Friday, July 19, 2019

Another Great Source of Ed Tech Tools Tutorial Videos

On Thursday I shared my playlist of more than 300 Google tools tutorial videos. Today I'd like to highlight someone else's YouTube channel. Brad Dale regularly publishes quick tutorial videos about a variety of helpful, free tools including Wakelet, Flipgrid, and Google Drawings. And it's through Brad's YouTube channel that I learned about a neat tool for generating transcripts of YouTube videos. That tool is called Gnotes.io. It will automatically create a transcript of any YouTube video that you choose. That transcript can be saved directly into your Google Docs too. Watch Brad's video below to see how Gnotes.io creates transcripts of YouTube videos.

Neil and Buzz Go For a Walk - A Tour of the First Hours on the Moon

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. By now you've probably seen Google's Google Earth story about the mission. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a few minutes of your time. Neil and Buzz Go For a Walk is another neat site about the Apollo 11 mission that's worth bookmarking.

Neil and Buzz Go For a Walk is the story of the first two hours Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent on the moon. The site is a scrolling display of the highlights of the transcript of Armstrong and Aldrin to each other and to NASA while on the surface of the moon. As you scroll through the transcript's highlights you'll see little drawings representing Aldrin and Armstrong as well as a little timeline.

Applications for Education 
Neil and Buzz Go For a Walk offers an engaging presentation of the transcript of Aldrin and Armstrong's first hours on the moon. Before showing the site to students I'd ask them to make some guesses as to what the surface of the moon looks like up close and how it feels. I'd also ask them to share their thoughts about what they would talk about to each other if they were the first people to land on the moon.

Thanks to Maps Mania for the link to Neil and Buzz Go For a Walk. Check out Maps Mania for more great map-based stories and websites. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

300+ Google Tools Tutorial Videos

In early 2015 I started to make an effort to publish more tutorial videos on my YouTube channel. Since then I've created more than 1,000 tutorial videos. Included in those is a playlist of 331 tutorials about the Google tools that teachers and students use most.

You can find all 331 of my Google tools tutorial videos in this playlist. In the playlist you will find videos about things like creating activity trackers in Google Formshow to create canned responses in Gmail, creating QR codes for Google Forms, and how to use data validation in Google Forms.





Common Craft Explains How to Craft Clear Email Communication

Love it or hate it, email is a part of our daily work lives. And for our students of middle school age or older it's a part of their daily lives too. If you're like me, the emails that you reply to the fastest are the shortest emails that get right to the point. Brevity is one of the components of crafting clear email communication. Clear email communication is the topic of Common Craft's latest video.

By watching Clear Email Communication viewers can learn how to get a recipient's attention and how to get a response from recipients.


On the topic of email communication, Emailing Your Teacher, With Captain Communicator is one of my favorite videos about email etiquette. The short video features two students demonstrating how to write an email to a teacher. It's cute and well worth 90 seconds of your time.



The following video was made by a teacher for the purpose of sharing email etiquette tips with students. It's a bit more serious that the Captain Communicator video.



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

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Ten Handy Google Keep Features for Teachers and Students

Google Keep is a great tool that students and teachers can access through G Suite for Education and through Gmail. Google Keep works just as well in the Chrome web browser as in the mobile apps. There are many some obvious features of Google Keep, like bookmarking, and there are some "hidden" features that are also good to know about, like annotating images. In the following video I demonstrate ten handy features of Google Keep.


Ten Google Keep Features Demonstrated in the Video:
1. Bookmarking
2. To do lists
3. Sharing notes and bookmarks
4. Date and time reminders
5. Location-based reminders
6. Drawing notes
7. Annotating images
8. Sending notes to Google Docs
9. Using note labels and searching notes
10. Color-coding notes

What's the Fastest Tire Pressure? - A Science Lesson

Global Cycling Network is a popular YouTube channel that produces high-quality videos about all aspects of bicycle riding. The videos are hosted by retired professional cyclists. The topics covered by GCN range from basics like picking a proper helmet to more nuanced topics like finding the tire pressure that will make you fastest on your bicycle. That's the topic covered in this GCN video featuring Emma Pooley, a retired professional cyclist who also holds a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering.

In What's the Fastest Tyre Pressure? Emma Pooley does some road testing of tire pressures before then heading into the classroom to explain the physics factors that influence the speed.


Applications for Education
Before showing this video to your students they could do some of their own testing of tire pressure on bicycles. Have them make some hypotheses about which tire pressure will be the fastest on their own bicycles. Or if your school is one that has bicycles available in the physical education department, make this experiment an outdoor activity during the school day.

The video could also be useful in demonstrating to students the many variables that must be accounted for when conducting an experiment. For example, in the first few minutes of the video there are many opportunities for students to identify variables that could affect the outcome of the experiment.

