Google
 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

How to Use Flipgrid - A 2017 Favorite

For the last five days I have featured the most popular posts of 2017. On this last day of the year, I'm going to highlight my favorite posts of the year regardless of their popularity. This post features my guide to using Flipgrid.

Flipgrid is a fantastic service for collecting video responses to prompts that you pose to your students. It has been a hit whenever I have demonstrated it in a workshop or conference presentation during the last year. The basic idea behind Flipgrid is that it enables you to post a video prompt and then have your students respond through video by using the webcams in their laptops or through the cameras on their smartphones or tablets. All responses are collected and displayed in a grid format. Watch the following video that I created and learn how to start using Flipgrid today.



You can contribute to the grid featured in my video by clicking here.

Back in November Caroline Schaab was kind enough to author a guest post in which she shared four ways to use Flipgrid in fourth grade.

Zero Noise Classroom - A 2017 Favorite

For the last five days I have featured the most popular posts of 2017. On this last day of the year, I'm going to highlight my favorite posts of the year regardless of their popularity. This post features a convenient noise meter and timer.

Zero Noise Classroom provides a countdown timer and a noise meter into one convenient Chrome app. When you launch Zero Noise Classroom you can set the countdown timer and adjust the goal for the volume of noise in your classroom. You will also set a goal for a percentage of the time that can exceed the maximum volume. When the countdown timer expires a chime sounds and the percentage of time above the volume limit is displayed.

Applications for Education
The idea behind Zero Noise Classroom is to give your students a specific amount of time during which you want the noise in the classroom to be below a certain level. This could be for silent reading time in your classroom or just a silent minute for everyone to think before responding to a question. You could also use it to just time an activity and not worry about the noise level at all.

Toontastic 3D - A 2017 Favorite

For the last five days I have featured the most popular posts of 2017. On this last day of the year, I'm going to highlight my favorite posts of the year regardless of their popularity. This post features my initial review of Toontastic 3D followed by a tutorial video.

On Thursday Google released a new version of the popular animation creation app, Toontastic. The new version is called Toontastic 3D and it is available to download on the Android, iOS, and Chrome platforms. I installed on an Android phone and found it to be easy to use to create animated videos.

To make a video on Toontastic 3D students first select the type of story that they want to create. Their options are "short story" (a three part story), "classic" (a five part story), or "science report." Once they have selected a story type they will be prompted to craft each part of their stories in order. A short description of what each part of the story should do is included before students start each section.

Students can pick from a variety of story setting templates or they can create their own within Toontastic 3D. Once they have established a background setting students then select cartoon characters to use in their stories. Students can choose from a wide array of customizable cartoon characters or they can create their own from scratch. Once characters are placed into the story scenes students can begin recording themselves talking while moving the characters around in each scene. Students can swap characters between scenes, change the appearance of characters between scenes, and move characters from one scene to the next.

To use Toontastic 3D students do not need to have accounts or log into any service. Their completed videos can be saved directly onto the devices that they use to create their videos.

Applications for Education
Toontastic 3D could provide elementary school students with a great way to create videos for a variety of purposes including mini-biographies, retelling of historical events, or to bring the scenes of a favorite book to life in video form.

Try This Fun, Free AR App for Outdoor Lessons - A 2017 Favorite

For the last five days I have featured the most popular posts of 2017. On this last day of the year, I'm going to highlight my favorite posts of the year regardless of their popularity. This post features an augmented reality app for elementary school students.

Spring is here in the northern hemisphere and those of us in northern climates are ready to get back to playing outside without wearing seven layers of clothing. This is the time of the school year when my students always ask about having class outside. If you're an elementary school teacher who is ready to get your kids outside for a lesson, take a look at Plum's Creaturizer.

Plum's Creaturizer from PBS Kids is a free iOS and Android app that lets students create fun cartoon creatures then place them into outdoor settings through the use of augmented reality. The purpose of the app is to have students learn and show how the characteristics of an animal help it thrive in its environment. In the following video I demonstrate how the app works (apologies for the background noise, I recorded this video outside to show how the AR feature works in real settings).

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Goals, Wishes, and Cold - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we're experiencing a stretch of cold days that hasn't been seen since the 1970's. How cold is it? Earlier this week I referred to Tuesday's high temperature of 7f as a "warm day." I took advantage of that warm day by going out to hike up and ski down Saddleback Mountain near Rangelely, Maine. That's just one of the things that I did during my week off. If you had the week off, I hope that you were able to do something fun too.

All week I ran republications of some of the most popular posts of the year. Therefore, this week's round-up of the most popular posts is kind of a best of the best list. New blog posts will resume on Monday.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Track Progress Toward Goals With This Google Sheets Template - Best of 2017
2. The Things I Wish Every Teacher Knew About Technology - Best of 2017
3. My Five Most Frequently Recommended Google Forms Add-ons - Best of 2017
4. Three Alternatives to Google Classroom - Best of 2017
5. 21 Tools for Conducting Digital Formative Assessments - Best of 2017
6. 22 Videos That Can Help Students Improve Their Writing - Best of 2017
7. How to Add Spoken Audio to Google Slides - Best of 2017

Online Professional Development
Despite it being a vacation week more people registered for the 2018 Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group. And a bunch of people took advantage of the 30% discount available on my Teaching History With Technology course and my G Suite for Teachers course.

