Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Google Science Journal App is Now the Arduino Science Journal

 

For the last few years the Google Science Journal app has been one of my favorite apps to incorporate into outdoor learning experiences. Earlier this week I got a notification that the Google Science Journal app is becoming the Arduino Science Journal app. On December 11, 2020 the Google Science Journal app will stop working and you'll have to use the Arduino Science Journal app instead. The Arduino Science Journal app is available now for Android users and for iOS users

The Arduino Science Journal app does all of the same things that the Google Science Journal app does. The only exception is that the Arduino Science Journal app does not yet support saving data to Google Drive. You can read Google's full announcement about transferring the app to Arduino right here.

Five Observations You Can Make With the Science Journal App

1. Decibel Levels
Ask your students if a basketball clanging off of a rim is louder in an empty gym or a full gym? Have them make a hypothesis then test it in your school's gym. (Check with your physical education teacher to make sure it's okay to borrow his or her classroom).

2. Speed. 
Have students record how quickly or slowly they walk down the hallway.

3. Speed and Sound Correlation
Have students record the speed with which they walk down the hallway. Have them record the sound at the same time. Ask them to try to identify a correlation between the speed with which they walk and the amount of noise that they make.

4. Light
Today, whenever I look out of my office window I am nearly blinded by the reflection of the sun off of the frozen snow. It was brighter earlier today when the sun was hitting the snow at a more direct angle. Students can use the Science Journal app to measure and compare the brightness of one place throughout the day.

5. Light and angles correlation
The Science Journal app has an inclinometer function. Have students use that function to measure the angle of the sun to a fixed position throughout the day. Have them use the light meter whenever they use the inclinometer. Then ask them to determine the correlation between the angle of the sun and the brightness at the chosen spot. They might be surprised at the results.

The Week in Review - A Flashback to 2002!

Good morning from Maine where I'm up nearly two hours before sunrise. Yes, I wake up early. But it's also a sign that summer is nearly over. Fall officially begins next week and soon I'll be spending part of my weekends cleaning up the fallen leaves on my property. Today, though, I plan to play outside riding bikes with my kids. I hope that you also have time to do something fun this weekend.

This week in the back closet in my classroom I found an artifact that turned my PC repair class into a history class for a few minutes. I found an AOL disc from 2002! Can you imagine if we had to do remote instruction with dial-up?  

These were the week's most popular posts: 

1. Google Adds Another Control for Teachers Using Google Meet 

2. How to Create and Use a Digital Sign-out Sheet in Google Classroom  

3. How to Use Jamboard in Google Classroom 

4. TeacherMade - Quickly Create & Share a Variety of Online Activities  

5. How to Increase the Chances of Your Students Actually Watching Your Instructional Videos 

6. Blurred Backgrounds and Custom Grids in Google Meet 

7. Five Zoom Features You Need to Know

Thank You for Your Support!
  • Hundreds of you have participated in a Practical Ed Tech webinar this year. Thank you!
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County has been supporting this blog for many years.
  • Pixton EDU offers a great way to create comics in your classroom. 
  • Cloud Stop Motion provides a great way to make stop motion videos. 
  • Find cool mugs and other swag in my YouTube store
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 29,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 400 Google tools tutorials.  
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has more than 460,000 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, September 18, 2020

GCF Learn Free - Excellent Tutorials for Computer Science Basics

 

GCF Learn Free is a website and YouTube channel that I discovered this week when looking for some new tutorial videos to post in Google Classroom for my PC repair class and for my Intro to Computer Science class. Based on the number of subscribers GCF Learn Free has, I appear to be late to the party in "discovering" this great resource. 

On GCF Learn Free you'll find dozens of tutorials on basic topics related to computer science. This week I shared the Inside a Computer video with my PC repair students. Today, I shared GCF Learn Free's video about algorithms with my Intro to Computer Science students.  What I liked about the videos is the brevity and clarity. Both videos gave students just enough information to remind them of the lessons that I taught in class. 

 

How to Make a Similar Video

Both of the videos featured above are made using clip art and simple animations that you can find in Google Slides, PowerPoint, and Keynote. Record those slides with a screencasting tool and you have a simple animated video. In this video I demonstrate that process. 

How to Protect Privacy When Publishing Recordings of Virtual Meetings

During yesterday's episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff someone asked for a suggestion on how to blur or mask students' faces when publishing the recording of a Zoom class meeting. My suggestion was to upload the recording to YouTube and then use the automatic blurring tool built into YouTube's video editor. The automatic blurring tool will automatically detect faces in the video and blur them out for the entirety of the video. Alternatively, you can use the blurring tool to selectively blur faces and or objects in your video. 

