Saturday, January 19, 2019

How to Print Google Slides

One of the frequently asked questions during my Getting Going With G Suite workshop is "can I print Google Slides like I can print my PowerPoint slides?" The answer to that question is yes. In fact there are quite a few options for printing your Google Slides. Watch my new video to learn how you can print Google Slides.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified whenever I post a new tutorial video. While you're there, take a look at my Google Tutorials and Practical Ed Tech playlists.

And if you're in the market for a good, inexpensive printer, I recommend this Brother laser printer. I've had one in my office for years and it has been fantastic for printing documents.

37 People Signed Up for #EdTechFitness Challenges This Week

One of the new projects for 2019 that I am most excited about is my new Ed Tech Fitness site. As I shared at the end of 2018 I have a few goals for the site. First, to have a space where I would be accountable for exercising my body and mind as it should be. Second, to create a place that other educators could come to share their successes in improving their physical and mental health. Third, to share some technology tips related to time management and fitness. To those ends I created a weekly Ed Tech Fitness newsletter. This week 37 people joined!

The Ed Tech Fitness newsletter is sent on Monday morning. The newsletter contains a weekly challenge (this week's was to do a daily five minute stretching routine) and will contain summary links of anything new that is posted on Ed Tech Fitness. Sign-up here or read more about it here.

Remind, Timelines, and Landmarks - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we're eagerly anticipating the arrival of the biggest snow storm of the year. The forecast for where I live calls for 20" of snow! As a skier, I can't wait for it! As the owner of a long driveway and long walkways, I'm not looking forward to shoveling.

This week was the second week for three online courses that I'm teaching through Practical Ed Tech. I've had emails from a few people who wanted to know if the courses will be offered again this winter. I will offer them again before the end of the school year. The dates for the course are still to be determined. In the meantime, I do have some course offerings available on-demand.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. A Huge Change Coming to Remind - No More Texts for Verizon Subscribers
2. The WWII Museum Announces D-Day Electronic Field Trip
3. A New Look is Coming to Google Slides, Sheets, Docs, and Sites
4. Picture Yourself in Front of Any Landmark With Remove.BG and Google Slides
5. Free Alternatives to Remind - Spoiler Alert! They're Limited
6. How to Use Canva to Create a Timeline
7. 5 Good Tools for Creating Timelines

Now Booking Summer Workshops!
I know that June can feel a long way away in the middle of January, but I'm already booking my summer workshop calendar. If you'd like to have me come to your school this spring (I have two May openings) or summer, please take a look at my speaking page and fill out the short form at the bottom of it.

And speaking of summer, the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp will return this year! I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Registration information will be available soon on

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.

Seterra offers a huge selection of geography games for students. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Colds, Flu, and Boogie Wipes - Timely Science Lessons

As anyone who has heard me speak this week can attest, I'm getting over a miserable cold. I'm not the only one as this cold has affected my kids and many others in our community. We're going through a lot of boogie wipes in our house. Thankfully, none of us have had the flu. But what's the difference between a cold and the flu? How can you avoid catching either one? Those questions and more are answered in the following videos.

Colds, the Flu, and You is a video from SciShow Kids that is appropriate for elementary school classrooms.

How is a cold or flu passed from person to person and what exactly is it doing to your body? NPR answers those questions in the following animated video.

Did you get your flu shot this year? This TED-Ed lesson explains why you should get one every year.

Despite Earlier Reports, Verizon Hasn't Reversed All Fees to Remind

Yesterday EdSurge ran a story about Verizon promising to reverse course on the fees it is going to charge Remind to deliver text messages. The Twitterverse rejoiced in their victory over the corporate giant! It seems that the rejoicing might have been a bit premature.

Last night Remind's CEO published a blog post stating that despite what Verizon has said publicly, there is not a signed deal in place to reverse course on the fees that Remind would be charged under Verizon's new classification of Remind's text messages. He went on to share that the statement made by Verizon may not apply to other user groups of Remind's free services. Some of those groups include preschools, colleges, churches, and various youth organizations.

Like I wrote on Monday these changes that Verizon is making will impact other services that operate like Remind. So even if you're not a Remind user, it is worth following the story because it has the potential to impact millions of teachers, students, and students' parents in the United States. I recommend following Remind's suggestions if you would like your voice to be heard on this matter.

Update: Ars Technica has a fairly balanced report on the negotiations between Verizon and Remind. Neither party looks great in the article.

5 Good Tools for Creating Timelines

The video I posted earlier this week that demonstrated how to use Canva to create timelines sparked a couple of reader emails about other options for making timelines. Specifically, one reader was looking for tools that would support video playback and one was looking for a tool that didn't require students to have email accounts. Here are free tools to address both of those needs.

