Google
 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

5 VR Projects for Students

Google's VR Tour Creator is one of my favorite media creation tools. Since its launch in May of this year I have shown it to hundreds of teachers in-person and even more in videos and webinars. I love it because it empowers students to make their own virtual reality experiences rather than just consuming virtual reality content. Here are five ideas for VR creation projects for students.

5 VR Creation Projects for Students
  • Virtual reality tours based upon students’ favorite books. (On a similar note, VR to illustrate stories that students have written.)
  • VR tours about places students study in geography / history lessons.
  • VR tours to illustrate examples of math and science used in the design and construction of landmarks. 
  • VR tours to illustrate examples of types of landforms, rocks, waterways, and bodies of water.
  • VR tours to illustrate examples of an animal’s natural habitat and range.
Google VR Tour Creator Tutorial Videos

Tour Creator basics.

Adding points of interest to tours.

8 Tools for Making Multimedia Timelines

Creating timelines has been a go-to activity for history teachers since the beginning of history. When I made timelines as a student and in my first year or two of teaching, timelines were made on paper. Today, there are better ways to have students create timelines. In fact, in Teaching History With Technology I feature a couple of my favorite timeline tools for use in high school, middle school, and elementary school classrooms. In the chart embedded below I highlight the main features of eight free multimedia timeline creation tools.


Click here for a Google Docs copy of the chart.

A Timeline Game!
Play Your Dates Right is a templates that I like to use to create a game that is focused on helping students recall the sequence of historical events. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create a simple timeline-based game with the Play Your Dates Right template from ClassTools.net.


Learn more about these tools and other strategies for using technology in social studies classes in my upcoming course, Teaching History With Technology.

Creative Storm - A Next Vista Video Contest

Next Vista for Learning is a great place for teachers and students to share short video lessons that they create. I have been recommending the service for almost ten years now. One of the aspects of Next Vista for Learning that I particularly like is the video contests that are run a couple of times each year. The current contest, open to entries now through December 14th, is called Creative Storm.

Creative Storm is a video creation contest that has three categories. There is a category for student-produced videos, a category for teacher-produced videos, and a category for videos created through the collaborative efforts of teachers and students. Regardless of the category, all videos must teach a lesson in 90 seconds or less. The lesson can be about almost any concept a person would learn about in elementary, middle, or high school. Take a look at this video made by a Kindergarten class or any of the previous contest's finalists here for some inspiration.

Contest winners receive iTunes gift cards and the pride of showcasing their videos for a larger audience.

Applications for Education
I've been recommending Next Vista for Learning for many years because it solves two problems. First, Next Vista provides an excellent alternative to posting students' videos on sites like YouTube or Vimeo. Second, Next Vista can be a great source of inspiration for creating a video project.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Why Should You Read Poe? - A TED-Ed Lesson

Halloween is a little more than a month away. It is during these next five weeks that a lot of students will be introduced to the work of Edgar Allan Poe. A new TED-Ed lesson examines what made Poe's macabre work timeless classics.

In Why Should You Read Edgar Allan Poe? students can learn about Poe's guiding principles for writing, the recurring themes of his work, and the personal factors in his life that contributed to his writing. Find the complete lesson here or watch the video as embedded below.



Here are a couple of other Poe-related resources:

Introduce The Pit and the Pendulum to students is through Flocabulary's rap of the story. That video is embedded below.


Here is an animated telling of Edgar Allen Poe's Tell Tale Heart.

Two Online PD Courses Starting Next Week

Throughout 2018 I have offered various one-hour professional development webinars through PracticalEdTech.com. Those have proven to be popular, but some people have been asking if I plan to go back to offering full, live PD courses like I did from 2013 through 2017. I'm happy to announce that I am offering live, online courses through PracticalEdTech.com in October. Those courses are Getting Going With G Suite and Teaching History With Technology.

Getting Going With G Suite
This course offers everything you need to know to take advantage of the great things that G Suite for Education offers to teachers and students. Getting Going With G Suite is a webinar series designed for teachers and administrators who are new to using G Suite for Education. This is a five week course covering everything you need to know to integrate Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Calendar, and Google Sites into your practice. This course begins on October 2nd at 7pm Eastern Time. Learn more and register here.

Teaching History With Technology
This has been one of my favorite courses for many years. For the fall of 2018 I have completely updated it with new topics and new resources. 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. Each interactive webinar in the course features practical ideas for using technology to create new, engaging lessons or to update some of your existing “go-to” history lessons. This course begins on October 4th at 7pm Eastern Time. Learn more and register here.

About this post: The sale of my professional development, webinars, online courses, and my on-site professional development services provides the funding to keep Free Technology for Teachers running. The resources that I feature in my online courses and webinars are free. However, there is a significant cost associated with creating, hosting, and managing the courses and webinars which is why I am not able to provide them for free.  