Here's my video on how to use the automatic blurring function in YouTube. 

 
Alternative Solutions: 
If you don't want to or can't use YouTube, you could import your Zoom recording into a video editor like WeVideo or iMovie and then selectively blur or hide faces. Doing it that way would take a lot more time than using the automatic blurring tool in YouTube.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

How to Add Co-Teachers to Google Classroom

This afternoon I received an email from a reader who wanted to know if I had a video about what a substitute teacher added to Google Classroom can do in the Classroom. I didn't have a video about that so I made this short one. In this new video I demonstrate how to add a co-teacher to Google Classroom, how that co-teacher accepts the invitation, and how you can remove a co-teacher from Google Classroom.

The important take-aways from this video are:
1. A co-teacher can only be added if he/she has an email account in the same G Suite domain as you.
2. A co-teacher can do everything you can except delete/ archive the classroom.
3. You can remove a co-teacher from the classroom.

Resources for Teaching and Learning About the Colorful Leaves of Fall

 Autumn is my favorite time of year. So much so that I wanted to name my younger daughter Autumn (vetoed by her mother). The crisp air, the smells of apple harvest, the colors of spawning brook trout, and the colors of leaves are just a few things that I enjoy about fall. All that to say, it's time for my annual posting of resources for teaching and learning about the transition from summer into fall.

The 2020 Fall Foliage Prediction Map is a feature of the SmokyMountains.com website. The map displays a week-by-week prediction of when leaves in the continental United States will be changing colors from now through the end of November. You can see the predictions change by moving the timeline at the bottom of the map. 

The Fall Foliage Prediction Map doesn't tell the whole story of why leaves change colors at different times in different parts of the country. I'd use the incomplete nature of the map's explanation as a jumping-off point for students to hypothesize and investigate why leaves change colors at different times in different parts of the country. I might also have them investigate why some trees have brighter leaves than others in the fall.

Videos
Reactions is a great YouTube channel from the American Chemical Society. I've featured a handful or more of their videos over the years. This video from Reactions explains how chlorophyll and the glucose stored inside trees create the red, yellow, and brown of fall foliage.



For an explanation of why leaves change colors that elementary school students can understand, watch the following SciShow Kids video.



Science Filmmaking Tips (previously known as Untamed Science) offers a good, partially animated, explanation of why leaves change colors, what produces the colors, and why bright and sunny days are best for viewing red leaves. The video is embedded below.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Newspaper Navigator - A New Search Tool from the Library of Congress

This week the Library of Congress launched a new search tool called Newspaper Navigator. Newspaper Navigator is an index of 1.5 million images published in newspapers between 1900 and 1963. You can search Newspaper Navigator by keyword and then narrow your results by date and or the U.S. state in which the newspaper was published. There is a highly detailed tutorial on how to use the LOC's Newspaper Navigator right on its search page.

I gave the Newspaper Navigator a try this afternoon. It's easy to use, but I was a little disappointed in the results. It appears that the results are based on the tags associated with the images in the newspapers as opposed to the words on the pages themselves. For example, I attempted to find items from Maine newspapers related to the Clean Water Act. Not only did that search not yield any results a broader search without the specification of a state didn't yield any results. Likewise, a search for "moose" didn't yield any results.

Applications for Education
The LOC's Newspaper Navigator could be useful if you or your students are conducting a general interest search for historical photographs from newspapers. But if you're searching for something specific about a topic from a historical newspaper, you'll be better served by using the Google Newspaper Archives. Here's a video about how to search the Google Newspaper Archive.

Blurred Backgrounds and Custom Grids in Google Meet

Yesterday, I shared news about a new teacher control in Google Meet. Today, there are two more new Google Meet features to note.

The latest announcements from Google about Meet carried the news that you're now able to customize the grid view in your meetings and you can now blur your background in Meet. Both of these features started to roll-out this week and should be available to all G Suite for Education users by the end of the month.

Blurring backgrounds during a Google Meet provides the benefit of removing potential distractions from your background as well as preserving privacy when you're in a place where you might not be alone. Initially, blurring backgrounds in Google Meet will only be available in Chrome on a Mac or Windows computer. Blurring backgrounds in Google Meet on Chromebooks and phones will be available at a later time that Google has not yet announced.