Quik - Quickly Create Audio Slideshow Videos

Quik is a free app from GoPro for quickly creating videos on your Android or iOS phone or tablet. With the app installed on you can import pictures and videos that you have stored on your phone, in Google Photos, or in a GoPro Plus account. After you've selected a few pictures or video clips Quik then generates a video that combines those selected pictures and video clips. Quik automatically adds music and applies image effects to the video. You can change the automatically added music and image effects by simply selecting a different theme from Quik's menu of video themes. Watch my video that is embedded below for a demonstration of the Quik app. Get the Android version here and the get the iOS version here.


Applications for Education
Quik could be a good app for students to use to quickly create a video of highlights of a field trip, to showcase some highlights from a group project, or to simply make a little autobiographical video to share with friends and family.

It should be noted that Quik is also available as desktop software for Mac and Windows. The desktop version offers more features than the mobile version.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

See What's Behind Any Webpage With Mozilla's X-Ray Goggles

One of the topics that we talked about during the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp was digital literacy and critical thinking. To that end, I presented Mozilla's X-Ray Goggles as a tool that can be used to create a modified version of real news story from legitimate sources. Mozilla's X-Ray Goggles lets you see the code behind any web page and change that code to display anything that you want in place of the original text and images. After you have made the changes you can publish a local copy of the web page.

Watch the following video that I created to learn how to use Mozilla's X-Ray Goggles.



Applications for Education
Mozilla's X-Ray Goggles provides a good way for students to see how the code of a webpage works.

As I mentioned in the video, you could use X-Ray Goggles to alter an article on the web to make it a satire story. Then print the page and give it to your students to try to identify the satire elements of the story.

Find and Share National Parks Stories

A buffalo I saw while hiking in
Grand Teton in 2006.
Find Your Park is a U.S. National Parks service website. The purpose of the site is to help people discover the National Parks near them and the activities they can enjoy in the parks.  To that end, Find Your Park offers tools for finding parks according to location and or activity type. You can search for a park or public land by name, location, or activity. When you select a park from the search results, you can dive into more information about that park.

If you do visit one of the parks, Find Your Park encourages you to share your pictures and stories of the experience. You can do that by uploading your pictures and stories directly to the Share Your Experience section of the Find Your Park website.

Applications for Education
As the weather warms and you start to think about outdoor activities for your children or your students, take a look at Find Your Park. Find Your Park could help you discover educational programs happening in a national park near you.

Pros and Cons of Using Social Media for School Announcements

Today at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp I was asked for my opinion about using Facebook as the primary tool for posting information for the parents of your students. Answering that question reminded me of an article that I wrote a few years ago on the same topic. An updated version of that article appears below.

When used correctly social media can be a fantastic aid in spreading the good word about your school. As I wrote in my post about socializing school events with social media, social media can be very helpful in building a positive feeling of community around your school too. On the other hand, social media isn't always the best way to share news about your school. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of using social media for school announcements.

The social media networks you might use:
In an effort to be concise this post will deal only with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Unless otherwise specified the pros and cons here will deal with all four networks as category rather than breaking out the pros and cons of each network individually.

Pros of using social media for school announcements:
  1. The likelihood of students checking their favorite social networks frequently is much higher than that of them checking email frequently. 
  2. You can quickly post concise messages with visuals that grab the attention of students and their parents. (I've been testing using large images into my Tweets lately. Each time I do I get more favorites and reTweets than I do with the same message that lacks a visual). 
  3. It is easy for students and or parents to share the announcement through a reTweet, tag or share on Facebook, or a tag/mention on Instagram. 
  4. It is easy for students and parents to reply to announcements. 
  5. A small archive of recent announcements is automatically created for you. 
Cons of using social media for school announcements:


  1. You must convince students and parents to follow or like your school's social media account. 
  2. Students and parents who follow a lot of social media accounts can easily overlook yours. This is especially true on Facebook because Facebook tends to hide posts from people/pages that haven't been interacted with on a frequent basis. (In other words, if you click on a lot of "cuddly kitten/ puppy" stories on Facebook you're more likely to see more of those than you are stories from sources that you don't click frequently). 
  3. You, your school administrator, or some committee within the school needs to decide who will be the "official" social media voice of the school. In other words, decide who gets to post on the school account. 
  4. Someone has to monitor and moderate conversations that arise from announcements posted on social media. On a Facebook page or Instagram account you can delete inappropriate comments. On Twitter your only option is to block, mute, or report the offender. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

A Chrome Extension That Shows You the Value of Your Time

Time Is Money is a free Chrome extension that can help students see what the expression "time is money" means. Time Is Money will display the number of hours a person would have to work in order to have enough money to purchase any product that has a price listed on a shopping site. For example, I went to Cabelas.com and found a couple of sweaters that I might like to buy. With the Time Is Money extension activated, the price in dollars is displayed along with the price in hours I would have to work in order to buy those sweaters. Time Is Money can be customized to be based on your hourly wage or your annual salary.

