Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Create and Publish a Multimedia Timeline With Canva

Last week a reader emailed me looking for a suggestion for making multimedia timelines with her middle school students. My usual suggestion of Timeline JS was ruled out because her school use Office 365 and the kids can't access Google Sheets with school accounts. My other suggestion was to try using Canva to create multimedia timelines. 

Canva offers dozens of templates for creating timelines. Within the templates students can embed videos, maps, pictures, animations, and even add background audio. They can do those things with any of the timeline templates. In this short video I demonstrate how to create a multimedia timeline in Canva. 


Applications for Education
The nice thing about having students use Canva to create multimedia timelines is that they can all use different layouts and themes which breaks up some the "cookie cutter" nature of timeline assignments. The other thing that's nice about using Canva to create multimedia timelines is that students can collaborate online to develop timelines together.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Link to Sections Within the Pages of Google Sites

The current version of Google Sites has come a long way in the last year or so. It now includes almost every feature that the old version of Google Sites offered (good thing, because the old version is scheduled for deprecation soon). One of those features is the ability to link to a specific section with a page in your website. 

To link to a section within a page of your Google Site you need to include section headers. That's easy to do. To include a section header simply insert one of the layout options listed in the right-hand menu of the Google Sites editor. Then just type a title for your section. Then when you publish your site you'll see a link appear when you hover your mouse pointer over that section title. 

Watch this short video to learn how to link to sections with the pages of Google Sites. 



Applications for Education
As I mentioned in the video, linking to a section within a page in Google Sites could be helpful your students when you're trying to direct them to a specific resource within a long list of resources on a Google Sites page. You could post the link to the section in Google Classroom or any other LMS to direct students to a specific resource or section of a resource list.

Finding a Geographic Opposite

One evening last week my daughters were playing with the globe pillow that is featured in this blog post. They started asking questions about what each place is called and where it is relative to where we live. Answering their questions reminded me of the concept of an earth sandwich

The idea of an earth sandwich is that you find the complete opposite location of where you are in the world. Some people take to the fullest extent and actually place bread on one location then get someone in the opposite location to do the same and actually make a sandwich. I use the idea of an earth sandwich just to help kids understand how some map projections can distort their understanding of the size and shape of places. 

You can find the complete opposite location of where you are (these are actually called antipodes) in a couple of ways. The first method is to simply identify your current exact location using latitude and longitude coordinates and then use the mathematical opposites to find your exact opposite location. For some students, doing that math might be a little trick. Another method is to use the Map Tunnelling Tool


The Map Tunnelling Tool places two digital maps (ESRI maps) side by side. You then click one of the maps to identify your current location and the other map will automatically display the antipode (opposite location) for your current location. 

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Germ Science Investigation - A Game About Stopping the Spread of COVID-19

Germ Science Investigation is a free online game that is designed to help students understand how to stop the transmission of COVID-19. The game has four "missions" for students to complete. Students complete the missions by answering a series of scenario-based questions. Students are given instant feedback after answering each question. If they answer a question incorrectly, the correct answer and a fact about COVID-19 is displayed. 

Registration is not required in order to play Germ Science Investigation. In fact, I didn't even seen an option for creating an account. Therefore, students have to play the game in one sitting or lose all of their progress. Completing the game shouldn't take more than about fifteen to twenty minutes. The game is available in seventeen languages. 


Applications for Education
Germ Science Investigation is a game that you might have students play to review information about how they can help stop the spread of COVID-19 in their schools. The game provides good reminders for high school students who might feel like they know everything they should do to prevent spreading COVID-19. For other students, the game might be an introduction to some of the science behind COVID-19 mitigation policies in their schools.

A Good Collection of Resources for Teaching the Five Themes of Geography

C-SPAN Classroom is known for offering great resources for teaching civics and government lessons. What you might not know is that C-SPAN Classroom also offers a good collection of resources for teaching geography lessons. 

C-SPAN Classroom hosts a collection of bell ringers and lesson plans aligned to the five themes of geography. Bell ringers are short video clips designed to spark classroom discussion and inquiry. They're typically accompanied by a handful of discussion questions. C-SPAN Classroom lesson plans also incorporate video clips but go into more depth on any given topic. 

For AP Human Geography C-SPAN hosts an entire course of study that you can guide your students through. The course includes seven units. Those units are listed below.

  • Thinking Geographically
  • Population and Migration Patterns and Processes
  • Cultural Patterns and Processes
  • Political Patterns and Processes
  • Agriculture and Rural Land-Use Patterns and Processes
  • Cities and Urban Land-Use Patterns and Processes
  • Industrial and Economic Development Patterns and Processes

For more resources for teaching geography, take a look at my big list of resources for Geography Awareness Week

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Turkey, Docs, and Teams - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where a little dusting of snow and a temperature of 23F makes it feel like winter has arrived. I hope that all of you who celebrated Thanksgiving this week had an enjoyable and restful holiday. 