Tools for Creating Timelines That Include Video
I couldn't create this post without mentioning Timeline JS. Timeline JS has been my go-to recommendation for years. With Timeline JS students can create timelines that include pictures, videos, maps, audio files, text, and hyperlinks. And because the creation work is done inside of Google Sheets, Timeline JS can be used as a collaborative timeline creation tool. Watch my video to see how it works.

If Timeline JS seems a bit too complicated for your students, offers another way to create a multimedia timeline through a Google Spreadsheet. Simply fill in the blanks in Flippity's template to create a multimedia timeline. In the following video I demonstrate how it works.

Google Slides and PowerPoint both offer templates for making timelines. Using those templates you can create a timeline that includes text, links, images, and video. One of my most-watched videos in the last year is this one about making timelines in Google Slides.

No Registration Required Timeline Creation Tool
If your students don't have email addresses or you simply don't want to have yet another account name and password for them to keep track of, consider using Read Write Think's free timeline creation tool. It doesn't support the inclusion of video, but it is easy to use and saves in a variety of formats. Watch this video to see how it works.

In Case You Missed It
At the beginning of this post I mentioned my video about using Canva to create timelines. Here's that video.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Picture Yourself in Front of Any Landmark With Remove.BG and Google Slides

Last weekend I published a video about and it has certainly been a hit with many readers. I've received a lot of comments and questions about it in my email, Facebook pages, and on Twitter. This morning a reader named Marni sent me a question that was typical of what I've been seeing this week.

I love the site. I can see my teachers using this for creative projects with students. My question is, do you have any suggestions regarding how to add new backgrounds to the modified pics? Is there a program I can share with teachers that allows students to, in essence, “relocate” themselves?

What I suggested to Marni and have suggested to others is to use Google Slides or PowerPoint to create a slide in which you layer the file over a background on the slide. Then export the slide as a PNG or JPEG. In the following video I demonstrate how to use, Google Slides, and Pixabay to put yourself in front of any world landmark.

Thanks again to Tony Vincent for sharing on Twitter last week.

Recap is Shutting Down in June

Back in October Swivl, the parent company of Recap, announced that they would be discontinuing the Recap service at the end of January. In response to feedback from teachers Swivl has now extended the deadline for the Recap shutdown. According to this announcement from Swivl, Recap will continue to operate as normal until June 30th of this year.

This is good news for teachers who had started the year with plans to use Recap throughout the school year. Kudos to Swivl for listening to teachers' feedback and continuing support of Recap until the completion of the 2018-19 school year.

New Features Added to Synth - Simple Podcasting for Students

Synth is one of my favorite new ed tech tools of the 2018-19 school year. If you're familiar with what Synth does, 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. You can experience a Synth podcast by listening to this overview of the service. This week Synth announced a few updates to their service that teachers and students will like.

You can now include sound effects at the beginning of a recording and or between recordings that have been connected. There are default effects that you can use and you can upload your own sounds for further customization of recordings (check out Sound Bible for free sound effects to upload to Synth).

Some of the other updates to Synth include automatic titling of recordings, improved transcription services, and students can now create podcasts independent of a teacher's account (previously, students had to make the podcasts as a part of a teacher account).

Listen to my first recording as embedded below or click here to listen and reply to it.

The WWII Museum Announces D-Day Electronic Field Trip

This year is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. This spring the WWII Museum (a must-see for anyone visiting New Orleans) is hosting a virtual field trip all about D-Day. The field trip will take students to the coast of southern England and the invasion sites in Normandy, France. Live Q&A is a part of this virtual field trip experience. It is free to participate, but advanced registration is required. Learn more and register here. Accompanying lesson plan materials are available to download from the registration page.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Anyone Can Learn to Type Thanks to Typing Club's Accessibility Settings

Typing Club is a free typing instruction site that offers some unique features for students and teachers. One of those features that I covered in depth last year is the story-based typing practice activities. In those activities, demonstrated here, students unlock stories as they type. Unlocking the next part of the story provides and incentive for students to type accurately and quickly. That's not the only way to develop and practice typing skills in Typing Club, but it is the most engaging way to practice.

Recently, I had time to try some of Typing Club's other features. Specifically, I spent a lot of time learning about the accessibility features that are built into Typing Club. Typing Club's accessibility features include easily implemented modifications for students who have vision impairments, hearing impairments, dyslexia, and those who have limited use of their hands.

Here's an overview of the accessibility settings available in Typing Club:

  • All activity directions and lesson items can be read aloud to students through Typing Club's built-in voiceover tool. Voiceover is available in 34 languages and 47 voices. You or your students can pick the language for the voiceover and also specify the corresponding keyboard format.
  • When the blind setting is enabled students will be blocked from forward progress until the correct key is used. Students are given an audible alert when they make mistakes.
  • The dyslexic setting in Typing Club changes the default font to one that has been proven to improve comprehension. That setting also includes voiceover.
  • The hearing impaired accessibility setting provides automatic subtitling of videos in the Typing Club lessons.
  • There is a setting for students who have use of only one hand. When that setting is enabled, the lessons are modified to teach students efficient one-handed typing techniques. 
All of the accessibility settings can be enabled by students or be enabled by their teachers. Teachers who have Typing Club classroom accounts can lock the settings for students. 