Create Flipgrid Mixtapes to Showcase Grid Highlights

Flipgrid continues to add new features for teachers. The latest feature is the option to combine videos from multiple grids. Flipgrid calls this new feature Mixtapes. Mixtapes was created so that you can pull videos from multiple grids to create things like digital portfolios, summaries of a semester's discussions, and presentation highlights. Watch my video to see how you can create a Flipgrid mixtape.



5 Ways to Use Google Sheets in Your Classroom

Last week I posted a video about how to use pivot tables in Google Sheets. Manipulating the way that data is displayed is one of many ways that you can use Google Sheets in your classroom. Here are five other ways to use Google Sheets in your classroom.

Build Multimedia Timelines
The timeline project is as old as history classes. Today, you can put a modern spin on that project by having students build timelines that include videos, audio recordings, pictures, and interactive maps. Timeline JS is a service that students can use to turn a spreadsheet of dates, text, and media links into a timeline. Watch the following video to learn how to use Timeline JS.



Create Rubrics
Online Rubric is a 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.

Schedule Reminder Emails
Add Reminders is a Google Sheets add-on that you can use to schedule reminder emails to be sent to your students, their parents, to colleagues, or anyone else. 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.

Create a Random Name Selector
Flippity.net offers eighteen Google Sheets templates. One of those templates is a random name selector. Simply make a copy of the name selector template, insert your class roster, and then publish your spreadsheet to use Flippity's random name selector.

Graph Data
One of the frequently overlooked features of Google Sheets is buried in the lower, right corner of your Google Sheets. That feature is the "Explore" function. Click on Explore to see the graphs that Google makes and suggests based on the data in your spreadsheet.

Learn more about these features in my upcoming course, Getting Going With G Suite

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Three Lessons About Why Leaves Change Color

Every autumn people tour Maine just to see the leaves changing color. Seeing the leaves change is one of my favorite things about the fall too. Here are three good videos that explain why leaves change color in the fall.


Untamed Science offers a good, partially animated, explanation of why leaves change colors, what produces the colors, and why bright and sunny days are best for viewing red leaves. The video is embedded below.



Reactions, a great YouTube channel from the American Chemical Society, offers a nice video about the chemistry involved in the process of leaves changing color. The videos explains how chlorophyll and the glucose stored inside trees help reveal the reds, yellows and, browns of fall foliage.



SciShow Kids offers the following video about the science of changing leaves.

Facebook, Backchannels, and Math - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it feels like fall. Starting on Monday week I'll be working with the Sigsbee Charter School in Key West, Florida for most of the next few weeks which means that I'll miss a good chunk of my favorite season here in Maine. That's why today I plan to soak up the fall weather by playing outside with my daughters and my dogs. As always, I hope that wherever you are you get to spend some time enjoying the weekend too.

These were the most popular posts of the week:
1. If You Manage a School Facebook Page, Watch Out for This Scam
2. Why We Say "OK" - And Other Lessons on the Origins of Words
3. How to Create a Progress Tracker With Google Forms and Sheets
4. Seven Ways to Create Screencasts on Chromebooks
5. Math Playground - Hundreds of Math Games & Instructional Videos
6. Use Flippity to Make a Multimedia Timeline
7. 7 Reasons to Try Using Backchannels in Your Classroom

I'll Come to Your School This Year!
If you would like to have me lead a professional development day at your school during this school year, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com - or click here for more information about my professional development services.

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.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
Book Creator is a great tool for creating multimedia books.
Kami is a great tool for annotating and collaborating on PDFs. 
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
Seterra offers a huge selection of geography games for students. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Math in Real Life - Why Airlines Overbook Flights

I'm currently flying home the ESC-20 Library Resource Roundup in San Antonio, Texas. Before I boarded the flight the gate agent was looking for volunteers to take an alternate flight due to overbooking. This seems like a good time to share the TED-Ed lesson Why Do Airlines Sell Too Many Tickets?

In Why Do Airlines Sell Too Many Tickets? students can learn about the mathematics that airlines use to maximize the revenue that they can generate from each flight. That math includes calculating the probability that everyone who holds a ticket for a flight will actually show up for the flight. The way that probability is calculated is explained in the video. Finally, the lesson asks students to consider the ethics of overbooking flights. Watch the video below or go here to see the entire lesson.

Fall Time-lapse - A Video Project

The fall is my favorite season of the year. I love waking up to cold, crisp mornings then enjoying mild days outside. In fact, that's what I'm planning to do tomorrow morning. This time of year always reminds me of one of my favorite uses for time-lapse video creation tools. The outline of my time-lapse of autumn project is included below.

The idea is to take one picture every day to document the changes in the foliage as we progress through autumn from the first few orange leaves to full-blown autumn foliage colors to the drab brown we see after in the winter.

Here's how your students could create their own autumn foliage time-lapse videos.

1. Take one picture per day of the same view or of one singular tree. 
Using a cell phone is probably the best tool for this because students rarely go anywhere without one.