Customizing the grid view in Google Meet will let you specify how many tiles you want to see at one time in a meeting. You'll now be able to have up to 49 tiles displayed at a time. If you're not sure how to access the grid view in Google Meet, watch this short video.


It's important to note that Google has said that using third-party extensions to customize Google Meet may cause the new native features (grid and background views) to not work correctly or at all.


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

StudentCam 2021 - Student Documentary Contest

Every year C-SPAN hosts the StudentCam video contest for middle school and high school students in the United States. The 2020/21 version of the contest has been announced and submissions will be accepted beginning on November 1st.

This year's C-SPAN StudentCam contest asks students to produce a 4-6 minute video based on the prompt of, "explore the issue you most want the president and new Congress to address in 2021." C-SPAN suggests that students include historical context of the issue and various viewpoints of the issue they choose.

The StudentCam contest is open to U.S. students in grades six through twelve. Submissions will be accepted beginning on November 1st. The contest deadline is January 20, 2021. All videos must include some C-SPAN footage. This year more than $100,000 in prizes will be awarded. There are separate judging categories for middle school and high school submissions. Students can work individually or in teams of up to three members. Complete contest rules can be found here and the prize list can be found here.

Google Adds Another Control for Teachers Using Google Meet

Eleven days ago Google announced the launch of new Google Meet controls for teachers. Those new controls were the ability to specify who can or cannot share screens in a Google Meet meeting. This week Google announced the launch of another meeting control for teachers using Google Meet.

The latest update to Google Meet introduces a feature that Google is calling Quick Access. This feature will let students within your G Suite for Education domain join a Google Meet without "knocking" first. Fortunately, Google is giving teachers the option to turn off the Quick Access feature. The Quick Access feature for Google Meet can be turned off or on for every meeting that you host.

Quick Access in Google Meet will be rolling out over the next couple of weeks. G Suite for Education domains that are on Google's "rapid release" track will see it sooner than others.

Remember, if you're worried about students joining a Google Meet before you get there, you can turn off the Google Meet link in Google Classroom and use meeting nicknames instead. Here's my video overview of that process.

Ten Search Strategies Students Need to Know

Last week I hosted a Practical Ed Tech webinar titled Ten Search Strategies Students Need to Know. Afterwards I had many requests for accessing the recording of the webinar. The webinar is now available on demand. If you missed it, the webinar is available as an on-demand webinar right here on Practical Ed Tech.

What's the Webinar About?
Too often our students don’t get beyond the first few pages of search results before declaring, “Google has nothing about this!” Why? Because the average time spent on a search is just 1 minute! And the average search term only has three words!* We can help our students do better than that.

In this recorded webinar you will learn why informational searches are the hardest types of Internet searches for students to conduct. You will learn how to help students break-down complex search topics into manageable pieces and then put the whole picture together. You’ll learn how to help your students save students tons of time by thinking before searching. And you’ll learn how to develop instructional search challenge activities to use with students of any age.



*Source: Moz – The State of Searcher Behavior.

Monday, September 14, 2020

How to Create and Use a Digital Sign-out Sheet in Google Classroom

In the past, I've always been fortunate that I didn't have "wanderers" who signed-out for the bathroom and never re-appeared. That's largely due to the fact that my classes are electives that kids choose to attend to begin with. So I never kept great records of when kids signed-out and signed-in from trips to the bathroom. But this year, for contact-tracing purposes, I have to keep much better records of when students leave my classroom than I have in the past. Rather than keeping a paper sign-out/ sign-in sheet, I'm using a Google Form that I have posted as a material in Google Classroom.

In the following video I demonstrate how I created a sign-out/sign-in sheet in Google Forms, how I post it in Google Classroom, and how students utilize it. In the video I also provide a possible modification of the Form.

Three Video Lessons That Are Full of Poop

SciShow Kids has long been one my favorite YouTube channels for elementary school science videos. It went on hiatus for a while then it came roaring back a few weeks ago. One of the new releases on SciShow Kids is all about dung beetles. That, of course, brought out the ten-year-old in me and I had to watch it. This seems to be a pattern with me because I have previously featured a couple of other lessons about animals and their poop.

The new SciShow Kids video about dung beetles explains why dung beetles eat dung, how they get nutrition from it, and why people should never eat it.



Why Do Some Animals Eat Poop? explains why and how some animals get nutrients from eating the excrement of other animals. The video also mentions why the feces of some animals has more nutrients than that of other animals. Like all MinuteEarth videos, the description notes on YouTube for this video include a list of the references used in producing the video. Watch the video on YouTube or as embedded below.