Disclosure: Typing Club is an advertiser on this blog. 

DuckDuckGo + Apple Maps = Private Map Searches

DuckDuckGo, the search engine that claims to not track your searches, has announced an integration with Apple Maps. According to the announcement this integration will let you search for places without DuckDuckGo or Apple Maps keeping a record of those searches. But in order to get directions from point A to point B you will default to Apple Maps on iOS and to Bing Maps in non-iOS and non-Mac environments. Likewise to access street-level imagery you will have to use Bing Maps or Google Maps.

Searching for locations through DuckDuckGo is done through the main search page. Enter a place name or address into the search box and then choose "maps" on the search results page.

Applications for Education
If you want your students to search for landmarks to view in online maps that include satellite imagery without being tracked by Google, then this new integration of DuckDuckGo and Apple Maps could be the tool for you.

H/T to TechCrunch.

Now Booking Summer Workshops

Good morning from cold and snowy Paris Hill, Maine. I know that right now June feels a long way away, but I'm already planning my summer professional development schedule. As you know, I offer professional development workshops throughout the year, but the summer months are my busiest months for professional development requests. I would love to include your school in my summer calendar.

Booking a professional development day with me is a quick and easy process. Simply take a look at my speaking page, choose a topic or topics and then send me an email. I will reply within 24 hours with my availability and information about costs. Speaking of costs, I will always work with you to stay within your budget.

Here are some of my most popular workshop topics:

  • Getting Going With G Suite for Education
  • Using Chromebooks in Your Classroom
  • Teaching History With Technology
  • Discovery, Discussion, and Demonstration
  • Introduction to AR & VR in Education
  • Video Projects for Every Classroom
  • Going Outside With Educational Technology

Every school is different and therefore all of my workshops are tailored to the unique needs of your staff. That's why when you email me to book a professional development day I'll ask you a few questions about your school. I'll use that information to develop the best PD day possible for your staff.

I'd love to help you reach your professional development goals this summer. Take a look at my speaking page then let's talk!

A New Look is Coming to Google Slides, Sheets, Docs, and Sites

The next time that you open Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, or Sites you might notice some changes to the look of the editing and design tools. The new look is being rolled-out to users over the next few weeks. As announced by Google, the new look doesn't have any impact on how Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Sites function. The new look is a part of Google's effort to standardize "material design" across all G Suite tools. Material design is what you currently see in Google Calendar and the latest version of Gmail.

Again, this update doesn't change anything about how the editing and design tools work. That said, whenever there is a design change to familiar products it does cause some confusion for some users. Pass along the information about the update to your students or colleagues about the coming change if they're the type of people who would be thrown off by a change to the look of the user interface in Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, or Sites.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How to Use Canva to Create a Timeline

Canva is one of those great tools that the more time you spend with it the more cool features you discover in it. One of those features is the ability to create timelines to save as images and PDFs. Canva has about a dozen timeline templates that you can modify by altering the text size and style, inserting images, and dragging-and-dropping other design elements. Watch the following short video to learn how to create a timeline in Canva.

The History of Science

The History of Science is a Crash Course series that just came to my attention when I stumbled onto The Atomic Bomb: Crash Course History of Science #33. The entire series features videos hosted by Hank Green in which he explains how big questions in science were answered and how big breakthroughs were made. Like most Crash Course videos these are heavy on the presenter (Hank in this case) and light on visual aids. And they're probably best used with students who already have a firm understanding of the basics of the topics.

Try using these videos in EDpuzzle to build comprehension and reflection questions for your students to answer while watching or after watching the videos.

Search and Save Videos Within Wakelet

Wakelet is quickly becoming a popular tool for bookmarking and note-taking individually and or collaboratively. You can use Wakelet to create collections and sub-collections of notes, bookmarks, pictures, and videos. Speaking of videos, you can search for YouTube videos from within your Wakelet account. Watch the following short video to see how that feature works.

Applications for Education
I can see Wakelet's integrated YouTube search being useful when either you or your students are creating collections of resources arranged around a central topic. For example, when creating a collection of resources about WWII students could use the integrated video search to find relevant videos without leaving Wakelet and going directly to YouTube.

How to Save Time When Posting Social Media Updates

Yesterday, I saw quite a few Tweets and Facebook posts along the lines of "I'll just use social media updates now" in response to the news that Remind will no longer be able to deliver text messages to Verizon users for free. If that's your plan or you currently use social media to share updates about your class or school, then you might want to try using an update scheduler to save time and update on a consistent basis. Hootsuite is a great tool for that purpose. 

