Sunday, October 13, 2019

Explore and Download Thousands of National Parks Pictures and Videos

On my way home from the Oregon SHAPE conference I drove through Mt. Hood National Forest. If you ever get the chance to do the same, take it! On my drive I stopped at the Timberline Lodge to snap a few photographs and ponder coming back to ski Mt. Hood. Back at my hotel my research into backcountry permits reminded me that the U.S. National Park Service hosts thousands of videos and pictures about the various parks and forests under its care.

The majority of the pictures and videos in the National Park Service's gallery are in the public domain. You can search the collection according to media type, location, or keyword. The licensing and re-use information for each picture and video is clearly listed. In general, the videos that are in the public domain have a download link and the ones that aren't in the public domain don't have a download link. The same is true for the pictures in the gallery.
Looking down the valley from Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood National Forest.

Applications for Education
The National Park Service's multimedia gallery can be a fantastic resource for students who are making slideshows, videos, or virtual tours based on their research about a National Park or National Forest.

How to Create Vocabulary Games on Educandy

Educandy is a new service for creating simple vocabulary games and multiple choice trivia games. A convenient aspect of the service is that once you've created a list of vocabulary words it will automatically be applied to multiple game formats for you. In other words, write one word list and you'll get three games that your students can play. Your students can play the games without needing to create an account on the Educandy site. In the following video I provide an overview of how you can create games on Educandy and how your students can access your games.

How to Share Videos Through OneDrive

A few days ago I shared directions for sharing videos through Google Drive. Microsoft's OneDrive has a similar capability that in some ways is actually better than using Google Drive. In OneDrive you can share videos via unique URLs that you can password protect. Additionally, in OneDrive you can set an expiration date on the URLs that you use to share videos with others. In the following video I demonstrate how to share videos through OneDrive.


Applications for Education
Sharing videos through OneDrive can be a good alternative to using YouTube to share videos with students and their parents.

Canadian vs. American Thanksgiving

Monday is Thanksgiving in Canada. If you're curious about the differences and similarities between American and Canadian Thanksgiving, watch the following videos. Both of the following humorous videos that explain the differences between Thanksgiving in Canada and Thanksgiving in the United States.



Just a reminder, you should always preview videos before showing them in your classroom. I know many high school teachers who will not have a problem sharing these, but teachers of younger students may want to proceed with caution.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Slides, Forms, and Mountains - The Week in Review

Good evening from Oregon where I had a great day traveling from Portland to Bend for the Oregon SHAPE conference. It was my first time presenting at a conference dedicated to health and physical education. It was great! And the views on the drive from Portland to Bend were extraordinary!



These were the week's most popular posts:
1. 5 Handy Google Slides Features You Might Be Overlooking
2. Using Google Slides to Design a Mobile App
3. Microsoft Forms Will Soon Have a Read Aloud Option
4. Learn Javascript Fundamentals and More With Google's Grasshopper
5. Educandy - Quickly Create Educational Games from Word Lists
6. How to Make the Home Button Appear in Chrome
7. How to Find and Edit Thousands of Halloween Games for Your Classroom

Live & On-demand PD
Next week on Practical Ed Tech I'm hosting a live webinar titled Google & Maps - It's More Than Social Studies. I also have six other PD webinars available on-demand.

I'll come to your school or conference. 
I'm already booking my 2020 workshop and conference schedule. This will be my tenth year of speaking at schools and conferences. Click here to learn how to bring me to your school or conference.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides FreeTech4Teachers.com and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 15,000 are subscribed to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 300 Google tools tutorials. 
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Educandy - Quickly Create Educational Games from Word Lists

Educandy is a near service that I recently learned about from Eric Curts. As I mentioned in this week's episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast, Educandy strikes me as a slightly more polished version of Flippity. On Educandy you can create a list of vocabulary words or a list of questions and have a set of games instantly created based on those lists. You can then share those games with your students through a dedicated link and game code.

