Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where it is a cool and overcast start to the Fourth of July. It has rained almost all week and that's okay because we needed the rain. I also didn't mind the rain because I was inside all week working on a big project. Now that the weekend is here, I plan to relax a bit and I hope that you do too.

Next week I'm hosting the second session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. If you'd like to join us, there is still time to register.

These were the most popular posts of the week:
1. 7 New Google Meet Features for Teachers
2. 5 Google Classroom Features You Might Have Overlooked or Forgotten
3. How to Work With PDFs in Google Classroom
4. How to Turn PowerPoint and Google Slides Into Narrated Videos
5. How to Record a Screencast With Flipgrid
6. An Easy Way to Overlay Historical Maps on Google Earth
7. Use Whiteboards in Google Meet Without Screensharing

Two PD Opportunities in July
The Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp will be held two more times this summer. Register here for the July session of your choice.

In two weeks I'll be hosting Teaching History With Technology. This is a five part course designed to help you develop new ways to create engaging history lessons and projects. Register now and use the discount code THWT2020.

This summer I'm working with a handful of schools and organizations to develop online professional development for teachers. If you'd like to work with me, please send me a note at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about how we can work together.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides FreeTech4Teachers.com and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and it includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - more than 25,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 350 Google tools tutorials.  
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has more than 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last thirteen years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

Friday, July 3, 2020

How to Use Kahoot With Google Classroom

We're halfway through 2020. This week I'm taking some time off from the blog to work on some other projects. The rest of this week I'm going to re-run some of the most popular posts and videos of the year so far.

May is a time when many of us are looking for fun ways to conduct end-of-year review sessions with our students. That's why in May of this year I published a video about how to use Kahoot in Google Classroom. Playing Kahoot quiz games is one of the most popular means of doing that. Kahoot games are fun to play in a classroom and you can also use them for remote learning activities by using the "challenge" mode.

The challenge mode in Kahoot enables you to assign games to your students to play at home on their schedule. There are many ways that you can distribute the challenges to your students. If you're a Google Classroom user, you can distribute your challenges through your Classroom just like you would any other announcement or assignment. Your students then just click on the link to your Kahoot game to start playing it.

In the following video I demonstrate how to distribute Kahoot games through Google Classroom and how students can play those games right from the Announcements stream in Google Classroom.

How to Encourage the Use of Complete Sentences in Google Forms Responses

We're halfway through 2020. This week I'm taking some time off from the blog to work on some other projects. The rest of this week I'm going to re-run some of the most popular posts and videos of the year so far.

In early May I held an informal webinar for a small group of people who were interested in learning some G Suite tips and tricks. Response validation in Google Forms was one of the things that I demonstrated toward the end of that webinar. Response validation in Google Forms lets you specify a minimum number of characters that students have to enter in order for their responses to be accepted by your Google Form.

By using response validation in Google Forms you can encourage students to keep writing if they don't write a complete sentence in response to one or more of your questions. Response validation can't enforce a particular sentence structure but it can enforce a minimum sentence length.

In the following video I demonstrate how you can use response validation in Google Forms to encourage students to write complete sentences.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Easy Ways to Improve Your Videos

We're halfway through 2020. This week I'm taking some time off from the blog to work on some other projects. The rest of this week I'm going to re-run some of the most popular posts and videos of the year so far. 

Many of us are making more videos than ever before as a way to deliver instruction and or to simply keep our students updated about school. With time and practice you might become adept at using the editing functions in your favorite video software. You can also improve your videos without having to learn a bunch of editing tricks. Here are some simple things that we can do to improve our videos without having to learn a whole bunch of editing techniques.

1. Look at the camera, not the screen. 
It's natural to look at the screen on your phone or laptop while recording. When you do that, you're not looking at the camera and not making eye contact with your virtual audience. Practice looking at the camera.

2. Elevate your camera.
Put your camera at eye level or slightly higher. Doing that accomplishes a few things. First, people aren't looking up your nose. Second, it makes you look a little thinner and can improve your lighting. Third, I've found that elevating the camera makes it easier for me to remember to look at my camera instead of the screen.

3. Adjust Your Lighting
If you can, try to use relatively bright and even lighting around yourself. Doing this can eliminate shadows being cast on your face and can improve the overall visual clarity of your video. A ring light can be helpful in casting an even light but even just adjusting the position of a lamp on your desk can improve your lighting.

4. Pay attention to your background. 
Try to make your background interesting but not distracting. A large bookcase can make a nice background that is interesting but not distracting. An outdoor setting also makes a nice background, outdoor backgrounds can make lighting tricky. Try to record at a time and place that doesn't cast a lot of shadows. If you want to attempt making a green screen video, here's how you can do it with Zoom.

5. Adjust your sound. 
If possible, try to use an external microphone instead of the microphone built into your laptop or mobile phone. even a simple 3.5mm microphone can reduce background and echo sounds. Often the wired earbuds that come with some smartphones include a microphone that can be used for recording. If an external microphone isn't an option for you, just turning off audio playback (muting your speakers) while recording can improve the quality of your audio recording.

How to Create a Timed Quiz in Google Classroom

We're halfway through 2020. This week I'm taking some time off from the blog to work on some other projects. The rest of this week I'm going to re-run some of the most popular posts and videos of the year so far. 

As the spring went on and it became clear that school was going to be entirely online for an extended, indefinite period of time I started to get a lot of questions about how to deliver timed assessments online. In particular, a lot of people wanted to know if it was possible to do that through Google Classroom and Google Forms. In this video I demonstrate how to create and distribute a timed quiz in Google Classroom.




Step-by-step directions:
1. Create a new quiz assignment in Classwork in Google Classroom.
2. Create your quiz in the Google Form that was created by step 1 above.
3. Install the FormLimiter add-on for Google Forms.
4. Enable a date and time limit in the FormLimiter add-on.
5. Use the scheduling tool in Google Classroom to make your quiz live at a specific time.