Google
 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Why Do We Itch? - A Science Lesson

Summer here in northern New England brings long and sunny days that make us forget about the short and frigid days of winter. Those sunny days come with a catch. That catch is blooming poison ivy and biting insects that make us itch. But what really makes us itch? Is there any way to avoid itching? And how can you make those itchy feelings go away? Those questions and more are answered in the video Why Do We Itch? recently released by It's Okay To Be Smart.


Applications for Education
We've all heard of various home remedies for itchy skin and your students probably have too. Before watching this video have students share some of those home remedies. Then have them watch the video and see if the science matches what their home remedies are supposed to do.

Reminder - The End is Near for TodaysMeet

In case you missed the news at the end of April, one of my all-time favorite services is shutting down on June 16th. On that day TodaysMeet will go offline. For almost a decade TodaysMeet was the go-to tool for teachers who wanted to create a backchannel discussion forum for their students. I used in my classroom, in classrooms that I visited, and in conference settings. On June 16th I and everyone else who enjoyed TodaysMeet will have to find an alternative. These are the alternatives that I like:

Tozzl
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.



Backchannel Chat
This is a service that provides exactly what its name implies. On Backchannel Chat you can create a free backchannel room (AKA chat room) in which you can post comments and questions for your students to respond to. Your students can respond in realtime. Students can ask you and their classmates questions within the confines of your Backchannel Chat room. The free version of Backchannel Chat limits you to 30 participants at a time.

GoSoapBox
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.

Forms, Videos, and VR - The Month in Review

Good evening from Maine where the sun has just set on the month of May. It was a busy month for me as I worked on developing a new course that will be available through the Teaching Channel later this summer. I also hosted a few webinars and conducted some on-site workshops in May. June is going to be even busier as I have more on-site workshops and more webinars planned. As always, if you're interested in having me come to your school, please get in touch.

As I do at the end of every month, I have assembled a list of the posts that received the most views during the month.

These were the most popular posts in May:
1. Six New Features Coming to Google Forms
2. Create a Video Lesson Completely In PowerPoint
3. Twelve Tools for Building End-of-year Review Activities (That Aren't Kahoot Games)
4. Animaker Edify - Easily Create Animated Videos In an Online Classroom
5. Using Google Forms to Track Professional Development
6. Five Options for Creating Animated Videos on Your Chromebook
7. Nine Fun and Challenging Geography Games
8. Changes Coming to the Google Drive User Interface - Web Version
9. TED-Ed Lessons About Every Element on the Periodic Table
10. How to Use Google's New VR Tour Creator

Bring Me to Your School
I have three openings left in my summer schedule for on-site professional development workshops. I can provide professional development workshops on G Suite for Education, Teaching History With Technology, and many other topicsClick here to learn more or send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to book me today.

Book me for a G Suite for Education workshop and in addition to my on-site training your whole school gets access to my online 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. Send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com 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.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
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.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Try These Google Forms Options to Organize Responses

I love using Google Forms to collect information from students and or their parents. Forms are rather easy to create and share. But if you have a large group responding to the questions on your Form, you will need to take some steps to try to keep all of those responses organized a bit better than what the default Google Forms settings provide. Here are three things that I recommend doing to try to keep those responses organized.

Form Limiter
Form Limiter is an Add-on that lets you automatically stop accepting responses at a specified time or when you have reached a specified maximum number of responses. This Add-on is excellent when you need to cap the responses you need for a volunteer activity. Obviously, it's also good for imposing a time limit on your students to complete an assessment in Google Forms.

Form Publisher
Google Forms on its own will create a spreadsheet of response submissions. The Form Publisher Add-on will let you create a Google Document of responses instead of or in addition to a spreadsheet.


Go To Section Based on Answer
This isn't an Add-on, it's a feature that is built into multiple choice questions in Google Forms. I used this feature a lot when I taught multiple sections of the same course and I wanted to direct students to answer a set of questions based on which section they were in. I would make the first question in the form, "what period of the day do you have my class?" and then based on that response students would be directed to a different section of the Form.

I'll be teaching how to use these Google Forms features and more during Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners Thursday at 4pm ET. Click here to register. 

Kaizena Now Offers Rubrics to Go With Voice Comments on Google Docs

Earlier this year Kaizena released an updated Google Docs Add-on that streamlined the way that you can add voice comments to your students' Google Documents. The Add-on lets you simply highlight a word or a sentence in a document and then record a voice comment about that highlighted word or sentence. Voice comments can be used in conjunction with text comments.

If you find yourself frequently writing the same comment or type of comment in your students' documents then you will want to utilize the canned comments that are available through Kaizena. And now you can also use rubrics in Kaizena.

