Tuesday, April 30, 2019

ICYMI - Google Team Drives Are Being Renamed to Shared Drives

From the department of, "Google's always changing something," yesterday Google announced that Team Drives are going to be renamed as Shared Drives. Depending upon the device you're using and your domain, this change will happen as early as May 21st.

Will this change anything about how you use Team Drives? Absolutely not! In fact, in their announcement Google said it is purely a name change based on user feedback. I've never heard anyone complain about the name Team Drive, but I'm sure Google has way more data points than I have ancedotal evidence.

I'm sharing this news simply because some people may be caught by surprise by the name change and think that something seriously changed within their Team Drives. 

How to Re-use a Google Forms Quiz

Last night a reader named Melissa emailed me with the following question, "Is there a way to get rid of scores on a Google Form so that it can reused as if it were just created?" The answer is yes, you can get rid of scores on a Google Form so that it can be reused. In fact, there are two ways that you can do that. In the following video I demonstrate how you can quickly clear all responses from a Google Forms quiz.


As I pointed-out in the video, you should probably download a CSV of the existing scores before you delete them. Once you've done that you can re-use the Form as many times as you like.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Taskade 2.0 - Collaborative Notes + Video Chat

At the end of January I published a video overview of a neat collaborative notes and task management tool called Taskade. Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo's latest Ed Tech Digest I discovered that Taskade has been updated with some handy new features. At its core Taskade is the same as it was in January, but these new features might bring in a few more users.

Taskade 2.0 adds a tagging capability to your task lists. As you might imagine, tagging lets you organize and prioritize the most important notes and tasks in your Taskade account. Just like in most task management and note-taking tools, you can create as many tags as you want and apply multiple tags to the same item. Applying multiple tags is something that I would do because from day-to-day or week-to-week I might not remember which tag I had applied to a note so if I can use multiple tags I have a better chance of finding that note when I need it.

The other key addition to Taskade 2.0 is template creation. Templates are intended to be used by teams to follow for meeting notes and task delegation.

Finally, while not a new feature for Taskade 2.0 the service still supports voice and video chat for team collaboration.

Watch this video that I made in January to learn more about Taskade works.

5 Tips for New Google Expeditions Users

Image copyright: Richard Byrne
Google Expeditions is often the first educational virtual reality tool that I introduce to teachers who come to one of my workshops. Here are five tips that I frequently pass along to teachers who are preparing to use Google Expeditions for the first time. If you have never used Expeditions, you might want to watch this short tutorial and then come back to read these tips.

Download Early
A lot people either don't realize it at first or just forget to do it, if you're going to be the Guide in Expeditions, you need to download the Expedition on which you want to guide your students.

You Don't Have to Lucky Dip
If you open the Google Expeditions app on your phone or tablet and you can browse through the VR and AR tours according to broad topics like science, landscapes, and careers. And you can read a little description of each tour, but you don't really know what lessons you might teach with a tour until you open it and go through it yourself. There is another option for finding Google Expeditions VR and AR tours. That option is found in this list of Expeditions spreadsheet owned by Jennifer Holland that Greg Kulowiec shared with me.

The list of Expeditions spreadsheet includes a list of scenes in each tour, a tour summary, and in some cases a link to a lesson plan. Search through the spreadsheet by using "Ctrl+F" "Command+F" on your keyboard.

Talk to Your IT Person (the sooner the better)
If you want to guide your student in Google Expeditions virtual reality tours you will need to make sure that you and your students are on the same network. In many schools students and teachers are on different wi-fi networks. There are a few solutions to this including buying a Google Expeditions kit from a retailer like Best Buy (most expensive option), using a wireless hotspot (not terribly expensive in most cases), or asking your IT person if he/she can set-up a small network for your classroom (this may require bribing said IT person with chocolate or coffee). Your school's IT person can tell you what options are available to you.

You Can Make Your Own Expeditions
Earlier this year Google announced that you can now view tours that you create with their VR Tour Creator in your Google Expeditions app. The catch is that you must use the same Google account for VR Tour Creator as you do for the Google Expeditions app. Watch my videos below for directions on making your own tour and for viewing it in the Google Expeditions app.



Students Can Explore on Their Own
Being able to guide your students on tours in Google Expeditions is great because you can be relatively certain that they are looking at the tour that you want them to view. But there is a lot to be said for letting students explore on their own in Google Expeditions. Fortunately, Google realized this a couple of years ago and introduced Explorer mode which lets students explore VR and AR tours on their own within the Expeditions app. Watch my video below to see how students can do this.

Live Nature Webcams - Lambs, Eaglets, Piglets, and Calves, Oh My!

Image copyright: Richard Byrne
Last night while I was working on a list of alternatives to YouTube I found myself distracted by the live nature webcam streams hosted on Explore.org. Explore.org has hosted live webcam streams for many years with the number of streams growing every year. This is a great time of year to look at those streams as many baby animals are born in the spring.

On Explore.org you will find live streams of an eagle's nest with eaglets in it, a sheep barn, a pig pasture, and a bison watering hole. Those are just three of the dozens of interesting streams you can watch on Explore.org. In fact, there is an entire section dedicated to just showing baby animals.