Why Isn't the World Covered In Poop? is really a lesson about dung beetles and the role that they play in the ecosystem. In the lesson students learn how many types of dung beetles exist in the world, where they exist, and how dung beetles help reduce greenhouse gasses. And as a bonus, you can pick up a cheesy middle school-appropriate joke from watching the video.



You can find all three of these videos through the search built into EDpuzzle where you could then add in questions and clarifying comments. Here's an overview of how to use EDpuzzle.

Three Good Resources for Teaching Fact vs. Opinion

This afternoon I was talking with a few of my students about TikTok and its new relationship with Oracle. The course of that conversation brought up a lot of "I've heard X" and "I've read X" statements from my students regarding news about TikTok. As you might imagine would happen with teenagers talking about their favorite app, the conversation got animated. I spent a lot of time helping discern fact from rumors and opinions. All that to say, this afternoon reminded me to review facts vs. opinions with students. I used this Common Craft video, but there are some other good resources you might want explore. Those are outlined below.

Factitious
Factitious is a game that is designed to help students practice identifying real and fake news stories. The 2020 version of the game features stories about COVID-19.

To play Factitious simply go to the site and select start. You'll then see an article appear on the screen. Read through the article, click the source listed at the bottom, and then select either the green check mark or red X to indicate whether or not you think the article is a real news story. After you make your selection you'll get instant feedback and an explanation of how you can tell if the article was a real or fake news story.

Points are awarded in Factitious based on accuracy, speed, and whether or not you viewed the source link before making a guess at the legitimacy of the story. The 2020 version of Factitious contains three rounds with five stories in each round.

Bad News
Bad News is a website that offers simulations that show visitors how misinformation is spread through social media. Bad News is available in two versions. The regular version is intended for those who are high school age or older. Bad News Junior is appropriate for middle school and older elementary school students. The difference between the two versions is found in the news topics that are used in the simulations.

In both versions of Bad News players work through a simulation in which they attempt to build a Twitter following by spreading misleading news stories. (I must emphasis that there are no real Tweets sent and you don't have to even have a Twitter account to play Bad News). Through the simulation players learn how headlines, memes, and Tweets are designed to manipulate people and prompt reactions from them. The simulation also shows players how Twitter bots are used.

There are six distinct sections of Bad News. At the end of each section players are awarded a badge signifying that they have learned about the manipulation techniques associated with trolling, impersonation, discrediting, polarizing, emotional manipulation, and conspiracy theories.

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

Saturday, September 12, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where it is a crisp 31F outside as I await the sunrise while compiling this week's list of the most popular posts.

I had a super busy week with students back in my classroom for the first time since March 13th. I also hosted two webinars and was interviewed for a podcast. The webinars were Ten Search Strategies Students Need to Know (recording available here) and Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff (recording available here).

After a busy week, I need a little mental break so I'm going fishing this morning. I hope that you also get time to rest and recharge this weekend.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Google Adds More Teacher Controls for Google Meet - Yay!
2. Movies on Map - Discover the World Through a Map & Video Combination
3. Whiteboard Chat - Online Whiteboards You Can Share and Monitor
4. TeacherMade - Quickly Create & Share a Variety of Online Activities
5. Add Science & Math Simulations to Google Sites
6. An Easy Way to Make a Stop Motion Video
7. Video Puppet is Now Narakeet - Still Turns Slides Into Narrated Videos

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 28,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 400 Google tools tutorials.  
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has more than 460,000 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.

ICYMI - Episode 18 of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff

Every Thursday afternoon Rushton Hurley and I answer questions from readers like you during Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff. We do that at 4pm ET which might not be the best timing for our friends who are not in the Eastern Time zone. That's why we record it!

You can watch the recording of latest episode right here or as embedded below. But if you head to the webinars page on Next Vista for Learning you can also find recordings of another great series that Rushton hosts. That series is Activities Across Grade Levels. Check it out!

Friday, September 11, 2020

How to Use Jamboard in Google Classroom

Earlier this week I answered a question from a reader who wanted to know if it was possible to share Google Jamboard drawings through Google Classroom. The answer is yes. Just about anything in your Google Drive can be shared through Google Classroom. The bigger question is, "can it be shared with copies made for each student?" In the case of Jamboard, the answer is also yes. That's what I demonstrate in my new video that is embedded below.


