Monday, May 25, 2020

Five Resources for Teaching and Learning About Copyright

In this week's Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week newsletter I shared a short guide to finding and using media for use in classroom projects like videos, slideshows, and podcasts. This morning I've already had a few requests for more information and more resources to help students understand copyright, Creative Commons, and fair use. In no particular order, here are some of my go-to resources for helping students and teachers understand the importance and the key concepts of copyright as it relates to school projects.

Stanford University Libraries
Stanford University Libraries offers the most comprehensive collection of resources about copyright and fair use that I know of. You could spend hours looking through all of the resources offered on the site. A few pages that teachers will find particularly useful are Charts and Tools, Academic and Educational Permissions, and Copyright FAQs.

Library of Congress - Copyright and Primary Sources
This page published by the Library of Congress addresses frequently asked questions related to the use of primary sources found the LOC's sites and other places around the web. Classroom examples are included in the explanations found on the page.

Copyright & Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens
Copyright & Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens, hosted by the Internet Education Foundation, offers lesson plans and videos for teaching copyright in elementary school, middle school, and high school settings. Slides, lesson plans (as PDFs), and videos are available to use for free in your classroom. A sample video from the elementary school series of lessons is embedded below.



Copyright and Creative Commons Explained by Common Craft
This short video explains the big concepts of copyright and Creative Commons through the story of a photographer publishing a picture and a magazine editor who wants to use that picture for an article.


Copyright, Exceptions, and Fair Use: Crash Course Intellectual Property #3
This video is a the third installment in Crash Course's series on intellectual property. In typical Crash Course style, the video is a fast-paced overview of exceptions to Copyright and examples of Fair Use in action. The video is appropriate for high school students. Students younger than high school age may not understand a lot of the nuances used in the video.

Four Free Webinars to Check Out This Week

As we head into summer many of us start to reflect on the last school year (it was one we'll never forget) and what we want to incorporate into the next school year. If you're looking for some new ideas to incorporate into your practice, consider attending one of the following free webinars this week.

Intro to Teaching History With Technology
This is a free webinar that I'm hosting tomorrow at 3pm ET. It introduces the big concepts that I use in my online course of the same name. Register here.

Creating Simple Animated Videos
This free webinar is being hosted by my friend Lee LeFever. Lee and his wife, Sachi, create the fantastic Common Craft explainer videos. The webinar is Wednesday at 2pm ET/ 11am PT. Register here.

Activities Across Grade Levels - Engaging Science Lessons
This webinar is hosted by Rushton Hurley and Susan Stewart. This webinar is on Thursday at 5pm ET/ 2pm PT will feature tools and strategies for making online science lessons more effective and engaging. Register here and find all previous installments in the series here.

Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff
This is a weekly webinar that I co-host with Rushton Hurley. Like the title says, we take questions about all things ed tech and share some cool things that we've found. Register here to join us this Friday at 1pm ET/ 10am PT. Find all previous installments in the series here.

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

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Updated - How to Use EDpuzzle to Create Video Lessons

In my previous post I wrote about and included a video about adding timestamps to longer videos that you post on your YouTube channel. Rather than just talk about it, I took my own advice and added timestamps to one of my longest and most popular videos of the last few months. That video is a complete overview of how to use EDpuzzle to create video lessons without having to create your own videos. I've included timestamps in the description of the video so that you can jump directly to different sections of it.

Included in this video:
- How to create an account 0:12
- How to create a classroom via Google Classroom. 0:43
- How to make lessons with videos you've found online. 1:56
- How to make lessons with videos you've created. 4:44
- How to post the lesson for your students. 9:34
- How students can access and respond to your lessons. 11:00
- How to view student responses. 13:06
- How to create an EDpuzzle class without Google Classroom. 13:50
- How to upload your own video to EDpuzzle. 15:37

How to Timestamp Your YouTube Videos

When you're publishing videos that are longer than five or six minutes on your YouTube channel it can be helpful to viewers to add some timestamps to the video's description. Including timestamps in the description lets your viewers click to jump to an exact mark in the video. There are a couple of ways that you can do this and they're both easy to do. In the following video I demonstrate how add timestamps to the videos that you post on YouTube.


Applications for Education
I generally don't recommend making instructional videos for kids longer than about ten minutes at the most. But if you do or if you've recorded something like a livestream of a review session, adding timestamps can be beneficial to students. For example, let's say that you hosted a YouTube Live session in which you reviewed the American Revolution and answered questions from students. When you go to post the recording of that session, add some timestamps so that students can then jump to sections that address their questions.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

How to Search for Matching & Similar Documents Submitted in Google Classroom

Earlier this week a reader asked me if there was a way to quickly scan across all of the documents his students submit in Google Classroom to check for elements of copying between students. Fortunately, there is a way to do this but you the function is found in Google Drive instead of in Google Classroom. To do this you simply have to conduct a search in your Google Drive. In the following video I demonstrate how this works.


