Google
 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Join Me Tomorrow for a Live Q&A

Tomorrow at 5pm Eastern Time I'll be going live on my YouTube channel to answer another round of questions from readers like you. If you have a question about educational technology that you'd like me to answer you can put in the form below or just join the live broadcast and submit your question tomorrow. Those of you who submitted questions via Facebook last week, I answer those this week. Last week's Facebook outage made it impossible for me to read your messages.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified when the broadcast starts. I'll also broadcast on the Practical Ed Tech Facebook page.


Google Drive Will Soon Have a Priority Page

In case you haven't noticed, Google knows a lot about what you're doing in Google Drive. In fact, according to their latest announcement about Google Drive, Google knows which files in your Google Drive are most important to you right now. These will be shown to you on a new page in Google Drive that Google is calling the "priority page." Priority page will start rolling out to users this week.

Priority page in Google Drive will show you what Google identifies as the documents most relevant to you at any given time. On the Priority page you will be able to view documents, review edits, and reply to comments.

Will Priority page annoy users or be helpful? That's to be determined. I was so annoyed by the "quick access" suggestions that I disabled them a while ago. I have a hunch that I'll do the same with Priority page too.

Short Lessons for the Arrival of Spring

The first chickadees and ducks of the spring have started to arrive in my neighborhood. Aside from the calendar, hearing the birds reminds us all that spring is almost here. If you're tired of winter and looking for some spring-themed lesson ideas, take a look at the following resources.

Last year The New York Times published an animated map of spring foliage. The map, put together by Henry Fountain and Jeremy White, is a time-lapse map that shows when the "first leaf" of spring typically appears in each state. The data represented in the map comes from the USA National Phenology Network. The animation moves quickly, but you can pause it by clicking on it.

Why do birds sing? And how do they learn the songs that they sing? The answers to those questions and more are revealed in a new TED-Ed Lesson titled How Do Birds Learn to Sing?


After learning how birds learn to sing, have your students explore The Wall of Birds interactive mural produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The mural features a variety of birds that when clicked on reveal information about that bird, audio of that bird's call, and a map of that bird's natural range.



Why do we have seasons? What causes the changes in weather patterns throughout the seasons? The answers to those questions and more are found in the following SciShow Kids video and Crash Course Kids video.




Try one of these tools for creating flipped lessons out of these videos. 

5 Ways to Tell Stories With Maps

Maps can be great tools for supporting nonfiction and fiction stories. Being able to see the greater context of a location can go a long way toward helping students see the complete overview of a story. This can be helpful for learning about historical events, for supporting biographies, or for seeing the settings of fiction stories. Those are just a few of the types of stories that can be told with maps.

Yesterday, I featured a video about making map-based stories with StoryMap JS. That video is included at the end of this post. Here are four other ways that students can create map-based stories.

Google Earth - Desktop Version
The desktop version of Google Earth provides one of the classic ways to create a map-based, multimedia story. Students can add pictures, text, and videos to the placemarkers in their Google Earth tours. And students can use the built-in recording tools to make tours that viewers can watch on their own. Here's a short overview of how to make a Google Earth tour. Check out Google Lit Trips for ideas on using Google Earth for literature lessons.



VR Tour Creator
Google's VR Tour Creator lets anyone make a virtual reality tour that can be played back in your web browser and or in the Google Expeditions app. Don't limit use of VR Tour Creator to geography lessons. You can have students use it to make virtual reality book tours. Here's an introduction to using VR Tour Creator.


ESRI Story Maps
ESRI Story Maps is a tool that you can use to create a variety of map-based stories. The basic ESRI Story Map lets you combine pictures and locations to playback as a series of slides. Here's a good example of an ESRI Story Map.

Google My Maps
My Maps is a free Google service for creating interactive maps that are similar in style to Google Maps. My Maps lets you add placemarkers that contain pictures and videos. Here's a set of videos detailing every part of using Google's My Maps.

Storymap JS
As I wrote yesterday, Storymap JS has you match slides to locations to tell a story. Here's an overview of how it works.

5 Free Tools for Creating Online Picture Books

This morning on Twitter Kathleen Morris asked me for some suggestions for free tools students can use to create picture books. She was looking for alternatives to Storybird which has recently announced some changes to their pricing structure.

Selecting and arranging pictures on a page can be a good way to help students generate ideas for writing stories. All five of the tools listed below have that capability.