Book Me for Your Conference
I’ve given keynotes at conferences from Australia to Alaska for groups of all sizes from 50 to 2,000+. My keynotes focus on providing teachers and school administrators with practical ways to use technology to create better learning experiences for all students. I like to shine the light on others and so I often share examples of great work done by others as well as my own. Click here to book me today.

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.
MySimpleShow offers a great way to create animated videos for free.
Metaverse enables anyone to create amazing things.
Kids Discover provides fantastic tools for helping kids discover new information. 
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.

Grids, Timelines, and Notes in Google Slides - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in September.

This week Google added a handful of new features to Google Slides. Some of them are features that teachers and students have been requesting for years.

Please note that some of the following new features may not appear in your G Suite for Education account for a couple of weeks. All of these features are available now for users logged-in with a Gmail address.

1. Quickly insert pre-formatted timelines and other diagrams.
Now when you open the "insert" drop-down menu you will see an option for diagrams. Choose that option and you'll be able to insert a variety of pre-formatted diagrams including timelines. All of the content within the diagrams can be edited.

2. Add-ons for Google Slides.
There are now seven Add-ons available in Google Slides. Those of interest to teachers and students include Lucidchart, Pear Deck, and Unsplash. Unsplash provides high resolution photographs to re-use for free.

3. Grid view of presentations.
There is now a grid option under the "view" drop-down menu. This lets you see all of your slides in a grid and re-arrange slides by dragging them into different sequences in the grid.

4. Google Keep notes integrated into slides.
Google Docs integrated Google Keep notes earlier this year. That allowed you to drag your Google Keep notes directly into a document. Now you can do the same in Google Slides.

5. Skip a slide without deleting it. 
If you are in the habit of duplicating your own presentations then deleting a slide or two for different audiences, the new "skip slide" function could appeal to you. This function lets you specify a slide or slides to be skipped in a version of a presentation. Skipping a slide doesn't delete it, it just prevents it from being displayed when you're in the full screen presentation display.

Learn more about how to use Google Slides in your classroom in my on-demand course, G Suite for Teachers

One Day Left to Save 30% on Two Practical Ed Tech Courses

Providing online professional development courses is one of the ways that I am able to fund Free Technology for Teachers. I offer those courses through my Practical Ed Tech website. All month long I've offered a 30% discount on two on-demand courses. Those discounts will expire tomorrow night at midnight (Eastern Time).

This course is designed for teachers who would like to infuse some new technology and new ideas into their history lessons. In this course you will learn how to develop engaging and challenging learning activities through the use of tools like Google Earth and Maps, video production tools, and virtual reality. You will also learn how to help your students become better researchers. See the outline of lessons here.
Click here to register. Use the code "december18" to save 30%.

This is the new on-demand version of my very popular Getting Going With G Suite live course and workshop. This course was designed for teachers who are new to using the powerful the tools within G Suite for Education. In this course you’ll learn everything you need to know to feel comfortable using all of the core G Suite tools with your students. This course is more than just a series of “how to” videos. You’ll be provided with concrete examples of activities that you can use and adapt to use in your classroom.
Click here to register. Use the code "gsuite18" to save 30%.

Ten Things You Can Do With Google Forms - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in August.

Google Forms and Google Sheets is the part of G Suite for Education that I get most excited about teaching to others. That is largely because once a person understands the basics of how Google Forms and Google Sheets work, the potential applications for school use are almost limitless. Here are ten ways that I often use Google Forms.

1. Manage classroom lending libraries. In other words, keep track of the stuff students and colleagues borrow from me.

2. Create self-grading quizzes. This can save a ton time grading formative assessments.

3. Create self-paced review activities. I often include videos within the review activities.

4. Make digital Break-out games. The data validation and go-to-section-based-on-answer logic makes this possible.

5. Collect contact information for participants in club activities. Likewise, collect and share (with permission) contact information for parents of students in club activities.

6. Create and manage sign-up sheets. You can set time limits and response quantity limits for your sign-up sheets.

7. Manage student blog entries.

8. Conduct surveys. I've conducted surveys to use as exit tickets from class and to get feedback from students at the end of a semester.

9. Organize group research projects. Google Forms can help your students keep track of who is doing which task(s) and who has done which task(s).

10. Manage donations of classroom supplies. Google Forms can help you keep track of donations and donation requests so that you don't end up with 98 glue sticks but nothing to actually glue.

Register for Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners to get started on using Google Forms for any or all of these purposes. 

A Fun Geography Game for All - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in September.

Earlier this week Maps Mania published a list of ten geography games that are based on Google Street View imagery. Looking through the list reminded me of a geography game that is fun although it is not based on Street View imagery. That game is GameOn World.