Today, Kaizena announced the launch of a rubrics feature to go along with their existing voice and text comment tools. Unfortunately, you cannot import a rubric that you have created outside of Kaizena to use in Kaizena. You have to create the rubric within Kaizena by selecting "skills" comments that you write and then grouping them into rubric components. Honestly, I think that the process of creating rubrics within Kaizena is a but cumbersome until you've done it a few times. But you can judge that yourself after you look through the directions here.

I like Kaizena for its voice commenting component. The canned text comments and the rubric components are nice, but you can do those things with other tools that are a little easier to use for those purposes. JoeZoo Express (Google Docs Add-on) and Online Rubric (Google Sheets Add-on) are the tool that come to mind for canned comments and rubrics.

Learn more about Google Docs and Google Docs Add-ons in my online course, G Suite for Teachers

Google Expeditions Updated With New Augmented Reality Content

Since its launch Google's Expeditions app has been a hit in many schools. What started out as a somewhat canned teacher-led virtual reality experience has morphed into a tool that students can use to explore and discover new things on their own. Last summer Google added the option for students to explore the VR expeditions on their own. Today, Google released a new feature that students can use. That feature is new augmented reality tours.

Like any augmented reality app, the new AR content in Google Expeditions lets students view and manipulate digital content in a physical world context. The new AR content can be used as components in science, math, geography, history, and art lessons. Some examples of the more than 100 AR tours that you'll now find in the app include landforms, the skeletal system, dinosaurs, ancient Egypt, the brain, and the Space Race. And as a good Mainer my favorite of the new AR tours is about lobsters.

To use the AR content available through Google Expeditions you will need to print marker or trigger sheets that students scan with their phones or tablets. Once scanned the AR imagery appears on the screen. (You can actually preview some of the imagery without scanning a marker, but the imagery will not be interactive or 3D). Students don't need to look through a Cardboard viewer in order to see the AR imagery.

You can get the Google Expeditions Android app here and the iOS version here. If you already have the apps installed, just run an update to get the new AR content.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Three Google Sheets Add-ons That Can Help You Get Things Done

Google Sheets has a lot of features baked into that can help you organize things and get things done efficiently. Start exploring the Add-ons for Google Sheets and you will find even more ways to get things done efficiently. These are my go-to Add-ons for Google Sheets.

Online Rubric
This free Google Sheets Add-on makes it easy to create a rubric. This Add-on does more than just format your Google Sheet into a rubric template. With Online Rubric you can enter scores, write comments for your students, and email your students directly from the Sheet. When you send an email from the Sheet your students receive a copy of their scores, your comments, and the descriptors from the rubric.

Add Reminders
With Add Reminders installed in your Google Sheets you can schedule reminder emails to be sent to your students, their parents, to colleagues, or to your employees. To use this Add-on just fill in the template with email addresses, recipient names, the tasks they need to be reminded of, and the due dates for the tasks.

Lab Scheduler
If you're the person in charge of scheduling conference room, computer lab, library, or science lab use, Lab Scheduler is the Add-on for you. This little Add-on will give your Google Sheet an easy-to-follow template for coordinating room use without the need to make a zillion entries in a Google Calendar. Share the Sheet with your staff as view-only so they can see who has reserved a lab.

Learn more about how to use Google Sheets and Google Sheets Add-ons during my Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners webinar on Thursday. 

New Common Craft Video - Digital Footprints Explained

As adults we know that everything we do online is a part of our digital footprints. Even those things that you post on your "private" Facebook or Instagram account are public because they're just a screenshot away from being shared outside of your private circle. This is a lesson that every student should learn without having to learn it the hard way. That's where Common Craft's new video could be helpful.

Digital Footprint Explained is Common Craft's latest video. The three minute video teaches viewers how they make digital footprints as soon as they go online, how digital footprints are tracked by organizations, and how to reduce the risks associated with leaving digital footprints.


Applications for Education
You and I know both know that teenagers watching this video might say something like "yeah, but if you do X, no one can track you." This video should help them understand that even those things can be tracked by law enforcement.

In related news, Common Craft is giving away three free pro accounts at the end of the month. All you have to do is be a teacher or librarian and complete the entry form here.

Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft.

SpeakPipe Has New Customization Options

SpeakPipe is a great little service that lets you collect voice messages from visitors to your blog. I used it for many years on a classroom blog so that parents could leave voice messages by just clicking the "send a message" button on my blog. I could then either listen to the message or read a transcript of the message. Last fall SpeakPipe added support for iPad users. This morning I got an email from them announcing some more updates.

The latest updates to SpeakPipe give you options to customize the color scheme and welcome message displayed to your blog's visitors. In addition to the appearance update there were updates made to SpeakPipe to help ensure that your visitor's messages reach you. Now when visitors record a message they will be notified if the message didn't record correctly and in that case they will be prompted to record again.

inkleWriter is Shutting Down - Try These Alternatives for Writing CYA Fiction

For years inkleWriter has been one of my go-to recommendations for tools to create choose-your-adventure stories. Unfortunately, this morning as I was planning a workshop, I noticed an announcement on inkleWriter's homepage about their forthcoming shutdown. So if you find yourself looking for an alternative to inkleWriter, give the following two options a try.