Applications for Education
High school students who have just gotten their first jobs may find the information that Time Is Money reveals to be an eye-opener. It's also a nice little extension that I will integrate into my hands-on economics lesson, Life on Minimum Wage.

My only criticism of the extension is that it doesn't appear to account for taxes and Social Security contributions being withheld from a paycheck.

How to Use Feedly

I'm often asked how I keep up with what's new in educational technology. Part of the answer to that question is social media and part of the answer is press releases. The biggest part of the answer is Feedly. I use Feedly to subscribe to a couple hundred websites and blogs. I've been using it daily since 2012 (prior to that I used Google Reader for six years). Feedly's interface is simple. Simple interfaces appeal to me. The service works in essentially the same way in my browser as it does on my phone. In the video embedded below I demonstrate the basics of getting started with Feedly.


Applications for Education
If you have students creating and maintaining their own blogs, you could use Feedly to keep track of their blogs.

Subscribing to blogs through Feedly is a great way to keep up with new ideas and trends in your field. Following just one dozen blogs is a good way to get started.

Zip Tapestry - Demographic Data and More, Mapped

Zip Lookup is an interesting use of the ESRI mapping platform. The map allows you to enter any US zip code to discover demographic data about that area. Whenever I see something like this I am skeptical of how well it will work for very small towns like the one that I live in (South Paris, Maine). I was pleasantly surprised to find that Zip Lookup was quite accurate.

The site will give you graphs of the demographic data for a zip code. It will also give you a little blurb about what the data graphs mean in terms of the characteristics of the town or city represented by the data.

Applications for Education
Zip Lookup could be a neat tool for students to use to discover how people in other parts of their counties, states, or country live. A short research activity based on Zip Lookup would be to investigate what draws people of a particular demographic to an area.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Green Screens, Posters, and Books - The Week in Review

Good afternoon from Maine where I'm enjoying watching a replay of today's Tour de France stage after a fun morning participating in a team triathlon. My team finished, "The Team With No Name," finished first and won a cowbell. I hope that you're also having a great weekend.

Next week I'm hosting the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. Getting the opportunity to leads hands-on professional development is my favorite part of writing this blog. If you'd like to have me lead a professional development workshop at your school during the upcoming school year, please get in touch with me for more information.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. My 5 Favorite Google Docs Add-ons
2. A Free Service That Lets You Print Almost Any Poster
3. Mapping Books
4. 5 Helpful Gmail Features for Teachers
5. How to Create a Green Screen Video in iMovie
6. How to Refine a Search According to Top-level Domain
7. How to Create a Green Screen Video on an iPad


Practical Ed Tech Newsletter
Many people ask if they can get a weekly email instead of daily email. That's exactly what you get with the Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. Once per week I send out my favorite tip of the week along with a summary of the week's most popular posts from this blog. You can join that newsletter here.

Thank You for Your Support!

A Super Shark Lesson for Kids for Shark Week

Every summer Discovery runs a week of programming all about sharks. They call it Shark Week and it usually has some interesting content even if it is a bit sensationalized. That said, I my daughters won't be watching it with me and I don't recommend it for other young children. But if you are looking for a video about sharks for young students, SciShow Kids offers Super Sharks!

Super Sharks! is a video for kids that explains the unique elements of a shark's body including cartilage skeletons, why some sharks will have thousands of teeth during their lives, and what a shark's skin feels like. The video also teaches students about the largest sharks (whale shark) and smallest sharks (dwarf lantern shark) in the oceans.


On a related note, my youngest daughter's favorite book at the moment is Good Night Sharks. She wants it read to her every night.

The Science of Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Like most toddlers, my daughters love grilled cheese sandwiches. I enjoy a good one too. My daughters prefer the ones mommy makes to the ones that I make. Again, I do too. She just seems to have a better grasp of the art and science of making a good grilled cheese. While the art of making a grilled cheese sandwich is debatable, there is actual science involved in creating the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Reactions, a YouTube channel that features lessons about the chemistry of everyday life, has a video that explains the science of the perfect grilled cheese sandwich.


Applications for Education
The Science of the Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich covers the chemistry of milk and the chemistry of the process of creating cheese. Then to complete the sandwich the video covers the PH of cheese and why that is important in selecting the perfect cheese for a grilled a cheese sandwich. Spoiler alert: mild cheddar is better for a grilled cheese sandwich than sharp cheddar.

The Science of the Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich is just one of more than five dozen videos that Reactions has produced about the chemistry of food.

Friday, July 12, 2019

NowComment - A Good Tool for Hosting Online Discussions

NowComment is an interesting tool for creating online conversations centered around shared documents. While you could do something similar in Google Docs, NowComment was designed for hosting threaded discussions and works with a wide variety of document types including PDFs and Word files.