Hootsuite is a service that you can use to schedule social media updates. You can connect Hootsuite to your Twitter account, Facebook page(s), Pinterest account, and LinkedIn account. Once you have connected your social media account(s) to your Hootsuite account you can schedule up to thirty messages at a time to appear in the future on your social media accounts. (You can schedule more messages at a time if you purchase a Hootsuite premium plan). Not only can you schedule messages through Hootsuite, you can also reply to responses to your social media postings from within your Hootsuite dashboard.

Applications for Education
If you are using social media to share updates about your school or your classroom, Hootsuite can save you time as you can simply schedule a week's worth of updates in a few minutes on a Monday morning and then only have to worry about handling responses for the rest of the week. Hootsuite also makes it easy to see updates from multiple social media channels in one place which saves time compared to going to each social media platform individually.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Free Alternatives to Remind - Spoiler Alert! They're Limited

This morning the educational technology community was buzzing with the news that Remind is going to stop offering free text message delivery to those users who use Verizon Wireless. This follows a similar move earlier this year related to Bell and Rogers subscribers in Canada. As I explained here and in the following video, the free alternatives to Remind's SMS delivery are going to be limited because Verizon's policy change is going to affect any other service that operates like Remind does.

All that said, here are the alternatives to using Remind's SMS service if you, your students, or your students' parents have phones on Verizon.

Just use Remind's in-app notifications and email notifications. This would require that you convince students and parents to install the app and allow notifications. This is probably the least disruptive of your options for the remainder of the school year because at least you won't be switching to an entirely new service.

If you are already using ClassDojo for portfolios or behavior tracking, this might be the time to start using ClassDojo's in-app messaging tool (this is just an in-app notification, not an SMS delivery).

More than a few people have asked me about Google Voice today. You could use Google Voice to send text messages to a list of numbers from your computer. And you can create a free Google Voice number that is different from your personal cell phone. Eight years ago I actually did that I stopped after a few weeks because it created a minefield of privacy concerns. So I don't recommend this option.

Google Classroom in-app notifications can be good for sending updates to students. But like Remind and ClassDojo, it would require getting students to install the Google Classroom mobile app and then enabling notifications if you want them to see updates in a timely manner.

The bottom line is that Verizon's policy change is going to affect how Remind and companies like it operate. To clarify, Remind users who are currently on a paid school-wide or district-wide plan will not be affected by this change. This change, for now, applies to users of the free Remind service.

A Huge Change Coming to Remind - No More Texts for Verizon Subscribers

Many of us woke up to an announcement from Remind that they are going to discontinue text message delivery for teachers, students, and parents who use Verizon Wireless services. As is explained here, Verizon has increased the fee it charges Remind to deliver text messages. That fee will cost Remind eleven times more than it currently does. Therefore, on January 28th Remind will stop delivering text messages to Verizon wireless subscribers.

To be clear, Remind is not shutting down or discontinuing text message delivery on other wireless carriers in the United States. This only affects those who use Verizon wireless services. But as Verizon is one of the two dominant wireless carriers in the U.S. there is a good chance that this could impact 50% or more of the people connected to your Remind account.

If you, your students, or your students' parents use Remind and Verizon wireless, the in-app push notifications will still work and will be your only option for mobile notifications other than email. You can get the Remind Android app here and the Remind iPhone app here. Information about enabling push notifications and email notifications is available here.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

More Free Webinars from the Council for Economic Education

The Council for Economic Education has recently published their  schedule of free professional development webinars that they are hosting in the first five months of 2019. The series begins next week on January 15th and runs weekly (mostly) through May 28th. All of the webinars are scheduled for 7pm Eastern Time. You can register for one webinar or all of the webinars.

There is a fairly wide range of topics scheduled for the professional development webinars offered by the CEE. Some of the topics that jumped out to me as I looked through the list include How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World: Economics and Geography, Daring to Dream: Using Picture Books to Teach Economics, and Lawn Care for Fun and Profit.

On the topic of economics, last fall I updated my popular Life on Minimum Wage simulation game. You can view it here as a Google Doc.

Upcoming Conference Appearances

Throughout the year I conduct many professional development workshops in schools and libraries. Usually, those events are not open for public registration. But I also speak at public conferences about once a month these days (I did a lot more before my children were born). Here's a list of the public events that you can find me at over the next few months. 
  • The BETT Show & TeachMeet BETT - London - January 23rd & 24th
  • SET-BC - Vancouver, BC - February 20th & 21st
  • MACUL - Detroit, MI - March 21st & 22nd
  • TLA - Austin, TX - April 15-18
Send me a note at richardbyrne (at) to learn how you can book me for a school-based workshop or conference presentation. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Doodles, Footnotes, and Literature - The Week in Review

Good morning from frigid Maine where it's -5f and the wind is howling! In other words, it's a perfect day to shovel snow off my roof. That's one of the few winter activities that I don't enjoy. One that I do enjoy is skiing. And with a couple of snow days this week I was able to get out for some skiing. Check out my new blog, Ed Tech Fitness for some pictures and videos of skiing including a picture of my daughter's first time on skis. That was my week outside of this blog. I hope that you had a great first full week of 2019 too.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Doodle 4 Google 2019
2. New Themes and Drag & Drop Organization for Google Classroom
3. How to Add Footnotes to Google Docs
4. A Pre-search Checklist for Students
5. Sun, Moon, and Planets 101
6. A Fun Literature Game
7. Customizing Fonts and Emojis in Google Docs

5 Ways to Stay Up to Date With My Work:

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

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.