Twine
This is my new first choice for writing choose-your-own adventure fiction. Twine is an open-source program for writing choose your own adventure stories. You can use Twine online or you can download the software for Mac or Windows. To write a choose your own adventure story with Twine online start by giving your story a title. After titling your story you will be taken to a grid canvas on which you can write short passages in a series of sticky notes. Each sticky note should be given its own title. To link elements of your stories you place brackets around the title of note within a note. Each note can be linked to two or more other notes in your story. When your story is complete you can read through it and click through it in your browser.

If you use Twine online there are a couple of things to be aware of before you start. First, there is not a log-in or registration option. Your work is saved in your browser. To save your work permanently, click the archive icon to download a Twine file. Your Twine file can be opened later in your web browser where you can edit it further or simply read through your story. Second, to share Twine stories you will have to email the file to the person you want to read your story.

Playfic
Playfic is a tool for creating text-based, choose your own adventure stories. Playfic is based on Inform7 which uses "if, then" logic to allow anyone to create their stories. When authors plan and write their stories they can include multiple paths for readers to pursue as they progress through their stories. Readers navigate through the stories by entering directional commands such as "go north" and "go south." Click here to try a sample story and learn a bit about the logic of Playfic. The aspect of Playfic that I like best is that while writing their stories students can click on a preview. If students have errors in the logic of their stories, when they click on the preview Playfic will point those out with an explanation of the errors.

A word of caution about Playfic: there is a public gallery of stories that students can access from the Playfic homepage. For that reason, I would only consider using Playfic with students of high school age or older.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Using Google Forms to Track Professional Development

Last week I had the pleasure of working with teachers at Sigsbee Charter School. In doing so I gained a good idea from their librarian and technology specialist, Jay Schwermer. Jay is using a Google Form with the Certify'em Add-on installed to issue certificates to teachers when they develop skills by completing tasks in a professional development workshop. For example, last week teachers completed a form after they built a Google Site that met defined requirements. They then received a certificate if they answered all of the questions on the form including a couple of quiz questions.

Certify'em is a Google Forms Add-on that makes it possible for you to issue automatically issue certificates to people who successfully complete your Google Form. When you enable Certify'em on a Form it will populate a couple of required fields in your Form and ask you to specify a minimum passing score. Complete those fields then write your quiz and set an answer key just as you would for any other quiz that you build in Google Forms. When students complete the quiz they will automatically receive PDF certificates in their email inboxes if they have passed the quiz. (If you want to use Certify'em to issue certificates without making people complete a quiz, just set one easy question as the only scored question).

Learn more about Google Forms, Certify'em, and other Google Forms Add-ons on Thursday during my Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners webinar. You can get a PD certificate for attending. 

WriteReader Is Now Available In Spanish

WriteReader is a fantastic tool for elementary school students to use to create multimedia ebooks. I have been impressed by it since the first time I gave it a try a few years ago. WriteReader provides students with a place to write stories that include pictures and their own voices. On each page of their stories students can record themselves reading their written words. Teachers can give students feedback by writing corrections directly under the words in their ebooks. A longer overview of WriteReader can be read here or watched here.

Today, the WriteReader team announced that their service now includes support for Spanish.

How to Embed PowerPoint Presentations Into Your Blog or Google Site

Last week I published a post about including slideshows in your blog or website. More than a few of you wrote to me with questions about the directions for embedding PowerPoint into your Edublogs blogs and one of you emailed me asking for help with Google Sites. To answer those questions I recorded the following short video. The important thing to remember is that you must upload your PowerPoint presentation to OneDrive in order for any of this to work.


Applications for Education
Embedding a PowerPoint presentation into a Google Site is a good option for students who want to include one of their presentations in a digital portfolio. Teachers who want to create resource pages for their students would also do well to put their slides into pages on Google Sites.

Including a slideshow in a blog post is a good way to show a collection of pictures without forcing visitors to scroll down long pages of pictures. This is a good thing to do at the end of the year when you might be building slideshows for end-of-the-year events.

Purpose Games - Create and Play Educational Games

Purpose Games is a free service for creating and or playing simple educational games. The service currently gives users the ability to create seven types of games. Those game types are image quizzes, text quizzes, matching games, fill-in-the-blank games, multiple choice games, shape games, and slide games.

Text quizzes, matching games, fill-in-the-blank, and multiple choice games are all rather self-explanatory. The other games require a little bit of explanation. Image quizzes made on Purpose Games are activities in which players click on an image to identify the answer to a question. As the game creator you add small dots to an image to provide answer choices. The shape games on Purpose Games are similar to image quizzes with the difference being that you can use a freehand drawing tool to identify parts of an image. That's how this map game was made. Slide games is a new, still in beta, game style on Purpose Games. In slide games multiple questions in slide format rather than all questions appearing on one screen.