All of the leaves have finally fallen off the trees in my yard and I've cleaned them all up. But there's not enough snow to play in it, yet. In short, it's probably not a great day for bike rides like last weekend. So I have a hunch that today will be a day of indoor craft projects with my daughters. I hope that you also have something fun planned for your day. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Three Updated Google Docs Features
2. Five Helpful PowerPoint Features You Might Be Overlooking
3. Hands-on Activities for Learning About Macy's Thanksgiving Parade
4. How to Blur Faces in Videos With Screencastify
5. Scribble Maps - Draw on Google Maps and More Without an Account
6. Ten Updated Microsoft Teams Features for Teachers to Note
7. A Tip for Finding and Reading Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes

Thank you for your support!
Your registrations in Practical Ed Tech courses (listed below) help me keep Free Technology for Teachers going.

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This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

What's Snoring? - Another Question from my Daughters

For nearly twenty years I've gone to an ice fishing camp every winter with the same group of guys (except for last winter). Some of them are rather loud snorers. In fact, the loud snorers have their own bunk room in the lodge. I was talking about this the other day when my daughter asked, "what's snoring?" My best explanation for my four-year-old was "it's a noise that some people make when they're sleeping." A better explanation is found in a TED-Ed lesson titled Why Do Some People Snore So Loudly? 

Why Do Some People Snore So Loudly? explains what sleep apnea is, what causes it, why it causes snoring, and some ways to treat sleep apnea. Watch the full video lesson here and find the accompanying discussion questions here



Friday, November 26, 2021

NBA Math Hoops - An App for Practicing Math Facts

NBA Math Hoops is a free iPad and Android app for practicing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills. The app can be used by students who don't have email addresses. There is also an option to create an account to save games in progress. 

NBA Math Hoops pits players against NBA and WNBA players in a contest of math skills. Players score points by correctly answering a series of arithmetic questions. Incorrect answers result in a turnover and the other team getting the ball. The ball is also turned over to the other team if questions aren't answered before the shot clock expires. Players can try to steal the ball by identifying the incorrect answer to a question.



Applications for Education

NBA Math Hoops could be a fun way for elementary school students to practice their math skills while competing against their favorite NBA and WNBA players. This is the kind of app that I'd install on classroom iPads or Android tablets for students to use for independent practice when they have a little unscheduled time in class. 

Free Webinar Next Thursday

Next Thursday at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning and I are hosting the sixth episode of the second season of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff! We'd love to have you join us! You can register for the session right here

In every episode we answer questions from readers and viewers like you. We also share some cool and interesting things that we've found around the Web. Rushton tends to share cool videos and pictures while I tend to share cool tech tools. And we both try our best to give helpful answers to your questions about all things educational technology. 

Please join us! And feel free to email me in advance with your questions or send them in live during the webinar. 

Recordings and resources from our previous episodes are available on this Next Vista for Learning page

Thursday, November 25, 2021

My Big List of Tools for a Variety of Classroom Video Projects

Other than questions about Google Workspace tools, I get asked more questions about making videos than any other three topics combined. Over the years I've used dozens and dozens of video creation tools. This is my current list of recommended video creation tools for classroom projects. 

Video Reflections/ One-take Videos
These are videos that require minimal, if any, editing before publication. In this type of video creation activity teachers will pose a prompt to their students and their students will response with a short video statement. 

Flipgrid is the best known of all platforms designed for students to record video responses to a teacher's prompt. Teachers can create online classrooms in which their students post short video responses. Teachers can moderate submissions before the rest of the class can see the videos. And teachers can use Flipgrid to give feedback directly to their students. There are many other features of Flipgrid that are worth noting and are included below in the section about whiteboard videos. Watch this video to learn the basics of Flipgrid. 

Padlet is a tool that I've used for more than a decade for a wide variety of purposes including collecting short videos from students. Students can use the recording feature that is built into Padlet to record a short video and share it with the class. Here's a short overview of how to record videos in Padlet. 

Audio Slideshow Videos

Other than one-take videos, the audio slideshow style of video is probably the easiest of all video formats to create. It's also one of the most misunderstood when it comes to using it in classroom. For an audio slideshow project to be effective students first need to plan the sequence, find the best visuals, apply appropriate text (but not too much), and choose an appropriate soundtrack. If you want to take it a step further, you'll want students to create a script to narrate their videos. Here's an overview of attributes to look for when students create audio slideshow videos. 

Here are my top three choices for students to use to make audio slideshow videos. 

