Monday, September 28, 2020

Think Like a Coder - The Final Episode!

Last spring my freshmen class enjoyed TED-Ed's Think Like a Coder series of videos. The final episode of the series was released a few days ago. The last installment is called The World Machine. 

The World Machine follows the same format as the previous nine installments of Think Like a Coder. The episode features Ethic and Hedge using logic to solve some programming puzzles to unlock and collect artifacts. During the episode there are calls-to-action for students to try to apply their knowledge to the problems that Ethic and Hedge face. Watch the full episode right here


As I wrote last spring, my freshmen in Intro to Computer Science class loved these videos. I didn't think that they would so I didn't plan to show them. Then we had a day that wrapped up a little early so I put one on just to see how they'd react, they really liked them and ended up calling out how they would have solved the problems in the episodes. I plan to use these videos again a little later this year with my new group of freshmen.

MoocNote - Add Quizzes to Existing Videos

MoocNote is a free service that I've written about a few times in the past as a tool for collaborative note-taking while watching a video. It is a good service for doing that. Recently, MoocNote expanded to offer tools for adding quiz questions to videos. You can now use MoocNote to add multiple choice, true/false, multiple selection, and fill-in-the-blank questions to the timeline of any video that you find on YouTube (premium users can import their own videos as well). 

Adding questions into the timeline of a video in MoocNote is fairly straight-forward once you know where to find the question icon (see this video for an explanation). You can add as many questions as you like to the timeline of a video. One nice feature is that you can have your questions be active or inactive and toggle between the two settings. That could be nice if you want to show the video without interruptions to one class but then use it with a different class in which students will be required to answer questions online. 


The other recent update to MoocNote that some teachers will appreciate is that it is now possible to share MoocNote lessons with students who don't have email addresses. You can now give students a link to the lesson and a pin that they have to enter to access the lesson. See this video for an explanation. 


The obvious comparison for MoocNote is EDpuzzle. MoocNote doesn't have as many reporting functions as EDpuzzle. On the other hand, the initial set-up for using MoocNote is a little simpler and getting students into it is easy. 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

ICYMI - Episode 20 - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff

Every Thursday at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT I join Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning for a free webinar in which we answer questions from readers and viewers. We also feature a couple of cool/ interesting things we've found on the web during the week. And in the process of answering questions we often share even more cool stuff. If you missed our latest episode you can watch the recording and see a list of featured resources right here. And while you're there check out Rushton's other webinar series called Activities Across Grade Levels

 

Register here to join us for the next episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

The Week in Review - Trolls, Jam, and YouTube

 

Good morning from Maine where I'm waiting for the sunrise on what is supposed to be another gorgeous fall day. I'm planning to play outside with my family and go for a bike ride. I hope that you have something fun planned for the weekend as well. 

This week I once again joined Rushton Hurley to host a webinar. If you missed it, you can watch the recording here. Next week I'm hosting a Practical Ed Tech webinar about making instructional videos. You can register for that one right here

As I do every Saturday, I've compiled a list of the most read posts of the last week. Take a look and see if there's something interesting that you missed earlier this week. 

These were the most popular posts of the week:
1. Google Adds Another Control for Teachers Using Google Meet
2. Five Zoom Features You Need to Know
3. Jamboard is Now Integrated Into Google Meet
4. The Google Science Journal App is Now the Arduino Science Journal
5. TeacherMade - Quickly Create & Share a Variety of Online Activities
6. Using YouTube to Share Lessons This Fall? - Settings and Tools You Need to Know About
7. Spot the Troll - Can You Spot Fake Social Media Accounts?

Friday, September 25, 2020

Rank Country - Explore Mapped Demographic Data and More

 

Rank Country is a website that features datasets about education, healthcare, infrastructure, tourism, weather, and dozens of other topics. It is easy to browse the Rank Country data maps. Simply head to the site and open the "browse" menu in the upper, left corner of the page. That menu will reveal all of the data categories. Clicking on a category will reveal all of the datasets available within the category. Once you've selected a dataset it will appear on the map. Clicking on the map will reveal more information about the data as it relates to that location.

From my review of the sources that the Rank Country uses it appears that the bulk of the datasets come from The World Bank rankings. In some cases you'd be served just as well by heading directly to The World Bank's Open Data website. 

One curious aspect of Rank Country that might be worth noting is that the site doesn't contain any information about who built it or owns it. I performed a WHOIS look-up on the site and found that it is registered to company called Lil Robots whose website refers to them as "multi-channel marketers." 

Applications for Education
I generally find sites like Rank Country to be useful in helping students make connections between the names of countries that they're reading about and where those countries actually are in the world. These kind of sites can also be helpful in starting discussions about regions and or groups of countries. Beyond the geography of the countries a site like Rank Country can be helpful in getting students to make comparisons of countries based upon a particular set of economic or social data parameters.

H/T to Larry Ferlazzo

Cronobook - A Map of Historical Photographs

 

Cronobook is a new-to-me website that features a searchable map of historical photographs. The premise of the site is simple and using it is easy. Just head to the site, search for a location, and click on the small images to see them in full size. A little bit of information  including location and date is included with the images. 