Applications for Education
Purpose Games has been around for years. In fact, I first started using it with my students ten years ago. I bring that up to say that while it might not be the fanciest looking site, it has staying power. I used it with my freshmen world geography students as a way to, you guessed it, review countries and their capitals. I used the "playlist" function on Purpose Games to put together lists of games to share with my students. Sharing a link to a playlist is a better way of getting your students to a set of games than just telling them to find game X or game Y in the massive library of Purpose Games.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Five Options for Creating Animated Videos on Your Chromebook

Creating animated videos can be a great way for students to explain a science concept, to tell a history story, or to bring to life short stories they've written. One of last week's most popular posts was about how to do those things on an iPad. Chromebook users have some good tools available to them too.

Option 1: Toontastic 3D
If you have a Chromebook that supports the use of Android apps, Toontastic 3D is a tool you must try. On Toontastic 3D students can pick from a variety of story setting templates or they can create their own. 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. Check this list to see if your Chromebook supports the use of Android apps.

Option 2: Animaker Edify
Animaker Edify is the classroom version of the popular Animaker animation creation tool. To create a video on Animaker Edify students start by selecting “video” from the menu of project options. Then they can choose to make a video by following a template or by building from scratch. Creating a video in Animaker Edify is done on a frame-by-frame basis. Each frame can be designed by dragging and dropping individual characters, speech bubbles, background scenes, and clip art into the scene. Animaker Edify provides tools for animating each character. For example, you can make a character appear to be running across the screen, walking, or talking. You can build as many characters and animation actions into each scene as you need. Once you have built the frames for your video you can add sound effects, music, or narration. Animake Edify provides a large gallery of royalty-free music and sound effects that you can use. But you can also record your own voice by using the built-in voice-over capability.

Option 3: PowToon
Creating a video on PowToon is similar to making one on Animaker Edify. It has been a popular platform for creating animated videos for many years. In PowToon students create animated videos on a scene-by-scene basis through a series of slides. Students can choose background scenes, characters, and scene objects from a huge media gallery. After configuring the scenes of their stories, students can record voiceovers or play music in the background.

Option 4: Animatron
Animatron is a nice tool for creating animated videos and images. To create a video on Animatron you start by dragging and dropping characters on a background scene and then choosing how long each character will be displayed in a scene. You can also set the length of time for each character in a scene to be in motion. By using Animatron's timeline editor you can make objects appear and disappear from a scene. The best feature of Animatron is that you can record audio directly over the animation. The built-in recording tools lets you see the scene while you're recording so that you can precisely synchronize each scene with its audio track.

Option 5: MySimpleShow
MySimpleshow is a free tool for creating Common Craft-style explanatory videos. MySimpleshow requires you to write a script for your video before you can start adding illustrations and sounds to it. In MySimpleshow you will find a wide variety of script templates that will help you plan your video. The script is written in chapters that become the outline for your video. After you have written your script MySimpleshow will take your chapters and give you suggested images and animations to use. The suggestions are based on the keywords in your script. You also have the option to upload your own visuals to use in your video. Adding narration to your video is the last step in the MySimpleshow editor. There is an automated text-to-speech narration that will read your script as narration for your video. Completed videos can be downloaded and or directly uploaded to YouTube from MySimpleshow.

Disclosure: Animaker and Mysimpleshow have been advertisers on this blog at various times. 

A Timeline JS Timeline of Wall Street

Timeline JS is one of my favorite tools for social studies teachers and students. It's one of six excellent storytelling tools produced by Knight Lab at Northwestern University. Timeline JS lets anyone create a multimedia timeline by entering data into a Google Sheets template. It's used by teachers, by students, and by media companies like CNN, Time, and WGBH. In fact, WGBH used it to produce this history of Wall Street timeline.

The History of Wall Street is a concise timeline of the origin of Wall Street and its role in American banking and politics. By scrolling through the timeline students will pick up little bits of information that may help them connect the past to the present. For example, a point on the timeline features Charles Dow's development of what is now known as the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The History of Wall Street timeline was developed as a supplement to the American Experience film The Bombing of Wall Street. The film is about the 1920 bombing in front the Morgan Bank.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Geography, Portfolios, and Programming - The Week in Review

Good evening from Maine where I'm home after spending a few days in Key West, Florida where I had the privilege to work with some energetic teachers at Sigsbee Charter School. The trip laid the groundwork for some exciting work we're going to do in the fall.

As much as I enjoy traveling and working with teachers in schools all over the country, it's always great to come home to my toddler running up to hug me.