WriteReader is one of my favorite writing tools for elementary school students. WriteReader is a free service that students can use to create multimedia ebooks. Students can select pictures from a large gallery of drawings, including Sesame Street drawings, and place them on pages in their books. Directly below each image there is space for students to write and for teachers to add corrections. Here's my tutorial on how to use WriteReader.


Picture Book Maker allows students to create six page stories by dragging background scenes into a page, dragging in animals and props, and typing text. All of the elements can be sized an positioned to fit the pages. Text is limited to roughly two lines per page. Completed stories are displayed with simple page turning effects. Stories created on Picture Book Maker can be printed and or saved as PDFs.

Book Creator is a popular tool for creating multimedia ebooks. It can be used in your web browser for free or you can purchase the iPad app to use it. Students can add pictures, drawings, and videos to their pages. Drawing tools are built into the service. Students can even add their voices to their ebooks. Watch my tutorial to see all of the ways that students can add content to their Book Creator ebooks.



Alphabet Organizer is a great little tool from Read Write Think that students can use to create alphabet charts and books. The idea behind Alphabet Organizer is to help students make visual connections between letters of the alphabet and the first letter of common words. In the video below I demonstrate how to use this tool.



MyStorybook is a nice online tool for creating short storybooks. MyStorybook provides blank pages on which you can type, draw, and place clipart. Your storybook pages can also include pictures that you upload. After signing into your MyStorybook account you can start creating your first book. Click on the text fields to edit any existing text in the title and author fields. You can add more text by clicking "text" in the editing menu. To add a picture of your own select "items" in the editing menu. At the bottom of the "items" menu you will find an option to upload your own images. MyStorybook provides lots of stock imagery that you can place on a page or use as the background to a page. If you want to branch-out beyond text and images, use the drawing tools on your pages.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Save Time by Creating Templates for Your Blog Posts

One of the reasons that I frequently hear given for not updating classroom or school blogs on a regular basis is "it takes too much time." If you're not in the habit of writing blog posts on a regular schedule it can take a lot of energy to get the blogging ball rolling. One way that you can get that ball rolling every time you sit down to write is to use a template. Having a template makes it a little easier to identify what you're going to write about and where it is going to fit on your page.

Even if you're not adept at writing HTML, you can make a template for your Blogger (Blogspot) blog posts. In the following video I demonstrate an easy way to create a template for a "weekly classroom summary" blog post. You can do this even if you have never written a single line of HTML.

How to Add Emojis to Word Documents - And How to Use Them in a Lesson

Last summer Tony Vincent helped me see emojis as more than just annoying symbols that people use in text messages and social media posts. He did that with a slick graphic that he created and shared on Twitter. In the graphic he featured a game in which students have to decipher school terms based on the emojis displayed. If you want to create a similar activity, you can do so by using emojis in Word. The Emoji Keyboard add-in for Word makes it easy to add emojis to any part of a Word document. Watch my new video to learn how to add emojis to Word documents.



You can also find emojis in Google Documents through the use of the special characters menu. Watch my video to learn how you can easily insert emojis into your Google Docs.

Pixabay Add-in for Word - A Quick Way to Add Images to Documents

Pixabay has been one of my go-to sources of high-quality images for years. The images on Pixabay are in the public domain which makes them perfect for all kinds of classroom projects. You can download the pictures for free from the Pixabay website. But if you or your students are working on on Word documents, the Pixabay add-in for Word makes it possible to find and insert images without having to go to the Pixabay website.

In the following video I demonstrate how to install and use the Pixabay add-in for Microsoft Word.



Find more Word add-ins here.

How to Create a Map-based Story With StoryMap JS

StoryMap JS is a free tool that comes from the same people that offer the popular multimedia timeline tool called Timeline JS. On StoryMap JS you can create map-based stories. You create the story by matching slides to locations on a map. In the following video I demonstrate how to use StoryMap JS.


Applications for Education
StoryMap JS can be used by students to tell the stories of great explorers and their explorations. Or as you saw in my video above, students can use StoryMap JS to tell personal stories that are connected to locations. While you could do similar things in Google's My Maps tool, StoryMap JS offers a better overall presentation particularly with regards to transitions between markers on the map.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Carmen Sandiego, Civics, and Sunshine - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where I am home after a week of working with some great teachers at the Sigsbee Charter School in Key West, Florida. We capped-off the week by doing an "Amazing Race" activity that was programmed in Metaverse.