Cronobook is still a beta product so that breadth of the imagery is fairly limited. You'll have better luck finding historical images if you stick to large cities as compared to small towns. It should also be noted that just because the images are old that doesn't mean they're not copyrighted. Check the image licensing before downloading any images from Cronobook. 

In a lot of ways Cronobook feels like a lightweight version Historypin. Depending on your perspective that could be a good thing or a bad thing. I like it because it's a little easier to use. 

Applications for Education
If you're a history teacher, Cronobook is one of those sites that is worth bookmarking and consulting when want to show students what a city looked like in the past. It could also be a good site for students to explore on their own to inspire some curiousity for learning more about the history of city or neighborhood within a city.

H/T to Maps Mania

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Independent Project Inspiration

This fall in one of my computer science classes I'm reserving half of each class meeting for students to work on independent projects of their own choosing. From the first day about half of my students knew exactly what they wanted to do or at least had some ideas. The other half struggled to come up with some ideas. That changed when I showed them the Remix Contest being held by Instructables. 

The Instructables Remix contest asks contestants to find an existing project on the Instructables site then remix and build upon it. Entries have to include credit to the original source and directions for replicating the remixed version of the project. 19 prizes are being awarded with the top prize being a $500 Amazon gift card. So far there are only 13 entries with 46 days left to enter. The contest is open to students over the age of 13. 

The Remix contest is one of eight contests that Instructables is currently hosting. Some of the other contests are a pumpkin contest, a Halloween costume contest, and a "back to basics" contest with a STEAM theme. Take a look at the contest page on Instructables to see if there is something that will inspire you or your students. 

Using Google Docs to Lead Small Group Discussions

Last week I received a question from a reader who wanted to know if I had any ideas for running small group discussions in a socially distanced classroom. Here's what he wrote: 

We are back in person at school, but wearing masks and sitting 6 feet apart. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for running a class or small group discussion (like a breakout).

I've done this a few times in my own classroom this fall. The process that I've been using begins with writing discussion questions in Google Docs, adding a small table below each question for students to write comments, and then making copies of the doc for each small group. While the students are using the chat and the table to exchange ideas I monitor all of the documents and occasionally stop the group to call out good comments and or bring the group back together for a whole-class conversation. 

The process that I've described above for using Google Docs to lead small group discussions is also outlined in the video below

If you're not sure how to make contact groups to use in G Suite, watch this short tutorial

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Spot the Troll - Can You Spot Fake Social Media Accounts?

 

Spot the Troll is a quiz game that I recently learned about from Lee LeFever at Common Craft. Spot the Troll was developed by Clemson University's Media Forensics Lab as a way to educate people about deceptive social media accounts. 

Spot the Troll presents players with eight social media profiles. Based on the clues in the profiles players have to decide if the social media profile is genuine or a fake designed to spread misinformation. Players get instant feedback after making a guess at whether each account is real or fake. Whether or not the player is correct or incorrect Spot the Troll provides an explanation the signs that the account was real or fake. 

I played Spot the Troll this morning and found it to be a little trickier than I expected. It was also a bit more detailed than I expected. 

Applications for Education 
Before you have your students play Spot the Troll you should play the game yourself. Some of the profiles include content that might not be appropriate for your students. I definitely would not have kids younger than high school age play the game. That said, playing Spot the Troll could be an informative activity for high school students.

If you play through the game and find that some of the profiles aren't appropriate for your classroom, consider using some excerpts from the game to create your own lesson on spotting fake social media accounts. 

Jamboard is Now Integrated Into Google Meet

 

Back in June Google started teasing the possibility of Jamboard being integrated into Google Meet. The possibility has come to fruition as yesterday afternoon Google announced that Jamboard is now integrated into Google Meet.

Jamboard can be launched inside of Google Meet by opening the small sandwich menu (the three little dots in the lower, right corner) then choosing "whiteboard." Everyone who is in the meeting will be able to draw on the whiteboard. The best part is that because the whiteboard is a Jamboard, it will save in your Google Drive where you can then share it again for further use after a meeting has ended. 

I'm sure that you already have some ideas for how to use a whiteboard in Google Meet. These are the ideas that jumped into my mind as soon as I read the announcement from Google. 

  • Mind mapping.
  • Collaborating on flowcharts.
  • Brainstorming sessions.
  • Math lessons.
  • Illustrating a sequence of events.
  • Drawing on top of an image.
  • Virtual gallery walks (remember that Jamboard allows you to have multiple pages).
Launching Jamboard in Google Meet is available now for some users and will be rolling out to all users over the next couple of weeks. If you don't see it today, keep checking back. 

On a related note, I recently published an overview of how to use Jamboard in Google Classroom

A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video

About a month ago I hosted a Practical Ed Tech webinar titled A Crash Course in Making and Teaching With Video. In the weeks since I hosted that webinar I've had a bunch of requests to host it again. So that's what I'm going to do next Tuesday (September 29th) at 4pm ET. 

This school year has going to have many of us teaching students in our classrooms as well as students online. For many of us that means we’re making instructional videos to address the needs of in-person and online students. If you find yourself needing to make instructional videos, but you’re not sure how best to do it, this webinar is for you! 