My posting schedule got a little off this week. I'll be back to four posts a day starting on Monday. In the meantime, take a look at this week's most popular posts.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Nine Fun and Challenging Geography Games
2. ClassDojo Introduces a New Digital Portfolio Option
3. Three Free iPad Apps for Creating Animated Movies
4. Animaker Edify - Easily Create Animated Videos In an Online Classroom
5. Math Playground - Hundreds of Math Games & Instructional Videos
6. An Interactive Story Building Lesson
7. Three Ways to Develop Programming Skills This Summer

Bring Me to Your School
I have three openings left in my summer schedule for on-site professional development workshops. I can provide professional development workshops on G Suite for Education, Teaching History With Technology, and many other topicsClick here to learn more or send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to book me today.

Book me for a G Suite for Education workshop and in addition to my on-site training your whole school gets access to my online 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. Send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com 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.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
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.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Turn CSV Files Into Heat Maps

Heat Map Tool is a tool for easily creating heat maps or incident maps from a CSV file. To create a heat map all you need to do is upload a CSV file then specify your desired display attributes like scale, colors, and opacity. You can edit the display attributes of your map whenever you like. If you're wondering how to create a CSV file you can do so by exporting from a spreadsheet in Google Documents or exporting from an Excel file. Click here for directions on exporting from Excel. The free version of Heat Map Tool allows you to have up to 100 data points on your map and up to 500 hits per day on your map.

Applications for Education
Heat Map Tool could be a good tool for students to use to create visualizations of geography-related data that they collect. Students could gather and display data about people's habit in their community or throughout the world. For example, you could have students gather data about dialects and display that information on a map.

Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners - Practical Ed Tech Webinar Next Week

From creating and scoring meaningful formative assessments to organizing school events, Google Forms and Google Sheets are powerful tools to help you get things done. But you need to know where to start. That's why next Thursday at 4pm Eastern Time I'm hosting a webinar designed to help you learn how to use and get the most out of Google Forms and Sheets in your classroom.

If you’ve ever read about or seen a neat use of Google Forms or Google Sheets and thought, “I want to do that,” Google Forms and Sheets for Beginners is for you.

When you attend you’ll learn:

  • How to create multimedia formative assessments in Google Forms.
  • The common mistakes made by new users and how to avoid them.
  • How to use Google Sheets to make rubrics and deliver feedback to students.
  • Methods for using Google Forms and Sheets to organize school events like field trips, PTA meetings, and extracurricular club meetings.
  • How you and your students can use Google Forms and Sheets to gather, organize, and visualize information.

You should register if:

  • You’re new to using Google Forms and Google Sheets.
  • It has been a while since you last used Google Forms or Google Sheets.
    • Have you tried all the new features added in the last six months?
(It will be recorded for those who register but cannot attend the live presentation)

Discover Primary Sources by Browsing the World Digital Library Maps

The World Digital Library hosts more than 19,000 primary documents and images from dozens of libraries around the world. Hosted by the Library of Congress and sponsored in part by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the mission of the World Digital Library is to promote the study and understanding of cultures.

The WDL can be searched by date, era, country, continent, topic, and type of resource. But my favorite way to explore the WDL is by browsing through the interactive maps that are available when you click on the globe icon in the site's header. The WDL aims to be accessible to as many people as possible by providing search tools and content descriptions in multiple languages.

Applications for Education
The World Digital Library can be a great resource for anyone that teaches history and or cultural studies. The wealth of image based resources along with the document based resources makes the WDL appropriate for use with most age groups. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

How to Include a Flickr Slideshow in Google Sites

This afternoon I spent time working with teachers to develop new websites through Google Sites. One of the things that many wanted to include was a slideshow of pictures from classroom activities and field trip activities. One way to do this is to embed a Google Slides presentation into a page. Another way is to embed a Flickr album into a page. The embedded album will be displayed as a slideshow.

How to embed a Flickr album into Google Sites:

  1. In your Flickr account select "albums."
  2. Choose the album that you want to display. 
  3. Select "share album."
  4. Choose "embed" and copy the provided code. 
  5. In Google Sites select "embed" from the "Insert" menu. Paste the embed code copied from Flickr. 

How to Embed Your Slideshows Into Your Blog

Yesterday's post about Speaker Deck prompted a few readers to ask me about other options for embedding slideshows into blog posts. The options are different depending upon which slideshow tool you like to use. Therefore, I'm sharing methods for embedding slideshows made with the three most popular presentation tools.

Google Slides
Follow these steps to embed a Google Slides presentation into a blog post:
  1. In the Google Slides editor select "publish to the web" from the "File" drop-down menu. 
  2. Select "embed" then choose a display size. 
  3. Click "Publish" then copy the provided embed code. 
  4. Paste the embed code into your blog post as HTML (don't use "compose" mode in Blogger or "Visual" in WordPress/ EduBlogs). 