GameOn World is a multiplayer geography game developed by a high school teacher and his student in Portland, Maine. The game is similar in structure to that of Kahoot. In GameOn World the teacher selects a game category (cities, places, and timeline are three of the nine categories) and starts the game. The students join the game by going to GameOn.World and entering a game pin. In the location and timeline games, students answer the questions by moving a placemark on a map or selecting a date on a timeline. In some of the other games students answer by choosing a number on a sliding scale.

Copyright Lessons for Students and Teachers - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in September.

As many of you know, I spent much of my week dealing with a copyright infringement issue. As a result of that I have been doing more reading about DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) than ever before. One piece that I read was this article from attorney Sarah F. Hawkins. The article didn't have much that was new to me, but I am bringing it up because one of the comments posted under the article points to the larger problem of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge of copyright as it pertains to the Internet.

Here's the beginning of the comment:
I run my own travel consulting page on a large social media platform, I recently used a google image of a hotel. This morning I received an invoice for $3500 because I used this image, I did not know about copyright infringements as it was just an image on google.

That comment reflects the way that a lot of people misinterpret Google Image search. Unless you use the advanced search filter to find only Creative Commons licensed images, most of what you find through Google Images is copyrighted. Google doesn't host the images or license the images. Google Images is simply a search engine. Giving an image credit to Google Images is not citing the source and even if Google was the source, unless it is labeled as Creative Commons or Public Domain, you can't use the image without permission. The exception being in the case of fair use. But even then just because you're using it for an educational setting doesn't mean it automatically qualifies your use as fair use. I explained this scenario in more detail in this post in 2014.

On a similar note to the Google Images scenario, citing Facebook as the source of an image does not mean that you can use the image without permission. I explained this in more detail in this post.


Resources for teaching Copyright, Creative Commons, and Fair Use.

The following two videos from Common Craft provide excellent overviews of these topics.




For a more in-depth look at copyright for educators, watch Dr. Wesley Fryer's Slideshare on the topic. Eight years after he released it, it's still one of the best resources on the topic.




Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright is a resource for kids produced by the Library of Congress. Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright is intended to help elementary school students understand the purposes and functions of copyright. There are four sections to Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright. The first section, Copyright Exposed, features a short cartoon that explains how copyright protects artists. Files on Record, the second section, chronicles important historical developments in copyright law. The third section, Reading the Fine Print, answers common questions and addresses common myths about copyright laws. The last section, Steps to Copyright, instructs students on registering their own works for copyright protection.

Disclosure: I have an in-kind business relationship with Common Craft.

Resources for Teaching Digital Citizenship - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in August.

The new school year is when we think about all of the new apps and sites we want to use with students. As we do that it's also important to think about teaching digital citizenship. Whether our students are in Kindergarten or are in high school, before we send them out on the web we should be teaching them digital citizenship. The PDF embedded below, click here if you cannot see it, features my favorite digital citizenship resources for elementary, middle, and high school students.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Periodic Table in Pictures and Words - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in July.

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

Make Stop Motion Videos on Your Chromebook - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in June.

On Monday I livestreamed a presentation about making videos with students. In one part of the presentation I was asked for a recommendation for a stop motion video creation tool that works on Chromebooks. My recommendation is to try Stop Motion Animator.

Stop Motion Animator is a free Chrome app for creating stop motion videos. The app is free and easy to use. It does not even require students to create accounts in order to use it.

To create a stop motion video with Stop Motion Animator launch the app and grant it access to your Chromebook's webcam. Then you capture a series of pictures with your webcam and play them back at various speeds in a stop motion style. You can add audio to your video in Stop Motion Animator. Your completed video must be downloaded to your Chromebook as a .webm file which you will have to upload to either YouTube or Google Drive to playback outside of Stop Motion Animator.

Applications for Education
Creating stop motion and timelapse videos can be a fun way for students to bring their creative stories to life in a Gumby and Pokey style. Your students can use pictures of images they have drawn, clay models that they have made, or toys that they position and re-position to animate a story.

Stop motion and timelapse videos can also be helpful when teachers are trying to help students see how a lengthy process like osmosis works. While good stop motion and timelapse videos can take a long time to create, tools like Stop Motion Animator make that process a bit easier.

Come to the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp to learn more about making videos on Chromebooks. 

Six Types of Classroom Video Projects - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in June.

The process of creating and publishing videos can be a great way to get students excited about researching, storytelling, and sharing their work with an audience. For teachers who have never facilitated video creation projects in their classrooms, choosing the right style of video and the right tools can be a bit confusing at first. To help bring clarity to the styles and tools, I have a rather simple outline that I use in my video creation workshops. That outline with suggested tools for creating videos in each style is included in the PDF embedded below. You can download the PDF here.


(The PDF is hosted on Box.com. If your school blocks Box, you won't be able to see the embedded file).

7 Ways to Use Google Keep in Your Classroom - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in May.

This week's Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week featured a demonstration of how to use Google Keep to annotate images. That is just one of many ways that you and your students can use Google Keep. G Suite for Education users, remember that Google Keep is now a core product in G Suite.

