Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New File Notifications in the Google Drive Mobile Apps

The Google Drive Android and iOS apps have come a long way in the last year. The latest update to the apps makes it easier to know when someone has shared a file with you. Now when someone shares a file with you, you will receive a notification on your Android or iOS device. You will not need to check your email to see these notifications.

Just like the latest version of the Google Drive mobile apps makes it easier to know when something is share with you, it is now easier to know when someone has requested access to a file. Whenever someone requests access to one of your Google Drive files you will receive a notification on your iOS or Android device. And you can grant or deny access with just one tap on your device.

Applications for Education
These updates won't drastically change the way that you and your students use the Google Drive mobile apps, they simply make it easier to know when files are shared. Receiving those notifications could be helpful to students working on group projects. Likewise, receiving those notifications could be convenient for teachers and administrators working on time-sensitive documents or presentations.

XtraMath Helps Teachers Help Students Learn Math in Six Languages

XtraMath is a nice service designed to help teachers and parents help their students learn basic mathematics. The service provides an online environment in which students complete practice activities that are recorded and shared with teachers and parents. Teachers can create classroom accounts in which each child has his or her own log-in credentials. Parents can also be given log-in credentials to see how their children are progressing.

Recently, XtraMath added some new features including support for six languages (English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese). Videos with American Sign Language will soon be available in XtraMath too. From your teacher account you can now sort reports according to mastery scores in XtraMath.

Learn more about XtraMath in the videos below.

XtraMath Overview from XtraMath on Vimeo.

XtraMath in the Classroom from XtraMath on Vimeo.

Applications for Education 
XtraMath does not remove the need for students to learn directly from teachers and parents. It's not trying to be like Khan Academy. The purpose of XtraMath is to help teachers and parents monitor the progress that their students are making and prepare lessons that meet students where they are.

More Than 8,000 Teachers Get Their Ed Tech Tips This Way

Every month I hear nice compliments from readers of and the FreeTech4Teachers Facebook page followed by, "I don't always keep up with it." To solve that problem, last year I started the newsletter. More than 8,000 people are now receiving that newsletter in their inboxes on Sunday evening or Monday morning (depending on where they live).

The newsletter includes my tip of the week and the links to that week's most popular posts on The newsletter is sent out only once per week on Sunday evening (Eastern Standard Time). Click here to subscribe to the newsletter. And if you don't need another email in your inbox, you can simply visit to see the same information.

As a bonus for subscribers to the newsletter I give a discount on the popular online courses that I teach through

GroupTing Makes It Easy to Coordinate Classroom Events and Volunteers

We're starting to get into the time of the school year in which a lot of elementary schools will be having special events like classroom parties and PTA fundraisers. As anyone who has tried to organize those kind of events can tell you, it can become a time-consuming task to get everything coordinated. GroupTing is a free service that makes it easy to coordinated events and volunteers. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to organize an event in GroupTing.

This video is number 165 in my playlist of Practical Ed Tech Tips.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Create Great Visual Stories on Adobe Slate

Earlier this year Adobe released a free iPad app called Adobe Slate. Adobe Slate is a free app that you can use to create image-based stories. This week, Adobe launched a browser-based version of Adobe Slate.

The browser-based version of Adobe Slate is designed to help you create a visual story from the pictures on your desktop, from the web through a built-in Creative Commons search tool, from an Adobe online account, or from a Dropbox account. You start your story by importing a cover picture and writing story title. You then add pictures one-by-one and write captions for each. You can also write headlines for each image. One convenient feature of Adobe Slate is that the integrated image search tool will import Creative Commons attributions with the images you select. Adobe Slate has a dozen or so filters or themes that you can apply to your story. Completed stories can be published online through a variety of channels including Adobe’s platform, Facebook, or Twitter. Stories can also be embedded into a blog post as I've done below.

My dog, Max

Applications for Education
Adobe Slate is a nice tool, but it doesn’t stand out as being any better than Storehouse, Tackk, Haiku Deck or any number of similar options. All of those tools and Adobe Slate provide a nice way for students to share the highlights of a personal story or share the highlights of an online research activity.