PowerPoint
To embed a PowerPoint presentation into your blog follow these steps:
  1. Your PPT file must be stored in OneDrive. 
  2. Open your PPT from OneDrive in PowerPoint online. 
  3. In the upper, right corner of the presentation open the menu for additional options then choose "embed."
  4. Choose the display size that you want to use then copy the provided embed code. 
Keynote
Keynote doesn't provide an embed code the way that Google Slides or the online version of PowerPoint does. That said, you can try following these directions to embed a Keynote presentation into your blog. This method will not work with all blogging platforms. If it doesn't work for you, you can export your Keynote to PowerPoint format and upload to SlideShare which will provide an embed code. Or you can export your Keynote to PDF and then upload it to Speaker Deck

Where Is That Summer Paycheck Going? - A Lesson for High School Students

Summer is near and for many high school students that means it's time to start working at summer jobs. For many students the first real paycheck that they receive comes with a surprise in the form of tax withholding. PBS Learning Media has a free lesson plan through which students learn about reasons for taxes being withheld from paychecks, where the withholdings go, and why some people have more or less withheld than others.

In addition to helping students understand taxes withheld from paychecks Taxes - Where Does Your Money Go? introduces students to concepts related to saving for retirements. To that end, the lesson plan includes a video about how a self-employed person handles budgeting for taxes and retirement.

Applications for Education
I'm self-employed and sometimes I'm still surprised by how much is withheld from my paycheck so I have no doubt that many students are surprised by the same. This free lesson plan could help you help your students be a little less surprised when they look at their paychecks from their part-time jobs. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

An Interactive Story Building Lesson

Word Tamer is a site for learning the process of developing characters, settings, and plots. Word Tamer is set up as an interactive journey through a carnival of literary devices. As students move through the carnival they develop characters, develop a setting, and develop a plot for their stories. At each stop in the Word Tamer carnival students can print out the words they have written. Along the way there are videos to help students understand the roles of characters, settings, and plot development in crafting a good story.

Applications for Education
I first learned about Word Tamer many years ago from Kristen Swanson. Kristen recommended Word Tamer because she thought that the narration and graphics make the site UDL-friendly. I think that Word Tamer has potential to get reluctant writers started on their way to crafting creative stories.

Google Offers a Sites Conversion Tool - Domain Admins Take Note

Whether you like it or not, Google is slowly pushing everyone who uses the old version of Google Sites into the new version. For some people this is a source of great stress and for others it's not a big deal at all. If you're a G Suite for Education domain administrator you've probably fielded a few questions about how to make the switch from the old version to the new version of Google Sites. Today, Google announced a new option for G Suite domain administrators to preview a conversion tool for Google Sites.

What today's announcement really means is that the conversion tool that has been available to some current users of classic Google Sites through Gmail accounts will become available to Google Sites users within G Suite domains. According to today's announcement the Google Sites conversion tool within G Suite domains will be available starting this week and will roll out to end users by June 19th. It's important to note that not all sites will be eligible for conversion immediately.

Those who are not using G Suite for Education, but are using Google Sites through a consumer Gmail account can convert their sites now. Watch the video that I published last month to learn how to make the conversion from the old version to the new version of Google Sites.


Learn more about Google Sites and all things G Suite in my online course G Suite for Teachers.

Speaker Deck - A Simple Way to Share Your Slides

Google Slides, PowerPoint, and Keynote all have options for embedding your slideshows into a blog post or other webpage. But there are other methods for including your slideshow in a blog post or webpage. One of those options is Speaker Deck.

Speaker Deck is a free service that you can use to host and share copies of your slides. Before you get too excited about Speaker Deck, bear in mind that it only supports embedding PDFs. The shining feature of Speaker Deck is that it will automatically re-size your PDF to fit each slide in the display that your blog visitors are using. In other words, someone viewing your slides on a phone will have the same experience as someone viewing your slides on a 15" laptop display.


To use the service you do need to create a free account. Once you have created an account you can start uploading your presentations. As mentioned above, your presentation must be in PDF format. Because Speaker Deck only supports PDFs your presentation won't play any videos, audio files, or animations.

Applications for Education
Speaker Deck is a bare-bones service, but it is easy to use and could be useful for sharing presentations that are image and text heavy. For schools that don't use Google Slides or the online version of PowerPoint, Speaker Deck provides a simple solution for publishing presentations.

ClassDojo Introduces a New Digital Portfolio Option

For the last couple of years ClassDojo has offered a digital portfolio feature called Student Stories. This summer ClassDojo is introducing a new portfolio option called simply ClassDojo Portfolios.

The new ClassDojo Portfolios will be student-led portfolios. Students will choose the items that they want to include in their portfolios. They can include pictures, documents, videos, notes, and drawings in their portfolios. Just like in the current Student Stories teachers will have to approve all submissions before they are shared. Parents will be able to see only the work of their children and not of other children in the class. And parents will be able to see the portfolio from the same ClassDojo app that they already use to stay informed about how their children are doing in your classroom.

ClassDojo Portfolios will be available to use on iPads and Android tablets. Students will be able to log-in without a username and password. Students scan a QR instead of using usernames and passwords.