1. Create bookmarks with Google Keep.


2. Add Google Keep notes and bookmarks to your Google Documents.


3. Use Feedly with Google Keep on your Android device.


4. Use Google Keep and Feedly in your web browser to keep track of news stories.


5. Share notes and task lists through Google Keep.


6. Use Google Keep to help you work toward your goals.


7. Annotate images in Google Keep on Chromebooks and on Android devices.


Learn more about Google Keep in G Suite for Teachers.

10 Ways to Use Google Earth in Your Classroom - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This one of the most popular posts in May.

A couple of weeks ago Google released the new web-based version of Google Earth (take a tour of it here). The older desktop version of Google Earth is still available for free as well. The advantage of the web-based version is that anyone with a Chromebook or laptop can use it. The disadvantage to it is that it doesn't have as many features as the desktop version. Both versions have a place in the classroom. Here are ten ways you might have your students use Google Earth in your classroom.

1. Take a tour of new and interesting places.
This is the most basic activity that you can do either version of Google Earth. The new version has many pre-made tours called "Voyages" that your students can view. Stops on the voyages include notes about the notable landmarks in the tour. The desktop version of Google Earth also has some pre-made tours. You can also find tours made by others and use them in Google Earth. Watch this video to learn how to do that.

2. Global scavenger hunts.
Create a scavenger hunt for students to complete by using clues and finding the answers "hidden" throughout the globe. This can be a fun way for students to test their knowledge of physical and human geography.

3. Create tours. 
The desktop version of Google Earth has built-in tools for creating tours of landmarks around the world (watch this video to learn how). The web version of Google Earth doesn't have the same tour recording tools, but you can use this option for creating placemarks and this option for creating a tour. Over the years I've had students create Google Earth tours of Civil War battle sites, the significant places in a person's life, and places that they want to visit some day. Google Lit Trips is dedicated to helping teachers use Google Earth tours in literature lessons.

4. View comparisons.
Use this method for creating placemarks in the new Google Earth and you can show multiple data sets in one map.

5. Layer images over maps. 
The desktop version of Google Earth lets you layer images over a view of the world. Adjust your zoom level to cover more or less of the map with your image. Adjust the image's opacity to let the map faintly show through the image. This is a great way to show students a comparison of a historical map with a contemporary map. Try using this method to show how coastlines and waterways have changed over time.

6. Measure distances.
The desktop version of Google Earth includes a measurement tool.

7. Explore the moon. 
The desktop version of Google Earth includes a moon view. Select the moon view and view some of the placemarks in the NASA layer.

8. Explore Mars. 
You can explore Mars and through the use of the NASA layer in the desktop version of Google Earth.

9. Watch a timelapse of imagery. 
The desktop version of Google Earth has a timeline slider that you can use to see historical imagery of some cities.

10. Use Google Earth as an alternative to PowerPoint. 
The next time you're thinking about having students give a presentation on a place that they've studied in your geography lesson, have them create a Google Earth tour instead. They can use their custom placemarks shown in full size as an alternative to using slides.

Learn more about Google Earth in Teaching History With Technology

Thursday, December 28, 2017

33 Lessons on Critical Thinking - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in April.

From analyzing a persuasive essay to dissecting research findings to determining the cause of an outcome in a science lab, having sharp critical thinking skills serves students well. Wireless Philosophy has a series of 33 video lessons about critical thinking. The most recent lesson explains the difference between causation and correlation.


Take a look at these 7 great tools for creating flipped lessons with these videos.

How to Create Appointment Slots in Google Calendar - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in April.

Whether you're looking for a way to let students schedule office hours with you or you're trying to streamline scheduling meetings with parents, Google Calendar provides a convenient solution in the form of appointment slots. In the following video I demonstrate how to create appointment slots in Google Calendar.



I will be covering topics like this one and many others in G Suite for Teachers.

Social Studies Teachers, This Is For You!

Back in November I released my popular Teaching History With Technology course in an on-demand format. It has proven to be a popular format as more people have participated in the on-demand course in December than in all of the combined live versions of the course offered earlier in the year. If you would like to join Teaching History With Technology, you can get started right now.

In Teaching History With Technology you will learn how to develop engaging and challenging learning activities through the use of tools like Google Earth and Maps, video production tools, and virtual reality. You will also learn how to help your students become better researchers.


This course is delivered in an on-demand format. What does that mean? It means that you can complete the course at your own pace. Each lesson of the eight lessons in the course will be emailed to you once a week for eight weeks. You can start at any time. The first lesson is emailed to you the same day that you complete your registration. Hit reply on any email that you receive during the course to ask me any questions that you have.

Each lesson contains a video (20-30 minutes), a handout containing the outline and additional resources for each lesson, and a suggested activity to complete with your students.

$97 $67 until midnight (ET) on December 31st.
use checkout code “december18”

Create Your Own Google Classroom - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in April.

Last month Google began allowing anyone who has a Gmail address to join Google Classroom classrooms. This week that option was extended to allow anyone who has a Gmail address to create his or her own Google Classroom online classroom.