This week six more people registered for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. If you're thinking of coming, register in March so you can get the early registration discount and be assured that there will be space for you.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Where On Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego? - A Great Geography Game
2. A Great Series of Cyber Safety Videos for Students
3. More Than 3500 Free Civics Lessons
4. How to Make Appointment Slots in Google Calendar
5. Get a Copy of My Jeopardy Gameboard Google Slides Template
6. Nature Sound Map - Explore the Sounds of Nature
7. Three Good Mobile Blogging Activities for Students



The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is happening on July 15th and 16th. I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Register in March and save $50! Registration is now open here.

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.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Are You Being Phished? - A Lesson from Google

Phishing Quiz With Google is an online activity for testing your ability to identify phishing emails. The activity begins when you enter a fake name and fake email address of your choosing. You will then see a series of emails that are addressed to your fake email address. When you see the emails you have to use clues like incongruities in URLs to determine if the email is legitimate or a phishing attempt. As soon as you click the "legitimate"  or "phishing" button you will see an explanation of why the email was legitimate or phishing.

Applications for Education
Phishing Quiz With Google could be a great activity to have students to do as a way to test their knowledge of clues to phishing attempts.

Now You Can Download Your Synth Podcasts

Synth is a free podcasting tool that I've been recommending since its launch last fall. It provides a simple way to create short podcasts that people can reply to with their own audio comments. Think of it kind of like Flipgrid for audio.

Yesterday, Synth announced that you and your students can now download your recordings as MP3 files. You can download an individual recording or a series of threaded recordings.

Making Animoto Videos With Purpose

It was almost eleven years ago that I discovered Animoto during my lunch break between two ninth-grade world geography classes. That day I tried Animoto while eating lunch and decided to have my next class make some short videos with it. In less than 30 minutes all of my students had made videos based on the reports they had written about the countries in Asia they had been studying. They were quick, they were pretty, they weren't terribly meaningful.

What I didn't realize eleven years ago when my students used Animoto then that I do know now is making a video isn't about slapping together a string of images and some music. Making a video is about planning a progression of visuals and using audio to tell a story. This is true whether the video is thirty seconds long or three hours long.

To move my students' Animoto videos from "cute, little summary videos" to something more meaningful I had to start having them plan their videos to tell a story or to make a point. To plan the videos I had students start writing simple outlines in which they stated the purpose of their videos, the images that they were going to use, and the tone of the music that they wanted to use in their videos. Once my students started to do this their videos started to have more purpose than just making a summary of events or concepts.

Animoto is not the only company to offer an easy way to combine pictures, text, and audio to make a video. There are plenty of others that do the same thing. Sharalike is one such service that I've featured in the past. Regardless of the video creation tool that you have students, having them create an outline will go a long way toward improving their videos. Here's a simple planning guide that you can use with your students.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

SFS Kids - Lessons on Listening and Composing Music

SFS Kids is the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra's website for kids. It is loaded with good activities for elementary school and middle school students.

On SFS Kids students can learn to compose and play music. Your students can jump into any section of SFS Kids and start learning, but it is probably best if they work through the sections in order. Students get started on SFS Kids by listening to samples of different styles of music performed by the symphony. A pop-up dialog box appears with each selection of music. In that dialog box students will learn a bit about the style of the composition and performance they're hearing. After listening to a selection of recordings students move on to playing games in which they try to recognize and match rhythms.

In the "performance" section of SFS Kids students learn about the instruments commonly heard in a symphony orchestra. After learning about how the instruments are played it is time for students to jump into the "composition" section of SFS Kids where they'll work through a series of lessons on the basics of composition and begin writing their own pieces.

Applications for Education
Students could spend an hour on SFS Kids and still not run out of things to explore. In a 1:1 setting you could have students create compositions on the site and then share them in your classroom as mini-concert of original compositions.

Interactive Map - The Battle of Gettysburg

Decisive Moments at the Battle of Gettysburg is an interactive map hosted on Smithsonian.com. The map details events of the battle and the decisions made by commanding officers on both sides of the war. You can navigate the map by using the timeline on the left-hand side of the map or by clicking the placemarks on the map. While viewing the map you will see "eye" icons that you can click to view a panorama of that location. The panoramic view is of Gettysburg as it exists today.

Applications for Education
Decisive Moments at the Battle of Gettysburg could be a good resource to use to support middle school or high school lessons on Gettysburg. The map also provides a good model of using ArcGIS Story Maps to convey geo-located information. Your students could take the model of Decisive Moments at the Battle of Gettysburg and apply it to the creation of their own maps about significant moments in history.

