Monday, October 12, 2015

DEN Fall VirtCon - A Great, Online PD Event

Every fall Discovery Education hosts a virtual conference that is open to the world. The DEN Fall VirtCon is a blended online and physical conference. This year's event is happening on October 24th. You can participate virtually as I did last year or attend one of the physical events organized in locations all over North America.

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of giving one of the keynotes for Discovery's DEN Fall VirtCon. That year the theme was open resources. This year the theme of the DEN Fall VirtCon is Literacies for the Digital Age.  The event will feature presentations packed with tips, tricks, and treats for teaching digital literacy.

Click here to register and learn more about the DEN Fall VirtCon.

The Magic of the Chrome App Launcher

This is a guest post from Avra Robinson (@AvraRachel) of EdTechTeacher, an advertiser on this site.

chrome_app_launcher_ios_7_like_icon_by_sandiskplayer34-d6pv4z3The Chrome App Launcher is a more powerful tool than many people realize. Accessed from the taskbar in Windows, the dock in Mac, or the shelf on a Chromebook, the launcher does much more than simply launch applications. It can streamline workflow and increase efficiency by organizing apps, answering simple math or conversion questions, or doing a thorough search of a user’s Chrome world.Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 5.50.05 PM

Apps span onto several pages in the Launcher; however, when grouped together by dragging and dropping them onto each other, “folders” are created, which can eliminate the need for multiple pages in the Launcher. A simple math problem can be typed into the Launcher’s search bar at the top, and the answer will appear without ever needing to hit enter or heading to another window. Likewise, conversion questions such as, “How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?” can also be answered within the Launcher. Additionally, by using the search bar, a complete search of browsing history, contacts, apps, or the Chrome Web Store can be completed.

Classroom Applications

With schools all over the country adopting Google Chromebooks, Google Apps for Education, and the Chrome Web Browser, this increasingly robust aspect of the system creates a simple way for students and teachers to streamline workflow. With just a few clicks, a student can easily search the web or their browsing history to discover the answer to an inquiry. Frequently used applications can be bookmarked and accessed in the App Launcher and then grouped for efficiency. Just the process of categorizing apps into folders is a skill that will help students become more organized.

You can learn more about Chrome and Google Apps this year at an EdTechTeacher Jamboree. I will be a featured presenter at the December 4th event at Medfield High School in Massachusetts. EdTechTeacher also has a number of tutorials and resources available on their web site.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good evening from a plane in the sky somewhere over North Carolina. I'm on my way to work with Vicki Davis and the teachers at her school in Georgia on Monday. I'm flying down a day early to spend time with Vicki's lovely family. If you're not familiar with Vicki's work, take a look at her Cool Cat Teacher blog.

Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you have some fun things planned for yourself too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Write Music in Google Documents
2. My 5 Favorite Google Sheets Add-ons & How to Use Them
3. Zing! - Thousands of Free eBooks for Students
4. Historical Investigations for Students to Complete
5. 7 Highlights from The Practical Ed Tech Handbook
6. Four Visual Dictionaries and a Thesaurus for Kids
7. Bizarre Borders - Fun Geography and History Lessons

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference?
Click here to learn about my professional development services. 

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.

Create a Digital Portfolio on PortfolioGen

Disclosure: PortfolioGen is currently an advertiser on

PortfolioGen is a nice digital portfolio service for students and teachers. Teachers can use PortfolioGen to create a professional portfolio that includes examples of their lesson plans and media they've created. Of course, PortfolioGen pages can also be used to display all of the information like education and certification that would be found on resume.  PortfolioGen pages can include contact forms for potential employers to use to get in touch with teachers.

Students can use PortfolioGen to display examples of their best work in text, visual, and audio format. Students using PortfolioGen as part of a college entrance application can display things like references from teachers and employers.

If you decide to use PortfolioGen portfolio primarily for text and static visual content, you may be interested in the option to download your portfolio as a PDF.

How to Share Videos Through Google Drive

Google Drive is an incredibly useful tool for storing and sharing files even if they have been created outside of the Google Apps suite. I use it to store screencast videos that I've created. I also use it to store video clips that I've recorded on my mobile phone. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Google Drive to store and share video files.

Applications for Education
On a fairly regular basis I am asked for recommendations on how to privately share videos without using YouTube. Storing your video files on Google Drive makes it easy privately share videos with students and their parents.

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