Adobe Spark Video
Almost since its initial launch five years ago, Adobe Spark has been my go-to recommendation for this style of video project. Adobe Spark makes it easy for students to create succinct audio slideshow videos. Adobe Spark limits the amount of narration that students can record on each slide within their videos. Adobe Spark also includes a library of background muic that students can have inserted into their videos. Finally, students can upload short audio clips to include in their audio slideshow video projects. In this short video I demonstrate how to create a video with Adobe Spark.



Canva
Canva now offers two ways for students to create audio slideshow videos. The first way is to simply put together a series of slides and then select a soundtrack to play in the background. That process is demonstrated here. The other method is to use Canva's full video editor to add narration an custom timings to an audio slideshow video. That process is demonstrated in this video.



Microsoft Photos
Microsoft Photos includes a video creation tool for making short audio slideshow-style videos. You'll find this by just opening the native photos app in Windows 10. Within the editor there are tools for adding animated effects to still images, insert your existing video clips into a video project, and tools for adding audio to your video. There's also a great option to search for Creative Commons licensed images and insert them directly into your video project. The best part of that feature is that attribution information is automatically added onto the images you choose through the built-in search tool. In the following video I provide a demonstration of how to create a video in Microsoft Photos in Windows 10.

Green Screen Videos

Making a green screen video can be a lot of fun for students and also a lot of fun for peers, parents, and teachers to watch. Ten years later I still occasionally refere to this video from Greg Kulowiec's middle school class as an example of a fun green screen project. Making a green screen video can seem intimidating at first, but once you've tried it a time or two you'll find that it's not as complicated as it might seem. Today there are lots of tools for making green screen videos. Here are the three I typically recommend and introduce to teachers. 

Make a Green Screen Video in iMovie
If you have access to a Mac or an iPad, this is the tool to use. It's free (provided you already have a modern Mac or iPad) and has just enough features to make a nice green screen video, but not so many features that it takes a long time to learn how to use it. Watch this video to learn how to make a green screen video in iMovie on a Mac. Watch this one to learn how to make a green screen video on an iPad.



WeVideo
For Chromebook users and Windows users, WeVideo is my go-to recommendation. Here's a demonstration of how it works.



Zoom + Adobe Spark
If you don't have a physical green screen to record in front of, you could use Zoom's built-in virtual green screen capability then import that video into Adobe Spark for final editing. Watch this video to learn how that is done.

Animated Videos

Making animations is a great way for students to bring their written stories to life on screen. Depending upon the story, the animation could be as short frame or two that plays for twenty seconds or it could be a five minute story.  

ChatterPix Kids
ChatterPix Kids is one of my favorite digital storytelling apps for elementary school students. ChatterPix Kids is a free app that students can use to create talking pictures. To use the app students simply open it on their iPads or Android devices and then take a picture. Once they've taken a picture students draw a mouth on their pictures. With the mouth in place students then record themselves talking for up to thirty seconds. The recording is then added to the picture and saved as a video on the students' iPads or Android devices. Watch my tutorial videos below to learn how to use ChatterPix Kids on Android devices and on iPads.




Slides + Screencasting
Google Slides, like PowerPoint and Keynote, provide users with lots of ways to animate elements within their slides. Use those animation tools to make clipart and simple drawings move on the screen. Then capture those movements with a screencasting tool like Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic. Of course, you'll want to include a voiceover while recording. This method can be used to create animated videos like those made popular by Common Craft. You can read about and then watch this whole process in this Practical Ed Tech article.

Canva
Canva has lots of animation options that you can add to almost any graphic that you create in it. You can animate text, make objects spin and move, and even add audio to play in the background when you make a graphic in Canva. Your finished designs can be downloaded as animated GIFs and as MP4 files. In fact, that's how I make the videos for my Practical Ed Tech Instagram account. Additionally, Canva's new video editor can be used to create animated videos. That's a process that I demonstrate in this video

Whiteboard Videos

From creating a math lesson to explaining a workflow there are lots of purposes for creating whiteboard-style instructional videos. Last year I had students make simple whiteboard videos to explain network and wiring diagrams. Here's a handful of tools for making whiteboard instructional videos. 

Try using Screencastify to record over the free drawing space provided by Google's online version of Jamboard. One of the benefits of using Jamboard for this kind of video is that when you are done you can share the Jamboard images with your students. You could even share the Jamboard via Google Classroom so that students have a copy of the process that you demonstrated while making your video.



Loom is also an excellent and popular choice for making screencast videos right from your web browser. In the following video I demonstrate how I paired Loom and Google's Jamboard to make a whiteboard-style instructional video. One of the tips that I shared in the video is to use the sharing option in Jamboard to give your students a copy of the drawings or sketches that you use in your instructional video.