Three Pi Day Video Lessons

Today is Pi Day! March 14 or 3/14. Six years ago Numberphile published a couple of good videos about Pi. I shared them then and I think it's time to share them again. Pi with real pies is a three minutes and fourteen seconds video that explains Pi and how it can be calculated.




After showing the video above, you might want to follow up with this video, How Pi Was Nearly Changed to 3.2.


And here is a more recent video about Pi produced by Numberphile. It's titled A Mile of Pi. As you might guess, it's about a mile of digits.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Where On Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego? - A Great Geography Game

The theme song for Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? is an earworm for those of us who grew up in the 80's or early 90's. And thanks to Google's new partnership with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, we can now share the fun of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? with our kids.

This morning Google launched the first installment of Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego? The game can be played in the web version of Google Earth, on the iOS version of Google Earth, and on the Android version of Google Earth. The best experience will be found on the web version by simply going to g.co/carmensandiego.

Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego? isn't exactly like the old version that you might have played from floppy disks, but it's fun and could be a good way for kids to apply their knowledge of geography.

To play Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego? simply go to g.co/carmensandiego and start "interviewing" witnesses by clicking on the magnifying glass. When you click on an interviewee Google Earth will automatically zoom-in on the location of the interview. Just like in any other use of Google Earth, you can zoom and pan around the area of detail. After talking to the witnesses, use the information to make your best guess as to where you should fly to next to pursue Carmen Sandiego. Good luck!

Live Q&A Recording

This afternoon I hosted a live Q&A session on my YouTube channel in which I answered questions that had been submitted over the last week. Unfortunately, due to the widespread issues with Facebook accessibility that popped up today, I was not able to broadcast on Facebook. So if you were looking for the broadcast on Facebook, I'll have to get your question next week. The recording of the YouTube live stream is embedded below.

How to Make Appointment Slots in Google Calendar

All of this week I'm working with teachers in a charter school to help them improve their use of educational technology. Throughout the week I'm meeting with teachers individual and in small groups. To schedule the meetings I created appointment slots in Google Calendar. Using appointment slots in Google Calendar makes scheduling very easy compared to trying to use email, a spreadsheet, or even a shared Google Calendar. Watch this video to learn how you can make appointment slots in your Google Calendar.


The benefit of using appointment slots over simply sharing a Google Calendar is that no one can accidentally write over or remove a scheduled meeting.

Three Hands-on Pi Day Lessons

Tomorrow is Pi Day. If you're looking from some Pi Day activities to do with your students, take a look at the following three activities available on Exploratorium's Science Snacks site. I have provided brief summaries of each activity below. Click the links for the activities to read the full directions and materials list for each activity.

Pi Toss is an activity in which students toss tooth picks is a physical recreation of Buffon's Needle Problem.


Pi Graph is an activity in which students graph the diameter and circumference of a series of objects in order to see the linear relationship between any circle’s diameter and circumference.

Cutting Pi is an activity in which students use string to measure the circumference of an object and then attempt to cut the diameter of the object from the string as many times as possible. In other words, it's a physical way to divide the circumference by the diameter.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Live Q&A Tomorrow

Tomorrow at 5pm Eastern Time I'll be going live on my YouTube channel to answer another round of questions from readers like you. If you have a question about educational technology that you'd like me to answer you can put in the form below or just join the live broadcast and submit your question tomorrow. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified when the broadcast starts. I'll also broadcast on the Practical Ed Tech Facebook page.


Pi Day Programming Lessons

Tynker is a service that offers programming lessons for elementary school and middle school students. I published a full overview of the service a couple of days ago. You can read that overview here. For Pi Day Tynker is offering a free lesson plan in which students practice their programming skills by making art based on Pi.

Tynker's Pi Day lesson plan has students use Tynker's block programming interface (available to use in your web browser or on Tynker's iPad app) to create art and animations featuring the digits of Pi.

Applications for Education
Tynker's Pi Day lesson plan includes nine pages of step-by-step directions. Despite those detailed directions, if you have never done any programming with your students, I wouldn't make the Pi Day project your first attempt at programming with students. But if you and your students are already familiar with Tynker then the Pi Day lesson could be a fun one for you to use.

A New Look for Google Drive on iOS and Android

The Google Drive iOS and Android apps are getting a new look! As announced by Google earlier this afternoon, the apps are going to have a "material design" interface that is similar to the one used in the web browser version of Google Drive.

