Friday, July 31, 2015

Create a Random Name Selector in Google Sheets

Last year I demonstrated how to create a Jeopardy-style game in Google Sheets. Then in February I published a tutorial on creating flashcards in Google Sheets. In both of those tutorials I utilized templates from Recently, published a new template that can be used to create a random name picker in Google Sheets.

To create a random name picker from a Google Sheet simply use the template provided by Flippity and modify the spreadsheet to include the names of your students instead of the placeholder names in the template sheet. After modifying the template publish your new spreadsheet to the web, grab the Sheet's URL, and place that URL into the Flippity name picker. Step-by-step directions are available on the Flippity website.

Applications for Education
A random name picker created through Flippity can be used for more than just picking a single name at random. It can also be used to randomly create student groups of two to six members. You can also use the random name picker to generate seating charts.

The Month in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Teachers collaborating at the
Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

Good evening from Woodstock, Maine where the blue moon is shining brightly. July was a busy month as I ran three webinar courses, hosted the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp, and visited a couple of schools. And the biggest news of the month is that I became a member of the MindRocket Media Group where I will be developing some content for EdCircuit. Don't worry, nothing will change on as a result of me joining MindRocket.

 Here are this month's most popular posts:
1. Great Google Drive Add-ons for Teachers - A PDF Handout
2. Frequently Overlooked Useful YouTube Features - A PDF Handout
3. 50+ Google Tools Tutorial Videos
4. 7 Good Options for Building Digital Portfolios - A PDF Handout
5. Two Chrome Extensions That Can Help You Stay on Task
6. Ten Great Tools for Telling Stories With Pictures - A PDF Handout
7. Six Styles of Classroom Video Projects - A Handout
8. A Nice Tool for Creating Animated Maps
9. A Short Explanation of Google Apps Terminology
10. How to Apply Custom Avatars to ClassDojo Profiles

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
MidWest Teachers Institute offers online graduate courses for teachers.
HelloTalk is a mobile community for learning a new language.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
SeeSaw is a great iPad app for creating digital portfolios.

EduSync's TeacherCal Helps You Plan and Organize Lessons

EduSync is a new company developing products to help teachers organize daily lesson plans and products to help students keep track of those plans. TeacherCal is the the first product from EduSync.

TeacherCal provides you with a calendar on which they can organize a schedule of lesson plans, quizzes, assignments, and projects. TeacherCal can be synchronized to your Google Account (optional). If you choose to connect your Google Account to TeacherCal, you can create new Google Docs, Forms, and Slides directly from their calendars. You can also attach files from Google Drive or upload attachments from your computer much like you can do in Google Calendar. What makes TeacherCal different from just using a Google Calendar is that you can tag your calendar events with standards, objectives, and additional instructions. Watch the video embedded below to learn more about TeacherCal.

If you decide to try TeacherCal, make sure that you allow pop-ups in your browser. I did not have pop-ups enabled the first time I tried TeacherCal and it was a frustrating experience.

I like TeacherCal's potential to be a good tool for organizing daily activities. Once the promised student/parent feature is added, TeacherCal will become a more powerful classroom tool.

A Crash Course in Economics

Economics is one of my favorite subjects to teach to high school students so I was excited when I saw that Crash Course is publishing a new series of videos about economics. The new course is not hosted by Hank or John Green. The new course is hosting by Adriene Hill from Marketplace and high school teacher Jacob Clifford. Their pacing is a bit more relaxed that the Green brothers' style which could be a good thing for many students.

The first video in the series provides an introduction to what the study of economics is and isn't. Opportunity cost is the first big concept covered in the video. The first video is embedded below.

The second video and the rest of the playlist is embedded below.

Click here for five good resources on teaching personal finance lessons.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Make Lesson Plans and Storyboards Pop With These New Guides

Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on

For the last couple of years Storyboard That has offered great guides to using storyboards in the classroom. The latest update to their Teacher Guides section includes new literature guides as well as guides for use in social studies and Spanish. A visit to the Teacher Guides section of Storyboard That reveals three new literature guides. Those guides are for teaching Stuart Little, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Frankenstein. You will also find a guide to teaching The Great Depression with storyboards and guide to teaching Spanish Direct Object Pronouns.

Storyboard That offers thousands of pieces of artwork that you can use in your storyboards. Much of that artwork includes posable characters and other customizable pieces. In a new blog post Storyboard That's Sarah Laroche explains and demonstrates how to take advantage of the artwork and customizations to create a eye-catching scenes in your storyboards.

In February I hosted a webinar all about the features of Storyboard That and ideas for using it in your classroom. The recording of that webinar is embedded below.

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