Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Changes are Coming to Your Favorite Google Workspace Tools

If you opened a new Google Document today you might have seen a new little clock icon appearing in the upper-right corner of the screen. But if you didn't see it, don't worry because you will start seeing it before too long. That clock icon is one of the updates coming to Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drive over the next few weeks. 

The updates coming to Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drive are not going to change any of the functionality of those Google Workspace tools. The changes are mostly cosmetic and designed to streamline some of the most frequently used menus and processes in those Google Workspace tools. For example, the new clock icon that I already mentioned was added to make it easier to find and view the version history of a document or slideshow. 

Applications for Education
None of these updates are going to change the way that you or your students create, share, and edit Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets. That said, you should take note of them for when a student says something like "hey, Google Docs looks different."

Three Activities All Teachers Can Create in TeacherMade

TeacherMade was one of my favorite new tools created to fill a need during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tens of thousands of teachers used it to create online, interactive activities for their students. Now that the worst of the pandemic days are behind us, TeacherMade is still a great tool to have in your digital toolbox.

Disclosure: TeacherMade is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com.

TeacherMade recently went through a complete overhaul so that it runs smoother and faster than ever before. As a result, the free version of TeacherMade is now easier for teachers and students to use.

Three Activities All Teachers Can Make in TeacherMade
Before jumping into the activities that you can make in TeacherMade, let’s review the basics of what TeacherMade is and how it works. TeacherMade is a tool that you can use to turn your PDFs, Word docs, and Google Slides into interactive activities for your students to complete online. TeacherMade will automatically score those activities for you, if you choose to enable that option. Should you choose not to have activities scored for you, you can still view what your students do on each activity.

The free version of TeacherMade enables you to create three different activity types. Those activity types are fill-in-the-blank (also known as cloze activities), multiple choice, and open response. All three activity types can be combined in one assignment in TeacherMade. To do that you simply write your questions in your favorite word processing tool, save it as a PDF, then upload it to your free TeacherMade account to turn it into an online activity for your students to complete. Watch my video that is embedded below to see how you can take a Google Doc and make it into a TeacherMade activity in minutes.

Video - How to Use TeacherMade



Use TeacherMade for Fun Holiday Activities
Last week I talked with the founder of TeacherMade, Laura Bresko (a former teacher), about use cases for TeacherMade. One of the most common ways that she’s seeing teachers use TeacherMade is to quickly create activities to align with holidays commonly celebrated in classrooms. For example, Halloween, Groundhog Day, and Valentine’s Day are big deals in elementary schools.

Creating online activities for fun holidays is an example of using TeacherMade to address a short term need. On a similar note, TeacherMade is good for making activities to address other short term needs like developing practice activities to keep momentum going when the regular school schedule has been interrupted by events like snow days (we’ve had a lot of them in my part of the world this winter).

All Your Stuff is Still There
If you used TeacherMade at any point during the last few school years, all of your materials are still there in your account. You can sign-in today and use all of the free and premium features right away. Right now, all teachers have access to all of the premium features like drag-and-drop activities for the rest of the month. After that you can still use the core features for free including unlimited reporting on student progress.

Finally, for my friends who like to use Canva, take a look at this video I made about how to combine Canva and TeacherMade.

Physical Education Activities for Pi Day

Pi Day is just one week away (as is the start of my new course). In recent years I've shared some video lessons about Pi Day and some hands-on Pi Day lesson ideas. This year I'd like to highlight some physical education activities for Pi Day. 

OPEN Phys Ed offers five free physical education lesson plans centered around Pi Day. The lesson plans are designed to be used in elementary school and middle school. The five Pi Day lesson plans offered by OPEN are:

  • Pi Toss
  • Pi Day Races
  • Pi Day Dice Relay
  • Cake or Pi?
  • Who Wants Pi?

To access the lesson plans you do need to register for a free OPEN Phys Ed account. Once you have an account you can download the lesson plans for free as PDFs and Word documents. One of the things that I've always appreciated about OPEN Phys Ed's lesson plans is that they can be easily modified to make sure that all students can participate. Additionally, these are activities that encourage participation from students who might not be inclined to participate in "traditional" physical education games. 

All About Maple Syrup

The change to Daylight Saving Time coincides with the saving grace of the end of winter, the start maple syrup season! The days are getting a little longer and the sun is a little higher in the sky during the day. That increased daylight and warmth the sap in maple trees is starting to run. Some of my local friends make their own maple syrup and have started to collect sap to make syrup. 

The process of collecting sap and turning it into maple syrup provides some great science lessons for students. The process of creating maple syrup can teach students lessons about why maple sap is easiest to collect in late winter/early spring, what makes the sap run, and it teaches students about evaporation. 

Here are a few video lessons about making maple syrup: 

Ever Wonder How Maple Syrup is Made? is a video from Highlights. The succinct video shows a mix of the old way of using buckets to collect sap and the modern method of using hoses.



My friend Gardner Waldeier AKA Bus Huxley on YouTube collects maple sap to make maple syrup. He does it the old fashioned way and he made a video about the process. Gardner's video shows viewers how he collects maple sap and turns it into maple syrup. In the video he explains why maple sap is collected at this time of year, how much sap he'll collect from a large tree, and just how much sap it takes to make a gallon of maple syrup. You also get a nice tour of Gardner's woodlot.



Maple Syrup the Modern Way is a three minute video about the process commercial producers use to make syrup.


On a related note for my friends who like to run or bike and might be looking for a new energy bar or  gel, take a look at the Untapped Maple products. I started using their products last year and I love them! It's so much easier to eat an Untapped Maple waffle than a Clif Bar in the middle of a hard workout. The Untapped Maple gels are way easier to choke down than anything else I've tried over the years. The waffles and gels were part of my fueling strategy when I completed Unbound Gravel 200