2. Upload the pictures to a Google Drive folder. 
It only takes one tap to move photos from a phone phone to a Google Drive folder labeled "Fall foliage." If This Then That has a recipe for doing this automatically from Android phones and from iPhones.

3. After four to six weeks, upload photos to JellyCam or Stop Motion Animator and create your timelapse. 
JellyCam is a free video editing program for Windows and Mac users. You can easily adjust the duration of each frame and easily add a soundtrack to your video. Click here for a video about using JellyCam. Stop Motion Animator is a free tool for creating stop motion movies on Chromebooks.

Slides from ESC-20 Library Resource Roundup

Today I had the pleasure of giving four short presentations at the Texas ESC-20 Library Resource Roundup. It was a great day! Thank you to everyone who came to my presentations. And a special thank you to those who came for multiple presentations. As I always say, the best compliment that I can get is when you have seen me present and you come back for more. Here are the slides from the presentations that I gave today.

Quick & Powerful Video Projects

Technology to Take You & Your Students Beyond Library Walls

Worlds Are Colliding - Intro to AR & VR

Best of the Web 2018

Thursday, September 20, 2018

How to Make a Timeline Through Google Sheets

Earlier this week I wrote about Flippity's new timeline creation template for use in Google Sheets. The template lets you create a multimedia timeline by simply entering information into a spreadsheet and then publishing it to the web. There are a couple of quirks to using the template that should be noted before you have a whole class of students use Flippity to make a multimedia timeline. I point out those quirks as part of my tutorial video embedded below.


Three Apps to Explore the Potential of Augmented Reality

On Friday I am giving a presentation about augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality in education. If you're unsure of the differences between the three, take a look at my explanatory video and slideshow on the topic. As a part of the presentation that I am giving I will be demonstrating a few augmented reality apps that you can use in your classroom. Those apps are Google Expeditions, Plum's Creaturizer, and Metaverse.

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).



Google Expeditions AR
Google Expeditions is best known as for its virtual reality tours, but it also has an augmented reality component. In late May of this year Google added augmented reality tours to Expeditions. The 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.

Metaverse
Metaverse is both an app and an augmented reality game creation tool. The app, available for Android and iOS, lets you find and play augmented reality games. The app includes a large selection of educational games. The game creation aspect of Metaverse lets anyone create his or her own augmented reality game. Since its launch eighteen months ago, teachers have been using it to create AR games for a wide range of topics including geography, math, science, and language arts. Watch the following video to see how you can create an augmented reality game on Metaverse.

Three Apps to Incorporate Into Outdoor Learning Activities

One of my passions is encouraging teachers to take their students outside for class. The technology that our students use the most in their daily lives is meant to be mobile so don't keep it locked up in your classroom. Tomorrow, I am giving a presentation about this topic at the ESC 20 Library Resource Roundup. Three of the apps that I will be demonstrating during this presentation are the Google Science Journal, Nature Cat's Great Outdoors, and the Geocaching app from Groundspeak.

Google's Science Journal app provides some neat tools for recording data and writing observations. Within the app students create notebooks for recording experiment data and observations. Students can also use those notebooks to simply organize observations by topic. There are sensors built into the app for recording sound, speed, light, direction, and magnetism. Learn more about the app here. You can download the Android version here and the iOS version here.

Nature Cat's Great Outdoors is a free app from PBS Kids. The app, available for iOS and Android, provides students with activities they can do outdoors in all kinds of weather. To use the Nature Cat's Great Outdoors app students simply open it, press play, and select a "daily nature adventure." There are adventures for sunny days, rainy days, and snowy days. An example of a rainy day adventure is recording the sounds of rain drops and the sounds of splashing in puddles. The app has more than 100 adventure suggestions built into it. Students earn digital badges for completing adventures.

Geocaching is a fun activity for students to do to learn about latitude and longitude, to discover geological features, learn or relearn basic math concepts, and to practice good digital citizenship. Seven years ago Jen Lefebvre, née Deyenberg wrote a great overview of geocaching in an education context. You can read that blog post here. When Jen wrote that post you had to use handheld GPS units to go on geocaching activities. Today, you can simply use the Geocaching Android app or iOS apps.

Learn more about this topic in my on-demand webinar, 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

7 Reasons to Try Using Backchannels in Your Classroom

A couple of the most popular posts that I have published lately were about creating backchannel chats to use in your classroom. In response to those posts some readers have sent questions asking for more explanation of why they should try tools like Backchannel Chat or Yo Teach. Here are some reasons to try using a backchannel chat in your classroom.

1. A Voice for Shy Students
Typing a response or asking a question in a backchannel chat can be a little less intimidating for some students who aren't comfortable asking questions aloud.

2. An Outlet for Chatty Students
We've all had that student who wants to say something about everything. A backchannel chat gives that student a place to ask all of the questions that he/she can think of.

3. Extend Classroom Discussions
If you've ever had a great classroom discussion cut short by the sound of the bell, a backchannel can help. With an online backchannel chat your students can continue to add comments and questions to the discussion after the school day ends.