The updated Google Drive iOS and Android apps will have a new home screen that will not show the "quick access" panel at the top of the screen. The new home screen will simply show your latest files at the top in a linear view. The home screen also has a tab for Team Drives for those users who are part of a Team Drive. The search bar on the new home screen will be larger and prominent.

Another change to the Google Drive iOS and Android apps is found in the account switching function. In the new version you can simply tap on your profile icon in the upper-right corner of the app to switch between Google accounts.

The updated version of the Google Drive iOS app began rolling out today. The updated Android app for Google Drive will start appearing on March 18th.

These updates to the Google Drive mobile apps don't impact any of the functionality of Google Drive on iOS or Android. The updates should hopefully just make it easier to find and access the files that you need.

Screenshots courtesy of Google's outreach team.

Eat & Move-o-Matic Encourages Healthy Eating and Exercise

Eat & Move-o-Matic by the Learning Labs Game at New Mexico State University is a free iPad app intended to help teachers and students get a better understanding of the impact of their food choices.

Eat & Move-o-Matic is based on a simple premise. That simple premise is calories in, calories out. The does this by showing students how many calories are in their favorite foods and how many minutes of an activity they need to do to burn those calories. The app shows students common activities like riding bikes, jumping on a trampoline, and doing homework. Students can scroll through the food menus and activity menus until they find their favorites in each category. The app provides tips nutrition tips about each food including how to make a snack a little bit healthier.

Applications for Education
Eat & Move-o-Matic could be a good app for increasing students’ awareness of the healthiness of their favorite snacks. Likewise, it is good for showing students the benefit of regular exercise.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Three Good Mobile Blogging Activities for Students

One of my favorite uses of iPads, Android tablets, and cell phones is mobile blogging. Blogging apps make it possible for students to record their observations and those of others from almost anywhere. Here are three mobile blogging activities that you might have students try on your next field trip.

1. One-take and or quick-cut videos. Have your students interview each other in front of a landmark to talk about what they're learning on a field trip. The YouTube apps for iOS and Android are made for that type of activity. But if you're worried about privacy, have students post to a class Flipgrid by using the Flipgrid mobile apps. A complete overview of how to use Flipgrid is available here.

If your students have been taking a lot pictures on a field trip, have them organize a short audio slideshow video through the Animoto Android or iOS apps. Click here for an example that I made with the Animoto Android app.

2. Podcasts and audio notes. Have your students use Synth or Anchor to create simple audio recordings in which they describe what they're seeing on a field trip. They can also use the apps to record informal interviews with folks like museum tour guides or park rangers. Both apps are demonstrated here.

3. Enhance pictures. Your students can use ThingLink (iOS or web browser) or PicCollage (available for iOS and Android) to add some information to pictures that they take on field trips. In the case of ThingLink they can add interactive elements to their pictures. Those elements can include links, notes, video clips, MP3 recordings, and other images. In the case of PicCollage students can put together a simple collage of field trip highlights.

The Science of Surfing

The Physics of Surfing is a new TED-Ed lesson that was released this morning. The short lesson explains how waves are formed, why they get bigger as they approach shore, and the geological influences that make waves bigger in some areas than others. The lesson also covers how surfboard shapes affect the way surfers ride on waves. The complete lesson is available here.


A few related lessons are found in Football Physics, the Physics of Skiing, and the Science of Baseball.

A Great Series of Cyber Safety Videos for Students

This morning someone asked me for a recommendation for some good resources to help students learn cyber safety lessons. The first thing that came to mind was Planet Nutshell's Net Safe series.

Planet Nutshell's Net Safe series has eighteen episodes covering topics like protecting personal information, responsible posting of pictures, and mobile location privacy. The videos are labeled with grade levels. Below each grade level label you will find a summary of the key points of each video. A video for K-3 students and a video for high school students are embedded below.



Sunday, March 10, 2019

Nature Sound Map - Explore the Sounds of Nature

Nature Sound Map provides a neat way to explore the soundscape of the natural world. On the Nature Sound Map you will find placemarks containing recordings of nature. The recordings have been added to the project by professional sound recorders. Some of the recordings you will find feature the sounds of just one animal, the sounds of a jungle, sounds of a marsh, sounds of a storm, or sounds of oceans and rivers.

Applications for Education
In science courses the sound map offers a nice way for students to hear the sounds of animals that they're learning about in different regions of the world. In some cases the sound recordings combined with Street View imagery could give students a more complete picture of what it is like to be at ground level in a place.