NowComment lets you upload a document then create a discussion about the document as a whole or about selected portions of the document. If your document includes images, you can create discussions about those images as well as the document and selected portions of the document. In other words, you could have three threaded discussions running at the same time about the same document. In this scenario you would have a discussion about the whole document, a discussion about a selected portion of the document, and a discussion about the image in the document. That might sound like it would be confusing, but it's not. At the top of the document that you upload into NowComment you can select the conversation(s) that you do or don't want to view.

Applications for Education
NowComment is the kind of tool that can be helpful in facilitating a discussion about a primary source document in a history class. Similarly, it could be a good option for facilitating online discussion and evaluation of research reports.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for adding NowComment to his list of tools for annotating websites

A Free Service That Lets You Print Almost Any Poster

Canva is a great service for designing all kinds of graphics for online and offline use. Canva includes a gallery of templates for making classroom posters. Once you have designed your poster you can use Canva's print-on-demand service to have it printed and mailed to you. Canva charges a nominal fee for their print-on-demand service. Alternatively, you can download your poster as PDF for free and then print it yourself.

If you have designed a poster in Canva or with a similar graphic design tool, save your design as a PDF. Then use Block Posters to print your poster for free on your own printer. Block Posters is a web-based tool to which you can upload a high quality graphic then divide it into letter-sized chunks for printing. Print out each section and put them together on a poster board to make your own poster.

Applications for Education
When you have designed a great infographic or poster online that you want to display in your classroom, Block Posters is a great tool for you to use to print it. Want to create a giant jigsaw puzzle? Block Posters could be useful for that. Or if you have students create their own infographics that they want to display, you can print them out with Block Posters.

How to Create a Green Screen Video on an iPad

Last night I posted a tutorial on how to create a green screen video in iMovie on a Mac. After I Tweeted that some folks asked me about making green screen videos on iPads. As I promised to them, here's my tutorial on how to create a green screen video on an iPad.


Materials and Tips for Making Green Screen Videos

  • Your live action needs to be recorded in front of a green screen. You can purchase screens specifically made for this purpose or do what I do and head down to your local Walmart an purchase a queen size green bed sheet. 
    • If you do choose the green bed sheet option, make sure you stretch the sheet tightly enough to remove any wrinkles.
  • When it comes to lighting, the goal is to remove any shadows and cast an even light on person(s) in the video and on the screen itself. Again, you can buy lighting kits made specifically for this purpose or use a couple of cheap clamp-on lights like these that I have in my office.
  • Whenever possible try to have students use images and video clips that are in the public domain as the background for their videos. Pixabay and Pexels offer large collections of public domain videos and pictures. 
If you're interested in making green screen videos on Chromebooks or Windows computers, I recommend trying WeVideo. You can watch my video tutorial on using WeVideo to make green screen videos here

Thursday, July 11, 2019

How to Create a Green Screen Video in iMovie

Creating green screen videos is be a fun way for students to share what they've learned through research about a place or event. Making green screen videos is also a great way for kids to make their own weather forecast and newscast videos. Through the use of green screen editing students can virtually appear in front of almost any landmark, appear on stage in front of an audience, or any just about any other place that they can find a picture or video of. If you're interested in having your students create green screen videos, here's my short guide to making green screen videos in iMovie.


Materials and Tips for Making Green Screen Videos

  • Your live action needs to be recorded in front of a green screen. You can purchase screens specifically made for this purpose or do what I do and head down to your local Walmart an purchase a queen size green bed sheet. 
    • If you do choose the green bed sheet option, make sure you stretch the sheet tightly enough to remove any wrinkles.
  • When it comes to lighting, the goal is to remove any shadows and cast an even light on person(s) in the video and on the screen itself. Again, you can buy lighting kits made specifically for this purpose or use a couple of cheap clamp-on lights like these that I have in my office.
  • Whenever possible try to have students use images and video clips that are in the public domain as the background for their videos. Pixabay and Pexels offer large collections of public domain videos and pictures. 
If you're interested in making green screen videos on Chromebooks or Windows computers, I recommend trying WeVideo. You can watch my video tutorial on using WeVideo to make green screen videos here

Schedule Assignment/ Assessment Windows in Otus LMS

Otus is a learning management system that continues to grow in popularity in part because of some of the tools they offer for free that other learning management systems don't offer or charge extra to use. One of those features is an assignment/ assessment window.

The assignment/ assessment window feature in Otus lets teachers set a start time and end time for the availability of an assessment. You can set up to ten different availability windows for each assessment. Being able to set multiple availability windows is a great option when you have some students absent or for other reasons need to differentiate the timing of assessments.