In addition to live webcams you can use Explore.org find documentaries about animals.

Applications for Education
Watching a webcam of a nest or watering hole could get a little boring after a few minutes. The way that I recommend using Explore.org's webcam streams is to have students pick an animal or animals that they want to watch grow over the course of a few weeks. Have them watch for a few minutes a day and record observations in an online or physical journal. The Google Science Journal app could be a good option for writing those observations.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Mobile Apps, Copyright, and Flipgrid - The Week in Review

Good evening from rainy Maine where I spent part of the day pumping water out of the basement of my 170 year old house. I hope that your day was a little better than mine.

This week I had the privilege to speak in Bonner Springs, Kansas to a great group of teachers who welcomed me with the sign that's featured in this post. That was the last stop on a long string of speaking engagements that I had all over North America over the last two months. Now I have a few weeks to recharge. By the way, click here if you'd like to have me speak at your school or conference.

In other news, I've spent a lot of time this week fighting against the copyright infringement committed by a site called Online Cultus. If you see this post there, please let me know so that I can submit it their hosting company as another example of copyright infringement.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Four Free Tools for Creating Your Own Mobile Apps
2. AP Government Review Resources - Kahoots and Quizlets from C-SPAN Classroom
3. A New Way to Access Google Slides, Docs, and Sheets Offline
4. 5 Ideas for Using Glide to Create Your Own Mobile Apps in Your School
5. Google Earth Timelapses and Historical Imagery
6. This is a Copyright Infringement
7. 13 Flipgrid Tutorial Videos - #FlipgridFever

This week I welcomed a new site supporter. Please take a look at Newlearn.io and tell them that you appreciate their support of Free Technology for Teachers.

Checkology - Lessons in Being Discerning Media Consumers

Checkology is a website designed to help students learn to be discerning consumers of online, print, and television media. Checkology has a free version and a premium version. This review is only about the free version of Checkology.

Checkology's free version offers four interactive modules for students to complete. Each of the modules is comprised of between twenty and forty-seven instructional video clips and interactive comprehension checks. The four modules are titled Info Zones, Democracy's Watchdog, Practicing Quality Journalism, and Misinformation. As you might expect, the contents of the modules gets progressively more difficult as each section is completed.

Checkology's Info Zones module is contains thirty-one sections. The purpose of the Info Zones module is to help students understand how online media (videos, memes, articles) is used to persuade, provoke, sell, entertain, or otherwise present information. Throughout the module students will watch a short video explanation then answer application questions. Most of the application questions present students with three examples of media and they have to identify its purpose and or how it is used to persuade, provoke, sell, or entertain.

In the Checkology module titled Democracy's Watchdog students work through twenty-two modules designed to help them learn about role of investigative journalism in democracy. While this module does include some short explanatory videos, the stars of this module are the detailed timelines and articles about significant moments in history like Watergate and Nixon's subsequent resignation that were shaped by investigative journalism.

Checkology's Practicing Quality Journalism is the longest of the four free modules. This module contains forty-seven parts. In this module students play the role of a journalist gathering and verifying information. In the module students have to make decisions about which stories are newsworthy and which are not. As you might guess, students have to make decisions about the validity of the information that they find throughout this module.

The fourth free Checkology module is rated by them as the most difficult one. That's the module that is titled Misinformation. In the Misinformation module students learn the difference between fake news and misinformation. The module does this by showing students examples of information that has been manipulated into misinformation. The examples include videos and articles, but the bulk of the examples are memes.

Applications for Education
Checkology could be a fantastic resource for middle school and high school students to use to learn how to be discerning consumers of online, print, and television media. Each of the four modules should take students forty-five to sixty minutes to complete accurately.

It should be noted that Checkology is provided by the joint effort of the News Literacy Project and the Facebook Journalism Project.

ClassHook Offers a New Way to Organize Educational Videos

ClassHook is quickly becoming one my favorite tools for teaching with video clips. In fact, I recently included ClassHook's Pause Prompts feature in my Best of the Web presentation at the Texas Library Association's annual conference. ClassHook recently added another convenient feature for teachers.

ClassHook's latest feature is one they're calling Personal Clips. Personal Clips are the videos that you find on the Web outside of the ClassHook environment as well as those that you find within ClassHook. In other words, they're playlists or bookmark lists of videos that you find around the web to use within the ClassHook environment. By using Personal Clips you could organize a set of videos that draws from Next Vista for Learning, YouTube, and Vimeo all in one place.

Applications for Education
As ClassHook pointed out in their announcement of the Personal Clips feature, Personal Clips could be a good way to have a set of videos cued-up and ready to display in your classroom without jumping from tab to tab or site to site.

It's not ready yet, but ClassHook says that soon you will be able to use the Pause Prompts feature with all Personal Clips regardless of the source of the video. In the meantime you can use Pause Prompts with videos that you find through the ClassHook platform. Pause Prompts are discussion prompts that appear while your chosen video is playing. The Pause Prompts automatically pause your video until you're ready to advance it. Learn more about ClassHook's Pause Prompts in this video that I made six weeks ago.

