Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts of the Week

Good morning from the World Headquarters in Woodstock, Maine. A week of 50f weather had me thinking about the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps. A few more early bird registrations came in this week. These are going to be great days of hands-on learning with small groups of dedicated teachers. I hope you can join us.

Thanks to everyone who sent me nice notes this week about my new addition to the family, Mason the dog. 

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Three Helpful Google Docs Updates Released This Week
2. 3 Tips for Using YouTube Videos In Your Classroom
3. Literature Map Helps You Find Authors You Might Like
4. AC/DC and Other Lessons on Electricity
5. Cloudschool - Create & Distribute a Variety of Multimedia Courses
6. Three Google Slides Features New Users Often Ask About
7. PrepFactory Helps Students Prepare for the SAT & ACT

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.

More Than 40 Alternatives to YouTube

3 Tips for Using YouTube Videos in Your Classroom was one of the most popular posts of the week on Those tips are all well and good if you can access YouTube in your classroom. If you cannot access YouTube in your classroom then you will want to consult my list of more than 40 alternatives to YouTube. Over the years I've updated the list as new sites emerged and old ones shut down. The list includes a search engine for videos that are not on YouTube.

If you do have access to YouTube in your school, consider using tools like ViewPure and Watchkin to display videos without showing the "related" videos comments from YouTube.

9,500 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 have time keep up with it." To solve that problem I started the newsletter. More than 9,500 people now receive 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 Subscribers can also get a discount on the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps. Email me at richardbyrne (at) for more information on the discounts. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Three Tips for Planning Video Projects

I love video projects because the entire process of developing project ideas, creating the video, and sharing the video engages almost all students. Over the years I have helped hundreds (maybe thousands) of students and teachers create videos in their classrooms. If you haven't tried making videos with your students or you have and it didn't go as you hoped it would have, here are three of my favorite tips for planning video projects.

1. Keep it short and sweet. 
A 90 second video that is well planned and edited can pack a lot of punch. By putting a time limit on the final product you are asking students to really think about what is important in the story they are telling or the points they are trying to convey.

2. Make students draft an outline before they touch any video editing tools. 
By making my students draft an outline before they started to use any video production tools I was able to help them focus on identifying the purposes of their videos. Their outlines should include a list of the B-roll footage they might want to use, types of background images they want to use, sound effects they might add, a narration script if necessary, and a dialogue script if necessary. All outlines should identify what the students are trying to demonstrate through the production of their videos.

3. Identify what you're going to assess.
It can be easy to get distracted by a good-looking video and forget that we are trying to assess what our students have learned or are trying to demonstrate to us. For that reason I always outline what it is I am looking for in a final video and I share that outline with my students. Some of the things that I've assessed in video projects in my social studies classes include understanding of sequence of events, understanding of cause and effect of events, understanding a diversity of view points, and use of persuasive arguments.

Topics like this one and many others will be covered in-depth during the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp on July 11th and 12th. Discounted early registration is available now. Discounted group registration is also available now. Click here for more information.

Three Ways to Share Your Screen and Lend Tech Help

From time to time you may find yourself in need of a quick way to share your screen remotely. Sharing your screen with students can be a good way to walk them through an application or give them a virtual presentation. Likewise, screen sharing can be useful for professional development in which you're introducing colleagues to the ins and outs of program. Here are three free options for screen sharing. is a free service offered by Log Me In. allows Mac and Windows users to quickly share their screens with each other and work together. To use you do need to download the client. Once you've downloaded the client you can start sharing your screen with anyone you like. Just give your nine digit access number to your collaborators to give them access to your screen and to converse with you.

Screen Leap is a free screen sharing service. To share your screen using Screen Leap just visit the site, click "share your screen," enable the Java applet, and send the sharing code to the person you want to view your screen. The person receiving your invitation code will be able to see your screen when you have Screen Leap activated.

Google+ Hangouts offer an easy way to share your screen with other Google+ users. To get started just go to then launch your video Hangout. Invite people to join your Hangout. Once they have joined you can share your screen by selecting the screen sharing option from the menu in the upper-right corner of your Hangout screen.