Another of the great features that Otus offers is a video feedback capability. As I wrote last year, Video feedback can feel a lot more personal to a student than just reading some comments that you have written in a document. While it might not be as efficient as using canned comments, giving video feedback on big projects can make students feel better about the feedback they're getting.

5 Ways to Enhance Your Classroom Blog

A classroom blog can be used for so many purposes that it is still one of the things that I think every class should have. A blog can be used for communicating important information to parents and students, it can be used by students as a journal to reflect on lessons, it can be used as a digital portfolio, and it can be a way to connect your class with other classes around the world. Now is a great time to tweak your existing blog before the time-crunch of the new school year arrives.

1. Add an Engaging Sidebar Widget or Two
One way to make your blog a destination in your students' and their parents' web browsing habits is to regularly update it with engaging and important information. You can do this in the form of blog posts and in the form engaging third-party widgets. Clustrmaps is a widget that displays how many people have viewed the blog and where in the world they're viewing it. Adding an Instagram or Flickr widget is a good way to keep parents interested in the blog by showing displaying pictures of school activities (of course, make sure that you have permission before showing pictures of students' faces in the blog). Edublogs has a great list of engaging widgets that are appropriate for classroom blogs.

2. Create a FAQ or "Need to Know" Page. 
If you have been teaching for more than a year or two in the same school, you probably have a good sense of the kinds of questions that parents and students frequently ask at the beginning of the school year. Create a FAQ page on your blog to help parents and students get answers to those questions.

3. Create a Featured Blog Post
A featured or "pinned" blog post is one that always appears at the top of the list of posts on your blog's homepage. At the beginning of the school year your featured post might be a welcome message. Later in the school year your featured post might be a reminder or a note of encouragement for students and their parents. Watch my video below to learn how to create featured blog posts.


4. Add a Custom Favicon to Your Blog
A favicon is the little icon that appears in your browser tab next to the title of your blog. The favicon can help people pick your blog out from all of the other tabs that they may have open in their web browsers. You can easily add a custom favicon to your classroom blog. Watch my videos below to learn how to customize the favicon in Blogger, Edublogs, and WordPress.



5. Add a Calendar Page to Your Blog
If you use Google Calendar to display upcoming events and assignment due dates, add that calendar to a page on your classroom blog. Here's how you can do that.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Practical Ed Tech On-Demand Webinars

One of the ways that I'm able to keep Free Technology for Teachers going is through the sale of my in-person workshops and professional development webinars on Practical Ed Tech. I hosted webinars throughout the 2018-19 school year. The most popular of those webinars are available on-demand.

I'm offering the 2018-19 school year webinars on sale for the rest of July. During the sale you can save as much as 67% compared to the regular price. You can purchase the webinars individually for $15 each or all six in one package for $50. Find all of the webinars right here

After July the webinars will not be available to purchase as they will be replaced by new live webinars in the 2019-2020 school year starting in August.

How to Customize Your Edublogs Favicon

A couple of weeks ago I published a video about how to customize the favicon on Blogger blogs. Since then I've answered a few emails from readers who wanted to know if the same is possible in Edublogs. Yes, it is possible to customize the favicon icon for Edublogs blogs. The process of doing this is simple once you have the image (PNG format) that you want to use as the favicon.

In the following video I demonstrate how to customize the favicon in Edublogs blog. The process demonstrated in my video also works for any Wordpress blog.



Applications for Education
Changing your blog's favicon is a nice and simple way to customize the appearance of your blog and make it stand out when visitor has a dozen other tabs open on his or her computer. Students can do this with their own blogs to differentiate them from their classmates' blogs.

Satellite Observations of Arctic Change

Satellite imagery gives students, teachers, and professional researchers access to lots of information to analyze and interpret. Through timelapses of satellite imagery students can see how landscapes and seascapes change over time. Some timelapses of satellite imagery can be found in Google Earth. The National Snow & Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado Boulder also offers some excellent timelapses based on satellite observations.

Satellite Observations of Arctic Change is a set of eight timelapse maps. Each of the maps shows representations of changes based on information collected via satellite imagery. The maps included in the set are:

  • Frozen Ground
  • Sea Ice
  • Sea Ice Average
  • Water Vapor
  • Snow Cover
  • Vegetation
  • Near-surface Air Temperatures
  • Annual Minimum Exposed Snow and Ice
Applications for Education
Satellite Observations of Arctic Change could be a useful set of maps to use in a lesson on climate change. The maps alone don't explain what caused changes. The assignment for students to complete is to research the factors contributing to the changes. 

H/T to Maps Mania

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Nine Lessons About Recognizing Logical Fallacies

In today's social media and online news environments it is as important as ever to teach students how to recognize bias, propaganda, and logical fallacies. Here are two good resources that I like that can help students understand logical fallacies.

The Guide to Common Fallacies is a series of nine short videos from the PBS Idea Channel. Each video covers a different common fallacy. Included in the series are lessons about Strawman, Ad Hominem, Black and White, Authority fallacies. I have embedded the first video in the series below.



