Monday, September 2, 2019

The Ten Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers - In August

At the end of every month I like to take a look back at the most popular posts of the previous thirty days. I'm a couple of days late this time.

I make these lists to get some insights into what readers want to see more or less of. I also do this as a way to provide you with a quick way to catch up on some highlights of the last month in the field of educational technology.

These were the most popular posts in August:
1. Google is Adding an Originality Checker to Google Classroom
2. How to Use Flipgrid to Create Whiteboard Videos
3. Ten Google Product Updates for Teachers to Note
4. 5 Google Drive Tips You Might Have Overlooked or Forgotten
5. A Couple of Good Places to Find Icebreaker Activities
6. Bad News - Interactive Simulation Shows Students How Misinformation is Spread
7. How to Add New Fonts to Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets
8. Ten Tools for Telling Stories With Pictures - Updated for 2019-20
9. Ed Tech Fitness Challenges for Back-to-School Season
10. How to Embed Google Docs Into Your Blog Posts

Thank You for Your Support!
  • More than 375 of you have participated in a Practical Ed Tech webinar this year. Thank you!
  • Pixton is a fantastic tool for students to use to create digital stories. Get started by using their free "Truth or Lie" lesson plan. 
  • PrepFactory offers free, personalized SAT and ACT prep. 
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County has been supporting this blog for many years.
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides 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
  • 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 Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing. 

Fossils 101 - And How Scientists Know What Color Dinosaurs Were

National Geographic's YouTube channel has a great series called 101 Videos. The series contains 115 videos that provide five minute introductions to a wide variety of science topics. Fossils 101 is one of the recent additions to the series.

Fossils 101 explains to viewers what fossils are, fossil types, how fossils are formed, and what fossils can reveal to scientists about the past.

On a related note, a few years ago TED-Ed published a lesson titled How Do We Know What Color Dinosaurs Were? The video explains how scientists examine the melanosomes of fossilized feathers to determine the colors of some dinosaurs. The video then goes on to explain how the physics of light and color eventually lead scientists to their conclusions.

ClassHook Adds Live Discussions for Video Lessons

Last Friday on the Practical Ed Tech Podcast I mentioned that ClassHook has a new feature for facilitating discussions about the videos that you show to your students. The new feature is called Live Discussions and it builds upon the popular Pause Prompts feature that ClassHook introduced earlier this year.

Pause Prompts are timestamped questions that you add to video clips in ClassHook. When you're showing a video to your class, the questions you've written as Pause Prompts will automatically pop-up at the timestamp you've specified. The video will stop and the question will appear full-screen in its place. You can then have a discussion with your students about the prompt.

Live Discussions builds upon Pause Prompts by incorporating an online response element for your students. Now when a Pause Prompt is reached you can have your students respond online as well as by speaking in class. Live Discussions generates a link and QR code for students to follow to land on a response page where they can answer the questions in the Pause Prompts. You'll be able to see their responses in your ClassHook teacher account.

Applications for Education
ClassHook's Live Discussions offers a great middle ground between a completely online response system and a completely voice-based, in-class discussion. You might not have time for ever student to respond to Pause Prompt aloud in your classroom so using the Live Discussion feature will give every student the opportunity to respond to the prompt.

A Few Short Lessons About Labor Day

Today is Labor Day in the U.S. This is the traditional "end of summer" in the minds of many of us. After this weekend nearly all students and teachers will be back in school. If you're already back in school, you and your students should have enjoyed the three day weekend. Tomorrow you may have some students asking why Labor Day is a holiday. The following videos explain the origins of Labor Day.

Labor Day's Violent Beginnings

Why Do Americans and Canadians Celebrate Labor Day? - A TED-Ed Lesson

History of the Holidays: Labor Day History

Find more Labor Day resources in Larry Ferlazzo's extensive list of links.

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