Teachers who are already using Google Classroom within a G Suite for Education account already know how to create a new classroom. For people who have been waiting to try it, here's what you need to do:

1. Sign-in with your personal Gmail account at classroom.google.com.
2. Click "+" in the upper, right corner of the screen and choose "create a class."
3. Complete the required basic information about your class (title, section, topic).
4. Invite people to join your classroom. To do this select "students" while viewing your classroom. In the "students" section you will find a classroom invitation code that you can distribute. Alternatively, you can invite people to join by sending emails directly from your Google Classroom account.

Applications for Education
There are plenty of online course tools that are more robust than Google Classroom. However, the really good ones are not free. That said, Google Classroom is adequate for many online courses and as a supplement to in-person classes. Now that Google Classroom is open to the world, we could see all kinds of new courses popping-up on the web. We could see high school students creating courses to teach others about hobbies. We might see teachers using it to create professional development courses.

How to effectively use Google Classroom and all elements of G Suite will be covered in my online course G Suite for Teachers.

22 Videos That Can Help Students Improve Their Writing - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in March.

The Writer's Workshop is a playlist of twenty-two TED-Ed lessons. The The Writer's Workshop contains lessons on basic topics like how to use punctuation and videos on more complex topics like how to make your writing humorous.

The Writer's Workshop playlist is embedded below.


Applications for Education
TED-Ed's The Writer's Workshop is a good place for students to find some quick lessons on punctuation and grammar. Students who are ready to take their writing to a new level could benefit from the TED-Ed videos on irony, introductions, and building fictional worlds.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

G Suite for Teachers FAQs

In the last week since I announced my new G Suite for Teachers professional development course I've fielded a bunch of questions about the course. Here's a list of FAQs about G Suite for Teachers.

1. How early can I start?
The first lesson of the course will be available on January 1st. After that a new lesson will be sent to you every week. If you want to move through the course more quickly than that, that's an option too. You can register at the discounted price of just $67 until midnight (Eastern Time) on December 31st.

2. My school doesn't have G Suite for Education yet, can I still take the course?
Yes, you can. In fact, many people have taken the live version of this course without their schools having G Suite for Education in place. They took it as a way to get familiar with what they would be using when their schools did make the complete transition to G Suite for Education.

3. Is there graduate credit available?
There is not graduate credit available for this course. I am, however, able to provide you with a certificate of hours for professional development.

Register by December 31st for Early Bird Pricing!*

4. Is there a time limit on the course?
You can start the course any time that you want to on or after January 1st and finish it whenever you like. The default pacing is one lesson per week, but you can complete it quicker or slower than that.

5. Can I register with a purchase order?
Groups of five or more teachers registering at the same time can register with a purchase order. Email me at richard (at) byrne.media to get that process rolling.

6. I teach math/ science/ elementary school/ will there be anything for me?
Absolutely there will be! This course is designed to teach you how to use the tools within G Suite for Education as well as get you thinking about how the tools apply to your classroom. In the course I've included examples for math, science, social studies, and language arts in elementary, middle, and high school settings.

Use checkout code “gsuite18” by December 31st to save $30 on registration.
Click here to register!

*Those registering with the early bird pricing will be able to start on January 1st. Anyone registering after January 1st will be able to start immediately upon completion of registration.

How to Add Spoken Audio to Google Slides - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. Here's one from March of 2017.

The Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week that I published yesterday was about adding music to Google Slides. In the twelve hours since that tip was published a bunch of people have asked about adding spoken words to slides. The process is a little more involved than just adding music, but it's the same basic process. In the following video I explain how I add spoken audio to Google Slides.

Zero Noise Classroom - A Timer and Noise Meter in One - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. Here's one from March.

Over the years I've shared classroom countdown timers and I've shared noise meters, but until today I haven't found timer and noise meter in one package. Zero Noise Classroom provides a countdown timer and a noise meter into one convenient Chrome app.

When you launch Zero Noise Classroom you can set the countdown timer and adjust the goal for the volume of noise in your classroom. You will also set a goal for a percentage of the time that can exceed the maximum volume. When the countdown timer expires a chime sounds and the percentage of time above the volume limit is displayed.

Applications for Education
The idea behind Zero Noise Classroom is to give your students a specific amount of time during which you want the noise in the classroom to be below a certain level. This could be for silent reading time in your classroom or just a silent minute for everyone to think before responding to a question. You could also use it to just time an activity and not worry about the noise level at all.

My Five Most Frequently Recommended Google Forms Add-ons - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This is one from February.

I receive a lot of emails from readers who have questions about Google Forms and G Suite in general. Many of those questions are answered with a suggested Google Form Add-on. The right Add-on can go a long way toward streamlining your process for completing common classroom tasks like keeping track of supplies or organizing classroom volunteers. Here are the five Google Forms Add-ons I refer people to more than any others.

CheckItOut is a great little Google Forms Add-on that allows you to create a simple check-out/ check-in system. With CheckItOut enabled in Google Forms you simply title the set of items that people will be checking out (iPads for example) then choose if you want people to choose from check boxes, a list, or multiple choice question. Watch the video below to see how the CheckItOut Add-on works.


g(Math) is a Google Forms Add-on that allows you to insert graphs and mathematical expressions into your Google Forms. To insert graphs and equations into your Form select g(Math) from your Add-ons menu and follow the directions that pop-up on the right side of the screen.

