Monday, April 6, 2020

Three Ways to Make Whiteboard Videos on Your Chromebook

Last week I published a video on how to make a simple video on a Chromebook without installing any extensions or apps. That video was fairly popular and it prompted some follow-up questions from readers and viewers who wanted my recommendations for making whiteboard videos on a Chromebook. Besides just recording in front of an actual whiteboard (I have a small one like this at home that I use) here are the three recommendations that I have been making.

#1 - Make a Whiteboard Video in Flipgrid
Last fall Flipgrid added an option for creating whiteboard videos. That feature lets you start video using just your webcam then transition into using a built-in whiteboard function to teach a lesson. This feature has also been integrated into the Flipgrid video tools that are available in Wakelet. Watch my videos below to see how you can make whiteboard videos in Flipgrid.



#2 - Make a Whiteboard Video in Seesaw
Seesaw offers a recording tool that you can use to draw and talk at the same time. To do this just create a new announcement or assignment then select the "draw" option when attaching an item. In "draw" you'll find a microphone icon that you can click to start recording while drawing. The recording and drawing will sync together. Students can watch the recording in their Seesaw accounts.

#3 - Use the Drawing Tools in Screencastify
Screencastify had already made most of their features free to teachers before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now they offer all of them for free. To record a whiteboard style video with Screencastify first open a blank white Google Slide then start recording. While recording use Screencastify's built-in drawing tools to draw over that slide while you're recording your video.

Five Search Tools Students Often Overlook

In our new remote teaching and learning environments students may find themselves having to look things up online more than ever before. Even if you're hosting online class meetings in Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams there will still be lots of time when students need to do some research on their own. This is a good time to remind students about some basic search strategies like creating a search checklist and consulting vocabulary lists as part of the search process. Once they've done those basics it might be time for them to try some other search tools that often get overlooked.

Google Books
My favorite feature of Google Books is the option to search within a book. You can do this with any book that is listed by Google Books as free or in the public domain. You can also do this with many of the books that are listed as "preview only." All of the free books can be read online and or downloaded as PDFs. Watch the video below for an overview of how to search within Google Books.


Google Scholar
High school and college students can use Google Scholar to find court rulings, articles from academic journals, and patent filings. Using Google Scholar can get some students off of the hamster wheel of sorting through pages of lower-quality articles discovered through a typical Google.com search.



Dataset Search
Dataset Search is a tool that Google launched in beta around this time last year and made fully available in late 2019. Dataset Search does exactly what the name implies, it helps you find publicly available datasets on a wide variety of topics. Many of those topics are related to economics and demographics.



Refine Google Results by Date
Depending on the topic, the recency of an article can play a significant role in its current accuracy. Refining search results by date is a good way for students to find the most recent information about a topic. Similarly, if they're trying to see how information about a topic has changed over the years, students might restrict results to a set of prior dates.



Refine YouTube Search Results
Depending upon the day and the source, YouTube is often one of the three most-visited and searched sites in world. My comp sci students have been using it a lot lately when they need a little coding tutorial and I'm not available. Depending upon the topic, your students may also be doing a lot of searches on YouTube. They can refine their results by date of publication as well as length of video.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the April showers and wind arrived in earnest on Thursday and didn't stop until late last night. Thankfully, it looks like today will be a nice day for playing outside and doing a bit of spring yard work. The governor of Maine issued a stay-at-home order this week so playing in the yard is the extent of our travel for a while. I've never appreciated having a backyard more than right now. I hope that wherever you are that you can get outside a bit this weekend too. After a week of online teaching and learning we all need some fresh air.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Now You Can Use Flipgrid to Make Screencast Videos
2. Learn How to Use These 5 Time-saving Gmail Features in 2020
3. An Option for Making Sure Students Know They Have Google Classroom Assignments
4. Create Video-based Lessons a Little Faster With This Chrome Extension
5. Schedule Individual Online Office Hours Meetings via Google Classroom
6. A Map Coloring Challenge
7. How to Create Simple Videos on a Chromebook - No Apps or Extensions Needed

Online PD With Me!
I've been hosting professional development webinars for a decade. My most popular webinars are available on-demand right here. If you prefer live webinars, I am planning to host some in April so stay tuned for more information about those soon. And I'm always available to schedule custom, online PD for your school.

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 18,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 350 Google tools tutorials. 
  • The Practical Ed Tech Podcast is where I answer questions from readers, share news and notes, and occasionally talk to interesting people in education. 
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

Webinar Recording - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff

On Friday afternoon Rushton Hurley and I hosted the second episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff. It's a half-hour webinar that we do to, you guessed it, answer tech questions and share some interesting tools that we've found on the web. This week we answered some of the questions we answered included privacy in online meetings, copyright, and pesky problems with microphones.

The webinar recording, slides, and links to additional resources can be found here.

Friday, April 3, 2020

A Random Name and Image Picker

Wheel of Names is a free random name picker website that I learned about from Tony Vincent in one of his Tweets earlier this week. There are plenty of random name pickers available on the web. Wheel of Names is a little different than most because it not only lets you enter names, it lets you upload images to be chosen at random. Wheel of Names also lets you create a free account that you can use to save a series of wheels. That option could be helpful if you have multiple classes and don't want to enter names whenever you need to pick a name at random.

In the following video I provide an overview of how you can use Wheel of Names. Highlights of the video include:
  • Uploading images for random selection. 
  • Customizing the playback of the random selector wheel. 
  • Saving and accessing multiple random selector wheels. 



Applications for Education
Besides using Wheel of Names to pick names, you could use it to pick images or words at random. In that sense you could use it as a tool to give random writing prompts to students.