Applications for Education
In yesterday's episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff I explained that I used Jamboard in my classroom to have students create network diagrams and share those diagrams with me. I created the framework of the diagrams in Jamboard then used the "make a copy for each student" option in Google Classroom so that my students could complete the diagrams as needed without impacting their classmates' work.

How to Create Online Whiteboards, Share Them, and Monitor Them

Earlier this week I wrote a review of a new collaborative whiteboard tool called Whiteboard Chat. One of the highlights of Whiteboard Chat is the ability to create whiteboards for your students and then remotely observe what your students put on the whiteboards. The best part is that you can see up to nine student whiteboards simultaneously. That feature and more are highlighted in my new video about how to use Whiteboard Chat.



Applications for Education
As I wrote earlier this week, Whiteboard Chat could be a great tool for math classes meeting in Google Meet. It could be equally useful for any lesson in which you need students to create diagrams and share them with you. You could use Whiteboard Chat's teaching mode to give students their own whiteboards to work on that you can also view without having to fumble with screen sharing.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Free Webinar Today at 4pm ET!

Every week Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning and I host a free webinar simply named Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff. The next installment is today at 4pm ET! Join Us!

In every episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff we feature new tool and resources then answer a half-dozen or more questions from readers like you. If you register for the webinar you'll get an email that contains all of the links and notes that we mention throughout the session.

Watch last week's episode right here.

How to Use TeacherMade to Create & Share Online Assessments

Disclosure: TeacherMade is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Earlier this week I wrote an overview of a great new service called TeacherMade. TeacherMade lets you quickly convert your favorite PDFs, Word documents, and images into online activities and assessments. Last night I created a short video that walks you through the process of creating an activity with TeacherMade.

One of my favorite aspects of TeacherMade is that your students don't need email addresses in order to complete the activities that you create and share with them. That simple process is also featured in the video demonstration that is embedded below.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Video Puppet is Now Narakeet - Still Turns Slides Into Narrated Videos

Back in April I featured a neat service called Video Puppet that turns PowerPoint presentations into narrated videos. This morning I got an email notifying me that Video Puppet has been re-branded as Narakeet (why? I don't know).

Narakeet does all of the same things as Video Puppet. The only change is the name and a few new additional features. Those new features include greater control over the voice-over. You can now have multiple voice-over voices in your video and you can now control pauses in the narration.

Here's the video I made about Video Puppet last spring. The functions in Narakeet are exactly the same.

Whiteboard Chat - Online Whiteboards You Can Share and Monitor

Whiteboard Chat is a free service that you can use to create collaborative whiteboards to use with your students. It is possible to use Whiteboard Chat without an email address which makes it quick and easy to get started.

There are two ways to use Whiteboard Chat. The first is to create one whiteboard that you share with all of your students. The second way to use Whiteboard Chat is the more interesting option. That option is to create individual whiteboards for each student to use that you can also observe.

To get started with Whiteboard Chat simply head to the site and click on the big "Start Drawing" button. Next you have the choice of "start collaborating" or "start teaching." The "start collaborating" option will launch a single whiteboard that you can invite your students to join. The "start teaching" option will launch an instructor whiteboard plus a grid of individual whiteboards that you can share with your students. When you use that option each student has his/her own whiteboard to draw on that you can also observe from your computer. In both cases you invite students to whiteboards through unique invitation URLs that you can post in Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, or any other place that you typically post links for students.

Applications for Education
Whiteboard Chat could be a great tool for math classes meeting in Google Meet. You could use Whiteboard Chat's teaching mode to give students their own whiteboards to work on that you can also view without having to fumble with screen sharing.

Earlier this year I wrote about similar product called Whiteboard Fi. You can read and watch that overview here. Whiteboard Chat seems to be a more polished version of Whiteboard Fi.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Using a Bicycle as a Generator

This morning I welcomed my new students into my classroom. In talking with one of them I learned that he likes to tinker with old bicycles. As we were talking he mentioned trying to create a power generator with a bicycle. That conversation took us to YouTube where we started looking at videos about using a bicycle to generate electricity. Here are a couple that I thought were worth sharing.

Can You Power a House With a Bicycle?
This is a video produced a few years ago by NPR's Skunk Bear. The answer is no, you can't power a house with a bicycle. The video does a great job of explaining how many bicyclists you would need in order to power an average house for a month.


Homemade Bicycle Generator
This video was produced a few months ago by Backyard Trail Builds (a channel about building bike trails and jumps). What's good about this video is that the producer explained his initial mistakes and how he corrected them. The video is also not so detailed that it doesn't inspire more curiosity about how to improve on the design. When we have time later this year to attempt making a bicycle-powered generator, this will be a video that my students and I reference.