Choice Eliminator removes response choices from your Google Form as they are used up. This can be handy when you are having people complete a Google Form in order to select meeting times with you or you're having them complete a form to indicate what they are sending into school for a class party. To use Choice Eliminator start by creating your Google Form as you normally would. Then enable Choice Eliminator on your Form. Once Choice Eliminator is enabled you can select the question or questions that you want to have choices removed from as they are used.

Email Notifications for Forms lets me receive not only a notification in my email when someone completes one of my Forms, it also lets me see their complete responses in my email. In the video below I demonstrate how it works.



FormLimiter allows you to set a time for a form to automatically stop accepting responses. You can also use FormLimiter to set a limit on number of responses a form will accept. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to enable and set limits on Google Forms.

The Things I Wish Every Teacher Knew About Technology - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This is a post from February.

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.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

21 Tools for Conducting Digital Formative Assessments - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. This was one of the most popular posts in February.

Conducting simple formative assessments is one way to measure what your students do or do not understand from the lessons that you have taught. There are many ways to conduct formative assessments. They can be in the form of fun games, in a video format, or in a quick quiz. The following tools all provide a means through which you can conduct formative assessments. Learn more about how to use these tools in my on-demand webinar, Fun With Formative Assessments.

Google Forms
Almost as soon as my school went 1:1 with netbooks, I started using Google Forms to collect responses from students. The Form that I created and frequently re-used simply asked students to respond to "what did you learn today?" and "what questions do you have for next class?" Of course, today's version of Google Forms will let you include pictures and videos in the formative assessments that you create for your students. Learn how to make self-paced, self-grading assessments in Google Forms in my on-demand course, G Suite for Teachers.

Padlet
I started using Padlet back when it was called WallWisher. Padlet enables me to have students not only share exit responses as text, but to also share exit responses as hyperlinks. For example, if my students have been working on research projects I will ask them to share a link to something they found that day along with an explanation of how it is relevant to their research.

Quick Key - For classrooms that aren't 1:1
Quick Key is an excellent platform for creating and conducting formative assessments. It is a tool that works equally well in classrooms that are 1:1 and in classrooms that are not 1:1. This is possible because Quick Key allows you to create formative assessments that you can distribute electronically as well as on paper. If you use Quick Key to distribute your assessments electronically, Quick Key will score your students' responses automatically. One of the latest features of Quick Key is an integration with Google Classroom. This integration lets you use your Google Classroom rosters to distribute and collect assessments. If you distribute your assessments on paper, you can use the Quick Key mobile app to quickly scan your students' answer sheets and receive the scores.

Plickers - For classrooms that aren't 1:1
If not every student in your classroom has a laptop or tablet to use, then you need to check out Plickers as a student response system. Plickers uses a teacher's iPad or Android tablet in conjunction with a series of QR codes to create a student response system. Students are given a set of QR codes on large index cards. The codes are assigned to students. Each code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. When the teacher is ready to collect data, he or she uses the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards to see a bar graph of responses. In your teacher account on Plickers you can view and save all of the data that you collected from scanning your students' Plickers cards.

PingPong
PingPong provides you with a free and easy way to collect feedback from students in the forms of multiple choice, true/false, and short answer questions. PingPong also lets you collect sketches from students which is a great way to have students illustrate solutions to mathematics problems or to submit diagrams to answer a question. A video demonstration of PingPong is included in this post.

Formative
Formative provides you with a place to create online classrooms. Your students join your classroom by entering the assigned class code after registering on the Formative website. Once your classroom is established you can begin distributing assignments to students. Assignments can be as simple as one question exit tickets like "what did you learn today?" to complex quizzes that use a combination of multiple choice, short answer, and true/false questions. You can assign point values to questions or leave them as ungraded questions. The best feature of Formative is the option to create "show your work" questions. "Show your work" questions enables students to draw responses and or upload pictures as responses to your questions. When you use this question type students will see a blank canvas directly below the question. On that canvas they can draw and or type responses.

Add questions to your slides
Since May of 2016 Google Slides has included the option to add an audience Q&A to your slides. To add this to your slides just select the "Q&A" option when you use the "presentation" mode in Google Slides. This will let you accept questions from your audience and let your audience vote for their favorite questions. 

Mentimeter is a audience response tool that I've been using off and on for a few years now. Mentimeter's core product lets you create polls and quizzes for your audience to respond to during your presentations. Your audience members can respond from their phones, tablets, or laptops. The latest feature added to Mentimeter is called Quick Slides. Quick Slides lets you quickly create slides within Mentimeter. The slides have audience response options built into them. All you have to do is click on the response options you want your audience to see. Your audience can use thumbs-up/down icons, heart icons, or question mark icons to respond to your slides. The nice thing about Quick Slides is that you can use it on one part of a presentation but turn it off for another part of the same presentation.

Video-based assessments:
Vizia is a free tool for creating video-based quizzes. It can be used to create a short activity designed to help you determine if your students understand a concept or concepts demonstrated in a video lesson.



