Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Best of Free Technology for Teachers in January

Sunset over Casco Bay.
Good evening from Maine where the sun is setting on the first month of 2017. It has been a busy month here at the Byrne Instructional Media, LLC World Headquarters. Besides the usual blogging activities that you see here, I hosted a series of Wednesday afternoon webinars, taught a course, spoke at a conference, and made arrangements for this summer's Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps. And, of course, I tried to answer your email requests for ed tech help. You can always email me at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com

As I do at this time every month, I have compiled a list of the month's most popular posts.

Here are the most popular posts from January, 2017:
1. New Google Classroom Features Focus on Individual Instruction
2. Two Tools That Help Students Analyze Writing
3. Three Alternatives to Google Classroom
4. Practical Ed Tech Handbook - Best of 2016
5. Track Progress Toward Goals With This Google Sheets Template
6. Quick Rubric Offers an Easy Way to Create Rubrics Online
7. Tips for Accessing Sites Blocked by Your School
8. Students Can Build and Launch Virtual Rockets on Rocket Science 101 from NASA
9. A Cute Video About Email Etiquette for Students - Best of 2016
10. Storyboard That Offers Lesson Plans for Every Month

Do you need a workshop or keynote speaker this spring or summer? 
My calendar is filling up, but I still have some dates available. Click here to learn more about workshops and presentations.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
Math Playground offers hundreds of math games and tutorial videos. 
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosts workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explainer videos.

Access All Google Drive Templates From One Place

Using Google Documents, Sheets, Slides, and Forms templates can save you time when you need to create something that many other teachers also need. For example, rather than creating a certificate from scratch, you might use and modify the template that someone else used. For the last couple of years when you went to the Google Docs, Forms, Sheets, or Slides homepages you would see the template options. Yesterday, Google announced that you can now access those same templates within Google Drive.

To create from a template in Google Drive just select "new" in your Google Drive dashboard then choose the type of file you want to create. Then, rather than just choosing a new file choose "from template."

How Not To...

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

It can be work getting students (and ourselves, truth be told) to remember what we should do. Getting our charges to make a video explaining what to do can be helpful, but there's arguably an even better way: have them make a video about what not to do.

How to Fail a Speech

As this video shows, explaining the wrong thing to do can be a lot of fun. Additionally, a student who does something that everyone worked to explain shouldn't be done runs the risk of some good-natured ridicule.

If your students create some great how-not-to videos, we'd like to see them for possible inclusion in the NextVista.org library, so please share!

WriteReader Presents the Most Popular Topics Amongst Student Authors

WriteReader is a great multimedia writing tool for elementary school students and their teachers. On WriteReader students can create multimedia ebooks independently or with the assistance of their teachers. Teachers can log-in and see what their students have written. Teachers can make suggestions and corrections to what their students have written in WriteReader. Teachers' suggestions and corrections appear in a space just below what their students originally wrote.

Recently, WriteReader published a list of the most popular topics amongst the student authors using the WriteReader platform. Three of the ten most popular topics were animals, Minecraft, and food. See the whole list here.

Applications for Education
WriteReader makes it easy to get started creating multimedia books with your students. You can create a classroom account for free on the site. Your students don't need to have email addresses in order to use the service. And if you are in a school that uses Google Classroom, you can use those rosters to create classrooms within WriteReader.

If you're struggling to come up with topics for your students to write about, consult WriteReader's list of the most popular topics amongst student writers. WriteReader also offers a set of free writing lesson plans that will provide you with activities for six weeks.

Disclosure: WriteReader is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com