4. Post Quick Warm-up/ "Do Now" Activities
Do you need a place to post little activities for your kids to do when they walk into your classroom? If so, post those warm-up activities in a backchannel chat for students to see when they open their laptops or unlock their iPads.

5. Preserve the Flow of a Presentation/ Video
Whenever I have shown videos in a classroom there have always been students who want to ask questions about what they're seeing and others who are annoyed by those questions interrupting the flow of the video. By using a backchannel the students who need to ask questions can do so and I can respond to them without breaking the flow of the presentation for the other students.

6. Create a Record of a Classroom Discussion
Have you ever had a student who was absent during a great classroom discussion come back to you a day later and ask, "what did I miss?" If so, a backchannel chat could be a solution for you. Using a backchannel to have kids share their questions and their comments creates a record of some of the highlights of your classroom discussion.

7. Practice Good Digital Citizenship
Hosting a backchannel chat for class by using a tool like Backchannel Chat or Yo Teach! can provide you with good opportunity to have your students develop digital citizenship skills in the form of respectful online discussion. Both Backchannel Chat and Yo Teach let you remove inappropriate comments and mute students who don't adhere to the standards that you have set for online discussion.

If You Manage a School Facebook Page, Watch Out for This Scam

I manage a handful of Facebook Pages. This morning when I logged into Facebook I had notifications that "Verified Facebook Page" had requested administrative access to those pages. This seemed phishy to me and so rather than just clicking "accept" I stopped and thought about it then did a little research before ultimately determining that it was a phishing attempt that would have given complete control of my Facebook pages to a stranger if I hadn't caught it first. Here's how the scam works and how I figured it out.

How the "Verified Facebook Page" Scam Works

  • Someone creates a Facebook account that he/she calls "Verified Facebook Page" or something similarly named to make you think that Facebook is actually reaching out to you.
  • Said person then sends requests to you as the owner/administrator of your Facebook Page asking for administrative access. 
    • If you grant administrative access to the fake "Verified Facebook Page" account, the owner of that fake account then goes in and changes the settings, content, and will attempt to lock you out of the page that you own. 

How I Detected the "Verified Facebook Page" Scam

  • Since I had previously done some research on the process of getting the little blue verified checkmark that you see on pages verified by Facebook, I knew that the pages I manage are not eligible for the verified status (the reasons why are a point of contention, but that's a topic for another day).
  • I also know from experience of managing pages for many years, Facebook doesn't just send a request without an explanation in the form of a FB inbox message, an email, a phone call, or all three in some cases. (Phone calls are rare and you shouldn't expect one unless you have hundreds of thousands of followers or you spend a lot of money on Facebook advertising).
  • I know that Facebook doesn't need to request access to a page if they want to do anything to it. They can suspend any page at any time for policy violations or to simply respond to suspected account security breach.
  • I did a quick Google search for "Verified Facebook Page Scam" and found plenty of examples of page administrators getting locked out of their pages after approving administrative access for "Verified Facebook Page."
The Bottom Line for Administrators of School Facebook Pages
  • If you get a request for administrative access to your Facebook page when you weren't expecting one and or from someone you don't recognize, deny the request and report it to Facebook as suspicious activity. 
    • If someone who actually works for Facebook is trying to contact you, it won't be through a simple request without an explanation. 

Anchor Adds New "Smart" Background Music to Podcasts

Anchor is a podcast recording and publishing tool that I have been writing about all year. I started writing about it because using it is the easiest way to record, edit, and publish podcasts. I've continued to write about it because the new features seem to be added every month. This month's new Anchor feature is a library of background music tracks.

Anchor's library of background music contains one hundred tracks that you can use for free in your podcast episodes. Anchor calls the tracks "smart background music" because the volume of the tracks automatically adjusts to the volume of spoken words in the podcasts.

Applications for Education
Hearing their voices on isolated vocal tracks can be a bit unsettling for some students. Many times they'll say, "I don't sound like that" or "I hate how my voice sounds." Adding background music can make the podcast sound a bit less isolated, dampen echoes, and generally make students feel a little more comfortable with the sounds of their voices in a podcast.

Watch the following video to learn how to get started making podcasts on Anchor.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Use Flippity to Make a Multimedia Timeline

Flippity is a site that I have recommended for years as a place to find templates that you can use in Google Sheets to make things like flashcards, quiz games, and random name pickers. Recently, I noticed that Flippity has added a template for making multimedia timelines.

Flippity's multimedia timeline template is rather easy to use. To use it, simply make a copy of it from Flippity's homepage and then fill in the information that you want to display on your timeline. You can include text, pictures, videos, and slideshows within each event on your timeline. To include pictures, videos, and slideshows you paste the URLs at which they're available online into a column in your Google Sheet. Publish your spreadsheet to the web after you have entered all of the information and media links that you want to display. Your published spreadsheet will then be used by Flippity to generate a multimedia timeline that you can view online. Take a look at this sample to see how a timeline made with Flippity looks.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a flexible and free tool that your students can use to create a multimedia timeline, Flippity's free timeline template is worth trying. Students can collaborate on making a timeline by sharing the Google Sheet in which they are entering dates, text, and media.