The new ClassDojo Portfolios will be available in July. You can learn more and register for early access here.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Three Ways to Develop Programming Skills This Summer

Summer is almost here and it's a great time to learn a new skill that you can bring into your classroom next fall. One of the skills that seems to be mentioned in almost every education periodical these days is programming or coding. Learning to program isn't as difficult as you might think that is. Each of the following services make it relatively easy to learn to program your own apps. As you learn to program your own app, you'll start to see how your students can do the same and use those skills in your classroom next fall.

MIT App Inventor
Want to create a fully functional Android app? If so, the MIT App Inventor is the place to start. The MIT App Inventor works in your web browser (Chrome is recommended). The only download that is required for App Inventor 2 is the optional emulator. The emulator allows people who don't have Android devices to text their apps on their desktops. If you have an Android device then the emulator is not required and you don't need to worry about installing it. MIT provides excellent support documentation and curriculum for classroom use for new users of App Inventor. Tutorials are available as videos and as written PDFs. A couple of the videos are embedded below.




Metaverse - DIY Augmented Reality Apps
Metaverse launched last summer and became an almost hit with teachers. Through the Metaverse Studio anyone can program an augmented reality app without having any prior coding or programming knowledge. You construct your app in the Metaverse Studio by dragging and dropping media and logic blocks into a sequence. Metaverse Studio has been used by teachers to create digital Breakout games, to create language arts games, and to create local history tours.



Scratch
I couldn't write a blog post about learning to program without mentioning Scratch and ScratchJr. Scratch is a free program designed to introduce users to programming concepts. Through Scratch you can create animations, games, and videos. Students program in Scratch through a process of dragging and dropping blocks into sequences. Each block represents a command. Users test their programs right in their web browsers and instantly know if the program works or doesn't work.

There are many places to find Scratch tutorials, but the best place to start is on the Scratch for Educators site. There you will find many tutorials, activity guides, and a curriculum guide. The ScratchEd community is the place to go for inspiration from other teachers who are using Scratch in their classrooms. For example, in ScratchEd you might find something like this Google Doc filled with ideas for using Scratch in elementary school mathematics lessons.

A Quick Google Docs Formatting Tip

Google Docs has lots of handy features that are "hidden" in plain sight. Many of those features address common formatting needs. For example, in the far right edge of the editor menu there is a function to clear all formatting. This is a handy function to use after copying and pasting from a Word document or even from a shared Google Document whose formatting doesn't fit with what you want. Watch my short video embedded below to how you can quickly clear the formatting of a Google Document.


And if you have ever wanted to change the default font in your Google Docs, watch this tutorial that I published a few months ago.



Please note that changes to default fonts may not take place immediately. Some readers have reported having to log-out, clear cache, and try again in order to make the font changes stick.

Learn more about all things G Suite in my online course, G Suite for Teachers.

Three Ways to Keep Track of Students' Blog Entries

One of the questions that I often field during my workshop on blogging is, "how do you keep track of what students are writing?" The answer to that depends on a few things including how frequently your students are publishing and the platform through which your students are blogging.

Option 1:
If you are using Edublogs, there is a section in your dashboard called My Class. Within the My Class section you can see a list of your students' individual blogs. There is also a section in your dashboard called Users. Within the Users section you can see each students' account and how many posts they've made. Also in the Users section you will find the option to run reports to find out which users have recently published on your classroom blog.

Option 2:
The strategy that I used for years was to have students enter their names and links to their most recent posts into a Google Form. All of their submissions will appear in a tidy spreadsheet. In that spreadsheet I can see a timestamp, name, and the link to go directly to a student's most recent post. I can also add a column in the spreadsheet for noting whether or not I have given them feedback.

Option 3:
I use Feedly to subscribe to my favorite blogs. If your students are maintaining individual blogs, you could create a free Feedly account and then subscribe to your students' blogs. You'll then be able to see all of their blogs from one convenient dashboard. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Feedly.

11,000 People Get Their Ed Tech Tips Here

A few times a week I create new how-to videos on a wide range of tools and topics related to educational technology. Some recent topics include making animated videos, making virtual reality tours, and time-saving tips for Google Forms users. All of my videos are published to my YouTube channel which now has more than 11,000 subscribers. My videos appear on YouTube before they appear on this blog. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified as soon as I publish a new video.

A few of the most watched videos on my YouTube channel are embedded below.

How to Add Your Voice to Google Slides

How to Use Flipgrid

How to Use Adobe Spark

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Nine Fun and Challenging Geography Games

Yesterday, I shared the City-Guesser geography game. That game was just the latest in a long list of online geography games that I have tried over the years. Many have come and gone over the years but the following are still going strong.

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.