Seterra offers a huge selection of geography games for students. 

How to Remove the Background from Your Pictures

Thanks to the ever-clever Tony Vincent this week I learned about a neat tool called is a free tool that will remove the background from your images. The catch is that it will only work with pictures that have people in them. I tried to use it with pictures of my dogs and it didn't work. is easy to use. To remove the background from your picture simply go to the website and upload your picture. Within a minute you will have a new image file that you can download. Watch my short video to see how it works.

Applications for Education
As I suggested in the video, could be a great tool for cutting the background from a selfie and then placing yourself in a new setting. For example, students could take one of their favorite selfies and place themselves in front of Mount Rushmore, the Pyramids, or any number other landmarks around the world. They could then use new pictures as the basis for writing a short story about those places.

Thanks again to Tony Vincent for the tip about If you like this idea, check out Tony's upcoming online class called Classy Graphics

Friday, January 11, 2019

5 Alternatives to Google Keep for Task Management

Last weekend I received an email from a reader named Shayne who had experienced a problem with Google Keep notes randomly disappearing. Shayne's research indicated that other people had the same problem. So if you're someone who has run into glitches with Google Keep, here are some other task management tools that you might consider trying.

Wunderlist is a task management service that will synch across all of the devices that you use. Creating task lists in Wunderlist is an intuitive process. Just click the "create list" link or button and start typing out your list of things to do. You can create as many lists as you like within your account. You could create a list of things to do at home and things to do at school. Or you could create lists for the week, the month, and the year. You can set a due date for each task in all of your lists. All lists can be made collaborative by sharing them with other Wunderlist users.

As reviewed earlier this week, Taskade is a task management tool for individuals and teams who need tools for communicating with each other about their tasks. When you create a list in Taskade you can set a deadline for each item within the list. Files can be attached to each item in the list. And you can write comments on each item in the list. If you invite others to view a list, they can comment on list items too. Taskade users who are working in teams might enjoy the options to be notified whenever a team member updates a list. There is also an integrated text, voice, and video chat that you can use to communicate with team members about list items.

Randomly Remind Me is another task management tool that I reviewed earlier this week. Randomly Remind Me is only available on Android devices. It does not have any collaboration features. It's simply a good app for setting reminders for yourself to complete a list of tasks. My full review of Randomly Remind Me is available here.

Flask is a simple tool for making to-do lists and sharing them with others. To create a to-do list on Flask just go to the site and start writing your list. You don't have to create an account to use Flask. Unique URLs are assigned to each list that you create. To share your lists click the share button to send the link to your list to others. Watch my new video for an overview of how to use Flask to manage task lists.

OneNote has a task list function that you can use. While I enjoy using OneNote for bookmarks and sharing of notes, I don't find the task list function to be as user-friendly as some of the other tools on this list. That said, it could be the option for you if you're already a OneNote user and you don't want to add another app and corresponding account to your phone.

Bonus Option:
Use a paper notebook and pen. That's what I do every morning. The really important tasks then get copied into Google Keep on my phone.

How to Show a Portion of a Video in Google Slides

It's easy to insert a YouTube video into your Google Slides presentations. If YouTube is blocked in your school you can insert a video from Google Drive into your Google Slides instead. Both of those things can be done from the "insert" drop-down menu in Google Slides. But what is often overlooked is the option to specify which portion of a video you want to display in your slides. That can be done from the "format" menu that appears after you have inserted a video into a slide. Watch my new video to learn how to add a video to Google Slides and how to specify which portion of it should be displayed.

How to Display the Same Event on Multiple Google Calendars

On Thursday morning Amira asked me, "do you happen to know if you can copy an event on multiple calendars on Google Calendar?" My answer to her question was, "yes, you can." In the following video I demonstrate how to display the same event on multiple Google Calendars.

There are lots of reasons why you might need to copy the same event to multiple Google Calendars. In the example in the video I had one calendar for members of a school basketball team and one calendar for school-wide sporting events. Some, but not all, of the events for the team members calendar were also relevant for the school-wide sports events calendar. You might find yourself teaching multiple sections of a course and rather than re-writing events on each calendar, you could just copy to all of the calendars and modify as needed.