The Places Where I Will Be Presenting This Fall

I am fortunate to be invited to speak at many conferences and schools every year. In the last couple of years since my first daughter was born I have had to alter my travel schedule. I still speak at a couple of events every month and work with a school or two every month. The following is a list of the places where I will speaking this fall. Most of my spring schedule has filled in, but I still have some space available in my December and January calendars. Please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com if you are interested in having me speak at your school or conference. Click here for more information about my speaking and professional development services.

  • September 21st - ESC-20 Library Resource Round-up
  • October 5th - Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Teachers' Convention
  • October 21st & 22nd - CECA/CASL Annual Conference
  • November 7th - EdTechTeacher Innovation Summit 
  • November 27th-29th - LACUE Annual Conference
Please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com if you are interested in having me speak at your school or conference. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Three Sites That Help Students Understand the Size of the Universe

Living in a relatively rural area that doesn't have a lot of artificial light helps make it easy to spot constellations. Some nights when I take my dogs out before bedtime I look up at the constellations and I try to wrap my head around the size of the universe. Over the last few years I've shared some resources that can help viewers understand the scale of things in the universe, here they are.

How Far Is It To Mars? is a neat infographic that provides a pixel scale to show you how far it is from Earth to the Moon and the distance from Earth to Mars. The infographic is a motion infographic so you have to click on it to make it move. The distances are represented by pixels. After you get to the moon on the infographic click it again then sit back and watch as it takes a while to scroll to Mars.

3D Solar System Web is a neat resource available through the Chrome web store. 3D Solar System Web features a narrated tour of the solar system beginning at the sun and working out through all of the planets. The tour explains the classifications of each planet, how long it takes each planet to orbit the sun, and each planet's unique features.

Magnifying the Universe is an interactive infographic that allows you to see the size of atoms, animals, buildings, mountains, planets, stars, and galaxies in relation to other objects in the universe.

Bonus Video:
The Known Universe is a six minute video tour of the known universe that starts with Earth's biggest mountains in the Himalaya and zooms out from there. 

Join Me Tomorrow to Get Organized With Google Classroom, Calendar, and Keep

Tomorrow evening at 7pm ET I'm hosting a Practical Ed Tech webinar titled Get Organized With Google Classroom, Calendar, and Keep. This is the second time that I'm offering the webinar this year. I hosted it at the end of August and it was well attended. In the weeks since then many people asked if I would host it again. That's why I'm hosting it tomorrow night.

In this live webinar on September 18th at 7pm ET you will learn what’s new in Google Classroom, what’s changed, and how you can use Google Classroom to stay organized throughout the school year.

In this webinar you’ll also learn how to use Google Calendar and Google Keep to organize and maintain your schedule in the new school year.

Five Key Things You'll Learn In This Webinar:
1. How to streamline your workflow through Google Classroom.
2. How to organize and share resources with students.
3. How to keep track of goals (yours and your students’) through Google Keep and Calendar.
4. How to manage multiple course calendars without losing your mind.
5. How to streamline meetings and meeting scheduling.


This webinar will be recorded for those who register but cannot attend the live broadcast. Everyone who registers will be sent a copy of the recording of the live webinar.

About this post: The sale of my professional development, webinars, online courses, and my on-site professional development services provides the funding to keep Free Technology for Teachers running. The resources that I feature in my online courses and webinars are free. However, there is a significant cost associated with creating, hosting, and managing the courses and webinars which is why I am not able to provide them for free.  

How to Create a Progress Tracker With Google Forms and Sheets

Last week I wrote about using Google Forms and a pivot table in Google Sheets to create reading logs and other progress trackers. Over the weekend I received a lot of emails from folks asking various clarifying questions on how to use the pivot table functions. To answer those questions I recorded the following tutorial video. Watch the video to learn how you can create a progress tracker with a combination of Google Forms and a pivot table in Google Sheets. This method is a good one to use if you want your students or a teacher's aide to record progress through a Google Form.

Shakespeare Uncovered - Ten Free Lesson Plans

Shakespeare Uncovered is a series of videos about Shakespeare's life and work. The series, hosted on PBS Learning Media, is organized thematically. Some of the themes are "Shakespeare and History," "The Use of Soliloquy," and "Gender Roles in Shakespeare."  Each of the themes is explored in the context of some of Shakespeare's most recognizable works including Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, and Romeo & Juliet. Each collection of thematic resources includes short, documentary video clips, reading materials, and discussion questions.