Applications for Education
Google Classroom has an originality reports function that you can use to check your students' submitted writing for elements of plagiarism. However, it does have some limitations. First, unless you have G Suite Enterprise for Education (the paid version of G Suite for Edu) you can only use originality reports on three assignments. The other limitation is that originality reports only checks against publicly available documents and websites.

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and it feels like summer! It's going to be a great weekend to ride my bike, play outside with my kids, and generally unwind after a long week. I hope that this weekend you get some time to unwind too.

This week I hosted or co-hosted a couple of webinars. On Thursday I hosted Intro to Teaching History With Technology. If you missed it, I'm going to host it again next week. On Friday I co-hosted Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. If you missed it, you watch the recording here.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How to Use Kahoot in Google Classroom
2. How to Convert a PDF Into a Google Document
3. Move Items from One Google Account to Another
4. Seven Ideas for Flipgrid Activities
5. How to Share Audio and Video in Google Classroom Without YouTube or SoundCloud
6. Ten Ways to Use Wakelet
7. Pixabay Offers Free Music to Use and Reuse

Online Summer PD Opportunities
This summer I'm hosting two online professional development courses. I'm hosting the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp three times. The June session is almost full so register soon if you want in on that session. The July sessions have more seats available.

In June and July I'll also be hosting Teaching History With Technology. This is a five part course designed to help you develop new ways to create engaging history lessons and projects. Register now and use the discount code THWT2020.

This summer I'm working with a handful of schools and organizations to develop online professional development for teachers. If you'd like to work with me, please send me a note at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about how we can work together.

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 it includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 23,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 350 Google tools tutorials.  
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has more than 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last thirteen years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

Friday, May 22, 2020

A Handful of Video Lessons About Memorial Day

This is Memorial Day weekend here in the United States. Monday is actually Memorial Day. Students often confuse the origin and purpose of Memorial Day with those of Veterans Day. The following videos can help students understand the origins and meanings of Memorial Day and Veterans Day.


The Meaning of Memorial Day is a two minute video covering the origins of the holiday in the United States. The video is embedded below.



The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers the following video overview of the history of Memorial Day.


Jocko Willink isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoy his podcast and found this video that he released two years ago to be quite moving.



To find more resources for teaching about Memorial Day, visit Larry Ferlazzo's list of resources.

Try using EDpuzzle to add questions into these videos and distribute them to your students.

Another Whiteboard Option for Google Meet Users

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how to use a whiteboard in Google Meet without screensharing. That method featured using a neat tool called Whiteboard Fi. Some people have had great success using that method and others have asked me for other options. That's what this post will address.

Google's Jamboard is available to use online for free at jamboard.google.com. You can also access it through your Google Drive. Jamboard provides an online whiteboard that you can use for freehand drawings. Like all Google products connected to Google Drive, Jamboard can be used collaboratively. Unlike Google Drawings, Jamboard lets you have multiple pages within the same project. 


How to Use Jamboard and Google Meet Together

If you're using Google Meet to host online classes and need a whiteboard to draw on, Jamboard is a good option. Just open it in a new tab then screenshare with your students. They'll be able to see everything you draw. You can even invite them to draw on a different page in the Jamboard session. Watch my video below to learn how to use Jamboard and Google Meet together.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Pixabay Offers Free Music to Use and Reuse

Pixabay is one of the resources that I frequently include in my recommendations for sources of images and video clips to use in slideshow and video projects. This morning I got a notice from Pixabay informing me of Pixabay's audio collection. I'm not sure how long it has been there, but I didn't notice it until I got the notification.

Pixabay's audio collection features instrumental recordings across a wide range of genres. You can listen to the tracks in their entirety before downloading them. Like all other media on Pixabay, you can download and reuse the sound tracks for free. And as they state in the terms of use, you don't have to cite them but it is appreciated.

I plan to add Pixabay's audio collection to my Practical Ed Tech Guide to Finding Media for Classroom Projects.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for some background music for an end-of-year slideshow or video, take a look at Pixabay's collection of free and royalty-free music.

Tactiq - Record the Captions in Google Meet

Tactiq is a new Google Chrome extension that lets you record the captions generated by the automatic captioning tool in Google Meet. You can use it to record and save all captions or select just some captions to save. When the conversation in Google Meet is over, you can save the captions as a text file on your computer or in Google Drive.


Applications for Education
Tactiq could be a good extension to use if you need to generate a transcript of a Google Meet to share with your students. Students could also use the extension to extract and save in their notes parts of what you say during a lesson conducted via Google Meet.

