Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Portland, Maine where I'm waiting for a plane to take me to see my grandfather for Easter. Before I board the plane, I'd like to share a quick update about Free Technology for Teachers. Writing this blog for the past seven years has given me opportunities that I never imagined. Speaking at conferences and leading workshops in schools is an absolute joy for which I am very grateful. Organizing my own professional development events is something that I never thought I would do, but now I am doing it. None of this would be possible without all of you who have supported Free Technology for Teachers over the years by sharing posts with your colleagues, emailing me, calling me to help at your schools, and enrolling in my professional development workshops. Thank you!

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 5 Tools That Help Students Organize Research and Create Bibliographies
2. Poetica - Edit Documents Online as if You Were Writing on Paper
3. How to Find and Use Report Card Templates in Google Drive
4. Booktrack - Create and Listen to Soundtracks for Books
5. 14 Educational Resources for Earth Day 2014
6. Doctopus Is Now Easier to Use Than Ever Before - Automate Workflow in Google Drive
7. Five Visual Dictionaries and Thesauri for Students

Would you like to come learn with me this summer?
Click here to learn more about the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Class Charts provides a great way to record and analyze student behavior information.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is offers professional development workshops in Boston and Chicago.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
Fresno Pacific University offers a wide variety of technology courses for teachers.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

An Updated Practical Ed Tech Webinar Course - How To Use Google Drive In School

Over the last few months Google has rolled-out new features in Google Drive. Accordingly, I've revamped much of material in my Practical Ed Tech webinar series How to Use Google Drive In School. The next offering of the course will begin on April 28th.  If your school is transitioning to Google Apps for Education over the summer, consider taking this course as it will help you smoothly make that transition.

How To Use Google Drive In School is a three hour interactive course for educators who want to learn how to use Google Drive (Google Docs, Presentations, Forms, Spreadsheets) in their classrooms. This course covers everything from the basics of document creation to using scripts to automate workflow in Google Drive.

Registration is limited to 25 people per course. For only $97 all participants receive digital how-to guides, access to three hours of live webinar training, access to all webinar recordings, and access to a dedicated course discussion forum. The cost of this course is $97.00 USD. The next section is scheduled to meet on April 28th, May 5th, and May 12th at 7pm Eastern Time. Registration is limited to 25 people.

Click here to register today!

Course Highlights
*Creating and sharing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.
*Using Google Documents and Presentations for collaborative writing and reading exercises.
*Using Google Forms and Spreadsheets for collecting and analyzing data. 
*Using Google Documents as a publishing platform.
*Managing the flow of files in your Google Drive. Registration is limited to 25 students per course.

Participants receive:
*Three hours of live instruction with Q&A opportunities.
*Access to recordings of each session (recordings can be downloaded for unlimited personal use).
*Digital hand-outs to download and re-use for personal use as well as re-use within their school districts.
*A dedicated discussion forum to access throughout the three week course.
*Certificate of completion.

This course is designed for educators who: 
*Are new to using Google Drive/ Documents/ Sheets/ Drawings/ Slides.
*Have previously used Google Drive/ Documents but would like a refresher course.
*Would like to learn how Google Drive/ Documents can be used to help their students meet ELA Common Core Standards.

Nice Things People Have Said About This Webinar:
Very good Webinar yesterday. One of the few I've heard that was so well organized!
Your workshop was so informative and got me going as well. A big "thank you"!!

Click here to register today!

Register by April 24th and use the discount code "Drive" to save $10. 

About the cost and my decision to advertise it on my blog:
Sometimes when I advertise one of these webinars I get messages from people who are upset that I am advertising it here and or that I am charging for it. I understand why some people feel that way. I thought long and hard about how to offer this series. In fact, I thought about it and talked about it with trusted advisors for a year before offering the first webinar series last year. The purpose of this blog and my goal for years has always been to help people use free technology in their classrooms. The tools and strategies featured in my webinars are free to use. However, my time for teaching isn't free. Further, I pay licensing fees to GoToTraining and to Wistia for hosting all of the media content of the courses.

ClassCharts Offers Collaboration and Artificial Intelligence in Classroom Management

ClassCharts is an excellent tool for creating online seating charts, behavior charts, and behavior reports. ClassCharts allows you to create online seating charts for each of your classes. Through those seating charts you can record attendance, give virtual kudos to students, and record negative and positive behaviors. The information that you record in ClassCharts can be shared with parents and students through special log-ins that you supply to them.

ClassCharts offers a couple of features that I really like. These features make it different from other online behavior chart services. The first feature that stands-out to me is the option to upload pictures of students to your seating charts instead of just relying on cartoon avatars. The second feature that I love is the option to invite other teachers to collaborate on the tracking of student behaviors. For example, I can invite a teaching assistant who provides support to a special education students in my classroom to record behavior information when she is working with those students. I can also invite other teachers on my team to view and document behaviors about students so that we can discuss that information during team meetings.
click the image to view the full size

The latest feature added to ClassCharts is also its most-promising feature. That feature is the use of artificial intelligence to create seating charts based on recorded behaviors and interactions of students. ClassCharts refers to this feature as "influences." The influences feature will show you the effects of placing two or more students next to each other in your classroom. The information provided through "influences" is based on the behaviors you record for individual students. ClassCharts "influences" will show you if a student's behavior and performance improves or declines based on who they are seated near.
Click the image to enlarge it.
The students pictured are not real students. The names displayed here are fictitious. 

Disclosure: ClassCharts is an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers. 

Doctopus Is Now Easier to Use Than Ever Before - Automate Workflow in Google Drive

The new version of Google Sheets has brought with it a new way of using Scripts. All of my favorite scripts are now located through the Add-ons menu in Google Sheets. One of my favorite scripts now found in the Add-ons menu is Doctopus.

Doctopus is a Google Spreadsheet script that can help teachers manage the flow of shared work in in their Google Drive accounts. The basic concept behind the script is to enable teachers to quickly share documents with all of the students on a roster, monitor usage of shared documents, and give students feedback within that roster spreadsheet.

The new version of Doctopus is easier to use than all of the previous versions. Now when you open Doctopus as an Add-on, you will be walked through each step of using the script. The old version of the script did that too, but the new directions are much clearer than the old ones. I used to say, "plan on messing up the first couple of times you use the script." I won't say that anymore. Click here to read the Doctopus developer's run-down of all of the new features of the script. Watch the video below for a tutorial on using Doctopus in the new version of Google Sheets.

An Interactive Atlas of the Valley of the Kings

Atlas of the Valley of the Kings is an interactive atlas developed through the Theban Mapping Project. The atlas contains more than 2000 images and models of tombs in the Valley of the Kings. You can scroll through 250 interactive maps in the atlas, click on images, and watch 65 narrated video tours of tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

Applications for Education
The Theban Mapping Project offers a visual glossary of the terms used throughout the Atlas of the Valley of the Kings. The glossary on its own is worth having your students bookmark. When paired with the interactive atlas the glossary of terms makes a fantastic alternative to textbook passages about the Valley of the Kings.