Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from the world headquarters in Woodstock, Maine. The sun is shining and it's a crisp 41F this morning. In other words, it's a perfect morning for walking in the woods with my dog, Max. Before we put on our blaze orange and head into the woods, I have this week's list of the most popular posts to share with you.

And just a quick reminder, if you want to receive this list as a weekly email, the once-per-week Practical Ed Tech newsletter contains this list too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Zing! - Thousands of Free eBooks for Students
2. 5 Research Tools Students Often Overlook
3. Three Ways of Assessing Students' Understanding Through Mobile Phones
4. 5 Great Ways You Can Use Google Sites With Students
5. 5 Stories Your Students Can Tell Through Maps
6. ReadWorks Offers a New Selection of Social Studies Articles for All Grades
7. 5 Five Google Forms Add-ons I Frequently Recommend

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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.
Lesley University offers online education programs for teachers.
PortfolioGen is a professional portfolio tool for teachers.  
Southeastern University offers online M.Ed programs.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Zing! - Thousands of Free eBooks for Students

Zing is a new service offering thousands of free fiction and non-fiction ebooks to teachers and students. On Zing you can browse for books by topic, language, or reading level. You can read the books in your web browser on a laptop or tablet.

Zing is more than just a repository of free ebooks. In the Zing reader students will find a built-in dictionary and tools for taking notes while they read.

Applications for Education
If you create an accounts on Zing you will be able to create Zing classrooms. In those classrooms you can create and manage accounts for students. Through your Zing classroom portal you can check your students' reading logs.

I like the potential that Zing is showing. I did find the registration process and initial set-up of a classroom to be a bit time intensive. To really unlock the full potential of Zing you would need to spend some time exploring all of the nuances of the service.

65 Videos About Google Apps

Over the last year I've made a concerted effort to organize playlists of the tutorial videos that I create and publish on YouTube. The most popular of those playlists is my collection of Google Apps tutorial videos. 65 videos are now in the playlist. In the playlist you will find tutorials on Google Sites, Blogger, YouTube tricks, Google Calendar settings, Google My Maps, Google Docs, Slides, Spreadsheets, and many other Google products. The playlist can be viewed here or you can view it as embedded below.

Hemingway Helps Students Analyze Their Writings

Hemingway is a free tool designed to help you analyze your writing. To use Hemingway, found at, just paste some text into the Hemingway editor and it will provide you with a bunch of information about that text. Hemingway highlights the parts of your writing that use passive voice, adverbs, and overly complex sentences. All of those factors are accounted for in generating a general readability score for your passage. The short video embedded below shows how easy it is to use to analyze your writing.

Applications for Education
Hemingway is the kind of tool that I like to have students use before exchanging papers with classmates for peer editing. Hemingway acts as a kind of "virtual peer" before the peer editing process. I would also have students use Hemingway before turning in their final drafts for a grade.

How to Map Spreadsheet Data in Google My Maps

One of the overlooked and or misunderstood features of Google My Maps is the option to import spreadsheet data. Provided that your spreadsheet contains at least one column that has location information in it, you can have the data in the spreadsheet displayed as placemarks on a map. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how this can be done.

Applications for Education
In the example in the video I asked people to complete a Google Form in which they shared the locations of happy events in their lives. The information collected through the Form was saved in a Google Spreadsheet that then was imported into a map. This was done to demonstrate that you could have students collaborate on the creation of data sets by having them enter data into a Google Form then map the data. You could use this method to have students create a data set about historical events, weather data recordings, or personal narratives as I did in the example in the video.