Friday, April 26, 2019

More About Sub-image Searching

Last week I wrote a post about using the search strategy of sub-image searching to identify the meaning of the lettering on a tea set that a friend of mine had purchased at a flea market. It's a strategy that I learned many years ago from Dan Russell and was reminded about when I heard him speak at the TLA conference ten days ago. Today, on his blog Dan Russell has a detailed explanation of using that sub-image search strategy in combination with other strategies to solve a challenge called What's That Logo? Read his blog post here or watch his video for a demonstration and explanation.


Applications for Education
One of the important take-aways from What's That Logo? for students is the reminder that Google is not the only search engine. As you can read in his blog post, Dan recommended using Bing Image Search and Yandex as part of the process to solve the search challenge.

How to Remove the Default Navigation Bar on Blogger Blogs

Blogger provides anyone who has a Google account with a quick and easy way to start a blog. I have been using it for more than a decade for a variety of blogging projects and I've introduced it to many teachers over the years. The question about Blogger that I am asked more than any other is, "how do I remove that bar at the top of my blog?" It used to be fairly difficult to remove that navigation bar because it required overwriting some of the code in your Blogger template. Fortunately, today it is a lot easier than it used to be.

To remove the navigation bar from your Blogger blog follow these steps:
  • Log into your Blogger blog. 
  • Select "layout" in the lefthand menu. 
  • Click on the gadget labeled "Navbar."
  • Select "Off" in the pop-up menu. 
Watch my new video to learn how to remove the navigation bar from your Blogger blog. 

How to Create Individualized Online Spelling Games for Your Students

Last Sunday I published a written overview of how to use Flippity's Spelling Words template to create individualized online spelling games for your students. The template can be accessed from Flippity.net or through the Google Sheets add-on of the same name. I fielded a handful of questions about the template this week. To answer those questions I made the following tutorial video.



As I wrote earlier this week, Flippity Spelling Words games has three primary modes for students. The first is "list" which simply reads each spelling word aloud to students. The second mode is "practice" in which students hear a word read aloud and then have to type it. The third mode is "quiz" mode in which students again hear the words read aloud and have to type them. It is quiz scores that you can have emailed to you.

Spring and Summer Professional Development Opportunities With Me

As some of you know, the primary funding for Free Technology for Teachers comes through the sale of my Practical Ed Tech webinars and workshops. (If you're wondering, it costs about $12,000/ year to support the site without accounting for labor). This spring and summer I'm hosting a series of professional development webinars and workshops. I’d love to have you join me for one of them.

5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom

  • This is a one-hour webinar that I'm hosting on Tuesday, April 30th. This webinar introduces you to five video projects that you can do in almost any K-12 classroom. Learn more or register here.


Teaching History With Technology

  • This is a popular online course that I’ve offered in the past as a series of three webinars. I’ve expanded it to five weeks in order to include more fun and engaging topics including augmented reality and virtual reality lessons, the latest Google Earth features, and making mobile apps in social studies lessons. I’m offering this course in May and in June. Learn more about the May course here and learn more about the June course here.


Getting Going With G Suite

  • This webinar series sells out almost every time that I offer it. This is a five week course designed for teachers and administrators who are new to using G Suite for Education. In the course you will not only learn the nuts and bolts of using G Suite for Education, you’ll also learn how to leverage these tools to create engaging experiences for your students. This course draws on my ten years of training thousands of educators on G Suite for Education tools. This course will start in June. Learn more and register here.


Making & Teaching With Video

  • This online course is a deep dive into making videos on your own and with your students. During the course you will learn how to plan, complete, and assess a series of video projects. You’ll also learn how to responsibly share videos and how to respect copyright. The class begins on May 7th. Learn more and register here.


Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp



Professional Development Workshops at Your School

  • This summer is my tenth summer of conducting professional development workshops in schools all over North America. I would love to visit your school this summer. Booking me for professional development day or series of days is quick and easy. Just send me a note at richard (at) byrne.media or fill out the form here.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Google Earth Timelapses and Historical Imagery

Google Earth Pro (the desktop version of Google Earth) has offered historical imagery for many years. You can access that imagery by selecting the timeslider icon in the menu at the top of Google Earth when it is open on your desktop. Today, Google unveiled some updates to their Google Earth Engine Timelapse website that offers historical imagery in an online version of Google Earth. The timelapses are animations that play 35 years of satellite imagery. In the following video I demonstrate how to access the timelapses and the historical imagery in Google Earth.


Applications for Education
The timelapse and historical imagery could be useful in a science class to help students see how coastlines and other features of landscapes change over time.

This is a Copyright Infringement

If you have been following my blog for more than a few months, you're probably already familiar with my ongoing battle against copyright infringers all around the world. I recently took the step to truncate all of my RSS feeds which has helped in substantially cutting down on the number of sites publishing my work without permission. There are still some sites that feel it is okay to copy and paste my entire blog posts and then just add "source: Free Technology for Teachers" at the end. That's like a student copying an entire Wikipedia article into a document and passing it in as an essay with a one-item bibliography listing Wikipedia. No teacher would accept that essay and no blogger should accept similar behavior from a website. That's why I made the following video to explain the problem, how to properly re-use a person's work, and to call out the latest website to steal my work.