Your Logical Fallacy Is is a website that provides short explanations and examples of twenty-four common logical fallacies. Visitors to the site can click through the gallery to read the examples. Your Logical Fallacy Is also provides free PDF poster files that you can download and print.

Eight TED-Ed Lessons for Music Appreciation

One of my favorite extra-curricular activities in elementary school was learning to play the violin and the trumpet. Three+ decades later I can still read music. I'm looking forward to my daughters being old enough to learn to read and play music too. Thinking about that reminded me of a TED-Ed lesson that I found a few years ago. How to Read Music explains the fundamentals of reading music. Watching the video won't turn students into composers over night, but it provides a good start.

TED-Ed offers a lot of interesting and useful video lessons for students. Many of the videos are organized into playlists. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a playlist of all of the TED-Ed lessons about music. To remedy that problem, I made a playlist of my own featuring eight TED-Ed lessons about music.

Twisted Wave - Create and Edit Audio on Chromebooks

When it comes to recording and editing audio Mac users have Garage Band and Windows users have Audacity (it's available for Mac too). Chromebook users have Twisted Wave.

Through TwistedWave you can create and edit spoken audio recordings from scratch. Your completed tracks can be exported to Google Drive and SoundCloud. If you have existing audio tracks in your SoundCloud or Google Drive account you can also import it into TwistedWave to edit those audio tracks. TwistedWave's audio editing tools include options for fade-in, fade-out, looping, sound normalization, and pitch adjustments. The editor also includes the typical track clipping tools that you would expect to see in an audio editing tool.

Monday, July 8, 2019

How to Refine a Search According to Top-level Domain

One of the overlooked search strategies that I often share with students and their teachers is refining Google search results according to top-level domain. Refining a search according to top-level domain is a good way for students to discover high-quality content that might not otherwise rank highly in their search results. The process of refining a search according to domain is rather easy, but it's a strategy that is often overlooked by students and teachers. In the video below I provide a demonstration of how to refine Google search results according to domain.


Learn more about search strategies in my Practical Ed Tech on-demand webinar, Ten Search Strategies Students Need to Know

How to Embed Wakelet Collections Into Google Sites and Edublogs

In my previous post I provided an overview of the basics of using Wakelet to create collections of your bookmarks, notes, pictures, videos, and documents. Once you've made a few Wakelet collections you may want to share them with your students. There are a few ways that you can do that. You can share Wakelet collections to Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, and just about any place you can post a link. You can also share your collections by embedding them into your blog or website.

In the following video I demonstrate how to embed a Wakelet collection into an Edublogs blog and how to embed a Wakelet collection into Google Sites.

How to Get Started Using Wakelet

In the last year Wakelet has become a popular tool amongst teachers for creating collections of bookmarks, notes, videos, pictures, and documents. Wakelet can be used to create individual collections. It can also be used to collaboratively create collections. Collections made on Wakelet can be private, public, or unlisted (semi-public). Unlike some of its competitors, Wakelet doesn't limit the number of collections that you can create within your account.

If you have been looking for a new way to create online collections of resources, you should give Wakelet a try. Watch my video below to learn how to get started using Wakelet.

Deserts 101 - A Nice Nat Geo Lesson

National Geographic offers a good series of more than one hundred YouTube videos designed to provide viewers with concise explanations of the big concepts of a variety of topics in science. The series includes videos about volcanoes, plastics creation and recycling, the solar system, and invasive species.

The latest video added to the National Geographic 101 series is Deserts 101. Deserts 101 covers exactly what you would expect to find in it. The video explains the conditions that create deserts, types of deserts, and why desertification is starting to occur in new places.



This video is the right length and has the right style and pacing to make it an excellent choice for a flipped lesson intended to introduce the big concepts of a lesson about deserts. My go-to tool for making flipped lessons continues to be EDpuzzle. You can learn how to use EDpuzzle by watching the following video.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Gmail, Name Pickers, and Forms - The Week in Review

Good evening from hot and humid Paris, Maine. The first week of July has been a busy one as I wrapped-up a couple of online courses and worked on some of the final elements for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp (there is still time to register). And, as it is now summer, I took my girls to play at the lake a few times too. I hope that those of you who are also in the northern hemisphere are having a great summer too.


These were the week's most popular posts:
1. 5 Helpful Gmail Features for Teachers
2. Seven Google Product Updates Made in June for Teachers to Note
3. Quillionz - Get Quiz Questions Automatically Generated From Documents
4. My Ten Most Watched How-to Videos
5. Create Your Own Mobile-friendly Random Name Picker
6. Google Forms Now Has a Native Function to Import Questions from Other Forms
7. How to Quickly Copy Questions Between Google Forms

Practical Ed Tech Newsletter
Many people ask if they can get a weekly email instead of daily email. That's exactly what you get with the Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. Once per week I send out my favorite tip of the week along with a summary of the week's most popular posts from this blog. You can join that newsletter here.