How to Quickly Create a Slideshow With Google Photos and Slides

Earlier this week someone sent me a question on Twitter seeking information about an add-on that lets you import batches of photos into Google Slides and have those photos automatically placed onto individual slides. The add-on that I've used for this in the past is called Photos to Slides. Photos to Slides lets you import an album from your Google Photos account into a slideshow in Google Slides.

Photos to Slides is quick and easy to use but there are a couple of things that you should note before you try it. First, you need to make albums in Google Photos before you use the add-on. Second, the free version of add-on limits you to 50 images imported at a time. Third, the reviews of the add-on are mixed, but I haven't had problem using it. 

Applications for Education
The person who asked me about this add-on was making an end-of-year slideshow for his school. That's a common use for Photos to Slides at this time of year as it could be a big time-saver for anyone charged with making end-of-year slideshows.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Five Comic and Storyboard Activities With Pixton EDU

Disclosure: Pixton EDU is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Online comic creation tools like Pixton EDU make it possible for almost anyone to create great-looking comics and storyboards without having to be a master artist. Creating comics and storyboards with online tools like Pixton EDU is a good way for students to share creative ideas, to illustrate concepts, and to show their understanding of events. Those are just a few of the ways that students can use Pixton EDU. As we head into the summer (in the northern hemisphere) and as we get requests from parents for at-home learning activities, here are five ideas to consider sharing.

Create Your Own Coloring Pages
Use the premade settings, objects, and characters to design scenes in Pixton EDU. When you’re done you can use them with the standard color schemes. But if you want to make coloring pages from your story’s scenes, you can print the scenes as black and white outlines to be colored by hand. Pixton EDU has a feature that lets you remove the colors and leave just the outline.

Create Your Own Digital Greeting Cards
We’re coming up on graduation season and Father’s Day. Many kids find enjoyment in making their own cards instead of just affixing their signatures to a store-bought card. Utilize some of the content packs in Pixton EDU to create a digital card. There’s even a content pack for Father’s Day.

Develop Fan Fiction
Rather than writing another book report, have students write an alternate ending to a favorite book. Pixton EDU has some content packs about books that are commonly taught in elementary school and middle school. But you don’t have to limit your students to those books as the tools in Pixton EDU could be used to create a fan fiction piece for just about any story.

Make Animal Stories
My kids, like many kids their age, love to watch baby animals. And now that spring is here (for those of us north of the equator) baby animals like ducklings, goslings, calves, and fawns may be spotted by curious kids. Capitalize on that curiosity and encourage kids to create stories about the animals they see. Pixton EDU has some animal content packs that can help students develop those stories.

Pitch a Product
Do you have a middle school or high school student who enjoys watching Shark Tank or Dragons’ Den? If so, encourage them to craft a pitch for their own products or services. Pixton EDU has presentation content packs. Utilize the idea of Dan Roam’s Back of the Napkin books and have students create simple storyboards to explain their products or services. It just might be what launches the next million dollar app or at least a kid’s summer job.

Certify'em Adds Two Helpful Features for Sending Certificates When Students Complete Google Forms Quizzes

Certify'em is a Google Forms add-on that I've been using and recommending for a few years. Certify'em makes it easy to automatically send certificates to students when they get a minimum score on a quiz conducted with Google Forms. You can set the minimum passing score that triggers the delivery of the certificate. You can also choose to use a standard certificate template or use your own custom template. A complete overview of Certify'em is available here.

This week the developer of Certify'em, Dave Abouav, released added two new features to the add-on. Those new features are the option to resend certificates and the option to monitor use of your email quota.

Resending certificates in Certify'em will be useful when you've previously sent certificates but a student says he/she didn't receive it. With this option you can view the responses to a quiz that have been received over the previous 14 days then choose which student(s) you want to resend a certificate to.

The email quota monitor in Certify'em is a new feature to address a problem that many teachers never worried about until they had to transition to remote instruction and started using Gmail-based tools a lot more frequently. There is a limit to the number of emails that you can send through add-ons in a day. That number varies according to the type of Google account you have, but it generally ranges from 100 to 1500 emails per day. Certify'em's new email quota monitor lets you quickly view how many emails you can send on any given day.


Applications for Education
One of the ways that I use Certify'em is to offer certificates to people who complete an online workshop with me (like the upcoming Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp). Another way that I've used it is to give students certificates when they have successfully completed a lab protocols assessment.

Move Items from One Google Account to Another

It's that time of year again when some teachers will be leaving one school district for another. With that move comes the need to move your digital resources as well as your physical resources. I was reminded of this yesterday when I got an email from a reader who wanted to know how to move her files out of her school Google Drive and into another. I covered this in a video that I published last year. The video is still accurate so I've included it below.


On a related note, if you're moving from a G Suite environment to a Microsoft environment, here's a video on how to move your files into OneDrive.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Two Free Webinars With Me That You Can Join This Week

This week, as I did last week, I'm hosting or co-hosting two live webinars. On Thursday at 3pm ET I'm hosting a thirty minute Intro to Teaching History With Technology. On Friday at 1pm ET I'll be co-hosting Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff with Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning.

For this week only I'm also making the replay of my webinar A Framework for Using Educational Technology available to anyone who wants to watch it. You can watch it right here or as embedded below. The slides are also available here or as embedded below.



Discovery Discussion Demonstration - Webinar May 14th by richardbyrne

Make Mini Books and More With Help from the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has a great collection of activities suggestions and resources for parents who are looking for educational activities they can do at home with their kids. The collection is called Resources for Family Engagement. Within this collection you will find activity kits that offer directions and ideas for making mini books at home, designing and coloring lighthouses, and creating comics.

Resources for Family Engagement also offers a handful of printables called Color Our Collections. These are free coloring pages based on historic pictures and drawings. You can print these pages as black and white outlines then color them to your heart's content.

Applications for Education
The materials within Resources for Family Engagement are intended for elementary school age students. As the school year winds down and you start to think about making suggestions to parents to help them keep the learning going during the summer, consider adding the LOC's Resources for Family Engagement to your list of recommendations.

Naraview - A Good Way to Challenge Students to Make Connections Between Topics

In last week's episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff Rushton shared a neat site called Naraview. Those who stayed on for the "overtime" of the webinar got a detailed overview of the service from one of its designers. If you missed it, here's my overview of Naraview and its potential use cases in classrooms.

Naraview is a site on which you can create challenges for you students to connect topics through Wikipedia. The idea is that you give your students two topics and they have to click through Wikipedia articles to make the connections between the two topics. As the teacher, I can see the paths that students take to get from the starting article to the ending article.

Here's an example of how Naraview works. I'll give students the starting point of a Wikipedia article about Oxford County, Maine and the end point is the Wikipedia page about Abraham Lincoln. My students then need to click through a series of Wikipedia entries starting on the page about Oxford County to get to the entry about Lincoln. All of the entries that students click on are framed within Naraview so that students don't have to exit to Wikipedia directly.

Applications for Education
The purpose of Naraview is to encourage students to think about and make connections between topics. Completing Naraview activities could be a good way to get students to make connections between current events and related historical events. Doing a Naraview activity could also be a good way for students to try to make cross-curricular connections between topics in science and math or between literature and history.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

How to Use Kahoot in Google Classroom

This is the time of year when many of us are looking for fun ways to conduct end-of-year review sessions with our students. Playing Kahoot quiz games is one of the most popular means of doing that. Kahoot games are fun to play in a classroom and you can also use them for remote learning activities by using the "challenge" mode.

The challenge mode in Kahoot enables you to assign games to your students to play at home on their schedule. There are many ways that you can distribute the challenges to your students. If you're a Google Classroom user, you can distribute your challenges through your Classroom just like you would any other announcement or assignment. Your students then just click on the link to your Kahoot game to start playing it.

In the following video I demonstrate how to distribute Kahoot games through Google Classroom and how students can play those games right from the Announcements stream in Google Classroom.

How to Convert a PDF Into a Google Document

On Friday during Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff someone asked if there is a tool that I would recommend for converting a PDF into a Google Doc. Fortunately, you can do that without having to use any third-party tools. PDF to Google Docs conversion is built right into Google Drive.

To convert a PDF into Google Docs format just upload it to your Google Drive. Once the file is uploaded click on it to open it. It will initially display as a PDF. To then convert to Google Docs select "open with" at the top of the page and you'll have Google Docs as an option. Selecting that option converts the PDF into a Google Doc.

Watch my short video to learn how to convert a PDF into a Google Document.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Week in Review - A Bunch of Turkeys

Good evening from Maine where today it finally felt like spring. At this time last week the ground was covered in fresh snow. This evening, it was 60F and sunny. We had a fun day playing outside here and I hope that wherever you are this weekend, you got to enjoy some fresh air too.

As I do every Saturday, I've put together a list of the most popular posts of the previous seven days. Take a look and see if there is something useful that you missed earlier in the week.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Seven Ideas for Flipgrid Activities
2. Use Whiteboards in Google Meet Without Screensharing
3. Classright - A Google Sheets Add-on for Bulk Management of Google Classroom
4. Quickly Create Online Whiteboards for Your Students
5. An Important Setting for Using Audio and Video in Google Slides
6. Ten Ways to Use Wakelet
7. The Geometry of Castles - A Math Lesson in Google Earth

Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp!
Registration for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp is open. By popular demand I've added more early-bird tickets. This online PD event will feature ten live, interactive webinars on a wide array of topics applicable to every classroom. It will be held three times this summer. There is a June session and two July sessions. Register for the session of your choice here.

On-demand PD
I've been hosting professional development webinars for a decade.
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 it includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 22,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 350 Google tools tutorials. 
  • The Practical Ed Tech Podcast is where I answer questions from readers, share news and notes, and occasionally talk to interesting people in education. 
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has more than 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last thirteen years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Ten Ways to Use Wakelet

One of the reasons that Wakelet has become popular in schools in the last couple of years is that it can be used for a wide range of activities. It's also popular because it can be used in a wide range of grade levels and subject areas. I mentioned this in a webinar that I hosted yesterday afternoon. This morning I woke up still thinking about that so I made a list of ideas for using Wakelet. Here are ten ways that Wakelet can be used by students and teachers.

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

1. Make an online art gallery.
Wakelet lets you upload images to display. Students, their parents, or you can take pictures of their artwork then upload it to a collaborative Wakelet collection. You can even embed that collection into a website.



2. Make and share instructional videos.
Last year Wakelet integrated Flipgrid's video recording tool. You can use this to create instructional videos within a Wakelet collection. This can be a great way to organize a series of instructional videos around a topic or unit that you're teaching.



3. Question/ Picture/ Video of the Day.
If you're not using a learning management system that contains an easy way to post daily prompts for your students to reply to, consider using Wakelet. You can post a prompt and have your students reply by writing a reply, recording a video, or by uploading an image. Just make sure you've enabled collaboration on your Wakelet collections.

4. Organize research.
Use Wakelet's browser extension to save links and files while researching a topic for paper or presentation. Use the "easy reorder" option in your Wakelet collection when you need to sort your resources.


5. At-home activity collections.
Parents are looking for suggestions for educational activities they can do at home with their kids. Create a Wakelet collection to share suggestions with parents. You might even consider enabling collaboration on the collection and letting parents contribute to the collection.

6. Video collections.
Want to do more than just make a playlist in YouTube? Consider making a collection of videos in Wakelet. You can include videos from many sources besides YouTube and organize collections by theme or topic.

7. Archive a Twitter chat.
Do you participate in Twitter chats? Do you want to have a record of that chat? You can import a Twitter hashtag into a Wakelet collection.

8. Simple blog or journal.
You can write as much or as little as you like in a post in a Wakelet collection. Use this as a simple way to create an online journal that can be public or private.

9. Aspirations board.
Use Wakelet as a place to share goals or aspirations. These collections could feature pictures, writing, or both.

10. End-of-year reflections and highlights.
Create a collaborative Wakelet collection in which students share their reflections or highlights from the school year.

How to Share Audio and Video in Google Classroom Without YouTube or SoundCloud

Earlier this week I had a reader ask me for advice on sharing videos in Google Classroom with her students without having to use YouTube. My suggestion was to simply upload the videos to Google Classroom as either announcements or as assignments. When you do that the video is automatically added to your Google Drive. And if you choose the assignment option, you can quickly distribute copies of the video to your students' Google Drives.

You can also share audio files with students by uploading them to your Google Classroom as announcements or assignments. Just like with videos, when you upload audio files to Google Classroom they are automatically added to your Google Drive. If you upload an audio file as an assignment in Google Classroom, you can choose to make copies for each student to have in his or her Google Drive.

In the following video I demonstrate how to upload and share audio and video files in Google Classroom without having to use third-party services like YouTube or SoundCloud.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Create Random Story Starters With Google Sheets

There are lots of neat things that you can do with Google Sheets if you know how to get started. Getting started is often the hardest part. Fortunately, there are sites like Flippity that offer great Google Sheets templates that are easy to follow. The latest template added to Flippity is a random story starter. Simply called Randomizer, Flippity's latest template can be used for story starters and random name selections for groupings.

If you just looked at Flippity's sample of the Randomizer template you would think that you can only add words to it. But when you watch my new video that is embedded below you will see that you can include pictures in the Randomizer template.



Applications for Education
Flippity's Randomizer template could be great for randomly generating writing creative writing prompts. The template could also be used to randomly generating groupings of students.

On a related note, Flippity does offer a random name picker template. A demonstration of how to use that template is included below.

Two Great Sets of Historic Maps to Use and Reuse

The Library of Congress offers a collection of images that are free to use and reuse. The LOC blog recently featured a subset of that collection called Maps of Cities. Maps of Cities is one of two sets of historic maps available through the Free to Use and Reuse collection. The other set of maps is called Discovery and Exploration.

Both the Maps of Cities and the Discovery and Exploration collections contain about two dozen historic maps that you can download and reuse for free in any classroom project. All of the maps can be downloaded as JPEG files (three sizes available) and as GIFs.

Applications for Education
I have always loved looking at maps because they spark my imagination. Historic maps in particular make me wonder about what life was like in the places depicted in those maps. Those ideas can be used to spark research and writing projects. You could have students research life about the places depicted in the historic maps. You could also have students attempt to write some historical fiction based on the maps.

Another use for these historic maps is to overlay them on current imagery. That can be accomplished in Google Earth. In the following video I demonstrate how that works.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

An Easy Way to Manage Tasks in Gmail

Raise your hand if you battle this same task management problem that I battle. I read and reply to an email then forget to do the follow-up task that is associated with email.

Here's an example of what I struggled with for years.A parent emails you on a Friday afternoon to request a meeting with you and two of your team members. You reply, "I'll set up the meeting on Monday." But when Monday comes you forget to include your team members on the meeting invitation. Does this ever happen to you? It happened to me a lot more before I started using the Add to Tasks feature in Gmail.

Add to Tasks in Gmail makes it easy to quickly add an item to your Tasks list and keep the context of the email connected to the task. The Task will appear in the sidebar of Gmail as well as on your personal Google Calendar. I find the combination of those two things to be tremendously useful in keeping track of tasks that are related emails that I send and receive.


Applications for Education
Adding an item to a Tasks list in Gmail can be a good way for students to set reminders for themselves about upcoming assignment due dates. While Google Classroom does provide an option to see assignments on their Google Calendars, some students might prefer to set reminders or advance the due date for themselves. Tasks makes it easy for students to create those reminders.

On a related note, Google Keep offers a couple of ways to create reminders.


Seven Ideas for Flipgrid Activities

One of the reasons that Flipgrid became popular and continues to grow in popularity is that it can be used across grade levels. Another reason for its popularity is that it new features are added to it on a regular basis. With every new feature comes a new way to think about how Flipgrid can be used in classrooms. I was thinking about this as I revised my slides for a webinar that I'm hosting tomorrow and I decided to jot down some ideas for using Flipgrid. Here are seven ideas for Flipgrid activities.

1. Question of the day.
This is an easy and obvious activity. It works in any classroom to get the day started. In our current state of remote learning and virtual classes having a question of the day in Flipgrid is a good way to keep the connections between you and your students going.

2. Q&A with guest speakers.
Flipgrid has a guest mode that you can use to invite people from outside of your class to join into a conversation. Use the guest access option to invite a guest speaker to post a video and reply to some of your students' questions. This could be a good way to host a virtual career day, to host an author, or host any expert who is willing to answer some questions from students.



3. Explain your work.
Last fall Flipgrid added a whiteboard capability. This lets you and your students draw on a white screen while recording. This is a great way to have students explain their work on a math problem or make a quick sketch of a flowchart.



4. Record a virtual tour.
About a month ago Flipgrid introduced a screen recording feature. This lets you and your students make screencast videos up to ten minutes long. You can make simple virtual tours by using the screen recording feature while navigating through Google Earth.



5. Pitch a book.
This might be my recent binge watch of Shark Tank coming through, but I think that a fun alternative to book reports and book trailers. Students can make thirty to ninety second "pitches" for the next book that their whole class should read. Students would pick their favorite book and pitch it to the class in an attempt to get their classmates interested in reading it. If you want, you could have students vote for their choice after all of the videos have been posted.

6. Make a puppet show. 
I regularly hear from teachers who want to use Flipgrid but have students who are not comfortable being on camera. In that case, have students use puppets on camera instead of putting their faces on camera. Looking for an at-home art project? Have kids make stick puppets to use in Flipgrid videos. Here's a Pinterest page full of ideas for making stick puppets.

7. Make a mixtape. Show highlights of the school year.
As the school year winds down many people start to think about creating videos to share highlights of the year. Flipgrid's Mixtape feature makes it easy to combine videos from multiple grids and multiple contributors. You can have students share their highlights of the school year. Or you might make a new grid and invite your colleagues to contribute their highlights of the school year. Don't forget that it is possible to upload videos to a Flipgrid grid which means that all submissions don't have to be recorded directly in Flipgrid.




The webinar that I mentioned at the top of this post is A Framework for Using Educational Technology. It will be live at 3pm ET tomorrow, May 14th. 

Five FAQs About the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp

Two weeks ago I announced the dates for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. Since then registrations have been coming in every day. And many more people have sent me questions about registration and about the format of this virtual professional development event. In no particular order, here are the answers to the FAQs.

Is there a group discount?
Yes, there is a group discount available. You can save $50/person if you have five or more people registering from your school district. Email me for a discount code to apply to online group registrations or to initiate a PO registration.

Can I register with a purchase order or check?
Yes, you can certainly register with a purchase order. Send me an email or have your business office send me an email to initiate that process. Because of the additional paperwork and delay in receiving funds, the early registration discount doesn't apply to purchase order registrations.

Can I get CEUs/ contact hours?
You will receive a certificate from me indicating that you participated in ten hours of professional development time. Whether or not your school, state, or province will accept it for license/ certificate renewal is a determination that you will have to make. The rules about CEUs vary widely from state-to-state and I can't possibly keep track of them all.

What platform are you using for the webinars?
All of the webinars will be conducted through the GoToWebinar platform. I've tried many other webinar services, but I keep coming back to GoToWebinar because of it's reliability. I've used it for almost a decade for hundreds of webinars. You can access GoToWebinar on any computer or tablet.

Will the sessions be recorded?
Yes, all of the live webinars will be recorded. If you have to miss a session, you'll be able to watch the recording. That said, I find that people get the most out of webinars when they can attend live broadcasts and ask questions in real-time. Therefore, I encourage you to pick the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp session that works best with your schedule.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

An Important Setting for Using Audio and Video in Google Slides

Last fall Google finally added an option to insert audio files into Google Slides without the need for any third-party add-ons. While it wasn't as good as some people hoped it would be, it was still great news for Google Slides users.

There are some quirks to adding audio to Google Slides. One is that you have to record your audio outside of Google Slides then upload it to Google Drive and then add it into your presentation. The other quirk is that you have to change the sharing permissions on your audio file if you want people who view your presentation on their computers to be able to play the audio. I explain how to make that change and why it's important in this new video.


As I mentioned in the video above, you also need to change permissions on video files that you insert into Google Slides from your Google Drive account. Just like with audio, if you don't change the permissions on the video, people viewing a copy of your slides on their computers won't be able to play the video.

How to Deploy G Suite Add-ons Across a Domain

From time to time a reader will ask me if there is a way to install a Google Docs or Google Sheets add-on for his or her students. This is possible if you are a G Suite domain administrator. Otherwise, ask your G Suite domain administrator to do it for you. In the following video I demonstrate how to deploy a G Suite add-on for all users or a subset of users within a domain.


Applications for Education
Deploying an add-on across a domain is not only a time-saver for teachers and students, it's also a way for domain administrators to make sure that the add-on meets all of the requirements of your school's data policies.

Classright - A Google Sheets Add-on for Bulk Management of Google Classroom

Classright is a new Google Sheets add-on for managing multiple Google Classroom classes in one place. I gave it a try this morning and found it to have great potential as a time-saver at the beginning and end of a semester or school year.

There are eight things that you can do with Classright in Google Sheets. Those eight things are:
  1. Create courses. 
  2. Archive courses.
  3. View lists of courses. 
  4. Invite students to courses.
  5. Add students to courses in bulk (G Suite admins only).
  6. Delete students from courses. 
  7. List all students. 
  8. List students by course. 
Who should try this add-on?
The set-up of the add-on after the installation does require a fair bit of effort. So if you're an elementary school teacher who only has one Google Classroom course to manage, Classright probably isn't worth investing your time into learning. If you're a G Suite administrator who wants to set-up classes on behalf of all teachers in an elementary school, then Classright is definitely going to be a time-saver for you. Likewise, high school teachers who have multiple sections of courses to manage can benefit from using Classright to create and manage Google Classroom classes. 

What I'd like to see from this add-on. 
My dream is that an option to post announcements and assignments from a Google Sheet is added to Classright. 

The developer of Classright has a thorough set of tutorials available on his website. Take a look at his tutorial videos to get started getting the most out of Classright's potential uses. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

The Geometry of Castles - A Math Lesson in Google Earth

In the web browser version of Google Earth there is a section called Voyager. Within the Voyager section you'll find lots of pre-made tours, quizzes, and activities. One of those activities is called The Geometry of Castles.

The Geometry of Castles is a Google Earth Voyage that you can use to teach short lessons on angles and calculating line of sight distance. The voyage takes viewers to five castles around the world to illustrate these concepts. For teachers there is a handy guide available from Media4Math.

Media4Math has two other Voyages featured in Google Earth. Those are The Geometry of Sustainable Architecture and Triangular Structures. Media4Math offers helpful guides for teachers for both of those Voyages in Google Earth.


Applications for Education
For more than a decade I've encouraged teachers to look at Google Earth as being a tool that can be used for more than just social studies lessons. Sites like Google Lit Trips and Real World Math are dedicated to using Google Earth for language arts and math lessons. The obstacle to adoption of those ideas for many teachers was the requirement to install Google Earth on students' computers. Now that Google Earth can be used in Chrome, math lessons using Google Earth are accessible to more teachers and students than ever before.

We'll talking about Google Earth, VR Tour Builder, and other virtual tour activities in the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. Register here

Two Free Webinars Later This Week

Later this week you'll have the opportunity to join me in two free webinars. On Thursday at 3pm ET I'm hosting an encore of A Framework for Using Educational Technology. In that webinar I'll explain the simple framework that I use for deciding what tools to use in my classroom and recommend to others. Register here.

On Friday at 1pm ET I'll be joining Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning for the eighth episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. You can register for that webinar and watch previous episodes right here on the Next Vista webinars page.


What makes it possible to offer these webinars for free? Funding for Free Technology for Teachers and Practical Ed Tech comes from advertisers and from great folks like you who pay to attend my professional development events like the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp

How to Add Background Music to Screencastify Videos

Last week I published an article about how to extract the audio from your videos. A related question that I got from a reader was about how to add background music to Screencastify videos. There are a few ways that you can add audio to videos that you make with Screencastify including uploading your video to WeVideo or iMovie then adding a background track. Those methods are fine, but there is an easier way.

To add background music to a video that you created with Screencastify all that you need to do is upload the video to YouTube then use YouTube's built-in editor and library of free music. In the following short video I demonstrate how to add background music to your Screencastify videos.


Applications for Education
Adding some background music to a video can help reduce some of the echo or tinny sounds that sometimes occur in screencasts that are recorded without an external microphone. Adding background music can also have the effect of covering up some of the "ums" and "uhs" that we sometimes make when recording a video. Both of those audio improvements can lead to students viewing instructional videos for a bit longer or at least make paying attention a little bit easier.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Ten Ideas for Building Virtual Tours With Google's Tour Creator

Google's VR Tour Creator makes it possible for anyone who has a Google account and a computer to create their own virtual reality tours to view and share in Google Expeditions. Depending upon how in-depth you want to make your tours you can include many points of interest, narration, and ambient audio. It's a tool that I've been using for a couple of years and recommend to anyone who wants to try their hand at building a virtual tour. Here are ten ideas for tours that you and or your students can build using Google's VR Tour Creator.

1. Tours based on books students have read.
This is a great alternative to a traditional book report or book trailer project.

2. Tours based on stories students write.
Students could even write their entire stories in VR Tour Creator.

3. Tours of historic sites students have researched.
This is one that I particularly enjoy because it gives students the opportunity to get a better understanding of where in the world an event took place.

4. Tours of places students want to visit someday.
Inspire some wanderlust in your students.

5. Tours of examples of math in the real world.
Have students record narration to explain examples of math that can be seen in famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tour or the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

6. Tours of examples of geological features.
Jump from place-to-place in Yellowstone explaining geysers and hot springs.

7. Tours of examples of ecological features, floral & fauna diversity.
There is more "off road" Street View imagery appearing all the time. Use that imagery in a tour of a forest.

8. Tours of the range of a species of animal.
This one might be a little tricky,  but you could create a tour of the southernmost and northernmost ranges of a species. Use narration and imagery in the tour to explain why the range ends where it does.

9. Tours of ocean features.
Yes, there is even Street View imagery under water.

10. Tours of things students just find interesting. 
After all, one of the great things about Google Maps and Google Expeditions is just sparking curiosity about new-to-you places.


This one of the topics that we'll explore in more depth during the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. Registration is open now!

A Webinar for Parents of Elementary School Students

Rushton Hurley runs a fantastic non-profit called Next Vista for Learning. Some of you have seen me write about it and talk about it for years. One of the reasons that I like so much is that it offers something for every student, teacher, and parent. To that end, you'll find that the videos on Next Vista address more than just academic topics. You'll find lots of things about caring for the needs of students. That pattern continues today at 1pm ET/ 10am PT with a free webinar for parents of elementary school students.

Today at 1pm ET/ 10am PT Rushton Hurley and Tatiana LaGarde will be hosting a free webinar titled The Home-Learning Journey: Advice for Parents & Grandparents. The webinar that will address the questions that parents of elementary school students often have about online home learning/ remote learning. It will give parents confidence that they can be active and helpful in the online learning experiences of their children.

The Week in Review - It's Snowing!

Good morning from Paris Hill, Maine where it is snowing! Yes, on May 9th I woke up to snow covering everything. And the best part is that when the snow ends it's supposed to be followed by a day of winter-like temperatures and winds. My three-year-old summarized how most of us feel this morning when she looked out the window and said, "what the heck is going on?"

Today is going to be a day for blanket forts, baking, and a whole lot of coloring with my kids. I hope that wherever you are this weekend, you get to do something fun too.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Use Whiteboards in Google Meet Without Screensharing
2.Quickly Create Online Whiteboards for Your Students
3. How to Create Complete Sentence Requirements in Google Forms
4. Three Tools for Collecting Stories from Students and Parents
5. How to Blur Faces and Objects in Your Videos
6. Loom - Create Screencasts on Your iPad
7. Exploring and Visualizing Data Sets

Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp!
Registration for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp opened last week. One third of the early-bird tickets have already been claimed. This online PD event will feature ten live, interactive webinars on a wide array of topics applicable to every classroom. It will be held three times this summer. There is a June session and two July sessions. Register for the session of your choice here.

On-demand PD
I've been hosting professional development webinars for a decade.
Thank You for Your Support!
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