Learn more about copyright issues as they relate to education and blogging in this 2017 post in which I included the recording of a webinar that Beth Holland and I hosted on the topic.

ReadWorks Offers a Split Screen to Help Students Complete Assignments

ReadWorks is a free service that provides high-quality articles and lesson plans for K-12 ELA teachers. Every article on ReadWorks is accompanied by a lexile score and a suggested grade level. Any article that you select will also be accompanied by a list of key vocabulary terms and suggested questions to give to your students.

ReadWorks offers you the option to create an online classroom by either importing your Google Classroom roster or by manually entering students' names. Either option will give you the ability to assign articles and questions to your students. Students then sign-in to read their assigned articles and answer questions. A relatively new-to-me option provides students with the ability to split their screens in ReadWorks in order to have the questions and articles appear side-by-side. Watch my new video to see how that works.

Newlearn.io - Search and Share Resources by Standard

Newlearn.io is a free social network for finding and sharing free teaching materials according to Common Core standard or keyword. Resoures that you find through Newlearn.io list the standards that can be addressed as well as some suggestions for using through resources in your classroom. You will find videos, PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, and Word Documents on Newlearn.io.

Newlearn.io uses a clean and simple user interface. When you first go to the site you will be greeted by a grid of recently shared resources. On that same page you can begin searching for resources by entering a keyword or by entering a Common Core standard. Search results are displayed in a grid format with large previews of each resource. You will have to create a free account on Newlearn.io in order to download or save any resources.

You can register for a free Newlearn.io account by using any verifiable email address. Once you have registered you will be able to bookmark and download resources. Depending upon the restrictions that a contributor to Newlearn.io sets for his or resources, you may have to send a friend request before you can access his or her resources. You can add your own resources to Newlearn.io by going to your account contents page and clicking on the add button to upload resources, write descriptions of your resources, and to link to external resources.


Applications for Education
Newlearn.io could become a great place to find new instructional materials according to Common Core standard. I kind of look at like if Teachers Pay Teachers without the selling and with an easy way to find resources according to standards.

Disclosure: Newlearn.io is currently running a banner advertisement on the homepage of FreeTech4teachers.com

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A New Way to Access Google Slides, Docs, and Sheets Offline

Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets have had an offline mode for many years. Enabling offline access for those tools takes just a minute (watch this video to learn how).Today, Google announced some forthcoming updates for the offline modes for Docs, Slides, and Sheets.

Over the next few weeks you will start to see a new way to enable offline access for your Docs, Slides, and Sheets. That new way is to right-click on a file name in your Google Drive and then select "available offline." The updated offline mode will let you edit and comment on Docs, Slides, and Sheets. You can also create new Docs, Slides, and Sheets while offline. The updated offline mode will also provide you with an "offline preview" of your Docs, Slides, and Sheets before you commit to making it available offline. If you work on your Docs, Slides, or Sheets while offline, the changes will be automatically synchronized when you reconnect to the Internet.

Applications for Education
Offline access for Docs, Slides, and Sheets is excellent for students who have been issued Chromebooks by their schools, but don't have a reliable Internet connection at home. It is important to note that administrators can make offline access the default setting for Chromebooks within their organizations.

Only Six Seats Left!

The snow is gone here in western Maine! It won't be long now until we're breaking out the shorts, tee shirts, and flip flops. As the summer gets closer the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is filling up. As of this morning there are only six seats remaining for this hands-on learning experience. If you have been thinking about registering, now is the time.

In the following video I answer a bunch of FAQs about the 2019 Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.



Check out this list of things to learn and do at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Four Free Tools for Creating Your Own Mobile Apps

Creating a mobile app can be a great way to get students interested in learning programming concepts and to get them to dive into researching a topic so that they can build the best apps they can. For example, if a student wanted to create an app that serves as a fun review game, he or she would need to have a solid knowledge of the topic in order to create a meaningful app. To that end, here are four free tools that students can use to develop their own mobile apps.

MIT App Inventor
The MIT App Inventor is a great tool for developing an Android app. The MIT App Inventor works in your web browser (Chrome is recommended). The only download that is required for App Inventor 2 is the optional emulator. The emulator allows people who don't have Android devices to test their apps on their desktops. If you have an Android device then the emulator is not required and you don't need to worry about installing it. MIT provides excellent support documentation and curriculum for classroom use for new users of App Inventor. Tutorials are available as videos and as written PDFs. A couple of the videos are embedded below.



Thunkable
If you want to create an iOS app, Thunkable provides a way to do that in a manner that is very similar to that of the MIT App Inventor. In fact, Thunkable is based on the MIT App Inventor framework of using jigsaw-like pieces that have commands labeled on them. Your job is to put the pieces together to make your apps work. Thunkable offers detailed written tutorials and video tutorials. A playlist of tutorials for beginning app designers is embedded below.