WikiWhere is a neat map-based trivia game. The goal of the game is to identify cities based on their descriptions. The descriptions come from Wikipedia entries. You can get up to three clues before you have to answer by clicking on the map to identify the city that you think is described by the excerpts. When you click on the map you'll be shown the correct answer and how far away you were from the correct answer.

Outline Maps offers a free set of geography games. The site contains games about Africa, South America, Europe, the United States, and the world. There are two basic types of games on the site. The first type, "find by name," displays a state, country, or city name and you have to click the map to identify that place. The second type of game, "find by feature," highlights a location and you have to type the name of the highlighted location.

GeoGuessr shows you a Google Street View image and a clue to try to guess where in the world the imagery was captured. Playing GeoGuessr is a fun way to get students to look at all of the visual and text clues they have in order to form a good guess as to where in the world they think the imagery came from.

Quizzity is an online geography game that uses a familiar concept. Quizzity presents you with the name of a city and you have to click on the map where you think that city is in the world. Quizzity quizzes you on cities all over the world. To increase the accuracy of your guesses you should zoom-in on a region before clicking the map. Each round of Quizzity presents you with six city names. Points are awarded for accuracy and speed.

Spacehopper is a game based on Google Maps Street View imagery. Spacehopper shows you a Street View image and you have to guess where in the world the image was captured. You can click the clue button to have the country identified before making a guess. After three incorrect guesses the correct answer will be revealed to you. You can play Spacehopper on a global level or you can specify that you only want to see images from a particular continent.

Smarty Pins is a Google Maps game develop by Google. Smarty Pins presents players with a trivia question that they have to answer by placing a pin on a map. Players earn "miles" for correctly placing a pin on the map. Players can lose miles for answering incorrectly and or taking too long to answer. Games are available in five categories; arts & culture, science & geography, sports & games, entertainment, and history & current events.

Capital Toss is a free geography game from ABCya. The game has a state capitals mode and a country capitals mode. In both modes of the game works the same way. The name of a state or country appears at the bottom of the screen and three rows of capital names scroll across the top. When the correct capital name appears players virtually toss a ball at it. After ten correct answers players can choose a new ball. Three consecutive incorrect answers ends the game.

City-Guesser is a challenging map-based game. The game shows you a section of a map centered over a city. The labels are removed from the map so you have to guess the city's name based on other clues like bodies of water and orientation. City-Guesser gives you four answer choices to choose from. If you choose correctly, you move to the next level. If you choose incorrectly, the game is over and you have to start again from the beginning.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Virtual Reality and Black Flies - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we have entered everyone's least favorite season, Black Fly Season. The sequence of rainy days followed by warm sunshine is the perfect recipe to bring out swarms of blood-sucking insects. But those moments when the bugs aren't swarming are soooo nice after a long winter so we'll be trying to play outside this weekend despite the bugs. I hope that you get to play outside this weekend too.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Twelve Tools for Building End-of-year Review Activities (That Aren't Kahoot Games)
2. Six New Features Coming to Google Forms
3. TED-Ed Lessons About Every Element on the Periodic Table
4. A Fun Game for Learning About Physics
5. Map-based Stories from National Geographic
6. How to Add Points of Interest to Virtual Reality Tours in Google's Tour Creator
7. How to Create Staff Notebooks in OneNote

Bring Me to Your School
I have three openings left in my summer schedule for on-site professional development workshops. I can provide professional development workshops on G Suite for Education, Teaching History With Technology, Edupreneurship, and many other topics. Book me for a G Suite workshop and in addition to my on-site visit your whole school gets access to my online G Suite for Teachers course. Click here to learn more or send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to book me today. 

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. Send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com book me today.

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City Guesser - A Challenging Map Game

City-Guesser is a challenging map-based game. The game shows you a section of a map centered over a city. The labels are removed from the map so you have to guess the city's name based on other clues like bodies of water and orientation. City-Guesser gives you four answer choices to choose from. If you choose correctly, you move to the next level. If you choose incorrectly, the game is over and you have to start again from the beginning.

Applications for Education
The lack of labels on the maps could make City-Guesser maddeningly frustrating for some students. There is not a time limit on the game so encourage your students to take their time and evaluate each of the four answer choices that they are presented. They could even open Google Maps in a second browser tab to try to compare the answer choices to the view that they see in Google Maps.

H/T to Maps Mania

Play Code Fred to Learn About Circulation and Respiration

Code Fred is a free online game developed by the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. The game helps players learn about the human body's responses to trauma. The object of the game is to help "Fred" escape from the woods while he is chased by a wolf. To keep Fred running players have to pump blood, increase the flow of oxygen, and send adrenaline through Fred's body. If a player doesn't respond to the needs of Fred's body fast enough, he will get caught by the wolf that is chasing him.

Applications for Education
Playing Code Fred could be a fun way for students to review a lesson they have learned about circulation and respiration. The game doesn't last long if it's played correctly, perhaps fifteen minutes at the longest, so don't plan on using the game for a full lesson.