TeacherMade - Quickly Create & Share a Variety of Online Activities

Disclosure: TeacherMade is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com. 

As the new school year begins we’re all trying new things while also trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy. TeacherMade is a new tool that lets you tick both of those boxes. With TeacherMade you can quickly and easily convert some of your favorite “old standby” activities into online activities to share with your students.

TeacherMade is a free service designed by Laura Bresko, a former K-12 school teacher and entrepreneur. According to Laura, “My goal with TeacherMade was to create a way for us to make online worksheets that are easier than Google Slides. We are still in the process of perfecting it, but I think we’re off to a pretty good start!”

You can use TeacherMade to turn your PDFs, Word docs, Google Docs, and pictures into online activities. And if you choose to make your activity a graded one, TeacherMade will automatically score responses for you. I know that, for me, that’s a huge timesaver.

How to Use Online Worksheets with TeacherMade
To get started using TeacherMade you can sign-up with your G Suite account or register with any other email address and password of your choice. Signing up with G-suite is a good idea if you use Google Classroom, because TeacherMade is focusing on creating a deep integration with Google Classroom. Once you’ve done that you’re ready to start creating your first activity.

The best way to discover all that TeacherMade can do is to upload a PDF that has a variety of question types on it. For example, the screenshot below is of a PDF that has a multiple choice question, a fill-in-the-blank question, and an identification question. (Quick tip if you don’t have a PDF: you can quickly create one by using the “download as PDF” option in Google Docs or the “save as PDF” option in Word).

After uploading your PDF worksheet to TeacherMade you’re ready to begin adding question elements to it. Your uploaded PDF will appear in TeacherMade’s activity editor. It is in the editor that you can add ten different question and activity types. To the PDF that is pictured above I added a field for students to fill in the blank, a place for them to select one of the choices in my multiple choice question, and check boxes to the states in the map of the continental United States.

To add elements like text boxes and check boxes to your PDFs simply open the “Insert” menu in the TeacherMade activity editor then choose the type element you want to add. You can then position your chosen activity element on your PDF by clicking and dragging it into place. If you want to change the size of the element you can do that in the same manner that you would resize a picture in a Word doc or Google Doc.

TeacherMade will automatically score your students’ responses if you choose that option. To do that you’ll just need to enter correct answers when you’re adding your question elements to your uploaded PDF.

Question & Activity Types You Can Add in TeacherMade:
  • Multiple Choice
  • Matching
  • Fill-in-the-blank (short answer)
  • Hotspot (students click all that apply)
  • Drop-down menu selection
  • Checkboxes
  • True/false
  • Open answer
  • Fractions and mixed numbers
  • Algebraic expressions

It’s important to note that within the multiple choice and checkboxes menus there is the option to include up to eight answer choices.

Distributing TeacherMade Online Activities to Students
You can preview the student view of the online activities that you make in your TeacherMade account before you give them to your students. I think that’s a key feature because too often the only way to see how a student actually sees an assignment is to create your own “demo student” account.

After previewing your activity you’re ready to assign it to your students. You can do that by distributing it through Google Classroom or by giving students a direct link to your assignment (that’s the option I’d use if I wasn’t using Google Classroom). Students can log into TeacherMade with a Google (G Suite for Edu) account. You can also assign usernames to students for them to use with your activity. Students don’t need to have email addresses to complete a TeacherMade activity if you choose to assign usernames to them.

When you assign an activity to students through TeacherMade you can choose to let them instantly see their scores, instantly see their scores and the correct answers, or you can keep scores hidden until you’ve reviewed them. Speaking of reviewing scores, at any time you can see how much progress your students have made on an assignment. And in terms of progress, you can require students to complete an assignment in one session or you can let them save their progress then return to their assignments at a later time.

Bottom Line
TeacherMade is a promising new service that will make it easy to quickly transition your favorite in-class activities and assessments into online activities and assessments. The fact that your students don’t need email accounts makes TeacherMade suitable for all grade levels.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Create an Online Philosophical Chairs Activity With Jamboard

Last week I got an interesting question from a reader named Chuck. I'm not sure that my answer or the question has broad appeal, but I found it interesting so I made a video about it. Chuck's question was as follows:

I have been struggling to find a tool that I can use to do Philosophical Chairs in a virtual classroom. The discussion/debate part is no problem, what I need is a tool where students can move an avatar or a picture of themselves to a certain area of the screen to indicate their position on a topic. All students need to see the same screen but the only item they can move is their avatar/picture and nobody else's. If you know Philosophical Chairs then you will immediately see what I am talking about. Do you have any ideas for a tool or a platform that could do this?