Metaverse - Create an Augmented Reality App
Metaverse Studio is a free service for creating your own augmented reality learning experiences. With Metaverse you can create interactive, augmented reality games and challenges for students to complete on their phones or tablets. Metaverse Studio is a block programming (sometimes called visual programming) interface similar in concept to what you will find in the MIT App Inventor and Thunkable. This means that you don't write code. Instead of writing code you create your augmented reality experience by selecting commands and selecting pieces of media from a menu. Put the commands together in the proper sequence and your augmented reality experience can be used on any iOS or Android device. At first glance the Metaverse Studio might look a little intimidating, but after a couple of tries it becomes rather intuitive. It also helps that Metaverse has recently launched a new set of clear video tutorials. The first of those can be seen here.

Glide - Make a Mobile App from a Spreadsheet
I've written a lot about Glide in the last couple of weeks because I think it's amazing and many readers have reached out to me to share how excited they are about it too. Glide enables anyone who can make a spreadsheet in Google Sheets to create his or her own mobile app. If that sounds simple, that's because it is just that simple. Here's my video about how to use it. And here's a list of ways you might use it in your school.

Monday, April 22, 2019

5 Ideas for Using Glide to Create Your Own Mobile Apps in Your School

The most popular video on my YouTube channel last week was this one about how to make your own mobile apps through a free service called Glide. Glide is a free tool that anyone can use to create a mobile app by simply creating a spreadsheet in Google Sheets. Since I published that video I have been thinking a lot about the different ways that teachers, students, and administrators might use Glide in their schools. These are the five ideas that I've come up with so far...

1. Create a mobile study guide: This was the first thing that I thought of when I discovered Glide. You or your students could create an app that lists each section or unit of your curriculum. In each section you can provide videos, podcasts, or simply link to additional documents for review.

2. Create a mobile version of school handbooks: When parents have a question about your school, their first instinct is probably to pick up their phones to search your school's website or to call the office. A mobile version of your school's handbook could make it easy for parents to quickly find the answers to frequently asked questions.

3. Create a guide to your community: Are you looking for a community service project for your middle school or high school students? If so, consider having them develop a guide to the highlights your community.

4. Develop a mobile reporting system: Do you have students or parents using Google Forms for logging information about multiple goals like independent reading, outdoor play, or behavior goals? If so, consider placing links to all of those forms in one convenient app. You'd do this by placing the links to your Forms in the columns in your spreadsheet before publishing it through Glide.

5. Room Use Schedule: For many years I worked in a school that had more teachers than classrooms so it was always kind of a guessing game as to who was using which room when. Having an app that made it easy to find out who was using which rooms at which times would have been amazing! With Glide you could create that kind of app.

Glide is one of the free tools that we'll explore in depth during the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. I would love to have you join us. Six seats are left! Register here!

More Than 17,000 Teachers Get Their Ed Tech Tips This Way

Over the last ten years the most common reason that people give me for unsubscribing to the blog is "too many updates." That is why five years ago I started the Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. This is a newsletter that I send out once a week on Sunday evenings. In the newsletter I share my tip of the week and a list of the most popular posts of the week from Free Technology for Teachers. As of this evening 17,129 people are subscribed to the Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. You can join them by signing up here.

If you are currently receiving the daily emails from Free Technology for Teachers and you register for the Practical Ed Tech Newsletter, you won't be unsubscribed from the daily email list unless you click the unsubscribe link that is in the footer of the daily email.

13 Flipgrid Tutorial Videos - #FlipgridFever

Flipgrid is a free video response service that has become massively popular in the last couple of years. Everywhere that I go, including today's visit to Bonner Springs, Kansas, teachers are using Flipgrid to collect students' video responses to all kinds of prompts. If you haven't tried Flipgrid, I have thirteen tutorial videos that will walk you through everything you need to know to get started. I recommend starting with this one.


If you're trying to get your colleagues on board with Flipgrid, feel free to share this playlist of tutorials.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

AP Government Review Resources - Kahoots and Quizlets from C-SPAN Classroom

AP exam season will be here soon. As they have done for the last five years, C-SPAN Classroom will be hosting a live Cram for the Exam session on May 4th. It's free and open to any student who is taking the AP Government exam. That's not the only AP Government review resource that C-SPAN offers. This year they're offering five units of Quizlet and Kahoot activities that students can use in your classroom and or independently.

C-SPAN Classroom's AP Government Key Review Terms lesson contains five units aligned to the AP Government and Politics course and exam. In each unit you will find links to the aforementioned Quizlets and Kahoots. The lesson also includes charts, Google Docs, and suggested review activities.

To access C-SPAN Classroom's lesson plans you do have to have a C-SPAN Classroom account. Fortunately, accounts are free and take only a minute or two to create. Additionally, you can probably find the Kahoot activities by searching Kahoot's gallery of public games.

Create Individualized Spelling Games Through Flippity Spelling Words

Flippity's Spelling Words is a free Google Sheets template that you can use to create individualized spelling games for your students. To do this you simply have to make a list of words that you want each of your students to practice. You'll then put those lists under your students' names in a Google Sheets template that is provided by Flippity.

