Monday, April 30, 2018

Padlet, Spark, and PhET - The Month in Review

Good evening from Maine where the snow that coated my yard on many mornings in April now all gone. Another sign that spring is here can be found in my TV viewing habit of quickly jumping between three channels to watch the Bruins, Celtics, and Red Sox play on the same night. Two of the three are winning as I draft this post.

As I do at the end of every month, I have compiled a list of the ten most popular posts of the previous 30 days. This month's most popular post was a response to the changes to Padlet's free plan. That post was just slightly more popular than this one about the launch of the Adobe Spark for Education. Take a look at the full list below.

These were the most popular posts in April, 2018:
1. 5 Alternatives to Padlet
2. Adobe Launches Spark for Education
3. Reminder - The Library of Congress Seeks a Teacher-in-Residence
4. NASA's Interactive Guide to the Solar System
5. Now You Can Include Google Slides In a Google Document
6. PhET PowerPoint Add-in - Add Science & Math Simulations to Slides
7. 1766 Free Lesson Plans for Art Teachers
8. Jungle Jeopardy - A Game About Ecosystems
9. TED-Ed Lessons About Every Element on the Periodic Table
10. Tube - A Distraction-free Way to Search and Watch YouTube

Online PD Opportunities
On May 7th I'm launching a self-paced course about classroom video projects. This is in addition to all of the other on-demand webinars and self-paced courses currently available on

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

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
MySimpleShow offers a great way to create animated videos for free.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
QuickKey provides an efficient way to conduct online and in-person formative assessments.

Today's Blogging Q&A Recording

This afternoon I hosted a live Q&A session about blogging. I used YouTube's relatively new desktop livestreaming tool for the broadcast. If you missed the broadcast, you can watch the recording as embedded below. A list of the questions that I answered is included below the video in this post.

  • How do I get started?
  • What is the best blog provider? For school issues.
  • Resources/Websites to create blogs and attract audiences.
  • Picking it back up after being off for a few years and want to learn from someone (you) I've followed for years and know is successful.
  • How do I keep it up?
  • In a world with so many blogs, how do I find my own voice? I sometimes feel like everything is already being said.
I do offer an on-demand webinar all about how to build a great classroom blog. You'll find that webinar right here on

How to Automatically Issue Certificates When Students Pass a Quiz in Google Forms

The quizzes setting in Google Forms makes it easy to quickly score quizzes and return quiz scores to your students. The Google Forms Add-on called Certify'em makes it possible to not only give students their grades right away, it also issues them a certificate for passing the quiz. Watch my video embedded below to learn how to use Certify'em to automatically issue certificates to students when they pass a quiz in Google Forms.

Certify'em was developed by the same person who developed the very popular Flubaroo Add-on for Google Sheets.

Learn more about Google Forms in my online course, G Suite for Teachers

Old Google Sites vs. New Google Sites

Last week I published a video about converting old Google Sites to the new version of Google Sites. That post prompted a lot of emails from readers who wanted to know what would happen when they switch from the old version to the new version of Google Sites. To answer those questions I've put together the following brief overview of what you gain and what you lose when you switch from the old version to the new version of Google Sites.

What you gain when switching to the new version of Google Sites:

  • Better handling of third-party embed codes. The old version of Google Sites is notoriously finicky when it comes to embedding media from sources outside of the G Suite ecosystem. The new version of Google Sites is much improved in that area.
  • Design templates optimized for phone and tablet viewing. The old version of Google Sites does have a "mobile-friendly" option hidden in the settings but even that with that setting enabled old Google Sites don't always function correctly on mobile phones.
  • Streamlined integration of docs, slides, forms, spreadsheets, videos, and other files stored within your Google Drive account. You've always been able to include these items in Google Sites, the new version just makes it a little easier to do. 
What you lose when switching to the new version of Google Sites:
  • Page-level permissions. This feature lets you give students access to edit specified, individual pages within a site. So far this feature has not been added to the new version of Google Sites.
  • "Announcements." The "announcements" page format in old Google Sites essentially enabled you to create a blog section within your site. This feature has yet to appear in the new version of Google Sites. 
Bottom line
Google hasn't announced a firm deadline for when they're ending support of the old version of Google Sites, but it's going to happen sooner than later. If you're thinking about using Google Sites for the next school year, you should use the new version to save yourself headaches down the road. 

The new version of Google Sites is the version that I now teach in my G Suite for Teachers online course as well as in my on-site G Suite workshops