In this 75 minute webinar you’ll learn: 
  • How to plan an instructional video. 
  • Three simple and quick ways to make instructional videos. 
  • How to share your videos with your students with and without using YouTube. 
  • How to make sure your students actually watch your videos. 
  • Tips for improving your videos regardless of the equipment you use. 
Your Registration includes: 
  • Live webinar with Q&A. 
  • Access to the recording of the webinar. 
  • Handouts. 
  • PD Certificate
Cost:

About the cost:
I announce the Practical Ed Tech webinars on this blog because the registrations from the webinars go to keeping the lights on at Free Technology for Teachers. I use GoToWebinar to for hosting the webinars and recordings. GoToWebinar is not cheap, but it is the best webinar platform out there (I've tried them all over the years). And while all the tools featured in the webinars are available for free, my time for teaching isn't free. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Good Sets of Primary Source Documents About the American Revolution and More

The Massachusetts Historical Society has a great website that hosts collections of primary sources related to the American Revolution, founding families of the United States, abolition, and the Civil War. Additionally, on the MHS site you'll find recordings of webinars about many of the topics related to the collections of primary sources. Music of the Plimoth Colony Settlers is an interesting webinar that was published last week. 

Some of the highlights of the collections of primary sources found on the Massachusetts Historical Society's website include:
In addition to the collections listed above, the Massachusetts Historical Society offers four collections of lesson plans that incorporate primary source documents. Those collections are Founding Fathers & Their Families, Era of the American Revolution, Slavery and Antislavery, and Civil War. The most lesson plans are in the first two collections. The vast majority of the lesson plans are for high school students, but there are a few for elementary and middle school use. 

More than a decade ago I started using Google Documents to help students analyze primary source documents. I outlined that process in this blog post in 2015

How to Recover an Archived Google Classroom

 

Last week I published an overview of how to add co-teachers to your Google Classroom classes. That post prompted a bunch of follow-up questions from readers and viewers. The most common follow-up question was "what happens if a class is accidentally archived?" The answer is that it goes into the "archived" section of your Google Classroom account. While it's archived you and your students can't do anything in it. However, all is not lost because you can recover archived classrooms. It's a simple thing to do and I've outlined the process in this one minute video

Monday, September 21, 2020

Using YouTube to Share Lessons This Fall? - Settings and Tools You Need to Know About

This fall many of us are using YouTube more than ever before to share lessons with students. Whether those lessons are ones you recorded or ones that you found YouTube, there are some settings and tools that you should know about. 

Settings and Features When Sharing Your Own Video Lessons
  • You can make your videos unlisted and still share them in Google Classroom or any other learning management system that you choose to use. 
  • You can and probably should disable comments on the video lessons that you upload. By doing this you avoid the hassle of dealing with YouTube spam comments. I post my videos in Google Classroom and let kids can ask questions there. 
  • Add a cover image to your video to let students know what the video is about. Doing that also avoids using the still frame that YouTube selects at random for your cover image. That function and more are covered in this video
  • If you use a recording of a Zoom or Google Meet as part of a lesson that you upload to YouTube, use the blurring function to hide the faces of students who don't want to be in the video. That feature is demonstrated in this video
Settings and Tools When Sharing Videos You've Found on YouTube
  • It is possible to collaborate with another teacher to make a playlist of educational videos. This is a good option for those who work in teaching teams. Here's a video on how to collaborate on a playlist. 
  • Watchkin, SafeShare, and Quietube are simple third-party tools that you can use to display videos in your classroom without displaying the related sidebar content found on YouTube. 
  • Put videos into Google Slides or PowerPoint and that will let you share videos with your students without forcing them to see the sidebar content from YouTube. A bonus aspect is the option to specify a start and end time for a video in a Google Slide. 
  • Put video links in Wakelet collections or on Padlet walls to share videos without having to make students see the sidebar content from YouTube. 
  • Create a lesson from an existing YouTube video by using EDpuzzle. EDpuzzle lets you add questions into the timeline of a video. Students have to answer the questions in order to advance to the next section of the video. My complete overview of EDpuzzle can be seen here

"Why Do We Have Fall?" - A Post Inspired by My Daughter

 

"Why do we have fall?" That was the question that my four year old asked while we were walking in the woods yesterday.  It was a good question (she's full of good questions these days) and I tried my best to explain that different times of the year have more or less sunlight which makes the plants grow or "hibernate" (a concept she's learned from National Geographic's All About Bears). When she's a little older we'll worry about covering more of the details. In the meantime, if you have elementary school students who are wondering "why do we have fall?" here are a couple of good little videos on the topic. 

Why Are There Seasons? from SciShow Kids is a good video lesson about seasons. The video is appropriate for students in primary grades. 

 

Reasons for the Seasons is a TED-Ed lesson appropriate for upper elementary and middle school students. The lesson explains the relationship between the shape of the Earth's orbit around the Sun, the Earth's tilt on its axis, and how those affect the amount of sunlight on different areas of the Earth.

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!
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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.