Flipgrid offers an integrated whiteboard function. You can use this feature to create whiteboard videos for your students to watch in Flipgrid. You can also have your students use the whiteboard tools to reply to a prompt that you have given to them. In my video that is embedded below I provide an overview of how to use the whiteboard function and a couple of other functions in Flipgrid.



Wakelet has integrated the Flipgrid camera into their service so that you can create whiteboard-style instructional videos directly within your Wakelet collections. Watch my video below to see how that process works.



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

Just a half a mile from the railroad track...

It's Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S. I usually celebrate the day with my family in Connecticut watching the road race in my hometown. Unfortunately, that tradition is on hiatus again this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and some other factors attributed to work schedule. One Thanksgiving tradition that isn't going on hiatus is listening to Alice's Restaurant. If you'd like to join me in this tradition, here's Arlo Guthrie performing Alice's Restaurant
 
Happy listening! Happy Thanksgiving!

(Did you notice that this was posted exactly at noon?)



Fun fact! If you search for the song on Wolfram Alpha you will find a chart of Wikipedia traffic for the search term "Alice's Restaurant." So the question/ cultural history lesson for students is "why do people search for that term around Thanksgiving?"

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

A Tip for Finding and Reading Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is eating the leftovers the next day. I enjoy a good turkey sandwich almost as much as Ross, but I do like to mix it up a bit and try other ways to use leftovers. In fact, I was doing that earlier this week (yes, I was planning for Thanksgiving leftovers) when I got super annoyed by all of the pop-up and scrolling ads on various recipe websites. That's when I implemented one of my favorite search tips, searching by file type. 

To the end of my search term "turkey shepherd's pie" I added filetype:pdf. I did that in order to only find links to PDFs containing recipes for turkey shepherd's pie. There aren't annoying pop-ups and scrolling ads on PDFs to get in the way of reading a recipe. 

The other trick that I often use when looking for recipes online is to use the OneNote web clipper to save articles instead of just bookmarking the links. The web clipper will let you view the article without having to actually go back to the original web page. 

Both of these tips for finding and reading Thanksgiving leftovers recipes can be employed whenever you're searching online. I used the file type search method earlier this fall to help someone identify a piece of old archery equipment and I used it just a week ago to find a copy of the owner's manual for the portable generator in my garage. 

Watch this short video for a demonstration of searching by file type and a demonstration of the OneNote web clipper. 


Searching by file type is one of just many search strategies that students need to know. That strategy and many more are taught in my online course, Search Strategies Students Need to Know. The course is on sale this week for 33% off. Register here and take the course at your own pace. 

Display a Timer With a Google Document

Earlier this week a reader of my weekly newsletter emailed me to ask for advice on how to display a document and countdown timer on the same screen. The idea being that the document is displayed on a large screen via an LCD projector or Chromecast and a small timer is also displayed. The document could be displaying questions for students to answer or procedural steps for them to follow in an alotted amount of time. 

I offered a simple suggestion for displaying the document and a timer on the same screen. My suggestion was to just resize two browser tabs so that the full document and a small timer are displayed on the same screen space. This short video demonstrates how to do that. 


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Ten Updated Microsoft Teams Features for Teachers to Note

Mike Tholfsen is my go-to person for all things related to Microsoft Education products. He regularly updates his YouTube channel with informative videos about the latest features added to Microsoft Teams, Word, PowerPoint, Immersive Reader, and more. And as a product manager at Microsoft he has early access to features that are rolling-out to users. That means his videos sometimes include overviews of features before anyone else has used them. 

Mike's latest video highlights ten updated Microsoft Teams features for teachers. Most of the updates apply to the awesome reading progress feature that is now in Microsoft Teams. The complete list of features highlighted in Mike's video is posted below. 

  • Returning marked up passages to student in Reading Progress
  • Updated OneDrive and Teams file picker in Reading Progress
  • Timed passages in Reading Progress
  • Edit draft assignment in Reading Progress
  • Keyboard shortcuts in Reading Progress
  • Feelings Monster and Reflect
  • Reflect data in Class Insights
  • Reflect data for School Insights
  • Content from Camera in Teams meetings
  • CART Captions in Teams

A Thanksgiving Special!

As many of you know, the primary means of support for Free Technology for Teachers comes through the sales of my Practical Ed Tech courses and professional development services. 

This week and through next Tuesday all of my Practical Ed Tech self-paced courses are on sale for 33% off the regular price. You can register for any or all of the courses right here!

Course Offerings

Search Strategies Students Need to Know!
Based on my most popular webinar, this ten-part course guides you through essential search strategies for students of all ages. More importantly, it provides you with activities to duplicate and or modify to use in your classroom. Click here to start this course today!

