously display a countdown timer and a noise meter to your students. The directions about how to use Zero Noise Classroom are kind of hidden in the app so I made the following short video to demonstrate how to adjust the settings in the app.



An Interactive Display of the Declaration of Independence

The Digital Declaration of Independence is a fantastic website on which students can learn about the Declaration of Independence and the men who signed it. The Digital Declaration of Independence is an interactive display of John Trumbull's painting Declaration of Independence, a scan of the text of the Declaration of Independence, and a map of the hometowns of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

When viewing the Digital Declaration of Independence you will see that each person's head has been highlighted. Click on a highlighted head to be taken to that person's name, to see that person's hometown on the map, and to view a short biography of the person.

Applications for Education
The Digital Declaration of Independence could be a good reference for students to learn about some of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Aside from that, the Digital Declaration of Independence is a great model of what can be done with the Neatline mapping and timeline tool.

Short Lessons About Fireworks

Over the weekend fireworks starting popping around my house. To my dog the sounds of fireworks are the sounds of the sky falling. To many people the sounds of fireworks is the sound of summer and celebration.

If you or your children are wondering how the fireworks actually work, take a look at the following videos from National Geographic and Discovery News.




Both of these videos could be the basis of a flipped science lesson. In this post I provided an overview of how to use five services to create flipped video lessons.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Good Tool for Quickly Creating Comics

ToonyTool is a free website for quickly creating single frame comics. To get started with ToonyTool simply go to site and either upload a background picture or choose one of their background picture options. Then you can choose comic characters to appear in your comic. Once your characters are chosen, select speech bubbles and add some text. When you're satisfied with your comic you can download it, print it, and or share it on social networks.


Applications for Education
ToonyTool does not require an email address or any kind of site registration in order to create comics. In that regard it is a good option for students who don't have or don't want to share their email addresses with yet another service.

In a free webinar this Thursday afternoon I will share more tools and ideas for using comics in your classroom. I hope you will join me.

How to Add Images to Google Slides

On Friday I received an email from a reader who was asking about how to add images to Google Slides. I made the following video to provide an overview of the methods that you can use to add images to Google Slides.

Unio - A Free Virtual Whiteboard for Broadcasting Lessons

Unio by Harness is a free virtual whiteboard system that you can use to broadcast illustrations and demonstrations to your students' laptops. I learned about Unio from Danny Nicholson and had to give it a try myself.

To get started with Unio you first create a subject heading then create a lesson. The lesson creation tool is basically a simple slidedeck editor. You can draw, type, insert images, and add videos to each slide in your lesson. Lesson slides can also include quizzes that you build within the Unio platform. It's important to note that you have to create the quiz before you broadcast your lesson to your students. When I tried to add a quiz question while broadcasting, the option to add a quiz was disabled.

Once your lesson is created you then broadcast it to your students. Students receive the lesson on their laptops when they go to uniostudent.com and enter the pin number assigned to your lesson. Unfortunately, every lesson's pin is different so you won't be able to get kids in the habit of using the same pin for every activity as you can do in Socrative. With your lesson appearing on your students' screens you can have them annotate what they see and answer your quiz questions. Students can work at their own pace. You can select a student's screen to see what he or she has done and then give them some quick feedback in the form of an emoji.

Applications for Education
Unio could be useful in a setting in which you want to share a lesson for the day have students follow along on their laptops. It's not yet ready to be a remote instructional tool because there isn't a voice broadcasting option. The other shortcoming is that it's not optimized for use on mobile phones. If Unio adds those two features, it could become a great remote instructional tool.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine. Happy Canada Day to all of my friends north of the border. I've had many great days working with teachers in Canada and I hope that I get to visit again soon.

This week I was at the ISTE conference for a few days. It was a busy, fun, and informative conference. My recap of the conference is included in episode #10 of Practical Ed Tech Live.

 As I look forward to the rest of the summer I am getting excited about the Upstate Technology Conference in South Carolina. I will be giving the keynote at the conference ten days from now. I hope to meet many of you there.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. New Grading Options in Google Forms
2. Track Progress Toward Goals With This Google Sheets Template
3. SeeSaw Unveils New Features at ISTE 17
4. Kahoot Unveils a New Mobile App
5. The ISTE Presentation Almost Everyone Missed - And Shouldn't Have
6. 7 Places to Find Free Music and Sound Effects
7. Ten Ways to Use Google Earth In Your Classroom

Individual and group registration is still open for the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp and the BYOD Camp. Register with a group and get a great discount!

Four online courses starting in tomorrow:
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.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
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.

Free Webinar - Comics In the Classroom

Having your students create comics can be great way to help them get to know each other and for you to get to know them. The process of creating a comic is an excellent way for students to practice developing plot lines. You can learn more about these ideas and others in my free webinar Comics In the Classroom.

Comics In the Classroom is a free webinar that I hosting next week on Thursday at 3pm Eastern Time. The webinar will feature five ways to use comics in your classroom and a handful of tools for creating comics. You'll even get to contribute to the creation of a comic during the webinar.

Comics In the Classroom will last for about an hour. Those who register will receive a special discount code to use on my upcoming back-to-school series of professional development webinars.

Comics In the Classroom will be recorded for those who register but cannot attend the live session. You don't need to email me to get the recording. It will be sent to you if you register for the webinar. Register here.

A Calendar of G Suite Updates

As I've said many times over the years, it can be a challenge to keep up with all of the updates that Google makes to G Suite throughout the year. Fortunately, What's New in G Suite has a calendar of updates. The calendar includes updates for the rapid release track and the scheduled release track (that's the track that most schools are on). Click on any item in the calendar to read the full details of the update including who the update will affect.