EDPuzzle is a neat tool that allows you to add your voice and text questions to educational videos. On EDpuzzle you can search for educational videos and or upload your own videos to use as the basis of your lesson. EDpuzzle has an online classroom component that you can use to assign videos to students and track their progress through your video lessons. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use the main features of EDPuzzle.



TodaysMeet:
TodaysMeet is a free backchannel tool that I've used for years. One of the ways that I've used it is to simply ask my students to respond to a couple of questions that I have posted in the backchannel. I'll also use TodaysMeet rooms to have students ask me questions. You can embed TodaysMeet rooms into your blog or website. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how you can do that. TodaysMeet shut down in June 2018.



Tozzl is a chat platform that allows you to quickly create private, password-protected message boards as well as public boards. To get started visit Tozzl and select "create a new Tozzl." Then you can name your message board and set a privacy password (optional). Tozzl assigns a new, unique URL to each message board. On your message board you can add sections for chat, file sharing, to-do lists, and YouTube videos. You can also import the feed of a Twitter hashtag into your Tozzl boards. A Tozzl demonstration video is available here.

Dotstorming is a neat tool that combines a bit of Padlet with a polling tool. On Dotstorming you can create a space for people to post digital sticky notes. Those notes can contain text and or images. That part of Dotstorming is just like Padlet. What makes Dotstorming different is that once the notes are posted, you can have people vote for their favorite notes. As the creator of a Dotstorming space you can restrict the number of votes that each person can cast. For example, you could say that each person gets two votes and once those votes are cast they're prevented from casting any more votes. After the voting is completed, you can sort the notes according to the number of votes they received. See Dotstorming in action in this video.

Quizalize is a free quiz game platform. Students play your quiz games on their laptops or tablets by going to the Quizalize website then entering their names and a class code. Students are awarded points for correctly answering questions quickly. Students are given feedback instantly on every quiz question that they answer. A total score is presented to students at the end of every quiz. Creating quizzes on Quizalize is a simple process. To get started just name your quiz and tag it with a subject label. As you write each quiz question you can include a picture and up to four answer choices. You can specify a time limit of 5 to 120 seconds for each question. Quizalize offers a marketplace in which you can find quizzes created by other users. Some of the quizzes are free and others are sold for a dollar or two. To be clear, creating and playing your own quizzes is completely free.

GoSoapBox allows you to have your audience respond to questions through their laptops, tablets, and phones. Polls and Discussion in GoSoapBox are the meat and potatoes of the service. The Polls tool allows you to survey your audience by having them select an answer choice in response to a question. The Discussions tool allows you to have audience members reply to open-ended questions. One of the simplest yet effective survey options in GoSoapBox is a tools called a Confusion Meter. The Confusion Meter allows members of your audience to simply say, "yes, I get it" or "no, I don't get it." The Confusion Meter, like all of the GoSoapBox survey tools, can accept anonymous feedback. You can use the Social Q&A tool in GoSoapBox to have students submit their questions to you. Students can see each other's question submissions and vote them up if they want to.

AnswerGarden is a neat service that allows you to embed a open-ended feedback tool into your classroom blog or website. With an AnswerGarden embedded into your blog your students can simply type responses to your question and see their responses appear in a word cloud. Creating an AnswerGarden is a simple process that does not require you to create an account. To get started go to the AnswerGarden homepage and click "create AnswerGarden." On the next screen you will enter a question or statement for your students to respond to. To share your AnswerGarden with students you can give them the link or embed the AnswerGarden into your blog as I have done below. Optionally, before sharing your AnswerGarden you can turn on moderation of responses and set an admin password.

Kahoot is a service for delivering online quizzes and surveys to your students. The premise of Kahoot is similar to that of Socrative and Infuse Learning. On Kahoot you create a quiz or survey that your students respond to through any device that has a web browser. Your Kahoot questions can include pictures and videos. As the teacher you can control the pace of the Kahoot quiz or survey by imposing a time limit for each question. As students answer questions they are awarded points for correct answers and the timeliness of their answers. A scoreboard is displayed on the teacher's screen. Students do not need to have a Kahoot account in order to participate in your activities. To participate they simply have to visit Kahoot.it then enter the PIN code that you give to them to join the activity.

Triventy uses a concept that is similar to Kahoot. To play a Triventy quiz game the teacher projects the game questions at the front of the room and students answer the questions on their mobile devices or laptops. Points are awarded for answering correctly. Bonus points are awarded for answering quickly. Students join the quiz game by going to Triv.in and entering the game pin assigned to your game.

Socrative is the standard to which I compare all new student response systems. Socrative uses cell phones and or laptops (user's choice) for gathering feedback from students. You can post as many questions as you like in a variety of formats. One of the more fun question formats is the "space race" format in which students can work individually or in teams to answer questions as quickly as possible.

Poll Everywhere is a service that allows you to collect responses from an audience via text messaging. The free plan for K-12 educators provides selection of features and quantity of responses that is adequate for almost any classroom. One of the neat ways to display feedback gathered through Poll Everywhere is in word clouds. The word cloud feature integrates with WordleTagxedo, and Tagul.