A Crash Course in Google Earth & Maps for Social Studies
Google Earth and Google Maps should be staples in the toolbox of anyone who teaches social studies lessons. These are powerful tools that can be used by elementary, middle, and high school students.

This course will teach you how to use Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google My Maps in your classroom. In this crash course I outline five social studies lesson activities that utilize Google Maps and Google Earth to help students make discoveries and to demonstrate what they’ve learned. Click here to get started today!

A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video
A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video is a self-paced course consisting of six modules designed to help you create instructional videos and make sure that your students actually watch those videos. Get started right here.

Copy Specific Pages in Google Sites

Google Sites (the new, current version) has a new feature that could be helpful to those people who make a lot of variations of the same website. That new feature is the ability to copy specific pages from one site into a new site. 

The new page copying option lets you select a specific page or set of pages to copy from an existing site into a new Google Site. To do this simply open the editor for your existing Google Site, open the "three dot" menu next to the publishing button, then select the pages you want to copy. I've included screenshots of the process below. 

Step 1:

Step 2:


Applications for Education
 
This new feature could be helpful at the beginning or end of each school year. If you want to create a new Google Site for each school year, but don't want to start from scratch each year, simply copy the pages that you want to re-use and then build the new site from there.

Watch this video for an overview of Google Sites publishing and sharing settings. 

How to Create Filters and Labels in Gmail

Last week I answered an email from a reader who wanted to make sure that email from specific senders always ended up in a priority folder in her Gmail account. My suggestion was to create a filter for the sender's email address and then apply a label to the email. I've done this for years to make sure that I don't miss messages from a few people and to make automatically sort out messages that have specific keywords. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to create filters and labels in Gmail. 



Applications for Education
As I mentioned in the video above, I create filters in my Gmail (Google Workspace mail) to send all of my students' emails about homework and other assignments into one folder that is labeled "homework." Then when I'm going through my inbox I can respond to all homework questions at the same time.

Monday, November 22, 2021

My Big List of Resources for Teaching & Learning About American Thanksgiving

American Thanksgiving is later this week. All month long I've been sharing Thanksgiving-themed resources and ideas. This post combines all of them into one place. If you have school this week and you're looking for some last-minute Thanksgiving resources, take a look through this list. 

The Science of Thanksgiving Foods
The Reactions YouTube channel, produced by The American Chemical Society, has a few good video lessons that address the science of a traditional American Thanksgiving meal. 

Better Thanksgiving Potatoes Through Chemistry explains the chemical properties of raw potatoes and which ones to pick for roasting based on their chemistry. The video then goes on to explain the science of roasting potatoes before finally revealing the best method, based on science, for roasting potatoes.

The Truth About Tryptophan explains why it might not be just the turkey that is making you sleepy after a big Thanksgiving dinner.

 How to Fry a Thanksgiving Turkey Without Burning Your House Down provides an overview of the science involved in deep frying a turkey and how you can use that knowledge to avoid a disaster on Thanksgiving.

Where Thanksgiving Food Comes From
Where Does Your Thanksgiving Dinner Come From? is an interactive storymap that I've shared in the past and still find to be a neat resource. The map displays where eight popular Thanksgiving foods are grown and harvested in the United States. The storymap includes a map for each ingredient. Each map shows the locations of commercial producers. Fun facts are included in the storymap too. For example, did you know that Illinois has at least twice as many acres of pumpkins as any state?

Through It's Okay to Be Smart's The Surprising Origins of Thanksgiving Foods students can learn how the most common, traditional Thanksgiving foods originated and evolved to what they are today. This lesson includes an explanation of how archaeologists and scientists determined that turkeys were one of the first animals to be domesticated in North America. We also learn why the turkeys we find in the grocery store today are so much bigger than those of just a few generations ago. 

Corn is often seen as a symbol of Thanksgiving. Today, corn and many products made with it are a staple in the diets of many of us. How did corn become a staple of our diets? What has enabled it to become one of the most cultivated crops in the world? And what are the consequences of cultivating so much corn? Those questions and many others are addressed in the TED-Ed lesson titled How Corn Conquered the World.

Create a Digital Thankfulness Turkey
Last fall I received a few emails from readers looking for some ideas on how to do a digital version of the classic Thanksgiving Thankfulness Turkey project in which students add feathers to a drawing of turkey and each feather has something they're thankful for written on it. My suggestion for creating a digital version of the Thankful Turkey was to use a combination of Pixabay and Google Drawings. I made this short video to illustrate how that process would work. 

Macy's Parade 101
Parade 101 features four video demonstrations of hands-on activities that students can do at home with their parents or in your classroom. The four activities include inflating balloons through the use of baking soda and vinegar, designing balloons for the parade, making and using sculping dough, and building model floats. All of the videos include lists of needed supplies. 

I like all four of the activities. If I was to recommend one for Thanksgiving day it would be building model floats or designing because they can be done with cardboard, paper, glue, markers, and other common household materials that don't make a mess and don't have to be done in a kitchen. That said, I think the most fun one is the inflating balloons activity. 

In addition to the videos and STEAM projects Parade 101 offers some printable coloring sheets and puzzles. An interactive timeline of the history of the parade is still available to view as well.

American vs. Canadian Thanksgiving
My Canadian friends celebrated Thanksgiving last month. Besides the timing of the holiday, there are some other differences between American Thanksgiving and Canadian Thanksgiving. There are also some commonalities between the two holidays. The following videos provide a humorous look at the similarities and differences between American Thanksgiving and Canadian Thanksgiving.



Reminder! You should always preview videos before showing them in your classroom. I know many high school teachers who will not have a problem sharing these, but teachers of younger students may want to proceed with caution.

How to Create Re-usable Daily Check-in Forms

Last week a reader emailed me with a question about creating a form that could be used many times over for things like daily check-in or exit ticket questions. He wanted to be able to have all responses in one place where responses could easily be sorted according to date or name. My suggestion was to create a Google Form and then sort the responses in a connected Google Sheet. 

In this short video I demonstrate the two ways that I would create a Google Form for daily check-ins and then view and sort responses in Google Sheets. 



To learn more about sorting information in Google Sheets, watch this short video.



Applications for Education
As I mentioned in the video above, repeatedly using a Google Form to collect information about how your students feel about each day's lessons could be a good way to identify patterns or trends. For example, if every Wednesday my students respond with "I don't get it," I'll want to examine what's happening on Wednesdays that's impacting my students' comprehension of the day's lessons. Perhaps every Wednesday my lesson is right before lunch whereas on other days it's right after lunch (a true quirk of my schedule last year).

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Three Updated Google Docs Features

Over the last month or so Google has added some handy new features to Google Docs. I've written about them as they were announced by Google. But if you would like to see how they work, watch this new short video

In the video you will see the following Google Docs features that have been added in the last month:

  • Watermarking Google Docs
  • Improved section breaks
  • Citation search



Applications for Education
The new watermark feature could be helpful when you want to add a big "confidential" or "draft" label to a document that you're working on that has sensitive student information. The new citation search function should help students find the right information to include in their works cited pages. The improved section breaks will be make it easier to format long documents without having to manually add spaces to preserve section breaks.

Hands-on Activities for Learning About Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

Like millions of other Americans the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade will be on the television in my house this coming Thursday morning. Just like last year Macy's is providing some hands-on STEAM lessons related to the parade. 

Parade 101 features four video demonstrations of hands-on activities that students can do at home with their parents or in your classroom. The four activities include inflating balloons through the use of baking soda and vinegar, designing balloons for the parade, making and using sculping dough, and building model floats. All of the videos include lists of needed supplies. 

I like all four of the activities. If I was to recommend one for Thanksgiving day it would be building model floats or designing because they can be done with cardboard, paper, glue, markers, and other common household materials that don't make a mess and don't have to be done in a kitchen. That said, I think the most fun one is the inflating balloons activity. 

In addition to the videos and STEAM projects Parade 101 offers some printable coloring sheets and puzzles. An interactive timeline of the history of the parade is still available to view as well. 

Finally, if you are looking for some history of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade videos, take a look at the following videos that I've shared in the past. 

History of the Thanksgiving Day Parade.



The History of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Docs, Geography, and Videos - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where I'm home after a great trip to Nebraska earlier in the week. It was great to spend time with my friends Kris and Beth Still, but there's nothing like being home with my little family. We're going to make big leaf piles and have fun playing outside today. I hope that you have something fun planned for your weekend as well. 

Many of you took advantage of my Geography Awareness Week special that offered 50% off enrollment in my Practical Ed Tech course, A Crash Course in Google Maps and Earth for Social Studies. I'll have a similar offer for my other courses next week. More information will be included in my weekly newsletter tomorrow evening. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Take a Look at Your Google Docs Activity Dashboard
2. My Big List of Activities and Resources for Geography Awareness Week
3. My Top Three Tools for Creating Audio Slideshow Videos
4. ClassPoint - Turn PowerPoint Into an Interactive Teaching Tool
5. Three Ways to Make Green Screen Videos
6. Seven Good Tools for Making Animations
7. Mapping Where Food Comes From

Thank you for your support!
Your registrations in Practical Ed Tech courses (listed below) help me keep Free Technology for Teachers going.

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  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fourteen years. 
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This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

The Heimlich Manuever Saved My Life

Last Saturday my friend Kris Still saved my life by performing the Heimlich manuever when I was choking on an omelette in a lovely little diner called Laura Lee's. I was actually about to comment on how good the food was when I started choking. Fortunately for me, Kris is a sheriff's deputy and is trained to calmly and quickly react to emergencies. It was still a bit frightening for all involved. 

I've been thinking about my experience all week. If you don't know how to do the Heimlich manuever or you want to teach it to your kids, here are some instructive videos to view. 

How to Give the Heimlich Manuever



How to Give the Heimlich Manuever - LifeBridge Health


Dr. Heimlich Explains His Manuever to Larry King
This one isn't instructional, it's an explanation of how the manuever was created.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Scribble Maps - Draw on Google Maps and More Without an Account

To close out Geography Awareness Week 2021 I have one more cool tool to share. Scribble Maps is a tool that I've used and recommended for years. As the name implies, you can use it to draw on maps. You can also use it to create multimedia map markers. The best part is that you can use it without creating an account or enter any personal information. 

Scribble Maps lets you pick from a variety of base maps on which you can draw and create multimedia markers. The base map collection includes Google Maps, ESRI maps, National Geographic maps, and Open Street Maps. 

In this short video I provide an overview of how to create a multimedia map on Scribble Maps. 

How to Blur Faces in Videos With Screencastify

Screencastify is an excellent tool for quickly creating screencast videos. What you might not know is that you can also use Screencastify's free video editor to edit videos that you've recorded with other tools. For example, I recorded a video on my phone then transferred it to my laptop where I used Screencastify's free video editor to blur things in my video. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to use Screencastify's free video editor to blur faces and objects in your videos. 



Applications for Education
Blurring faces and objects in videos is a great way to protect students' privacy when sharing video clips online. By using the tools to selectively blur faces you can include the faces of the students who want to be seen in shared videos and blur the faces of those who don't want to appear in shared videos.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Five Helpful PowerPoint Features You Might Be Overlooking

PowerPoint isn't the flashiest ed tech tool on the block and it certainly isn't the newest. In fact, you might have read "PowerPoint" and thought "old." But as old as it is (34 years) there are new things added to it and hidden gems within it that keep it going strong. If it has been a while since you looked at PowerPoint, here are some features you might not be aware of that can be helpful to you and your students. 

Record a Video in PowerPoint
The Windows 10 desktop version of PowerPoint has some neat features including the option to record a video and instantly insert it into your presentation. Watch this tutorial to learn how that's done.



Remove Image Backgrounds
PowerPoint has a handy built-in tool for removing the background from your images. Here's a demonstration of how to use that feature.



Get Instant Feedback on Your Presentation
Presenter Coach is a great tool for getting instant feedback on your presentation pacing and more. It's available in the online version of PowerPoint. This tutorial shows you how it works.



Automatic Captioning of Your Presentation
PowerPoint includes features for automatic captioning of your presentations. Captions appear while you speak. The captioning tool will also translate your presentation while you speak. Watch this video to see how it works.



Accessibility Checker
If you're not sure whether or not your slides will be accessible to all students, you can run an accessibility check on your PowerPoint slides. This video shows you how to run an accessibility check on your PowerPoint presentation and how to add alt text to pictures and videos in your PowerPoint presentation.



Add more features...
Through the use of PowerPoint add-ins you can add even more functionality to your PowerPoint slides. For example, you can quickly add a countdown timer to your slides. Here's a demo of how to add a countdown timer to your slides. This video shows you how to find and install add-ins.

How to Create Digital Thankfulness Turkeys

Last fall the switch to online and hybrid classes presented lots of challenges and required changing the way that we have done some of our "old standby" activities. For example, last fall I received a few emails from readers looking for some ideas on how to do a digital version of the classic Thanksgiving Thankfulness Turkey project in which students add feathers to a drawing of turkey and each feather has something they're thankful for written on it. 

My suggestion for creating a digital version of the Thankful Turkey was to use a combination of Pixabay and Google Drawings. I made this short video to illustrate how that process would work. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Three Ways to Make Green Screen Videos

Making a green screen video can be a lot of fun for students and also a lot of fun for peers, parents, and teachers to watch. Ten years later I still occasionally refere to this video from Greg Kulowiec's middle school class as an example of a fun green screen project. Making a green screen video can seem intimidating at first, but once you've tried it a time or two you'll find that it's not as complicated as it might seem. Today there are lots of tools for making green screen videos. Here are the three I typically recommend and introduce to teachers. 

Make a Green Screen Video in iMovie
If you have access to a Mac or an iPad, this is the tool to use. It's free (provided you already have a modern Mac or iPad) and has just enough features to make a nice green screen video, but not so many features that it takes a long time to learn how to use it. Watch this video to learn how to make a green screen video in iMovie on a Mac. Watch this one to learn how to make a green screen video on an iPad.



WeVideo
For Chromebook users and Windows users, WeVideo is my go-to recommendation. Here's a demonstration of how it works.



Zoom + Adobe Spark
If you don't have a physical green screen to record in front of, you could use Zoom's built-in virtual green screen capability then import that video into Adobe Spark for final editing. Watch this video to learn how that is done.

The Suprising Origins of Thanksgiving Foods

Yesterday morning I published blog post in which I shared an ESRI Story Map of where traditional Thanksgiving foods are grown today in the United States. That story map covers where food comes from today, but it doesn't cover the historical origins of traditional Thanksgiving foods. That's an interesting topic of its own. It's Okay to Be Smart and TED-Ed offer video lessons that address the origins of traditional Thanksgiving foods. 

Through It's Okay to Be Smart's The Surprising Origins of Thanksgiving Foods students can learn how the most common, traditional Thanksgiving foods originated and evolved to what they are today. This lesson includes an explanation of how archaeologists and scientists determined that turkeys were one of the first animals to be domesticated in North America. We also learn why the turkeys we find in the grocery store today are so much bigger than those of just a few generations ago. 



Corn like that in the picture at the top of this blog post is often seen as a symbol of Thanksgiving. Today, corn and many products made with it are a staple of the diets of many of us. How did corn become a staple of our diets? What has enabled it to become one of the most cultivated crops in the world? And what are the consequences of cultivating so much corn? Those questions and many others are addressed in the TED-Ed lesson titled How Corn Conquered the World.

Applications for Education
In my post about ESRI's Story Map of Thanksgiving Foods I shared directions for making your own story maps. Students could follow those directions to create story maps of their own about the origins of traditional Thanksgiving foods. The process of researching then compiling their story maps could address a number of topics including plant germination and genetics, westward expansion of the United States, and how traditions develop. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

My Top Three Tools for Creating Audio Slideshow Videos

The audio slideshow style of video is probably the easiest of all video formats to create. It's also one of the most misunderstood when it comes to using it in classroom. For an audio slideshow project to be effective students first need to plan the sequence, find the best visuals, apply appropriate text (but not too much), and choose an appropriate soundtrack. If you want to take it a step further, you'll want students to create a script to narrate their videos. Here's an overview of attributes to look for when students create audio slideshow videos. 

Here are my top three choices for students to use to make audio slideshow videos. 

Adobe Spark Video
Almost since its initial launch five years ago, Adobe Spark has been my go-to recommendation for this style of video project. Adobe Spark makes it easy for students to create succinct audio slideshow videos. Adobe Spark limits the amount of narration that students can record on each slide within their videos. Adobe Spark also includes a library of background muic that students can have inserted into their videos. Finally, students can upload short audio clips to include in their audio slideshow video projects. In this short video I demonstrate how to create a video with Adobe Spark.



Canva
Canva now offers two ways for students to create audio slideshow videos. The first way is to simply put together a series of slides and then select a soundtrack to play in the background. That process is demonstrated here. The other method is to use Canva's full video editor to add narration an custom timings to an audio slideshow video. That process is demonstrated in this video.



Microsoft Photos
Microsoft Photos includes a video creation tool for making short audio slideshow-style videos. You'll find this by just opening the native photos app in Windows 10. Within the editor there are tools for adding animated effects to still images, insert your existing video clips into a video project, and tools for adding audio to your video. There's also a great option to search for Creative Commons licensed images and insert them directly into your video project. The best part of that feature is that attribution information is automatically added onto the images you choose through the built-in search tool. In the following video I provide a demonstration of how to create a video in Microsoft Photos in Windows 10.



What About Animoto?
I can't write about making audio slideshows without mentioning Animoto because otherwise I'll get five emails from people asking me why I didn't include it. Animoto was one of the first tools that automated the process of making a quick audio slideshow video. It's still around and still good at what it does. It's free plan is just a bit more limited than what's available with the tools I listed above.

Mapping Where Food Comes From

Where Does Your Thanksgiving Dinner Come From? is an interactive storymap that I've shared in the past and still find to be a neat resource. The map displays where eight popular Thanksgiving foods are grown and harvested in the United States. The storymap includes a map for each ingredient. Each map shows the locations of commercial producers. Fun facts are included in the storymap too. For example, did you know that Illinois has at least twice as many acres of pumpkins as any state?


Applications for Education 
Students can create their own storymaps about Thanksgiving with tools provided by ESRI or by using StoryMap JS. In the following video I demonstrate how to create a storymap with StoryMap JS.