How to Create a Spelling Game Through Flippity:

  • To get started you can either go to Flippity.net and select the Spelling Words template or use Flippity's Google Sheets add-on and select Spelling Words. 
  • Once you have made a copy of the template you then have to write your students' names across the second row of the spreadsheet. 
  • Below each student's name you will enter the list of words that you want them to practice spelling. 
    • If you would like to, you can enter a sentence along with each spelling word in order to provide students with some content for its use. 
  • There is an option to have students' results emailed to you. To do that you enter your email address below each student's name in your spreadsheet.
  • Once you have completed the steps listed above, select "publish to the web" from the "File" drop-down menu in Google Sheets and then click the "get link here" tab that appears at the bottom of your spreadsheet. That link is the one that you will give to students to play the games. 


How to Play a Flippity Spelling Words Game:

Flippity Spelling Words games has three primary modes for students. The first is "list" which simply reads each spelling word aloud to students. The second mode is "practice" in which students hear a word read aloud and then have to type it. The third mode is "quiz" mode in which students again hear the words read aloud and have to type them. It is quiz scores that you can have emailed to you. 

For students to play a Flippity Spelling Words game they have to go to the URL that you generated in the last step of the creation process outlined above. They then have to select their names from the list of names that appears on the screen. If a student chooses the wrong name, he/she can simply hit the back button to choose a different name. Students can progress through the games at their own pace. 

If your students master the spelling games that you have created for them through Flippity Spelling Words, they can choose the "more" tab on their games and see a set of related activities that are based on the same set of words. Those additional games included a memory/ matching game, a snowman/ hangman game, a word scramble, and a word search. 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

DIY Apps, Patriots' Day, and Taxes - The Week in Review

Good evening from rainy Paris, Maine. If April showers bring May flowers, I'm going to have a nursery on my hands in a couple of weeks! Ten days ago my yard was covered in snow and today it is resembles a small river.

This week I had the privilege of speaking at TLA's annual conference. Thank you to everyone who came to one or more of presentations. Next week I'm speaking in Bonner Springs, Kansas. If you'd like to have me speak at your school or conference, please get in touch with me here. I'm currently booking for back-to-school season and the fall.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Two New Options in Google Classroom's Classwork Page
2. Glide - Make Your Own App by Just Making a Spreadsheet
3. How to Make Your Own Mobile App
4. A New Way to Customize Google Slides
5. A Flipgrid Feature That is Often Overlooked
6. Pictures of the American Revolution - And Other Resources for Patriots' Day
7. A Few Resources for Learning About Income Taxes

Only Six Seats Left!
The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is happening on July 15th and 16th. I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Only six seats are left! Register here!



Register here!

Ten things to learn and do at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp

Friday, April 19, 2019

A Flipgrid Feature That is Often Overlooked

Earlier this week I was leading a workshop about making videos with students. The first part of the workshop included using Flipgrid. One of the features of Flipgrid that I always show is the sticky notes feature for students. Even though this feature is in plain view many people say to me, "I never tried that."

I always show teachers and students the sticky note feature in Flipgrid because it is a good one for students to use to write out a few bullet points before they record their Flipgrid videos. The sticky notes are present to students while they record so they could use it to include an entire script. The notes don't appear in the video. Watch my video to learn how to use Flipgrid's sticky note feature.


You can find twelve more Flipgrid tutorial videos in my complete guide to using Flipgrid.

Two New Options in Google Classroom's Classwork Page

This week Google added a couple of frequently-requested features to Google Classroom. Those features are automatically placing the latest work at the top of the Classwork page and filtering the Classwork page by topic. Both of these features should be available to you as soon as you open your Classwork page. You can read more about both of them here.

Filtering the Classwork page according to topic comes at just the right time for end-of-year review. filtering by topic should help you and your students quickly find materials and assignments according to topic. And automatically putting new work at the top of the page should be helpful to students in not missing important and new items.

How to Use Google's Dataset Search Tool

Yesterday, I wrote an overview of Google's relatively new Dataset Search tool. It is a tool that is designed to help users locate publicly available datasets. As I explain in the following video, datasets aren't limited to CSV or Excel files. Through the Dataset Search tool you will find datasets in the forms of Google Earth files, zip files of images, and collections of documents. Learn more about how to use Google's Dataset Search tool in my new video that is embedded below.


I'll be talking more about search and search strategies in next week's Practical Ed Tech webinar, Search Strategies Students Need to Know

How to Measure Distances & Share Google Earth Views

Thanks to YouTube's "on this day" feature last night I was reminded that two years ago I published a video overview of what was then the new browser-based version of Google Earth. As I shared on my YouTube channel last night, Google has added a couple of features to Google Earth since I published my original video. Two of those features are the ability to measure distances in multiple units and the ability to share a specific view to Google Classroom. Both of those features are demonstrated in the new video that I published this morning. Watch it on my YouTube channel or as embedded below.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Edublogs Explains How to Handle Student Blogs at the End of the Year

The end of the school year will be here before too long. For many of you it's only about six weeks away. If you and your students have been blogging along this year, you might be wondering what you should do with those blogs when the year ends. Do you leave them floundering in the Internet winds? Do you delete all of the posts? Do you password protect all of the content? Or should you download the content and turn it into a physical artifact? Edublogs answers those questions and more in their new guide on how to deal with student and class blogs at the end of the year.

