Sunday, March 20, 2016

5 Ideas for Using Google Sites in Your Classroom

Google Sites is a versatile and core aspect of Google Apps for Education. At first glance you might think that it is just a website creation tool. The more time you spend using Google Sites the more you'll discover about how it can be used in your classroom. Here are five ways that I'e used Google Sites over the years.

1. As a wiki: Google Sites can be used as a wiki if you share your site with others and invite them to be editors. As a teacher you could start a site then add your students as owners or editors on the site. If you add them as owners they will be able to start new pages. If you add them as editors they will only be allowed to edit existing pages. You can also use the page-level permissions option to allow students to only edit the pages that you grant them access to.

2. As a digital portfolio: Google Sites can be used by students to create digital portfolios featuring their best works and accomplishments. I would encourage high school students to develop a digital portfolio that they can share with university admissions officers. Teachers should also consider developing a digital portfolio of their best lesson plans, credentials, and references to include when they apply for teaching positions.

3. As a digital file cabinet: If you have PDFs, Word files, or other documents that you want your students to be able to easily download, consider using the File Cabinet option in Google Sites. By creating a File Cabinet page you provide a place for those files to be easily accessed. You might also consider putting up a File Cabinet page for forms like permission slips that parents need to access.

4. As a blog: Use the Announcements template to create a blog page within your Google Sites. You can update the blog or make the blog page collaborative and let your students contribute to a class blog.

5. As a website: I left the most obvious option for last. If you need to create a place where parents and students can come to find important information about your course(s) or your school, Google Sites provides all of the tools for that. Incorporate a blog element (see #4 above) for posting updates and use the rest of the pages to house information that doesn't change that often. You can also incorporate a file cabinet (see #3 above) to post forms for parents to download. And if you're using Google Calendar, you can easily add a calendar of events to any page in your Google Site.

Topics like this one and many others will be covered in-depth during the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp on July 18th and 19th. Discounted early registration is available now. Discounted group registration is also available now. Click here for more information.

Three Ways to Save Ink & Paper When You Print

Take a look around a network printer in most schools and you'll find a pile of discarded paper. That discarded paper is often the result of someone printing way more than they needed to. For example, I once caught a student printing all 33 pages of an article when all he really wanted was about two paragraphs out of the article. It was then that I decided that I needed to teach my students about conserving paper when they print.

The easiest way to save paper is to simply make sure that you're only printing what you need. When the print dialogue box pops-up select a specific page or two to print rather than using the default "print all pages" found on most printers.

Printliminator is a handy little bookmarklet for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. Printliminator allows you to highlight a webpage and select only the elements which you wish to print. You can install Printliminator in seconds by just clicking and dragging it into your browser's toolbar. Watch the video below to see how it works.


Evernote users can use the Evernote web clipper to save and print articles that have sidebar content removed from them. To use this option simply open the Evernote web clipper in your browser then select "simplified article."

Saturday, March 19, 2016

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

Good morning from the FreeTech4Teachers.com 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 FreeTech4Teachers.com. 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 FreeTech4Teachers.com and the FreeTech4Teachers Facebook page followed by, "I don't always have time keep up with it." To solve that problem I started the PracticalEdTech.com 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 PracticalEdTech.com newsletter includes my tip of the week and the links to that week's most popular posts on FreeTech4Teachers.com. The newsletter is sent out only once per week on Sunday evening (Eastern Standard Time). Click here to subscribe to the PracticalEdTech.com newsletter. And if you don't need another email in your inbox, you can simply visit PracticalEdTech.com 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 PracticalEdTech.com. Subscribers can also get a discount on the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps. Email me at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com for more information on the discounts.