More Than 3500 Free Civics Lessons

60 Second Civics has long been one of my go-to resources for lessons on U.S. civics and government. 60 Second Civics is a daily podcast produced by the Center for Civic Education. Each 60 Second Civics episode offers a short lesson about US Civics. Along with each episode is a one question quiz about that day's episode. As of today there are 3,550 episodes.

You can find 60 Second Civics on the Center for Civic Education's website, on Stitcher, or you can subscribe to it on iTunes.

Applications for Education
Playing 60 Second Civics could be a good "starter activity" at the beginning of a US History or Civics class. You might consider combining and or alternating the use of 60 Second Civics with a resource like CNN 10, PBS Newshour Extra, or one of the other news sites I featured here.

A Lesson About Milk

With two growing toddlers we go through a lot of milk at my house. Whole milk for my daughters and 1% or skim for me. That's my lead in to a little lesson that students can take with them to the grocery store. That lesson is the differences in the types of milk that they find in the dairy case. In the video below Brain Stuff explains the differences between skim, 1%, 2%, and whole milk. The process of creating skim milk is also included in the video.



Applications for Education
After watching the Brain Stuff video on the different types of milk, consider continuing your nutrition lessons with one of the resources from Nourish Interactive.

Nourish Interactive is a site for elementary school health and nutrition teachers. On the site you will find lesson plans, printable guides and forms, resources for parents, and games for students.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

News and Add-ons - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it's not quite as frosty as it has been the last few weeks. According to the calendar spring is only a couple of weeks away. The many feet of snow in my backyard disguise that fact. I'm ready for spring which is why this week I tied a bunch of flies that I plan to use for spring fishing. I hope that you had time for your hobbies this week too.

We're a third of the way through the month so it is a good time to remind you that there are just 21 days left to get early registration discounts for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. 5 Favorite Google Slides Add-ons
2. My 5 Favorite Google Docs Add-ons
3. Five Good Places to Find Current Events Stories for Kids
4. Six New G Suite Features for Teachers and Students
5. Get a Copy of My Jeopardy Gameboard Google Slides Template
6. 5 Good Chrome Extensions for Teachers and Students
7. My 5 Favorite Google Forms Add-ons


The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is happening on July 15th and 16th. I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Register in March and save $50! Registration is now open here.

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.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.

Tynker Offers a Good Way to Introduce Students to Programming

Tynker is a service that provides activities to help students developing coding skills. I first tried Tynker years ago and have watched it grow from a simple app to a full-blown coding curriculum for elementary and middle school use. The Tynker coding environment makes learning to code fun and immediately accessible to students in elementary school and middle school. Of course, older kids can use it too.

Getting Started With Tynker in Your Classroom
Register as a teacher at Tynker.com to start using it in your classroom. Registration is easy because you can sign-up by using your Microsoft account, by using your Google account, by using Clever, or by entering your email address and picking a password. One of the benefits of registering with your Google or Clever account is that you can instantly import a roster from those services into your Tynker account. Otherwise, you can manually a roster and accounts for your students to use on Tynker. Either way, Tynker provides a convenient PDF of your students’ username and passwords.

Once you have set-up your account, you can begin assigning courses and lessons to your students. Tynker provides three free courses to pick from (nine additional courses are available in a premium account).Within your Tynker account you can track your students’ progress through each lesson.

Tynker provides detailed teaching guides for each course. The guides include suggested time frames, questions to ask students, standards alignment, and screenshots of what students will see when they’re trying to complete an activity in Tynker. And if you need more support, Tynker has an extensive help center, a community forum, and on-demand professional development webinars that you can access at any time.

What Tynker Looks Like to Students
At its core Tynker gives students a block-based programming interface. Students drag and drop code blocks into place to create a program. The introductory lessons have kids making animations while more advanced lessons have students programming music videos and games. And when students are ready for the hardest challenges they can use Tynker on their own to create Minecraft mods, to control connected robots, build web apps, and create mobile games for use on Android and iOS.

Want to learn more about how you can introduce programming and coding in your classroom? Register for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp

The Spanish-American War Animated

This post is a long overdue shout-out to MrBettsClass. Mr. Betts produces engaging animated history videos for students. In contrast to the deep-dives that Tom Richey does for AP history students, the videos on MrBettsClass are more general overviews of topics in U.S. History. Take a look at the recent Spanish-American War animated video from MrBettsClass to get a good idea of what the channel is all about.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Get a Copy of My Jeopardy Gameboard Google Slides Template

In a workshop that I led last week I introduced the concept of linking slides together within a set of Google Slides. That concept can be used to have students create a choose-your-own-adventure story or you can use to create a Jeopardy-style gameboard. I made a Jeopardy-style gameboard using Google Slides that you can use as a template for own review game. You can get the template here. And watch the following video for my explanation on how to modify the template.