In How to Deal With Student and Class Blogs at the End of the Year Edublogs provides directions for archiving blogs, hiding content, deleting blogs, and transferring ownership and administration of blogs. The guide also includes step-by-step directions for exporting the content of a blog and then turning it into a PDF through a service called Blog Booker.

I've used Blog Booker in the past to turn Blogger blogs into PDFs and ebooks. Watch this video to see how that process is done.

What Is Turbulence? - A Physics Lesson You Can Feel

At the end of 2018 I shared a half-dozen resources for learning about the science of flight. This morning I watched a new TED-Ed lesson that will make a nice addition to my list of resources about aviation.


Turbulence: One of the Great Unsolved Mysteries of Physics is a new TED-Ed lesson that explains what turbulence is and the forces that create it. The lesson explains that even though we typically associate turbulence with flying in airplanes, turbulence exists in many other places including oceans.

Google Dataset Search - Locate Publicly Available Datasets

Google Dataset Search is a search tool that I learned about this week during one of Daniel Russell's presentations at the TLA conference. Google Dataset Search is a new (still in beta) search tool that is designed to help users locate publicly available datasets. This isn't a tool for searching within the datasets, it's a tool for finding datasets. For example, if you're doing research on earthquakes and want to find some datasets to analyze, Google Dataset Search will help you locate datasets that you could then open and or download to analyze.
Applications for Education
Google Dataset Search could be helpful to high school and college students who are interested in analyzing data for the purposes of identifying patterns, changes, and correlations. Students who find datasets in this manner will need to remember to use "Control + F" or "Command + F" to search within the datasets that they open.

Sub-image Search - A Strategy for Answering "What Is This?"

Image Credit: Becky Willough
Earlier this week I had the good fortune to sit in on two presentations at TLA given by Daniel Russell. He is Google's Senior Scientist in charge of search quality and user happiness. If you ever get the chance to hear him talk about search, take it! Even if you think you're good at conducting web research, you will learn something new by listening to Dan speak. This week I learned about Google's new Dataset Search tool (more on that in another blog post) and I was reminded of an image search strategy called sub-image searching.

The strategy is to take a screenshot of a portion of an image then upload that image to Google Image search to see if you can identify or at least get a good clue to help you solve a search challenge.

I used this strategy and wrote about it six years ago to help a friend identify the meaning of the lettering on the tea set that she purchased at a flea market. Had I simply uploaded a picture of the whole tea set to Google Image search, I would have had a huge list of pictures of random tea sets because Google Images would have interpreted my search as a request for tea sets. So instead of uploading a picture of the tea set I uploaded a screenshot of the lettering. That alone that work in some cases. In this case I had to try adding few words to my image search before I was able to find the answer to the question of "what does this lettering mean?" That additional step is called Search by Image FU and is outlined in this 90 second video.



By the way if you are interested in learning more about developing search lessons for K-12 students, I am hosting a webinar on that topic next week. And if you want to dive into some highly advanced search challenges, take a look at Daniel Russell's SearchReSearch blog. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Best of the Web - The TLA Edition

Greetings from the Austin, Texas airport where I'm waiting for a flight home after a great three days at the TLA annual conference. I gave three presentations and ran two workshops during the conference. The last of my presentations ended just a couple of hours ago. The room was packed (I was worried about the fire marshal shutting us down) as I shared the latest version of my Best of the Web presentation. This one was different than the others that I have recently shared because it was designed with teacher-librarians in mind and it included some resources that I haven't even written about on this blog, yet. Check it out as embedded below.


A huge thank you to all of the kind folks who came to all of my presentations this week. And especially to those who came up to me after my sessions for selfies or to just say hello. Getting to meet so many passionate teachers and librarians is always the highlight of a conference for me.

If you're interested in the other things that I shared at TLA, you can see them here.

How to Make Your Own Mobile App

On Tuesday morning I published a post about great service called Glide that enables anyone who can make a Google Sheet to make his or her own mobile app. Judging by the volume of emails and Twitter DMs that I received, a lot of people are interested in using Glide. I made the following video to answer many of the questions that I received about Glide and to help more people get started making their own mobile apps in minutes.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A New Way to Customize Google Slides

Earlier this month Google announced a huge update to Google Slides in the form of native support for audio files. Yesterday, Google Slides got another update that many users will like. That is the option to customize the color palettes in the themes within Google Slides. In other words, if this is a new way to tweak a theme in Google Slides.

You can access the new color palette customization tool from any of the color picker menus in Google Slides (the one for font colors is probably the easiest one to find). To change the colors open the color picker menu then click on pencil icon next the word theme that appears below the color grid in the menu.

This new feature isn't a groundbreaking feature, but it will be convenient for those teachers and students who want break away from the standard themes of Google Slides.

This feature is rolling out over the next couple of weeks.