Quizlet Live allows teachers to select a set of vocabulary words in Quizlet and that set as the basis of a review game that students play in teams. Much like Kahoot and other multiplayer review games controlled by teachers, in Quizlet Live students go to a dedicated webpage (Quizlet.live) then they have to enter a game pin. As soon as your students have entered the correct game pin they will be randomly assigned to teams (teachers can reshuffle teams). The game aspect is that students have to work in teams to sort vocabulary terms to their matching definitions (you can also create vocabulary sets that feature math problems or other questions). Teams earn points by making correct matches quickly, but their progress is reset to zero if they make a mistake so they need to focus on accuracy more than speed.

5 Ways Students Can Earn Money Without Flipping Burgers - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. Here is one from January.

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. 

Three Alternatives to Google Classroom - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. Here is one from January.

Last week I received an email from a reader who was looking for an alternative to Google Classroom. This is not an uncommon request. A couple of times a week I get similar questions from folks who don't have access to Google Classroom. Here are my three recommendations for a free alternative to Google Classroom. This list is ranked by my preference.

Otus is designed to be a complete LMS (learning management system) for teachers. In addition to the gradebook you have options for sharing assignments and delivering quizzes directly to your students' inboxes. Otus provides teachers with a library of instructional resources (videos, texts, interactive review activities) that they can share with their students. Third-party resource providers are integrated into the Otus LMS. A couple of notable third party applications are Khan Academy and OpenEd. OpenEd offers thousands of math and language arts practice assessments aligned to Common Core standards. Otus is free for individual teachers to use. Otus can also be purchased for district-wide implementation which includes additional reporting tools for administrators.



Kiddom is a free service that enables teachers to create online classroom spaces. In Kiddom you can create and manage multiple classrooms. In those classrooms you can distribute assignments to students to complete and return to you. One of the things that Kiddom offers to try to make itself stand out is an integrated search for assignment materials. For example, fourth grade teachers can search for mathematics assignments that are aligned to standards of their choosing. When a material is found teachers can then assign it to their students as a homework assignment, as a quiz, or as a long-term assignment. Teachers can also create assignments from scratch by uploading materials and or importing them them Google Drive. Read my full review of Kiddom here.

Edmodo, in a nutshell, is a system designed specifically for teachers and students to share announcements, assignments, and handouts. Edmodo allows teachers to create a group specifically for their students and exclude those not invited to the group. Edmodo provides teachers with a place to post assignment reminders, build an event calendar, and post messages to the group. Just as with any good microblogging service users can share links, videos, and images. One of the most popular posts ever published on this blog outlined 15 things you can do with Edmodo.

Track Progress Toward Goals With This Google Sheets Template - Best of 2017

As I do during this week every year, I am taking some time off to relax and prepare for the new year. Every day this week I will be featuring the most popular blog posts of the year. Here is one from January.

This morning I received an email from a subscriber to the Practical Ed Tech newsletter. She had read my tip of the week about using Google Keep to set goal reminders, but she needed something that would be easier to manage with a large group of students. My suggestion was to try Flippity's Progress Indicator template for Google Sheets. The template makes it easy to create a progress chart that will update whenever you update the data in your spreadsheet. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of how to use Flippity's Progress Indicator template.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Three FAQs from New Google Slides Users

I have hosted hundreds of G Suite webinars and workshops over the last eight years. In that time there have been some questions that I learned to address early on because people always ask them. Here are three questions that I frequently hear from new Google Slides users. Learn more about Google Slides in my on-demand course, G Suite for Teachers.

1. What if I want a copy of the slides in case the internet connection in my classroom isn't working?
There are two solutions to this problem. First, you can download your slides as a PowerPoint file. To do that simply select "download as" then select "Microsoft PowerPoint" from the "File" drop-down menu while viewing your Google Slides. 

The other option for accessing your slides without an internet connection is to enable offline access for your Google Drive account on your computer. To enable offline access, open the gear icon in the upper-right corner of your Google Drive dashboard. Then select "settings" and check the "Offline" option. (Please note that it enabling offline access is not recommended on a shared computer). 

2. Can I insert videos that are not on YouTube?
Until earlier this year you could only use videos that were hosted on YouTube. In February of 2017 that changed when Google started to let you insert videos from your Google Drive account without using YouTube.  


3. How do I add transitions/ animations to my slides?
This is the question about Google Slides that I am asked more than any question. There are two ways to add transitions between slides. First you can simply right-click on a slide in the the slide navigator on the left side of your screen. When you right-click on a slide you will see a menu appear. In that menu there is an option to "change transition." Selecting "change transition" will open a new menu to the right of your slides. That menu will let you choose a transition to apply to your slides. The other way to open the transitions menu is to select "transition" from the menu of options appearing across the top of  your slide editor. 

The animation options appear in the same menu as transitions. Open the transitions menu the click on an object in your slides to animate it. Once you have selected an object on a slide you will see a menu of animation options appear on the right side of your slide.