Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Week in Review - A New Family Member

Good morning from the Free Technology for Teachers World Headquarters in Woodstock, Maine. It's a beautiful late winter morning here. The sun is shining and the temperature is climbing. In other words, it's a great day to play with the newest member of my family. Mason is a nine year old German Shepherd and Golden Retriever mix that I adopted last Sunday. He came from the same shelter as his new brother Max and my old dog Morrison who passed away in September. As you can see in the picture, Mason is settling in nicely. Soon Mason will have his own email address of

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. My Favorite Internet Search Tips for Teachers & Students
2. Travel the Iditarod Race in Google Street View
3. Five Tools for Sharing Portions of Videos
4. Three Tools Students Can Use to Add Annotations to Videos
5. Perspecs Shows Students Three Sides to Every Story
6. 3 Google Docs Options First Time Users Often Ask About
7. The Contest for Human Flight - Interactive Timeline

Professional Development Opportunities!
There will be two Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps this year. There will be one tailored to schools that have 1:1 Chromebook programs and one for everyone else. Both Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps will be held in July. You can learn more about them here. Discounted early registration is available now. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp has sold out every year for the last three years.

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. 
Cloudschool is a great online LMS and course creation tool. 
Google Forms in the Classroom is a good book on all things Google Forms. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
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.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Cloudschool - Create & Distribute a Variety of Multimedia Courses

Cloudschool is a free service for creating and publishing multimedia lessons. In your free Cloudschool account you can create courses of study for your students. Within each course you can create and distribute multimedia lessons arranged in a variety of formats. You can create lessons that are purely text-based or you can create lessons that incorporate images, audio files, and videos. Into all lessons you can add discussion questions for your students to reply to within your Cloudschool course environment.

You can make your Cloudschool lessons public or private. If you have a lesson that only includes text and images, you can download your lesson as a PDF or DOC and print it to hand-out to your students.

Creating my first lesson in Cloudschool was a very intuitive and easy process. Watch the video embedded below to learn more about how Cloudschool works.

Disclosure: Cloudschool is currently an advertiser on

A Crash Course on Foreign Policy

Last fall PBS Digital Studios and Crash Course launched a series on government and politics. The 50th and last installment in the series is about foreign policy. The from trade to human rights to environmental concerns the video covers most facets of what foreign policy is and how governments interact with each other. The video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
As we move forward in the presidential campaign season (which seems to be longer than ever) we'll hear more about each candidate's stance on various foreign policy issues. This video could help students understand why foreign policy questions are asked during campaigns and debates.

Change Your Clock, Have a Heart Attack? - Daylight Saving Lessons

In most of North America this weekend we will be moving our clocks forward by one hour for Daylight Saving Time. Last night's edition of NBC Nightly News had an interesting story about the correlation between moving clocks forward by one hour and an increase in cases of heart attacks. The video of the story is embedded below.

After watching the story above your students may be wondering about the reasons for Daylight Saving Time. The following videos offer concise explanations of Daylight Saving Time.

And although it's not about daylight saving time, this TED-Ed lesson about the standardization of timezones is worth watching.

Three Helpful Google Docs Updates Released This Week

This week the Google Docs team released three updates. All three updates have potential to be useful in school settings.

First, Google Docs in your web browser and in the Android app now has a document outlining tool. The outline tool will recognize headers within your documents and create an outline based upon those headers and sub-headers. To access the outline tool select "Document outline" from the "Tools" drop-down menu within your document. It is important to note that in my testing of the new outline tool headings were note recognized by the outlining tool if I didn't write anything under the header.

The second Google Docs update of note for teachers is a new option to export your Google Documents to EPUB format. To do this simply select "download as" then choose "EPUB Publication" from the "File" drop-down menu in your Google Document. If you or your students are trying to create ebooks, using the EPUB option in Google Docs could be a good option for you. The problem you will be faced with after saving the EPUB is getting it onto a Kindle, iPad, or other e-reader. You can find directions for putting EPUBs on Kindles here. Directions for putting EPUBs on iPads can be found here.

The third Google Docs update that teachers might be interested in is the new option to select, copy, and paste content from the print screen in the Google Docs Android app.

Not Google Docs, but Google Slides for Android was also updated this week with support for formatting slides that read right to left instead of left to right.