Applications for Education
All of the lesson plans in Shakespeare Uncovered are intended for use with high school students. Like all PBS Learning Media resources, the Shakespeare Uncovered lesson plans can be shared directly to Google Classroom. The lesson plans include a lot of questions that are intended as discussion questions. So if you plan to post the lesson plans in Google Classroom, I would post them as announcements rather than as assignments.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Find Free Photos by Searching on Every Stock Photo

Regular readers of this blog probably know that my go-to places for free images are Photos for Class, Pixabay, and Unsplash. But those aren't the only places that you can find free images to use multimedia projects. Rather than lucky-dipping through other sites you can just head to Every Stock Photo for find a picture. Every Stock Photo is a search engine for public domain and Creative Commons licensed pictures. When you search on Every Stock Photo it pulls images from dozens of sources across the web. If you click on an image in your search results you will be taken to a larger version of the image, a link to the source, and the attribution requirements for using that picture.

Applications for Education
Too often when students are told that they need to use Creative Commons or Public Domain images they moan about it because they only think of Google when they search for images. Every Stock Photo is a fantastic alternative to using Google Images to look for Creative Commons and Public Domain images.

Making Sense of Spelling - A TED-Ed Lesson

The Vox video about why we say "OK" raises the question of whether you should write "OK," "okay," or "O.K." That's just one of many tricky aspects of spelling in English. The TED-Ed video Making Sense of Spelling explains why some words are spelled the way they are and why some words have multiple spellings. The video is embedded below.

Why We Say "OK" - And Other Lessons on the Origins of Words

A few days ago Vox published a short video that explains the origins of "OK" and how it came to be something that we say, read, and click everyday. By watching the video you can learn where OK originated and the roles of a presidential campaign, the telegraph, and railroads in spreading the use of "OK" until it became commonplace to say it. The video also teaches viewers why some businesses use "K" to replace "C" in product names.


Vox's video about "OK" reminded me Words of the WorldWords of the World is a collection of videos featuring historians and linguists explaining the origins of and history of the use of words in the English language. The videos attempt to put the words into a somewhat modern context. For example this video about the word "guerrilla" makes reference to Che Guevara. The video I've embedded below explains the word "coup."



Applications for Education
Words of the World could be an instructive model for your own lesson combining history and language arts. Have your students pick a word or two that they think is common and research it. Then have them create their own short videos in which they explain the history of those words. You might even have them research the dialect of the areas in which they live. For example, where I live we have a Range Pond. Most people would pronounce that as range, like "home on the range" yet everyone around here pronounces it as rang as in "the bell rang."  I'm not sure why that is the case, but I would love to find out.

H/T to Open Culture for the Vox video. 

Math, Instagram, and Civics - The Week in Review

Good afternoon from Maine where it is a beautiful late summer day. We just got back from a great morning at the Oxford County Fair where my girls enjoyed seeing pigs, goats, sheep, cows, horses, and even an emu! While my daughters nap I am working on some new blog posts.

This week nearly 500 people joined the webinar that I hosted about making handouts through Storyboard That templates. If you missed the webinar, you can view the recording right here on my YouTube channel. Next week I'm hosting a Practical Ed Tech webinar about the new features of Google Classroom and how you can use them in your classroom this year. Click here for more information about that webinar.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Share Math Playground Activities to Google Classroom
2. A Parent's Guide to Instagram - Including a Glossary and Discussion Questions
3. Two New Google Classroom Features That Everyone Has Been Asking For!
4. A Good Site for Vocabulary Lists and Practice Activities
5. The Online Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States
6. Two Interactive Copies of the Constitution for Constitution Day
7. Video Resources for Constitution Day

I'll Come to Your School This Year!
If you would like to have me lead a professional development day at your school during this school year, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com - or click here for more information about my professional development services.

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.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
Book Creator is a great tool for creating multimedia books.
Kami is a great tool for annotating and collaborating on PDFs. 
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
Seterra offers a huge selection of geography games for students. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Two Ways to Use Google Sheets to Create Reading Logs

Google Forms and Google Sheets are my go-to tools when I need to collect and organize data. One of the things that I often help teachers do with data in Google Forms and Sheets is create progress trackers or reading logs. There are two ways that you can do this. The first method outlined below is the easier method as it simply requires following a template. The second method outlined below is a little more difficult but the benefit is that you can have students or a teacher's aide enter data to record progress toward a stated numerical goal like "read 1,000 pages this month."

Method #1 - Use Flippity's Progress Tracker Template
Flippity offers eighteen templates that you can use in Google Sheets. One of those templates is a progress tracker template. This template will create a sheet into which you enter student names, goals, and the units that you're tracking (pages, minutes, steps, etc). After you enter that data into the template you can publish the sheet and Flippity will provide you with a simple webpage that displays progress as a colored bar graph. Watch my video for step-by-step directions on using Flippity's progress tracker template.