297 Google Tools Tutorial Videos

About four years ago I started to put forth a concerted effort to publish more tutorial videos on my YouTube channel. In that time I have created nearly 1000 tutorials. 297 of those tutorials are about various products available to G Suite for Education users.

You can find all 297 of my Google tools tutorial videos in this playlist. In the playlist you will find videos about things like using Word Art in Google Slides, how to create canned responses in Gmail, and how to use data validation in Google Forms.


How to Use Jamboard Without Owning a Jamboard

In Wednesday's Practical Ed Tech Live episode I suggested having students use Google's Jamboard to collaboratively create drawings. A couple people have emailed me to ask how that is done if you don't own one of Google's physical interactive whiteboards called Jamboards. The answer is that you can simply go to jamboard.google.com in your web browser, sign into your Google account, and start drawing. You can also do the same with the Jamboard Android app and the Jamboard iOS app. Watch my video to see how you can use Jamboard online without owning a physical Jamboard.


Applications for Education
A few student uses for Jamboard include creating mind maps, making flowcharts, and making simple cartoon stories. If they're using Jamboard to make mind maps or flowcharts, don't forget that students can use the text and image tools.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Recording of Yesterday's Live Q&A

Yesterday afternoon I hosted another edition of Practical Ed Tech Live! I answered a handful of questions from readers during the fourteen minute broadcast. The recording is now available to watch here and as embedded below. The questions that I answered appear below the video.


Do you have a suggestion for a way to move my folders from one Google drive to another one? I'm moving and want to take with me my work folders. Thanks!
Joan

We have students needing to digitally draw for a create-your-own-shoe project in business Ed classes. Will you please recommend a few digital resources they can use?
John

A while back you had posted about how to create flashcards that open up in your browser when you sign on to the Internet. For the life of me I can’t remember if this was an extension or a site. Do you have any idea what I’m talking about? I’d like to share it with a parent whose child is struggling with his math facts.
Marni

Do you have a recommendation on how to make interactive videos? I looked at YouTube’s editor. It appears that it only works for approved partners.
Shelly

I am looking for some excellent math apps for Grade 1 and 2. Any suggestions that are either free or relatively less expensive? I am also looking so that they can be linked to all the ipads in the classroom without having to buy each app separately.
Caroline

I'm seeing a lot of great things about choice boards, online stations, etc. This is a component I want to implement for next year. However, I would really like to be able to add my voice on a Google Slide/Google Sheet so that students can hear the directions from me. Is this possible on the iPad? How exactly do I do this. I'm seeing a lot of tutorials but nothing is instructing me on how to make this work for students with a 1:1 iPad.
Alicia

How are schools using Google Cardboard? Are they buying ipods or iphones? Is there an affordable option that schools are using?
Clair

Our district is looking for a way to record test questions & answer choices individually so a student can click on a question and have just that one read to them. I normally read the whole test using Audacity and download one MP3 file but they want smaller chunks. Wizer is too inconsistent. Searched your website and didn't see anything that already existed. Any ideas?
Jennifer

5 Good Chrome Extensions for Teachers and Students

Now that I've run through my five favorite add-ons for Google Docs, Sheets, Forms, and Slides it's time to share my favorite Chrome extensions for teachers and students. Like my other lists, this list is comprised of my go-to recommendations not necessarily the most popular extensions.

Share to Classroom is a Chrome extension that makes it easy to quickly push a webpage to your students. You can use Share to Classroom to push the page just for your students to read or you can use the extension to create an assignment or discussion question.

Loom is a Chrome extension that you can use to create screencast videos. There are lots of other extensions that do the same thing. What I like about Loom is that you can use it to create and send a screencast directly from your Gmail inbox. Watch this video to see how it's done.


ReCall Study Time is a Chrome extension for limiting the amount of time you spend on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram. When you have ReCall Study Time enabled you will see a huge reminder to get back to work if you try to open one of those five social media sites. Learn more about ReCall Study Time and two similar extensions by watching this video.


The Google Keep Chrome extension that makes it easy to save bookmarks and notes to your Google Keep account. You can then access your notes and bookmarks at Keep.Google.com or view them through Google Docs. If you're already using G Suite for Education, Google Keep is a convenient place to save your bookmarks and notes.