To get started on Educandy you will have to create an account on the site. Once you've created your account sign in and select the option to create a list of vocabulary words, matching pairs of words, or a list of quiz questions. Once you've made your list Educandy will automatically generate a game or series of games that your students can play. If you make a list of vocabulary words or a list of paired words the game options will include memory, hangman, word search, and crosswords. If you write quiz questions, the game will be a simple quiz game.

Once your game is created on Educandy it will appear in your account under "my activities." From there you can select your game and find its code. Students can then use that code to play your game at Educandy.com without creating an account on the site. You'll also find an embed code that you can use to place your game on your own website.

Applications for Education
Educandy isn't providing anything revolutionary, but it does provide a convenient way to create some simple review games for your students to play on their own. If you're looking for a new way to make games for your students to play as review activities, Educandy might be for you.

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast Episode #13

Earlier today I recorded the thirteenth episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast. This episode, like the previous one, begins with an overview of some news and notes from the week in ed tech followed by my answers to a handful of questions from readers and listeners. The news and notes in this episode include a bunch of updates from Microsoft's accessibility product team. And a couple of the questions from readers center on troubleshooting problems with Google Forms and Sheets. Listen to the episode right here.





The complete show notes can be found here.

You can listen to all episodes of the podcast here or find them on the following podcast networks:

Thursday, October 10, 2019

An Update from the Archive - Three Good Ways to Use All Those Pictures Students Take

I originally published this post four years ago. I remembered this post while reflecting on a conversation that I had with my freshmen during homeroom this week about their picture-taking and video-recording habits.

Take a look at almost any student's cell phone and you're bound to find hundreds or thousands of pictures and videos that they taken. As teachers we should put our students' picture-taking and video-taking habits to good use. Here are three ways to utilize students' picture-taking habits in your classroom.

Create a b-roll gallery.
Rather than making students scour the web in a quest for public domain or Creative Commons media, let them search in a classroom gallery of media. Create a shared Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box folder to which students can upload images and videos that will allow other students use in slideshows and other multimedia projects.

Create digital portfolios of physical work. 
Have students snap pictures of work they have done on paper or another physical medium and upload them to a folder that is shared with you. Of course, students can also link to digital projects. SeeSaw is a great platform for projects like this.

Tell a story.
Did your class recently go on a field trip? If so, your students probably have a slew of photos from it. Have them use those to summarize the highlights of what they learned during the field trip.

Are you trying to get students to tell stories about themselves? In that case, let them use photos to tell that story.

Adobe Spark and Pic-Collage are good tools for telling stories with pictures.

A Good Collection of PowerPoint Presentations for AP US History and World History

Tom Richey produces great instructional videos for students taking AP US History, World History, and Government courses. More than 100,000 YouTube subscribers will attest to that. He also publishes many of the PowerPoint presentations that appear in his videos. From his PowerPoint page you can download presentations on US History, European History, or World History.

Google Chrome users who have the Google Slides app installed can quickly open all of Tom's PowerPoints directly in their browsers then save the slides in their Google Drive accounts. People who don't use Chrome or Google Drive can simply download the original PowerPoint files from Tom's website.

Applications for Education
Slides without a voice aren't nearly as helpful as slides with a voice. That said, reviewing these PowerPoint files might help students recall a point that you've made in a lesson. Likewise, viewing the slides might help students recall something from a related reading assignment.

How to Use Google Drive to Share Videos

One of the questions that I'm frequently asked in regards to student video projects is "how can they share them without using YouTube?" It's a good question as there are many reasons why you might not want your students to upload their videos to YouTube for classroom projects. My recommended solution is to upload the video to Google Drive or OneDrive for sharing with you, their classmates, or their parents.

In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Google Drive to store and share video files.