Method #2 - Google Form + Pivot Table in Google Sheets
The benefit of using this method is that you can have students or a teacher's aide enter information into a Google Form and then you will see the the data in a spreadsheet that you can manipulate to see the data in terms of tracking progress toward a goal. The downside to this method is that unless you're willing to share the spreadsheet with students or set your Google Form to "Respondents Can See summary charts and text responses" they won't see their progress unless they ask you for the information. Take a look at my screenshots below for an outline of the steps needed to duplicate my reading log made by using Google Forms and Sheets.

Step 1 - Create a Google Form in which you ask for name, goal, and pages read that day (or week if that's how you'd prefer to track).


Step 2 - Create a Google Sheet of responses.


Step 3 - From the "Data" drop-down menu in Google Sheets select "Pivot Table."


Step 4 - In the right hand menu that appears on the Pivot Table sheet click "Add" next to "Rows"  then select "Your name," "Your goal," and "Number of pages read."

Step 5 - In the right hand menu of the Pivot Table sheet click "Add" next to "values" then choose "number of pages read."

Step 6 - Admire your summarized data.

51 More Constitution Day Resources

Earlier this week I shared some videos and a couple of interactive resources for teaching lessons about the U.S. Constitution on Constitution Day. Constitution Day is this coming Monday and by law all schools receiving federal funds have to offer some kind of instruction on the U.S. Constitution. If you're still looking for some resources to use on Monday, take a look at what Docs Teach has to offer.

DocsTeach has sixteen pre-made Constitution Day activities that you can use today. An additional 35 documents and artifacts about the Constitution can be found through a quick search on DocsTeach.

About DocsTeach
DocsTeach provides you with tools to create online history lessons that are based on primary source documents, images, and videos. There are thirteen templates that you can use to create lessons on the DocsTeach platform. My favorite template is the analysis template that you can use to create lessons that help students learn to analyze documents and images.

The lessons that you create on DocsTeach can be shared with your students through the DocsTeach online environment. You can also share your lessons with colleagues by publishing your lesson to the DocsTeach library.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Three Types of Elementary School Video Projects to Complete on iPads

On Monday I shared free five apps that I recommend for making videos on iPads in elementary school classrooms. You might have looked at the list and wondered which one(s) you should try. If so, here's my basic break-down of how these apps can be used by students and the ages that they are appropriate for.

One Frame Videos
These are these are the type of videos that I recommend making with K-2 students to get started. Like the name implies, these videos will feature just one picture or drawing and a student's voice. Draw and Tell is a great app for this because kids can draw a picture and then record themselves talking about the picture. A simple way to introduce this app is to have students draw pictures of their families and then talk about the people in the picture. Chatter Pix Kids is a simple app but in this app students take a picture with their iPads and then draw a mouth on the picture before recording themselves talking. You can see a great example of Chatter Pix Kids being used by Kindergarten students (with a little help from their teacher) in A Health Meal hosted on Next Vista for Learning.

Audio Slideshow
This is a step above making one frame videos, but the basic concept behind it is the same. Students assemble a series of images and record themselves talking about the images. Shadow Puppet Edu is a good app for making this kind of video in elementary school classrooms because the app contains an integrated image search tool the will provide students with pictures from high quality services like NASA, NOAA, and the Library of Congress. I have personally used this app with students as young as second grade.

Animated Stories
This moves students beyond simply making or selecting pictures and talking over them as in the first two project types. In this project students will write a story and then animate it before possibly adding their own voices to it. Toontastic 3D is my go-to iPad app for doing this with students in third through sixth grade. Students can choose from a huge library of pre-drawn characters and backgrounds to use in their videos or draw their own characters and scenes to use in their videos.

By Request - Get Organized With Google Classroom and More

A few weeks ago on PracticalEdTech.com I hosted a webinar titled Get Organized With Google Classroom, Calendar, and Keep. 75 people joined that webinar to learn all about the new features of Google Classroom and how they can be used in their classrooms this year. In the last couple of weeks I've heard from many people who wanted to know if I would run the webinar again. So by popular demand on September 18th at 7pm ET I'm hosting an encore presentation of Get Organized With Google Classroom, Calendar, and Keep.

In this live webinar on September 18th at 7pm ET you will learn what’s new in Google Classroom, what’s changed, and how you can use Google Classroom to stay organized throughout the school year.

In this webinar you’ll also learn how to use Google Calendar and Google Keep to organize and maintain your schedule in the new school year.

Five Key Things You'll Learn In This Webinar:
1. How to streamline your workflow through Google Classroom.
2. How to organize and share resources with students.
3. How to keep track of goals (yours and your students’) through Google Keep and Calendar.
4. How to manage multiple course calendars without losing your mind.
5. How to streamline meetings and meeting scheduling.


This webinar will be recorded for those who register but cannot attend the live broadcast. Everyone who registers will be sent a copy of the recording of the live webinar.

About this post: The sale of my professional development, webinars, online courses, and my on-site professional development services provides the funding to keep Free Technology for Teachers running. The resources that I feature in my online courses and webinars are free. However, there is a significant cost associated with creating, hosting, and managing the courses and webinars which is why I am not able to provide them for free.  