Learn more about Google Calendar in my on-demand webinar Get Organized With Google Classroom, Calendar, and Keep

Thursday, January 10, 2019

In Case You Forgot That Someone Is Always Watching...

From the pages of "Google knows when you are sleeping" comes Google's latest search feature. Google has launched new activity cards for mobile search users. These new activity cards will appear at the top of your search page. The cards will suggest pages to you based on the last searches that you conducted. Google says the idea behind this new feature is to help people resume a previous search or retrace the steps of a previous search. You will be able to save and add links to your activity cards.

The new search cards in the Google mobile app and in the mobile version of Chrome should start appearing today for users in the United States. According to Google's announcement, you will be able to remove items from the activity cards and or completely turn-off the activity cards feature.

Applications for Education
I have mixed feelings about this new feature. On one hand, it could help students continue the momentum of a good search session. On the other hand, it has the potential to skew students' search results or serve them results that are influenced by past searches when what they really need is to start from scratch. Of course, it can be argued that Google already does that.

Ten Awesome Updates to Microsoft's Learning Tools

Microsoft's free Learning Tools keep getting better. This week Microsoft announced ten updates that are either available now or will be available soon to Word and OneNote users. And if you're not currently using Word or OneNote some of these updates just might make you give Word and OneNote a try. Here are some of the highlights of the updates announced this week.

More Implementations and Options for Immersive Reader
Immersive Reader is a fantastic tool that greatly improves the accessibility of documents and notes. You can watch my short introductions to it here and here. For 2019 Immersive Reader will have the following new options:
  • Microsoft Translator features are being added to Immersive Reader. This means that you will not only be able to hear pages read aloud while words are highlighted, you'll also be able to hear and read those pages in multiple languages.
  • Immersive Reader + Math Assistant = reading aloud the steps to completing a mathematics problem. This feature will be available in OneNote for Windows and OneNote online.
  • Immersive Reader + Math + Word = Immersive Reader reading aloud math problems that appear in Word documents.
  • IT administrators will now be able to push out the Immersive Reader app from the Microsoft Store. This applies to the OneNote 2016 Learning Tools add-in. 
Dictation and Dictionaries
In addition to Immersive Reader, Microsoft's Learning Tools include some excellent dictation and dictionary functions for students. Here are the highlights of what's available in 2019:
  • The dictation function is now available to all OneNote Online users.
  • Dictation in the online version of Word will be completely rolled-out by February.
  • Parts of speech and image picture dictionaries will be available in Korean, Arabic, and Hebrew. These options will be available in Word Online, OneNote Online, Windows 10 app, iPad and Mac, Outlook Online, Teams and Flipgrid. 
Read the complete list of ten updates with illustrations of the new features right here

Randomly Remind Me - An App for Building Better Habits

Randomly Remind Me is an Android app for scheduling reminders to appear on your phone or tablet at intervals you set or at randomly intervals throughout the day. Reminders that you create on the app can contain text and or pictures. If you snooze a reminder or ignore it, Randomly Remind Me will log that for you so that you can adjust your reminder schedule. If you grant the app access to location services, you can get location-based reminders.

To get started with Randomly Remind Me simply open the app and tap the green "+" icon to create your first reminder. After giving your reminder a title you can add a description and add a picture. You have the choice of having your reminders appear at random times during the day (you choose how to define your daytime hours) or you can specify when you want to be reminded. For example, I set a reminder to randomly remind me to drink water eight times during the day.

When a reminder appears on your phone you can snooze it or check it as completed. At the end of the day you can view a log of your reminders to see how many you snoozed and how many you completed.

Applications for Education
Randomly Remind Me was created to help people form new habits that they eventually work into their lives without needing a reminder. In the example that I gave above, Randomly Remind Me is sending me reminders to drink more water during the day. If you're trying to do the same as a New Year's resolution, you might want to try the app too. As I wrote on Ed Tech Fitness, when we feel better, we teach better.

A Fun Literature Game

A couple of years ago Terri Eichholz wrote a short blog post about an activity that she had found on the New Times Learning Network. I was recently scrolling through some old bookmarks and found Terri's post again. So I went to see if it's still available and it is. The activity is called Literature Quote Bingo.

In the version of Literature Quote Bingo that Terri shared (available here as a PDF) students have a grid that contains nine quotes from famous pieces of literature. Students have to pick three consecutive quotes in the grid and connect them to examples of current news stories.

Literature Quote Bingo could easily be modified. You could create a bigger grid with more quotes. You could have quotes that don't have authors' names attached and then ask students to identify the author and work. You could put authors' names in the grid then have students find quotes to match to the authors.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Taskade - A Feature-packed Task Management Tool

Taskade is a task management tool for individuals and teams. Like many task management tools you can create lists, share those lists, and check-off items when they're completed. You can do that with Google Keep, OneNote, and a host of other task management tools. What makes Taskade different is the list of additional features that can be utilized in the app and on the Taskade website.