Applications for Education
I'm often asked about how to collect videos from students to then upload to one class YouTube account. Collecting videos from your students through Google Drive or OneDrive is a good way to do that. Then you can choose which ones to make public and you'll have all of the videos in one place instead of trying to keep track of each student's individual YouTube channel.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Using Google Slides to Design a Mobile App

This fall I'm teaching a couple of computer science courses. One of the courses is designed for freshmen students to get a broad overview of all the possible avenues to pursue in computer science. Currently, they're exploring some app design concepts with an end goal of putting together a functioning Android app with the MIT App Inventor.

In an effort to make my students think about all of the menus, items, and media that their apps will need, I have my students using Google Slides to outline the design of their apps. They're doing this by having each slide in their slidedecks represent a screen in their apps. Then they're using the hyperlinking function in Google Slides to link between the slides in their slidedecks. Again, that's done to simulate tapping screens in the apps they're designing. In the following video I explain this process a bit more.

Find Halloween ELA Articles on ReadWorks

Last week I shared a Halloween-themed physical education lesson and instructions on how to find and modify Kahoot games about Halloween. Those of you who are looking for Halloween-themed stories to use in ELA lessons could do well to turn to this collection on ReadWorks.

The bulk of the Halloween collection on ReadWorks features articles for a  K-8 audience with a few 9-12 articles mixed in. The articles covered topics like the history of Halloween, pumpkin farms, and the history of ghost stories. Like all ReadWorks articles, you'll find comprehension questions and vocabulary sets to accompany the articles. A read aloud feature is also available in ReadWorks.

Of course, now that ReadWorks allows students to choose their own articles to read, you could just let your students pick a Halloween article on their own.

More Halloween resources can be found in the following articles:

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Learn Javascript Fundamentals and More With Google's Grasshopper

About eighteen months ago Google published a mobile app called Grasshopper. Grasshopper was created as an app for students to use to learn to code on their Android phones or iPhones. Today, Google announced that you can now use Grasshopper in the web browser on your laptop or desktop computer.

Whether you use Grasshopper on a phone, tablet, or laptop each lesson starts with an introduction to the basic vocabulary of coding before moving into the coding lessons. You have to pass the vocabulary quiz before your can jump into the lessons. Each lesson has a tutorial, a practice activity, and a quiz. You have to successfully complete each lesson before progressing to the next one. Grasshopper will save your work in progress.

Applications for Education
I tried the Grasshopper app when it first came out and found it intuitive and easy to use. As I wrote then, I can see middle school and high school students following the tutorials with little or no intervention from their teachers. In fact, I'm going to have my 9th grade students try Grasshopper next week when I'm away for the day and a substitute teacher will be with them.

VidReader - Create Searchable Transcripts of YouTube Videos

A couple of weeks ago I published a blog post and a video about a neat service called SnackVids. SnackVids has since been rebranded as VidReader. With its new name VidReader does the same thing that SnackVids did. That thing is create a searchable transcript of any YouTube video that is narrated in English. As you'll see in the video, the transcript is not only searchable but all of the keywords are hyperlinked to timestamps in the video.


Applications for Education
After I published the above video a couple of weeks ago, a lot of people commented to me that SnackVids, now VidReader, could be a good tool to provide assistance to students who need to or want to read along with a video.

More Than 18,000 Teachers Get Their Ed Tech Tips This Way

Five years ago I started the Practical Ed Tech Newsletter as an alternative to the daily email digest that is automatically generated from Free Technology for Teachers. The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter is not automatically generated. It's something that I write every weekend and send 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 morning 18,019 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.

Monday, October 7, 2019

5 Handy Google Slides Features You Might Be Overlooking

Like any good presentation tool Google Slides has lots of little features that often go overlooked even by students who have used it for a long time. I was reminded of this today while helping students in one of my classes put some finishing touches on presentations that they're going to give later this week. On that note, here are five helpful Google Slides features that you might be overlooking.

1. Custom sizing
2. Slide navigation options
3. Hiding speaker notes
4. Enabling rulers and guides
5. Automatic slide numbering

You can see all of these features in action in the following video.

How to Make the Home Button Appear in Chrome

This morning I had a colleague come to me in a bit of a panic because the home icon in Google Chrome had "disappeared from her computer." I was able to quickly relieve her panic by showing her the settings options in Chrome. If you find yourself in a position like mine or like my colleague's the following video should help you out. In the video I show how to make the home button and the bookmarks bar appear in Chrome.

Microsoft Forms Will Soon Have a Read Aloud Option

Earlier today Microsoft announced a slew up updates to popular classroom tools including PowerPoint, Word, OneNote, and Forms. The update that jumped out at me is the addition of Immersive Reader to Microsoft Forms.

Microsoft Forms is the Microsoft equivalent of Google Forms. Teachers can use it to create surveys and quizzes including automatically graded quizzes. Immersive Reader is Microsoft's free accessibility tool that will read pages aloud. It can also be used to alter the form, spacing, and color scheme of pages that students read online.

According to today's announcement from Microsoft, Immersive Reader will be available in Microsoft Forms in the next few days. This will enable students to hear questions and answer choices read aloud from Microsoft Forms.

If you have never tried Microsoft Forms, watch my video below to learn how to get started using it today.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Online Safety Tip Sheets, Posters, and More

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Stop.Think.Connect. has a large collection of posters, tip sheets, and videos that you can use to promote good online safety practices in your school or office. You can find all of them in this gallery which can be sorted according to resource type (poster, tip sheet, video, meme).

The Stop.Think.Connect. tip sheets can be previewed online then downloaded as PDFs to print and distribute to students and adults. Many of the tip sheets are available in Spanish, French, and Turkish in addition to English. Likewise, the posters in the collection are available in multiple languages.

Here's a couple of the videos from the Stop.Think.Connect. resources gallery.


Lesson Plan Submit - A Handy Tool for Reviewing Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan Submit is a Google Docs add-on that is designed to make it easy for student-teachers or teachers to submit lesson plans for someone else to review. That other person could be another teacher or a supervisor.

Lesson Plan Submit is easy to use. Once the add-on is installed you simply click the "prepare submission" button in the add-on, answer a couple of short questions, then enter the email address of the person who is going to review the lesson plan. That person doesn't even need to have a Google account because he or she will receive an email that has a Google Docs copy and a PDF copy of the lesson plan to review.

Watch my short video that is embedded below to see how Lesson Plan Submit works from the perspective of the lesson plan writer and the reviewer.

How to Find and Edit Thousands of Halloween Games for Your Classroom

As I write this there are two mini pumpkins on my desk courtesy of my daughters. If you're an elementary school teacher, I bet that there are plenty of visual reminders of fall and or anticipation of Halloween around your school. As Halloween gets closer and you think about reviewing trick o' treating safety or Halloween trivia, take a look at the thousands of games on the topic that are available in Kahoot's public gallery.

Playing Kahoot games is a fun way to review almost anything including Halloween safety. That's why I made the following video to demonstrate how you find and modify Halloween safety games in Kahoot. This video is an update from a similar one that I created last year.


Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Week in Review - It's Pumpkin Season!

Good morning from Maine where it is looking and feeling like fall a little more every day. Last Sunday afternoon I did my first round of leaf removal and I'll be doing another one this weekend. You have to stay on top of these things when you live in a place where a foot of snow in October isn't unheard of. The other sign of fall is that my daughters have been decorating pumpkins all week.

In business news, this week I published six on-demand webinar options over on Practical Ed Tech. And I planned a live webinar for later this month. Stay tuned for details about that.

 These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Google Forms Features You Should Know How to Use - Video
2. How to Randomize Question and Answer Sequences in Google Forms
3. Get Your Copy of the Free Practical Ed Tech Handbook
4. Math & Science Halloween Lessons
5. Creative Bridge - A Next Vista for Learning Video Contest
6. Common Craft Explains Incognito or Private Browser Windows
7. A Halloween-themed Physical Education Program

I'll come to your school or conference. 
I'm already booking my 2020 workshop and conference schedule. This will be my tenth year of speaking at schools and conferences. Click here to learn how to bring me to your school or conference.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides FreeTech4Teachers.com and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 15,000 are subscribed to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 300 Google tools tutorials. 
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing. 

Win Chromebooks and ISTE Registration in Book Creator's "A Better Future" Contest

Book Creator is a popular tool for creating multimedia ebooks on an iPad or in the Chrome web browser. Students can use Book Creator to create ebooks that include pictures, text, voice, video, maps, and drawings. I have a couple of tutorials on it here.

Earlier this week Book Creator announced a contest through which schools can win Chromebook tablets, registration to the annual ISTE conference, and more. The competition is open to schools anywhere in the world. The theme of the competition is "A Better Future." The contest asks students to create short ebooks (minimum 3 pages, maximum 11 pages) that address the following questions:

  • What are the issues facing the world today? 
  • How can we address them? 
  • What will the future look like? 
  • How can we make the world better for everyone?
There is a category for students ages 4-11 and one for students ages 12-18. The contest submission deadline is January 10th. Read the complete contest rules and FAQs here


Disclosure: Book Creator is currently an advertiser on this blog. 

Book Review Videos Made in the Common Craft Style

Years ago I came across a video in which someone reviewed The Art of Explanation by making a video in the Common Craft style. The Art of Explanation is a book that was written by Lee LeFever who is the voice behind all of the Common Craft videos. The producer of the video, Bruce Herwig, wrote a blog post explaining the lessons he learned in the video production process.

I've written about book trailers video projects many times in the past. Usually those projects are focused on having students produce videos that will get other students interested in a book. The approach that Bruce Herwig uses is slightly different as it focuses more on providing a clear overview of the book rather than just trying to hook viewers into reading the book. That approach could be a good one for high school students to use as a means to providing reviews of non-fiction works that may not have the entertainment value of fiction works.

Bruce Herwig's video is embedded below.


My video on how to make Common Craft-style videos with Google Slides and a screencasting tool is embedded below.

Friday, October 4, 2019

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast - Episode #12

This afternoon I recorded the twelfth episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast. In the episode I shared some reflections on teaching computer science and some reflections on being a teacher at 40 versus being a teacher at 25. Of course, I also answered a handful of questions from readers. The episode begins with some news and notes from the world of ed tech over the last week. Give the show a listen here or search "Practical Ed Tech" on your favorite podcast platform.



Get the complete show notes here.

You can listen to all episodes of the podcast here or find them on the following podcast networks:

The Solutions to Common Classroom Stains

Stain Solutions is a handy website developed by Susan Taylor at the University of Illinois Extension. The site is a database of solutions for removing more than 200 common stains like coffee, bird poop, and white glue (commonly called Elmer's glue). Click on a stain in the chart and you will be taken to a list of the ingredients needed to make a solution that will remove your chosen stain. Directions and warnings are provided along with the solutions.

Applications for Education
I don't know of any teacher who hasn't stained work clothes themselves or had them stained as the result of a student mishap. I've stained enough neckties to create a drop-cloth. Coffee, ink, and dry-erase markers seem to be the leading causes of those stains. Solutions to remove all those stains can be found on Stain Solutions.

A Tool to Simulate Text Messages Between Historical Figures

One of my favorite tool on ClassTools.net is the Fake SMS Generator. The Classtools Fake SMS Generator is free to use and does not require students to register to use it. In the video below I demonstrate how to create a fictitious text message exchange between historical characters.


As I mentioned in the video, the Fake SMS Generator could also be used to create visuals for lessons on cyber-safety and etiquette.

Poe Animations and Lessons

It wouldn't be October without language arts that mention Edgar Allan Poe. It seems that October is the time that a lot of students are introduced to the work of Edgar Allan Poe. If that describes your classroom and you're looking for a few Poe resources, take a look at the following three videos.

In the TED-Ed lesson Why Should You Read Edgar Allan Poe? students can learn about Poe's guiding principles for writing, the recurring themes of his work, and the personal factors in his life that contributed to his writing. Find the complete lesson here or watch the video as embedded below.



Introduce The Pit and the Pendulum to students through Flocabulary's rap of the story. That video is embedded below.



Here is an animated telling of Edgar Allen Poe's Tell Tale Heart.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Math & Science Halloween Lessons

This afternoon one of my students asked me what my daughters are going to be for Halloween. That question reminded me that Halloween will be here soon. If you find yourself starting to look for some Halloween-themed math or science lessons for elementary school, take a look at the following items.

PBS Learning Media also has a collection of Halloween-themed science and mathematics lessons. PBS Learning Media's Halloween collection includes lessons that can be used in elementary school, middle school, and high school classrooms. One of the elementary school Halloween-themed lessons is all about the historical traditions that contributed to the creation of Halloween. The materials for this lesson include a short video, video discussion questions, and a vocabulary sheet. The middle school and high school resources in PBS Learning Media's Halloween collection are videos without any other supporting materials. In the collection you'll find videos about why things sound scaryflesh-eating beetles, and supernatural elements in Macbeth. All of the items in PBS Learning Media's Halloween collection can be shared to Google Classroom where you can add questions for students answer after watching the videos.

SciShow Kids has a playlist of videos covering topics that are frequently connected to symbols of Halloween. Those topics are bats, spiders, skeletons, and the changing colors of leaves. In the video about bats students learn how bats use sound to find their way at night, how and why bats hang upside down, and how they rear their offspring. In the video on spiders students learn about the role of spiders in controlling flying insect populations and how spiders create webs. In the video about the human skeleton students can learn about the functions of the skeleton as well as how bones grow and heal over time. Finally, in the video on leaves students learn about the correlation between chlorophyll, sunlight, and leaf color.




Coding with Monsters is an activity from Tynker. It can be used to introduce some basic coding concepts to elementary school or middle school students.

If you can get through the obtrusive advertisements 31 Days of Halloween STEM activities offers some good activities for teaching basic engineering, biology, and chemistry concepts.

Number Chase - Math vs. Zombies is a free iPad game with a Halloween theme. The game is has three virtual worlds each containing ten levels of basic math problems. The object of the game is to correctly solve as many math problems as possible before the zombies catch you. The math of the game is basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

WriteReader Adds New Page Styles for Students to Create eBooks

WriteReader is one of go-to tools for elementary school and middle school students to use to create multimedia ebooks. I've been using it since its launch a few years ago and it has only gotten better since then. Along the way it has added read-aloud features, introduced more options for comic and speech bubbles, and added an integrated library of Sesame Street artwork that students can use. Of course, it's always had the outstanding option for teachers to give students feedback directly in their ebooks.

The latest update to WriteReader introduced new page templates. Now WriteReader has templates for students to add pages that have images and text and text only along with the original template for students and teachers to write on the same page. Watch my video that is embedded below for an overview of WriteReader's new page templates.



ICYMI - Six On-Demand PD Opportunities

In August and September I hosted five live Practical Ed Tech webinars and launched one self-paced course. A lot of people expressed interest in the webinars but said that the timing didn't work. That's understandable as the beginning of this school year has been extremely busy for me too. That's why I've made all of the webinars from August and September available on demand.

Five Practical Ed Tech Webinars Available On Demand

  • Search Strategies Students Need to Know
  • Get Organized With Google Classroom, Calendar, and Keep
  • Intro to Green Screens and Animation
  • Intro to Using AR & VR in Your Classroom
  • 5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom
All of the webinars are delivered to you as a downloadable file along with corresponding handouts. Descriptions for all of the webinars are available here.

Getting Going With G Suite

  • This is the on-demand version of my popular Getting Going With G Suite workshop. It is based on a decade of experience helping thousands of teachers get the most out of using G Suite for Education and other Google tools in their classrooms. Learn more and access the course here

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

How to Randomize Question and Answer Sequences in Google Forms

On Tuesday afternoon I published Google Forms Features You Should Know How to Use. That post and corresponding video has prompted a slew of emails from people either asking or suggesting that I make a video about how to have Google Forms questions and answers appear in random order within a quiz. So as a man of the people I have made that video.