Bookmark It - A Tool for Adding Bookmarks to a Video's Timeline

Bookmark It is a free Chrome extension that can solve a problem many people face when trying to show students just a specific part of a video. That problem is having to scroll along the timeline of a YouTube video to find the spot that you want to share. Bookmark It lets you add timestamped bookmarks and notes to the timeline of a video. Once you've added your bookmarks and notes you can return directly to them from the Bookmark It extension. Watch my video that is embedded below to see how Bookmark It works.

Voicepods - Automatically Turn Text Into Voice Recordings

Voicepods is a neat service that will create voice recordings based on the text that you write. Voicepods offers eight voices in which you can have your text read-aloud. The voice recording that is generated from your text can be listened to online and you can download it as an MP3 to use wherever MP3 playback is supported. Watch my video that is embedded below to learn how easy it is to make a voice recording on Voicepods.


Applications for Education
I often encouraged my students to read their papers aloud or have them read aloud by someone else to spot mistakes that they didn't catch when reading silently. Voicepods could be a great tool for students to use to hear their written words read aloud. All they would need to do is copy and paste the text of their papers into Voicepods to hear their work read aloud.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Free Webinars from the Council for Economic Education

The Council for Economic Education has recently published their fall schedule of free professional development webinars for teachers. The series begins next week on September 18th and runs weekly through December 12th. All of the webinars are scheduled for 7pm Eastern Time. You can register for one webinar or all of the webinars.

There is a fairly wide range of topics scheduled for the professional development webinars offered by the CEE. Some of the topics that jumped out to me as I looked through the list include Finding the Right College Fit: Tools and Process for Success, Using Harry Potter to Teach Economics and Personal Finance, and How Rapper 50 Cent Made Millions and Then Lost It.

On the topic of economics, I recently updated my popular Life on Minimum Wage simulation game. You can view it here as a Google Doc or download it for free from my new Teachers Pay Teachers page.

Seterra - Hundreds of Interactive Geography Games in More Than 30 Languages

Seterra is a service that offers interactive geography games in more than thirty languages. I used the service for years with some of my own students. In the last couple of years Seterra has evolved from a desktop application to a web and mobile app service. You can play Seterra games in the web browser on your computer or as an Android app or an iOS app.

The best way to explore Seterra's offerings is to head to the online games page. On that page you can browse for games according to continent and country. On Seterra's online games page you will find games that students can play to learn and quiz themselves about capitals, bodies of water, waterways, flags, country names, states, provinces, regions, and notable cities. And if you need an offline activity, Seterra lists some printables below all of the games on their individual pages.

Seterra has a couple of great features that enhance their online and mobile games. There is an option that will read aloud the names of the countries, cities, states, and provinces that students are asked to identify in the game. That option is listed just below each online game. Students can turn on or turn off the read-aloud option at any time. Seterra's games also have a "review" mode that lets students practice only the items that they missed in their first attempts at a game.

Applications for Education
The reason that I like Seterra is that in addition to the wide array of games, more than 200 available for free, there is a variety within each game. Each game can be played as an identification game, as a labeling game, or as a matching game. In the simple identification mode, called "Pin" mode, students simply click on the locations of the places they're asked to identify. The labeling version of a game is found by selecting "type" mode. In that mode students have to type on the map to identify places. And in the matching mode called "place the labels" students have to match place names to the places indicated by pins on the map.

When you open Seterra in your web browser the games should default to match the language preference you have set in your browser. However, if you want to change the language in which you play the game, you can do that at the home page of Online.Seterra.com.

Disclosure: Seterra is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Video Resources for Constitution Day

Constitution Day in the United States is on this coming Monday. By law all schools receiving federal funds have to offer some type of instruction about the Constitution. Yesterday, I shared a couple of interactive resources that can help students learn about the U.S. Constitution. Here are a couple of video resources for teaching and learning about the Constitution.

Keith Hughes offers a long playlist of videos that he has made to address questions that students often have regarding the U.S. Constitution. His playlist includes an overview of the Constitutional Convention, videos about each section of the Constitution, and videos about most of the amendments to the Constitution. I've embedded the playlist below.



The National Constitution Center offers an online program called the Constitution Hall Pass. The Constitution Hall Pass is a series of videos mostly featuring scholars discussing elements of the Constitution and issues relating to it. There are also a few "discussion starter" videos that are intended to get students thinking about how the Constitution can have a direct impact on their lives. I know from experience that this Freedom of Expression video and accompanying questions will get high school students talking.

Webinar Recording - Making Great Handouts With Storyboard That

Yesterday afternoon I hosted a webinar titled Making Great Handouts With Storyboard That Templates. Almost 500 people registered for the webinar! If you wanted to attend but couldn't make it at the scheduled time or you're just reading about it for the first time, you can now watch the recording of the webinar on my YouTube channel. The recording is also embedded below.


A few additional resources mentioned in the webinar: