Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Week in Review - On the Road Again

Good morning from Woodstock, Maine where the weather is clearing and it looks like it will be a great day. This weekend I'm hitting the road in two ways. First, I'm heading out on my bike. Second, I'm hitting the highway with some friends to go see Willie Nelson perform (I know, I was also  surprised to find that he's still touring). Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you have time to do something fun too.

This week I hosted a short series of webinars called Classroom Blog Jumpstart. A big thank you to the folks who joined me for those webinars. If you missed it, I will be offering a similar series again in September.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. The Practical Ed Tech Handbook - Download It Today
2. How to Quickly Create Vocabulary Lists from a Document
3. 5 Tools Students Can Use to Keep Track of Assignments This Year
4. Coordinate Back-to-School with Choice Eliminator and Google Forms
5. 135 Practical Ed Tech Tips
6. How Students Can Create Movies and Digital Posters With Artifacts from the National Archives
7. CNN Student News is Back for 2015-2016

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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.
HelloTalk is a mobile community for learning a new language.
MasteryConnect offers a series of apps for identifying standards. 
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.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Updated Comparison of Backchannel & Informal Assessment Tools

Last winter I published a series of charts in which I compared popular ed tech tools for things like blogging, informal assessment, and video production. As is to be expected in the tech world, some of the tools in those charts have changed. Therefore, I'm now going through each chart and updating it.

Yesterday, I published an update to my blogging platforms comparison chart. Today, I updated my chart comparing tools for backchannels and informal assessment. The most notable difference in this chart compared to the previous version is the removal of Infuse Learning which shut down in April and the addition of Formative. The updated chart can be seen as a PDF embedded below. You can get a Google Docs version of the chart here.

Copyright Lessons for Kids

Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright is a resource for kids produced by the Library of Congress. Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright is intended to help elementary school students understand the purposes and functions of copyright.

There are four sections to Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright. The first section, Copyright Exposed, features a short cartoon that explains how copyright protects artists. Files on Record, the second section, chronicles important historical developments in copyright law. The third section, Reading the Fine Print, answers common questions and addresses common myths about copyright laws. The last section, Steps to Copyright, instructs students on registering their own works for copyright protection.

Applications for Education
Copyright can be a difficult subject for some students to understand. That said, in a world filled with digital media, it is very important for students to learn how copyright affects them. Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright could be a great resource for introducing elementary school students to the regulations and rights associated with copyright.

Try This Handy Widget for Making Random Selections

Earlier this month I shared a method for selecting random names from a Google Sheet and in the past I've shared other random name selector tools. Those tools are great if you have names to enter. However, if you really want to randomly select people for a task or a prize, try using a random number selector from Using one of's widgets you can specify a range of numbers from which a random number will be generated each time someone clicks "generate" on the widget. Try a widget below.

Applications for Education
The next time you need to draw numbers for a PTA raffle or you need to assign numbers to students, give a try.

Remind Expands Chat Features to Parent Groups

Earlier this year Remind added a chat function to their popular SMS service. At first the function only applied to students and parents replying to your messages. Then in June it expanded to allow chat between teachers in the same school. This week Remind expanded the chat function again.

The latest update to Remind's chat function allows parents who are subscribed to the same class, let's say @mrbyrnehistory for example, to send messages to each other. The expanded chat function will not allow parents to send messages to students that are subscribed to the class.

Applications for Education
The latest update to Remind's chat function could be useful for parent groups like booster clubs and PTAs that are organizing events. The chat function is slightly more robust than using a standard group text message as parents can send receive messages through the Remind app, through SMS, or through email.

Learn more about Remind in the video playlist embedded below.

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