My new video, embedded below, demonstrates how to questions appear in a different order each time a Google Forms quiz is opened. The video also shows you how to have the answer choices for each question appear in a different order each time the quiz is opened. It's important to note that you shouldn't randomize the question sequence if you are using the "go to section based on answer" function as it will break the logic used in designing the form. If all of your questions are on form that has only one section then you can use both the random question and random answer choice options.

A Halloween-themed Physical Education Program

In last week's episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast I mentioned a great blog for physical education teachers. That blog is called Keeping Kids in Motion and it is written by Justin Cahill. One of the free resources available on his blog is Fitness is Spooktacular.

Fitness is Spooktacular is a kids fitness challenge for the month of October (adults can do it too). There is a downloadable calendar of little workouts that you can do with your students throughout the month of October. Each workout is represented by either a jack-o-lantern, a skull, or a bat.

When students complete the Fitness is Spooktacular challenge they can receive a certificate. Certificates are available for teachers to download and print for free from the Keeping Kids in Motion blog.

Applications for Education
Keeping Kids in Motion is a blog that's great for elementary school physical education teachers as well as anyone who is looking for ideas on how to encourage kids to stay physically fit. The blog is full of ideas that can be implemented across a school and not just in the gym.

The Library of Congress Poses a Search Challenge for Anyone to Try

In the 2019-20 Practical Ed Tech Handbook I included a section about creating image-based search challenges for students. The idea behind giving students image-based search challenges is to provide them with some prompts that force them to use all available clues and tools in order to arrive at the correct answers. That concept is taken to the extreme in a new "contest" presented by the Library of Congress. I put contest in quotes because there are not any prizes other than the joy of being right.

Who Am I? Mystery Photo Contest is a blog post that appeared on Monday on the Library of Congress's blog. The blog post contains nine pictures of people that the LOC needs help identifying. The only clues provided are that the images are publicity stills from the library's moving image section and that performing a reverse image search did not yield and matches.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for a difficult search challenge activity to use with your students, the LOC's Who Am I? Mystery Photo Contest could be just what you need. Students will have to string together as many clues as possible in order to get to arrive at an answer.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Creative Bridge - A Next Vista for Learning Video Contest

I have been a fan and supporter of Next Vista for Learning for the last decade. Next Vista is a video site for students and teachers to share video lessons with other students and teachers. Videos submitted to Next Vista are reviewed for accuracy before they appear on the site. Speaking of videos on the site, one of the ways that Next Vista acquires new submissions is through student and teacher video contests.

The latest Next Vista for Learning video contest is called Creative Bridge and it is now open for submissions. Submissions will be accepted until midnight on December 13th. Submissions received by November 15th receive bonus points. The contest is open to students and teachers. There is a category for student-produced videos, a category for teacher-produced videos, and a category for videos created through the collaborative efforts of teachers and students. Regardless of the category, all videos must teach a lesson in 90 seconds or less. The lesson can be about almost any concept a person would learn about in elementary, middle, or high school. Take a look at this video made by a Kindergarten class or any of the previous contest's finalists here for some inspiration.

Contest winners receive iTunes gift cards and the pride of showcasing their videos for a larger audience.

Complete Creative Bridge contest rules and guidelines are available here.

Google Forms Features You Should Know How to Use - Video

After Google Earth, Google Forms is the Google product that I get the most excited about helping other teachers use. From gathering survey data to organizing event registration to creating online quizzes there are lots of things that can be done efficiently if you know how to use Google Forms. That said, Google Forms has lots of little features that are sometimes overlooked even by people who have made lots of forms in Google Forms. In the following video I demonstrate five features of Google Forms that every teacher should know how to use (if they use Google Forms).


The add-on that I mentioned at the end of the video is called Certify'em. My tutorial on how to use is is embedded below.


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