Thank You for Your Support!

Mapping Books

Yesterday I published a post about creating multimedia timelines as an alternative form of a book report. Later in the day I was walked past the little book store next to my favorite coffee shop and saw a copy of Louise Dickinson Rich's book, We Took to the Woods. This is a classic in the catalog of Maine literature.

We Took to the Woods is the story of Rich and her husband moving to small cabin in along the Rapid River in western Maine in the 1930's. Throughout the book Rich explains the difficulty and, occasionally, the fun of creating a life in woods long before the days of going on Amazon and having anything you need show up at your door the next day. Some of my favorite parts of her story include traveling to and from their home.

Seeing We Took to the Woods in the window of the book store got me to thinking about how creating a multimedia map could be a good way for students to summarize books like it that have a heavy emphasis on location. StoryMap JS is a free tool that students can use to create a multimedia map combined with a timeline. Students could use this tool to explain the significance of locations while also highlighting the sequence of key events in the story. The following video provides a demonstration of how to use StoryMap JS.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Multimedia Timelines as Book Summaries

A couple of weeks ago I read a fun history book titled Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure. The book chronicles Truman's road trip from Missouri to New York and back in the summer after he left the White House. The book strikes a nice balance between being a serious history book with being suitable for the non-historian. You can enjoy the story without having any prior knowledge about Truman. It's a book that I recommend to anyone who has an interest in Presidential history, cars, and or the development of the highway system in the United States.

Reading Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure got me thinking about the various ways that we have students summarize the books that they read. Making book trailer videos is a popular option these days as is creating Google Lit Trips. An option that is perfect for history books and historical fiction books is to create a multimedia timeline. In the multimedia time students can include pictures, videos, and text for a series of key events in the story.

The two tools that I recommend more than any others for creating multimedia timelines are Timeline JS and Sutori. Sutori is probably the easier of the two to use, but Timeline JS has more formatting capabilities.

How to Use Quillionz - Quiz Questions Automatically Generated from Documents

Quillionz is a new service for quickly creating reading comprehension and quiz questions from passages of text that you provide. As I wrote earlier this week, based the text you supplied, the keywords you've chosen, and the domain/ subject you've chosen Quillionz will generate a set of fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice questions for you. You can approve, delete, or edit any of the suggested questions. In the following video I provide an overview of how easy it is to use Quillionz to generate a set of reading comprehension questions from a passage of text.


Disclosure: Quillionz is currently has a banner advertisement on this blog. 

Create Your Own Mobile-friendly Random Name Picker

For many years now Flippity has offered a Google Sheets template that you can use to create your own random name picker. It's quick and easy to use. You can use it by going to Flippity's website and making a copy of the template or by using Flippity's Google Sheets add-on. Either way you simply have to write in the names that want to appear in the random picker and then hit the publish button on your sheet. This morning the Flippity developers announced that the random name picker is now mobile-friendly.

Flippity's random name picker can be used for more than just selecting names. You can also use it to create random groupings of students and to create seating charts. Watch my new video below to learn how to use Flippity's random name picker template. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Plan Safe Running, Walking, and Biking Routes With Strava

Strava is an app that I use to record data about my bike rides and runs. There is a social component to Strava that lets you follow your friends and give them "kudos" for completing a ride or run too.

You can use Strava without planning a route, but if you're going to a new area or you're just the type of person who likes to have a plan then you'll want to use the route planning feature. The route planning feature in Strava will automatically measure distance, calculate elevation changes, and give you an estimate of how long your route will take to complete.

Watch my video below to learn how to plan a safe biking, running, or walking route with Strava.

5 Helpful Gmail Features for Teachers

For many of us managing email is a chore we'd rather not have to do. Fortunately, Gmail offers some helpful features that make managing email an efficient process. Additionally, Gmail now offers tools to ensure that your messages are only seen by the intended recipients at the time that you want your recipients to see the messages.

Watch the following video to learn how to use five helpful Gmail features for teachers.
1. Scheduled messages.
2. Confidential messages.
3. Canned responses.
4. Smart replies.
5. Automatic filtering.


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Lee's Map of Gettysburg - And Tools for Making It Interactive

Today's featured document featured by the National Archives is a copy of General Robert E. Lee's map of the Battle of Gettysburg. If you download a copy of the map (which you can do as it is in the public domain) and then zoom-in on it, you will be able to see the notations about troop positions.

As someone who is generally fascinated by maps and history, I immediately started thinking about how this map could be used in a U.S. history lesson. My first thought was to have students enhance the map by making a copy and then uploading it to Thinglink. Once in Thinglink students can add interactive pins to it to explain the significance of places on the map. Those interactive pins could include text, images, and videos. Watch this video to learn how to use Thinglink with a map.