When you create a list in Taskade you can set a deadline for each item within the list. Files can be attached to each item in the list. And you can write comments on each item in the list. If you invite others to view a list, they can comment on list items too.

Taskade users who are working in teams might enjoy the options to be notified whenever a team member updates a list. There is also an integrated text, voice, and video chat that you can use to communicate with team members about list items.

Applications for Education
Taskade is in a crowded market that is dominated by some legacy companies. That said, if you're not married to the Google, Microsoft, or Apple ecosystems or you are looking for a different service for keeping track of tasks, Taskade does offer a nice product. It might have too many features for younger students, but older students who are working on long-term team projects could certainly benefit from using a tool like Taskade to manage completion of those projects.

How to Create a Survey in Microsoft Forms & Sort Results in Excel

Microsoft Forms is an excellent tool for creating online quizzes and surveys. You can use it to create multimedia quizzes like the one that I demonstrated here. You can also use it to create anonymous surveys. That's what I demonstrate in the new video that I created on this snowy morning in Maine. The following video demonstrates how to create a survey in Microsoft Forms and how to sort the results of the survey in Excel.

Going to BETT? Don't Miss TeachMeet BETT

One of my favorite events of the year is the TeachMeet that happens at the BETT Show. A TeachMeet is a gathering of educators who give micro (7 minutes) and nano (2 minutes) presentations on work that they have actually done in classrooms. I enjoy this format because a lot of people get to speak and because it avoids the product pitches that sometimes sneak their way into "demo slams." There is time for connecting with other educators during a TeachMeet too.

The last handful of years the TeachMeet at BETT happened in a space within Excel London. This year it's happening at a restaurant/ bar just outside of the expo building. My guess is that space will be a bit limited compared to previous years. So if you're planning to attend TeachMeet BETT, get your ticket soon (they're free).

Take a look at this short slideshow to learn more about TeachMeet BETT including how you can submit a presentation.

Thanks to Danny Nicholson at The Whiteboard Blog for the information about this year's TeachMeet at BETT. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Customizing Fonts and Emojis in Google Docs

By default every document that you create in Google Docs will have 11 point Arial font unless you change it. You can change that to one of more than 450 font options. To access and add custom fonts to your Google Documents and Slides select "add fonts" from the bottom of the font selection menu that you've always used in Google Drive. Selecting "add fonts" will open up a new menu in which you can mix and match fonts to your heart's content. The screenshots below provide visual directions.

Click image to view full size. 
Click image to view full size. 

Just because you've changed the font for one document that doesn't mean it will automatically apply to the next document that you create. That can be done by changing the default font. This video shows you how to change the default font in Google Docs.

And just for fun, Google Docs makes it easy to insert emojis into your documents. Here's a video on how to do that.

New Themes and Drag & Drop Organization for Google Classroom

Earlier today Google unveiled a couple of new features for Google Classroom. First, you can now rearrange the order of assignments and materials in your Classwork page by simply dragging and dropping them into a new order. Second, Google Classroom now has 78 more color scheme themes that you can apply to your Classrooms.

Speaking of Google Classroom Classwork pages, here's a demonstration of how to add a materials section to your Google Classroom.

Doodle 4 Google 2019

Another year, another Doodle 4 Google contest. This year's Doodle 4 Google is the eleventh in a row. The theme of this year's Doodle4 Google art contest is "when I grow up, I hope..."

The contest is open to students in Kindergarten through 12th grade in the United States. To enter the contest students should create a drawing that represents something that inspires them. The drawing, of course, must include the word Google somewhere within it. The artwork must be submitted on this official entry form.

This year's national Doodle 4 Google winner will receive a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology prize package for his or her school.

If you're thinking about using some classroom time to have your students draw for the Doodle 4 Google contest, take a look at the free lesson resources that Google offers. Making drawings for the Doodle 4 Google contest might also be a good indoor recess activity during the cold days we're having here in New England.

Two of this year's celebrity judges are Jimmy Fallon and Kermit the Frog. Here they are to introduce the Doodle 4 Google contest.

A New Way to Add Drawings to Google Docs

It's the first full week of the year and Google has already added new features to G Suite for Education. Yesterday, Google's G Suite Updates Blog carried the announcement that we'll soon have a new way to add drawings to Google Documents.

Google Docs has long given you the option to launch a new drawing screen from the Insert menu in Docs. Now in Docs you will also be able to insert an existing drawing from their Google Drive accounts. This means that instead of having to create a drawing from scratch in your Document, you can use on that you have created directly in Google Drawings.

Applications for Education
Creating mind maps is one of the many things that students can do with Google Drawings. The new Drawings insert option in Docs will make it easier than ever for students to add their mind maps to Documents.