I didn't know of a tool that was made specifically for hosting online philosophical chairs activities, but I did think that using Google's Jamboard is one possible solution.


It's important to note that Jamboard won't prevent a student from moving a classmate's avatar so this is a solution that will only work if you can get your kids to respect the rules of the activity. If that's a problem for your students then you might want to try using Padlet as suggested by Rushton Hurley in our latest episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff.

An Easy Way to Make a Stop Motion Video


Disclosure: Cloud Stop Motion is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com.

Cloud Stop Motion is a free tool for creating stop motion videos in your web browser. I wrote about Cloud Stop Motion back in February when it was relatively new. Since then some helpful updates have been made it. The most significant of those updates is the option to upload pictures to use in your video instead of just relying on capturing images with your computer's webcam. In the following video I demonstrate how you can create a stop motion video with Cloud Stop Motion.



Applications for Education
Cloud Stop Motion offers free accounts for schools. The free school accounts provide 2GB of storage for every student. The school accounts also provide tools for administrators to manage student accounts.

Cloud Stop Motion could be a great tool for students to use to create short videos to animate stories they've written by using toys or clay models. Making a stop motion video is also a good way for students to demonstrate the steps of a long process in a short window of time.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where it is a lovely morning filled with cool air just before sunrise. Sunrise is getting noticeably later these days as summer winds down. Red and orange leaves are starting to appear on the ground around my house.

Earlier this week my youngest daughter brought me the red/ orange leaf in the picture in this blog post. She's quite the little explorer. We're going to do a little exploring in the woods around our house today. I hope that you have something equally fun planned for this weekend.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How to Increase the Chances of Your Students Actually Watching Your Instructional Videos
2. Getting Started With Flipgrid - Teacher & Student Views
3. How to Use Remind to Send Messages to Multiple Classes at the Same Time
4. Google Updates and Simplifies Finding Creative Commons Licensed Images
5. Three Ways for Students to Join Google Classroom
6. How to Use Google Drive to Comment on Videos
7. An Overview of the New Google Images Search Options

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 28,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 400 Google tools tutorials.  
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has more than 460,000 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.

Movies on Map - Discover the World Through a Map & Video Combination

I love maps and I love a good video so I had to explore Movies on Map when I saw it featured on Maps Mania. Movies on Map is a site that features videos about interesting places all over the world.

You can search for a video according to location on Movies on Map or can simply browse the map and click on the video icons to watch a video. Your searching and browsing can be refined by location as well as by video type. The video types are hand/ ground level tours, action videos, drone/ aerial tours, dive/ underwater videos, and 360 videos.

Movies on Map is a relatively new site so there isn't a ton of good content on it, yet. It is open for registered users to add videos of their own so hopefully more content is added soon.

Applications for Education
I watched about a dozen clips on Movies on Map and didn't find anything objectionable in the videos. That said, I'm not sure how much filtering is done before videos appear on the map. For that reason I'd recommend using Movies on Map as a teacher to find videos to share with your students rather than sending students to the site to explore it on their own.

On a related note, you could have your students make their own version of Movies on Map by creating custom maps with Google's My Maps tool. This video shows you how to add videos to maps in Google's My Maps.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Google Adds More Teacher Controls for Google Meet - Yay!

In terms of meeting controls Google Meet has lagged behind Zoom all year. Google is making efforts to close that gap. Last month they introduced some new controls and yesterday they introduced another control option for teachers.

The latest control option added to Google Meet lets teachers specify whether or not students can share their screens and whether or not students can use the chat function in a Google Meet. The default will still be that students can share their screens, but you'll now be able to disable that option at the start of your Google Meet events. When you choose to disable sharing for students they won't even seen the option to share their screens.

If you choose to use the new option to disable chat for students in Google Meet meetings they will still be able to see messages that you send. So you'll still be able to post links in the chat for your students to click. They won't be able to reply your chat messages.

Important Caveats!

  • The new Google Meet controls for teachers will be rolling out over the next couple of weeks.
  • These controls will only be available to G Suite for Education users using the web version of Google Meet and not in the mobile app version of Google Meet. 
  • Google warns that if you are using third-party Chrome extensions to modify Google Meet (the breakout room extension, for example) you might have disable those extensions in order to use the new meeting controls. 