Another way to make this map interactive is to download a copy then upload it to Formative. In Formative you can then add pins to the map. Each of those pins can include questions for your students to answer. A demonstration of how to use Formative for that type of activity is available in this video.

Finally, as a Mainer, I can't think about the Battle of Gettysburg without thinking about this scene from the movie Gettysburg.

Flippity's Quiz Show Template Has Expanded

Flippity is one of five favorite Google Sheets add-ons for teachers because it provides easy-to-follow templates for creating lots of useful things like progress trackers, spelling games, multimedia flashcards, and Jeopardy-style review games. Flippity's Jeopardy-style game template, called Quiz Show, was recently expanded. The new version lets you have up to eight players or teams at a time. You can see a sample quiz show in action here.



Watch my video that is embedded below to learn more about using Flippity's Google Sheets add-on.

How to Quickly Copy Questions Between Google Forms

This week Google added a new "import questions" function to Google Forms. This is a native feature that lets you view your previously created Forms and then select questions to import into a new Form. This feature removes the need to use an add-on like Form Recycler or to do any copying and pasting. Watch my new video that is embedded below to learn how to quickly copy questions between Google Forms by using the new import feature.

Three Ways to Create a Virtual Tour of the Tour de France

Every July the Tour de France winds through the countryside before arriving in Paris. Every year the course takes a different route. One of the things that I always enjoy about watching the race is seeing all of the historic places the riders pass. NBC Sports is usually pretty good about sharing some history of those places during their telecast of the race. But there is only so much history they can share in television soundbites. That's why for the last few years I've encouraged students to create their own virtual tours of the Tour de France.

Creating a virtual tour of the route of this year's Tour de France could be a great way to get students to dig into history and share their findings in a multimedia format. Here are three ways that students can create virtual tours.

Create a Virtual Reality Tour
Google's VR Tour Creator has become my favorite mapping tool for students to use. With the VR Tour Creator students can create a VR tour of the starting points of the segments of the Tour de France. Watch my videos embedded below to learn how to get started using Google's VR Tour Creator.




Create a Google Earth Tour
Google Earth Pro (AKA the desktop version of Google Earth) has some built-in features for creating virtual tours. Students can create narrated fly-over tours of the Tour de France route in Google Earth Pro. Watch my video below for a short overview of how to make a tour in Google Earth Pro.


Use My Maps to Make a Custom Map of the Tour de France
Students can use Google's My Maps tool to create a map with placemarks for the start and end points of each segment of the race. In addition to the town and city names have them include a handful of interesting facts about each placemark. Students can also include pictures and videos in those placemarks. If you have never tried using Google's My Maps, watch my video below to learn how to get started.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Quillionz - Get Quiz Questions Automatically Generated From Documents

Quillionz is a new supporter of FreeTech4Teachers.com

Quillionz is a new service that makes it super easy to have a set of reading comprehension questions and quiz questions generated from a passage of text. There is a free version and pro (paid) version of Quillionz. This post is about the capabilities of the free version.

To get started using Quillionz you will need to create a free account on the site. You can do that by connecting your Google account, connecting your Facebook account, or by signing up with any email address that you have. Once you have registered you can begin using the service.

In your Quillionz dashboard click "new content" and you'll see a screen on which you can type or paste a passage of text. Your passage must be at least 300 words and no more than 3,000 words. Once you're text is in place Quillionz give it a title and select a "domain" for it. "Domain" is the term that Quillionz uses for what most of us would call a subject or topic. After you have done that, Quillionz will generate a set of keywords or tags that you can select as focus terms for your questions.

Based the text you supplied, the keywords you've chosen, and the domain/ subject you've chosen Quillionz will generate a set of fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice questions for you. You can approve, delete, or edit any of the suggested questions. When you're happy with the list of questions you can save them as a text document, print them, or export them to Quillionz's companion service Quilli Quiz. Quilli Quiz is a flashcard service.


All of the features outlined above are available in the free version of Quillionz. The pro (paid) version includes options for uploading a PDF and extracting the text from it. The pro version also includes options for downloading your question sheets as PDFs and Word documents.

Applications for Education
When I first saw Quillionz I thought it could be a great service to use to quickly generate questions from some of the current events articles that get distributed to students in social studies classes. Of course, it could be used with almost any document that you have rights to use in your classroom.

I tried Quillionz with a few different documents. The only time that it seemed to struggle to generate good questions was I included the text from a primary source document that I found on the Avalon Project's website. Quillionz's algorithm seems to struggle with 18th Century English. In other words, it doesn't like lengthy, complex sentences.

Disclosure: Quillionz is currently running a banner advertising campaign on FreeTech4Teachers.com.