Glide - Make Your Own App by Just Making a Spreadsheet

Glide is an amazing free tool that I featured in a presentation during yesterday's TLA Tech Glamp. Glide enables anyone who can make a spreadsheet in Google Sheets to create his or her own mobile app. If that sounds simple, that's because it is just that simple. The headers that you put into your spreadsheet and the data that you enter into your spreadsheet is used by Glide to generate a mobile app for you that will work on Android and iOS devices.

To get started making your first app with Glide you will need to create a spreadsheet in Google Sheets. Your spreadsheet's column headers are what will become the sections your app. The information that you enter into your spreadsheet's columns is what will be displayed within each section your app. You can include links to videos, images, and maps in your spreadsheet and those items will be included in your app too.

After you have created your spreadsheet in Google Sheets, go to Glideapps.com and connect to your Google account. That connection will allow you to import your Google Sheet. Once your spreadsheet is imported you will be able to see a preview of your app. You can change the layout and color scheme of your app in the Glide editor. When you're happy with how it looks, hit the share button to publish your app for others to see. You can share your app publicly via QR code and public URL or you can share your app privately via email.

Applications for Education
Glide could be a fantastic way to have students create simple study guide apps, to create apps for making guides to their favorite video games, or to build apps about their towns.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

A Few Resources for Learning About Income Taxes

Tomorrow is the deadline to file income taxes in the United States. If you have high school students, some of them may be filing taxes (or having parents do it on their behalf) for the first time. That may lead to all kinds of questions about why we have taxes, the way taxes are calculated, and types of taxes. Crash Course has a twelve and a half minute video in which those questions are addressed.



PBS Learning Media has a free lesson plan through which students learn about reasons for taxes being withheld from paychecks, where the withholdings go, and why some people have more or less withheld than others. In addition to helping students understand taxes withheld from paychecks Taxes - Where Does Your Money Go? introduces students to concepts related to saving for retirements. To that end, the lesson plan includes a video about how a self-employed person handles budgeting for taxes and retirement.

To explain the origins of income taxes in the United States, CBS News hosted author Kenneth Davis. Davis is the author of the popular "Don't Know Much" series of history books.



Pictures of the American Revolution - And Other Resources for Patriots' Day

Tomorrow is Patriots' Day in Maine and Massachusetts. The day commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord. As a New Englander this is a good day to review some good resources for teaching and learning about the American Revolution.

History Animated has an entire section called Revolutionary War Animated. That is a great place to find nice animated maps of troop movements throughout the Revolutionary War. Despite looking rather web 1.0, this resource is one that I continue to return to because it does a great job of illustrating the movement of battles.

America, A Narrative History is a text published by Norton. As a free supplement to the book, Norton offers ten Google Earth tours. These tours include major themes and events in US History. The American Revolution is one of the Google Earth tours included in the list of tours.

Teaching American History has a series of interactive lessons about the American Revolution that are suitable for middle school and elementary school use. The lessons are divided into three chronological sections; 1775-1778, 1778-1781, and Treaty of Paris 1783. All of the lessons in the first two sections ask students to locate a place on a map. Students then answer a question about that place. After answering the question students are given a short text lesson. The lessons appear in chronological order. In the section on the Treaty of Paris students move through a series of placemarks on a map to learn about the terms of the Treaty of Paris.

Pictures of the Revolutionary War is a compilation of images about the Revolutionary War. The images in the collection chronicle the stirrings of rebellion in the pre-revolution years, the war from both American and British perspectives, and events following the Revolutionary War.

Crash Course has a ten part series on U.S. History. Included in that series is Taxes & Smuggling - Prelude to Revolution.



Saturday, April 13, 2019

Only Seven Seats Left!

The snow is almost gone here in western Maine. It won't be long now until we're breaking out the shorts, tee shirts, and flip flops. As the summer gets closer the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is filling up. As of this morning there are only seven seats remaining for this hands-on learning experience. If you have been thinking about registering, now is the time.

In the following video I answer a bunch of FAQs about the 2019 Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.



Check out this list of things to learn and do at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

Spring, Winter, and a New Look - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we're hoping the sun comes out today like it did last weekend. Of course, after last weekend's warm weather we woke up to six inches of fresh snow on Monday morning. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you can get outside to play too.

This week I decided to start moving Free Technology for Teachers in a slightly different direction. If you only read this in email or in an RSS reader, you may not have noticed that the blog has a new look. There are fewer banner links, fewer advertising banners, larger font, and the header image has a current picture of me instead of one taken in 2011. The cosmetic changes are part of a larger change in how Free Technology for Teachers is funded. I'll be sharing more about that in a forthcoming blog post. In short, there will be more time spent on my consulting and training services.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How to Create Video-based Lessons
2. Seven Good Tools for Creating Word Clouds
3. Important Information for Fans of Flippity
4. The Most Dangerous Writing App - Great for Jumpstarting Creative Writing
5. A Great Email Etiquette Lesson from a Student
6. Create Text Message Exchanges Between Fictional and Historical Characters
7. Braingenie - Math & Science Practice from CK-12

Only Seven Seats Left!
The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is happening on July 15th and 16th. I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Only seven seats are left! Register here!



Register here!

Ten things to learn and do at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp