Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Month in Review - The Most Popular Posts

It's the end of May and sure was a month I'll remember for a while for a few reasons. First, we had snow on the ground as late as Mother's Day and then we temperatures in the 90s a couple of days ago. Second, as the weather improved it became quite trying to keep my students engaged in online activities for class. Third, I started the month with a modest goal for registrations for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp and the level of interest in the event far surpassed my expectations.

As I do at the end of every month, I've compiled a list of the most popular posts of the month. Take a look and see if there's anything interesting that you missed.

These were the most popular posts of the month:
1. Use Whiteboards in Google Meet Without Screensharing
2. How to Use Kahoot in Google Classroom
3. Quickly Create Online Whiteboards for Your Students
4. Another Whiteboard Option for Google Meet Users
5. How to Create Complete Sentence Requirements in Google Forms
6. Seven Ideas for Flipgrid Activities
7. How to Convert a PDF Into a Google Document
8. Move Items from One Google Account to Another
9. How to Create a Green Screen Video Without a Green Screen
10. 5 Things You Should Never Do In a Virtual Staff Meeting

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 am 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.

How to Make Whiteboard Videos on Your Chromebook - Updated

About two months ago I published a post featuring three ways to make a whiteboard video on a Chromebook. Since then I've created a couple more tutorials on that same topic. Here's an updated set of tutorials on how to make whiteboard videos with browser-based tools that work on Chromebooks.

#1 - Make a Whiteboard Video in Flipgrid
Last fall Flipgrid added an option for creating whiteboard videos. That feature lets you start video using just your webcam then transition into using a built-in whiteboard function to teach a lesson. This feature has also been integrated into the Flipgrid video tools that are available in Wakelet. Watch my videos below to see how you can make whiteboard videos in Flipgrid.




#2 - Make a Whiteboard Video in Seesaw
Seesaw offers a recording tool that you can use to draw and talk at the same time. To do this just create a new announcement or assignment then select the "draw" option when attaching an item. In "draw" you'll find a microphone icon that you can click to start recording while drawing. The recording and drawing will sync together. Students can watch the recording in their Seesaw accounts.



#3 - Use the Drawing Tools in Screencastify
Screencastify had already made most of their features free to teachers before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now they offer all of them for free. To record a whiteboard style video with Screencastify first open a blank white Google Slide then start recording. While recording use Screencastify's built-in drawing tools to draw over that slide while you're recording your video.



#4 - Use the Drawing Tools in Zoom
You can host a Zoom meeting without anyone attending. In fact, this is a good way to record a video as Zoom will create a video file for you. Enable the screenshare option in Zoom then choose "whiteboard" to record yourself talking while drawing on a virtual whiteboard.


Three Webinar Recordings You Can Watch Right Now

In May I hosted or co-hosted a handful of free webinars. The recordings of some them are now available to watch at your leisure. Those webinars are Intro to Teaching History With Technology, A Framework for Using Educational Technology, and Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff.

Intro to Teaching History With Technology is, as the name implies, and introduction to the big concepts in my Practical Ed Tech course Teaching History With Technology. That course begins on Monday and there is still time to register.


A Framework for Using Educational is a webinar that I hosted twice in May. The purpose of this webinar was to provide some clarity on how to pick the best educational technology tools to use in your classroom.


Every Friday Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning and I host Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. You can find all of the episodes and related handouts here. The recording of the latest episode is embedded below.



Rushton also hosts a series of webinars called Activities Across Grade Levels that you should also check out.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and it's going to be a great day for bike rides, dog walks, and playing outside with my kids. And I also have the lawn to mow :( But I'll focus on the fun stuff first because it is the weekend after all. I hope that you also have some fun things in store for your weekend.

This week was a busy one at the Byrne Instructional Media World Headquarters as I balanced online meetings with my students with hosting some PD webinars. I also spent a good bit of time preparing materials for the courses I'm teaching this summer. Are you teaching or taking any courses this summer? I'm doing both.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Another Whiteboard Option for Google Meet Users
2. Five Resources for Teaching and Learning About Copyright
3. Google Has Introduced a New Sharing Option in Shared Drives
4. Updated - How to Use EDpuzzle to Create Video Lessons
5. How to Use Kahoot in Google Classroom
6. How to Search for Matching & Similar Documents Submitted in Google Classroom
7. Five Screencastify Settings You Should Know How to Use

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.

AudioMass - A Free, Registration-free Audio Editor

AudioMass is a new online audio editing tool that I recently learned about on Product Hunt. AudioMass doesn't require any registration in order to use it. In fact, there isn't even an option to register.

To get started using AudioMass just head to the site and click "use a sample" to start exploring the audio editing tools. You can record directly into AudioMass by clicking the red record button at the top of the interface. You can import existing MP3s that you own into AudioMass to edit the audio playback.

There are about a dozen and a half effects that you can edit in AudioMass. Some of those include fade in/ fade out, distortion adjustments, reverb adjustments, and playback speed.

When you are satisfied with your audio file in AudioMass you can export as an MP3 file.

Applications for Education
AudioMass could be a good option for an audio editing tool that you can use on your Chromebook or for an alternative to desktop programs like Garage Band and Audacity.

If you're interested in learning how AudioMass was developed, the developer tells the story here.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Return to Sender - Interactive Map of Postcards from WWI

Return to Sender provides an interesting way for students to find and read postcards sent to and from soldiers during World War I. Return to Sender is an interactive map on which students can see where postcards were sent in Europe during World War I. The postcards displayed through the map are part of the Europeana 1914-18 thematic archive.

There are a few ways that students can explore the Return to Sender map. Probably the easiest option for students is to just select a country from the drop-down menu on the left side of the map. Once a country has been chosen the map will be populated with interactive markers depicting from where the postcards were sent. Clicking on a marker will reveal the postcards. Students can then click on the postcards to read more about them and who archived them. In most cases students can read a little story about the postcard and or read the card itself.

Applications for Education
Return to Sender combines two of my favorite things to use in history lessons. Those things are maps and primary source documents. This combination lets students experience the primary sources in the context of where they were written.

It is possible to create your map in a similar style with Google's My Maps or Google Earth. You could import PDFs or PNGs of primary sources into placemarks on the map. Doing that could make for a nice local history project. I'll show you how to do that in my upcoming course, Teaching History With Technology.

H/T to Maps Mania for the map. 

How to Create Whiteboard Videos With Zoom

One of the things that I often mention in my webinars and workshops is the idea of getting to know an instructional technology tool well so that you can use it in many ways. A good example of that is found when dive into all of the ways that you can use Zoom. For example, last week on Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff Rushton and I mentioned using Zoom to record audio tracks with two narrators. Another way to use Zoom is to create whiteboard videos as I demonstrate in the following video.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Great Sets of Primary Source Documents for U.S. History Lessons

The Digital Public Library of America is a great place to find all kinds of neat digitized historical artifacts. I recently went down a rabbit hole looking at photographs in the baseball collection and the DPLA's Boston Sports Temples exhibit. That happened because I was revisiting the DPLA's Primary Source Sets for teachers and students.

The Digital Public Library of America's Primary Source Sets organized according to themes, eras, and events in United States history. The DPLA primary source sets include documents, drawings, maps, photographs, and film clips. Each set is accompanied by a teaching guide. All of the sets can be shared directly to Google Classroom. And each artifact that students view in the sets is accompanied by some questions or points to ponder while reviewing that artifact.

Applications for Education
The DPLA's primary source sets provide teachers and students with a convenient way to find primary source documents. For teachers it can be a good way to locate resources to use in a lesson plan. For students the sets can provide a good start to a research project.

On a related note, in Teaching History With Technology I'll show you some ways to use primary sources like those from DPLA in online lessons. 

How to Create Whiteboard Videos in Seesaw

Seesaw is my go-to tool for making digital portfolios. I like it because it's a versatile platform that can be used for more than just portfolio creation. You can use it as a blog, use it to share announcements with parents, use it to distribute assignments, and you can use it to create whiteboard videos. In fact, there are a couple of ways that you and your students can create whiteboard videos in Seesaw. Both of those methods are outlined in my new video that is embedded below.


Applications for Education
There are a lot of ways that you might use the whiteboard tool in Seesaw. Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • You can use it to make math instruction videos for your students to watch. 
  • You could upload an image to the whiteboard and use the drawing tools to highlight various parts of the image. That's a good option when explaining a diagram or explaining the presence of different elements in an artwork. 
  • You might also have students use the whiteboard tools to explain and show their work on solving a math problem.

Five Screencastify Settings You Should Know How to Use

Screencastify is an excellent tool for creating instructional videos on your Chromebook, Mac, or Windows computer. You can use it to create a screencast video to demonstrate how a program works, use it to record yourself narrating over some slides, or use it to simply record a short video with your computer's built-in webcam. And if you turn on the drawing tools in Screencastify you can use it to make a whiteboard video. In fact, it's the drawing tools that inspired me to make a short video to illustrate five settings in Screencastify that you should know how to use.

Five Screencastify Settings You Should Know How to Use
1. Microphone settings
2. Enabling/ disabling system audio.
3. Enabling drawing tools and how to use them.
4. Highlighting cursor on click.
5. Integrating more sharing options like EDpuzzle and Wakelet.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Why Should You Read Moby Dick - A New TED-Ed Lesson


A couple of years ago TED-Ed started producing a series of video lessons titled Why Should You Read... The videos in the series feature classic works of literature explained in about five minutes. The videos are more high level overviews of the books than they are book trailers. What I like best about the videos in the series is that they explain the historical context of the when the books were written. Case in point, in the latest installment in the series, Why Should You Read Moby Dick, viewers learn that the book was written during the height of the whaling industry in New England.

You can find the entire Why Should You Read Moby Dick TED-Ed lesson here or watch the video as embedded below.


Here are a few other Why Should You Read... TED-Ed lessons.

Why Should You Read Hamlet?


Why Should You Read Crime and Punishment?


Why Should You Read Fahrenheit 451?


Feature Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Google Has Introduced a New Sharing Option in Shared Drives

Shared Drives in G Suite for Education are great for distributing things like staff handbooks, templates for permission slips, and media assets like pictures from school events. This week Google announced a beta program for those G Suite for Edu domains that would like to test a new option for sharing in shared Drives.

The new shared folders in shared Drives beta will let G Suite for Edu domains set folder permissions within shared Drives. This is a change from the current options of setting permissions on a whole Drive level or on a single file level. G Suite for Edu domain managers can apply for the beta program through this form.

Applications for Education
In the announcement of this new shared folders in shared Drives feature Google gave examples of how a business might use the feature to give different departments different access levels for folders. The same could be done in a school setting to create folders for entire departments within the shared Drive. 


Webinar Recording - Intro to Teaching History With Technology

Yesterday afternoon I hosted a free webinar titled Intro to Teaching History With Technology. This webinar featured my Discovery, Discussion, Demonstration framework in the context of history and geography lessons. As the name implies, the webinar provides an introduction to some of the key topics in my online course, Teaching History With Technology. If you missed the webinar, you can now view it here or as embedded below.


Here are the key sections of the webinar:

The slides that I used in the webinar can be viewed here or as embedded below.


Intro to Teaching History With Technology by richardbyrne

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

How to Create an Audio Slideshow Video in Canva

Canva is a graphic design tool that I've used for years to create blog post and social media graphics. In the last year I've started to use it more and more for developing presentations and creating short videos. Canva offers a library of music that you can easily incorporate into your presentations. Those presentations can then be exported as video files to play wherever you like. In the following short video I demonstrate how to create an audio slideshow video in Canva.


Applications for Education
Audio slideshow videos are a popular thing to make at this time of year to recap the school year. If you're looking for a quick and easy way to create this style of video for an end-of-year event, give Canva a try.

Ten Topics in Teaching History With Technology

This summer I'm hosting two sections of my popular Teaching History With Technology course. The first section meets every Monday afternoon in June. The second section will be conducted on five consecutive days in July. Both sections will cover the same material. There are ten big topics that will be covered in the course. All of the lessons in the course can be applied to elementary, middle, and high school settings.

These are the ten big topics in the course:
  • Search Strategies & Organization
  • Video Projects & Video Lessons
  • Making History Podcasts
  • Google Earth & Maps
  • Multimedia Timelines
  • Digital Portfolios
  • AR & VR in History Lessons
  • Making Virtual Tours
  • Making History Apps
  • Tips for Remote Teaching
Register by June 1st and use the code THWT2020 to save up to $30 on registration. 




Register Here

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!
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  • 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. 
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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.