Watch this video to learn how to make a mind map in Google Drawings. And watch this video for a handful of other uses for Google Drawings.

The new "insert drawing" option in Google Docs will be appearing over the next couple of weeks.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Sun, Moon, and Planets 101

National Geographic's YouTube channel has an excellent playlist that is titled National Geographic 101. As you might guess, the playlist is full of short overviews of the basics of a wide variety of topics in science and geography. In National Geographic 101 you will find short videos about Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Earth, Mercury, Mars, Pluto, the sun, and the moon (actually, there are two videos about the moon in the playlist).

The length and content of these videos make them good candidates for inclusion in EDpuzzle lessons.

How to Create Charts and Graphs in Google Docs

A good chart or graph can sometimes help a writer paint a complete picture for his or her reader. I used to have students in one of my civics course include at least one chart of their creation when writing about voting patterns in state elections. Google Docs makes it easy for users to create graphs and charts even if you don't particularly enjoy or are scared of using spreadsheets. Watch my short tutorial video to learn how to create charts and graphs in Google Docs.

Microsoft Forms is Adding Email Confirmation

Microsoft Forms is an excellent though often overlooked Microsoft tool. Like its better known rival, Google Forms, Microsoft Forms can be used to make quizzes and surveys. Last night (a strange time for a feature announcement) Microsoft's Forms Blog carried the announcement that Forms would soon have an email confirmation option for Form respondents. When enabled, this feature will allow respondents to receive an emailed copy of their responses to the questions in a survey or quiz created in Microsoft Forms.

If you've never tried Microsoft Forms, watch this video to learn how to get started.

There are a few more features in Microsoft Forms than what I demonstrated in the video above.
Those features are:

  • Likert responses
  • Ranking responses
  • Branching logic
  • Forms can be included in Microsoft Teams for EDU assignments

A Pre-search Checklist for Students

Last week I published two blog posts (here and here)in which I referenced having students make lists before they begin in-depth web research. A couple of readers have emailed me asking if I can give an example of the pre-search checklists that I mentioned in those posts. It's not anything fancy, but I do have this Google Document that I have given to students to fill-in by listing what they're looking for, what they already know, and how they think other people would describe the same topic. Feel free to make a copy of the document and or modify it for your students.

As I wrote last week, the list strategy is useful because it often helps students narrow their searches before they even touch the keyboard on their laptops. Rather than just instantly entering the first thing that comes to mind into Google, they're forced to slow down and evaluate what they already know about the topic at hand.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

How to Add Footnotes to Google Docs

For many people the difficulty in the transition from using Word or Pages to Google Docs lies in just knowing where little formatting features are found. One example of that is in adding footnotes to documents. In Word you find the option to add footnotes in the References menu. In Google Docs you will find the option to add footnotes in the Insert menu. Watch the following short video to see how to insert footnotes into Google Docs.

Discover more Google Docs features by reading this popular blog post.

Public Domain, Goals, and Fitness - The Week in Review

Good morning from the Free Technology for Teachers world headquarters in chilly, snowy Maine. I hope that everyone had a great first week of 2019. What's your New Year's resolution? One of mine is to improve my fitness. To that end I created a new blog to build some public accountability for my resolution. If you have a similar New Year's resolution, feel free to join into this Flipgrid that I created for educators who want help each other with their fitness goals. Speaking of goals, one of this week's most popular posts was about using Google Keep to help you reach your goals.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How Google Keep Can Help You Reach Your Goals
2. Have Students Make Lists Before Starting Web Search
3. A Good Place to Find Movies in the Public Domain
4. Best of 2018 - Create Jeopardy Games in Google Slides
5. It's Public Domain Day!
6. Three Chrome Extensions That Help Students Stay on Task
7. Best of 2018 - The Periodic Table in Pictures and Words

Three Online PD Courses Starting Next Week!
I'm offering three professional development courses to start 2019. Discounted early registration is now open for:
Book Me for Your Conference
I’ve given keynotes at conferences from Australia to Alaska for groups of all sizes from 50 to 2,000+. My keynotes focus on providing teachers and school administrators with practical ways to use technology to create better learning experiences for all students. I like to shine the light on others and so I often share examples of great work done by others as well as my own. Send an email to richardbyrne (at) book me today.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.

Seterra offers a huge selection of geography games for students. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

What's Inside of Buckingham Palace and the White House?

Yesterday, while looking for something completely unrelated I stumbled upon two excellent videos produced by Jared Owen. The videos, What's Inside of Buckingham Palace? and What's Inside the White House? use CGI models of both buildings to take viewers inside each building.

As you can see in the videos above, viewers are taken beyond what one would see in cinematic productions like The Crown and The West Wing. I found it interesting to hear about what some of the lesser-known rooms are used for each building.

Want to include these videos in an online lesson? Take a look at one of these tools for making lessons based on existing videos.