Audio Player for Google Slides answers the question, "how do I add music to Google Slides?" With Audio Player for Google Slides installed you can not only add music to play continuously in the background of a presentation you can also use it to record audio in your Google Slides.

In the following video I demonstrate how to install, disable, and remove extensions from your Chrome web browser.

Tom Richey Explains Tariffs

Tom Richey's YouTube channel is a must-subscribe for AP history (European and U.S.) students and their teachers. He regularly posts engaging lectures about a wide variety of topics in that are integral to developing an advanced understanding of European and U.S. History. He also hosts live review sessions on his YouTube channel.

Tom's latest video explains the differences between revenue and protective tariffs.



One of the best parts of Tom's videos is his use of slides and slide transitions to support the lecture. The pacing is perfect for most students to be able to take notes while watching the video. The pacing is also good for creating a flipped video lesson. Take a look at these tools for building lessons with YouTube videos.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Now You Can Use Your Own VR Tours in Google Expeditions on iOS

A couple of weeks ago I published a video about how to use your own virtual reality tours in the Android version of Google Expeditions. In that video I mentioned that support for doing the same in the iOS version of Expeditions was coming soon. As of today the wait is over. As Google announced on Twitter about an hour ago, you can now use your own VR tours in the iOS version of Google Expeditions.

To make your own VR tours to use in Google Expeditions you will need to use Google's VR Tour Creator in your web browser. To learn how to use the VR Tour Creator, watch this video.



In the following video I demonstrate how to use your VR Tour Creator tours in Google Expeditions.



Watch this video for an overview of how to lead students in Google Expeditions.

Here's the Latest Thing I Learned About Myself Through Google Alerts

Like any good digital citizen I have Google Alerts set up for my name and related spellings of my name. Over the years I've learned through Google Alerts that there are karate experts, children's authors, voice coaches, and theater critics who are also named Richard Byrne. Yesterday, I made a new discovery about "myself." That discovery is that I was once a professional wrestler who lost a match to King Kong Bundy.

In the summary of Google Alerts that I received yesterday there was a link to an article about the passing of King Kong Bundy. The end of the article stated, "In his very last bout, he defeated Richard Byrne on Dec. 5, 2017." For the record, I have never set foot in a professional wrestling ring, but when I was a little kid I would have loved to.

Watch this video to learn how you can create Google Alerts and learn fun things about yourself.

My Five Favorite Google Sheets Add-ons

Last week and through the beginning of this week I have been featuring my favorite Google Docs, Slides, and Forms add-ons. Today, it is time to share my favorite Google Sheets add-ons. These aren't necessarily the most popular add-ons, but they are the ones that I think of first whenever I'm asked for recommendations for Sheets add-ons to try.

Flippity provides teachers with twenty handy Google Sheets templates for creating things like quiz games, audio flashcards, and progress trackers. Flippity's Google Sheets Add-on that makes all of their templates available with just a couple of clicks in any of your Google Sheets. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to install and use Flippity's Google Sheets Add-on.


Flubaroo is not as popular as it once was, but it is still a great Google Sheets add-on. Flubaroo you grade all at once all of your students' responses to a quiz created in Google Forms. You're probably saying to yourself, "Google Forms does that too." You're right Google Forms does do that, but Flubaroo lets you do more than just grade quizzes. You can use it do things to print score sheets for your students, give students digital badges, and give partial credit for answers. Take a look at this video for an overview of ten things you can do with Flubaroo.


Online Rubric is a Google Spreadsheets Add-on that enables to you create rubrics, enter scores, and email scores to students all from one place. Online Rubric provides very clear instructions for each step of the processes of creating a roster sheet, creating a rubric, and emailing grades to students. The video below provides a demonstration of how to use the Online Rubric Add-on.



Add Reminders is a Google Sheets Add-on that will set-up your spreadsheet so that you simply enter reminder messages and email addresses then specify a date on which you want your reminders sent. The Add Reminders Add-on allows you to send the same reminder to everyone in your email list or you can send individualized reminders to everyone in your email list. Watch the video below to learn how to use the Add Reminders Add-on.



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.

How to Move Materials Between Your G Suite Accounts

Earlier this week a reader sent me the following question, "Do you have a suggestion for a way to move my folders from one Google drive to another one? I'm moving and want to take with me my work folders." I do have a suggestion. The suggestion is to either download your folders as ZIP files and then upload them to your new account or to simply share the files between the old account and new account. I demonstrate both options and explain a bit more about them in the following video.