Add Science & Math Simulations to Google Sites

In the latest episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff I shared an update about a favorite math and science resource. That resource is PhET. PhET offers more than 150 online, interactive science and math simulations. For a while now PhET has been in the process of switching their simulations from Java to HTML5. What that means for us is that the simulations will work on any platform including iOS. And it means that the simulations are easier to include in your own website.

In the following video I demonstrate how to include PhET's science and math simulations in your Google Site. Those of you who watch the video will also notice that the simulations can also be shared via a direct Google Classroom integration.


Applications for Education
As many of us are starting the new school year in online and or blended environments, resources like PhET that provide online simulations of activities we would have traditionally done in our classrooms are more important than ever. If your teaching math or science this fall, take a look at PhET to find online alternatives to some of the activities you've traditionally done in your classroom.

Common Craft Explains Disinformation

Common Craft has released a new, timely video for this fall. The new video is Disinformation Explained by Common Craft. The new video explains what a disinformation campaign is and why organizations create them. Equally importantly, the video explains traits of disinformation campaigns and how to people can try to prevent the spread of disinformation.

Disinformation Explained by Common Craft is available to view here.



Applications for Education
Common Craft's new video about disinformation goes well with their existing videos about bias detection and facts vs. opinions. All three together could make up a core component of a lesson about how to a responsible consumer and user of online information.

On a related note, here's my video about one way to make a Common Craft-style video.


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

Thursday, September 3, 2020

An Overview of the New Google Images Search Options

Earlier this week Google updated and simplified the way in which you can find Creative Common licensed images through Google Images. I wrote an overview of those changes yesterday.

I made this short video to bring a bit more clarity to the new way in which you can find Creative Commons and public domain images through Google Images.


A few years ago Dr. Beth Holland and I hosted a free webinar all about copyright as it pertains to students and teachers. If you're not sure how copyright applies to your classroom, take a look at the recording of the webinar that Beth and I hosted.

How to Change Your Google Account Profile Picture

One of the ways that I can mark the start of the new school year is by the types of questions that get in my inbox. Like I do every year, this fall I've gotten a bunch of questions about customizing personal settings in G Suite. That includes how to change your profile picture. I made a video about this a few years ago, but Google has changed the user interface in G Suite a bit since then. That's why I made this new video to demonstrate how to change your Google account profile picture. Take a look.

Short Lessons on the History of Labor Day

This coming Monday is Labor Day in the U.S. For most of us it is a three day weekend. It is the traditional "end of summer" in the minds of many of us. If you're planning to answer questions about Labor Day or teach any lessons about it, here are some short videos to add to your list of resources.

Why Do Americans and Canadians Celebrate Labor Day? is a TED-Ed Lesson about the origins of Labor Day. In addition to learning about the origin of Labor Day students can learn a bit about changes in labor regulations over time.


History of the Holidays is a series of videos from History. Each installment explains a different holiday. The Labor Day video is embedded below.


PBS Kids offers a short animated overview of the history of Labor Day. It's not nearly as detailed as the two videos I've listed above, but it's probably adequate for elementary school kids.


For more resources for teaching about Labor Day, take a look at this list compiled by Larry Ferlazzo.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Google Updates and Simplifies Finding Creative Commons Licensed Images

When looking for public domain and Creative Commons licensed images to use in multimedia projects I generally recommend going to sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, and Photos for Class instead of Google Images (my full list of recommendations is available here). The reason for that recommendation is that in the past Google Images hasn't been terribly clear about image licensing even when the "labeled for re-use" filter has been applied to image search results. Fortunately, Google is taking some steps to change that.

Google has simplified the "usage rights" menu in Google Image search results. The menu now has just three options. Those options are "all," "Creative Commons licenses," and "Commercial & other licenses." For most classroom projects you'll want your students to use the "Creative Commons license" option.

The other significant update to Google Image search results appears when you select an image from the search results. Now when you select an image you will see an option to get license details and a clearer link to the image source. Clicking on the "license details" link will take you a page on CreativeCommons.org where you'll be able to find more information about how you can or cannot use the image.

Applications for Education
Whenever it is possible it is best to use your own pictures in your slideshows, videos, and other multimedia projects. By doing that you know that you haven't accidentally infringed on anyone's copyright. That's why this blog post has a seemingly random picture of a leaf I took yesterday. It's not always possible to use your own pictures. That's when we'll turn to the Internet to find a picture that is in the public domain or has a Creative Commons license.