Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good evening from Maine where Max, Mason, and I are still disappointed with the outcome of last two Red Sox games. But as true Red Sox fans we know that they'll come back tomorrow and beat the Yankees. In the meantime we're enjoying a nice sunset view from my back deck. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope you have time for a relaxing evening. And Happy Mother's Day to my mother, Kathy, and to all mothers reading this blog.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Tony Vincent Teaches Us How to Make Great Illustrations
2. 11 Google Apps Updates You Might Have Missed This Month
3. A Great Explanation of Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources
4. Schedule Assignments in Google Classroom
5. How to Use the New Q&A and Laser Pointer Features of Google Slides
6. Stackup - Create & Track Reading Goals for You and Your Students
7. An Animated Tour of the Water Cycle and Water Treatment

Spring and Summer PD Opportunities With Me
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. 
FreshGrade is a great online digital portfolio tool. 
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.
FrontRow offers adaptive online ELA and Math practice activities.  
Teach n Go is a comprehensive platform for teaching online courses.
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.
Buncee offers a great tool for creating visual stories. 

4 Google Apps for Education Updates You Might Have Missed This Week

It seems like this spring Google is rolling out three or new Google Apps features every week. Last month they added 11 new features. This week three new features were added and one big feature was teased.

This week Google added an awesome Q&A feature to Google Slides. The Q&A feature is found in the revamped presentation mode of Google Slides. With the Q&A feature enabled you can send your audience to a specific URL at which they enter questions. Your audience can vote for their favorite questions.

This week's other update to Google Slides was the addition of a "laser pointer" feature in the presentation mode. That feature allows you to highlight portion of your slides for your audience.

Watch the video below to learn how the new laser pointer and Q&A features work in Google Slides.

A frequently requested feature was added to Google Classroom earlier this week. That feature is the option to schedule assignments and announcements to appear in your classroom stream at a later time. The video embedded below shows you how to do this.

Finally, this week Google announced that by this coming fall (in the Northern Hemisphere) you will be able to invite parents to view a digest of updates to your Google Classroom stream. This should make it much easier to keep parents informed of assignments and announcements.

Join Getting Going With GAFE to learn how to get the most out of these features and many more. The next class begins on Tuesday evening. It's one of three courses that I'm offering this spring and summer.

ReadWorks Introduces ReadWorks Digital for Sharing Reading Assignments With Students

ReadWorks is a great service that I've featured in at least twenty blog posts since it launched a few years ago. ReadWorks offers free standards-aligned reading lesson plans for K-12 classrooms. In addition to lesson plans ReadWorks offers a huge libray of fiction and non-fiction literature that you can search according to topic and grade level. All articles in ReadWorks are listed with a lexile score and suggested grade level.

Next week ReadWorks is launching ReadWorks Digital. ReadWorks Digital is a service that will allow you to send reading assignments to students, have them take short quizzes about those reading assignments, and grade the assignments online. This is a departure from how ReadWorks currently works as you currently have to print all assignments or email them as PDF attachments. Watch the video below to learn more about ReadWorks digital and check back here next week for complete tutorial on the service.

Applications for Education
One of the aspects of ReadWorks that I like is that lexile scores are listed for each article. ReadWorks makes it easy to find fiction and non-fiction articles that are appropriate for your students.

With a free ReadWorks account you can search for lessons and reading passages by grade level, lexile score, reading skill, subject area, and text type (fiction or non-fiction). In your ReadWorks account you can create digital binders of the lesson plans and reading passages that you want to use.

Friday, May 6, 2016

How to Schedule Assignments & Announcements in Google Classroom

Earlier this week Google added a frequently requested feature to Google Classroom. That feature is scheduling of assignments and announcements to appear in your Classroom stream at a later date and time. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to schedule an assignment in Google Classroom. The video also points out a scheduling mistake that I think a lot of people will make the first few times they attempt to schedule an assignment.

Learn how to get the most out of Google Apps for Education in my online course Getting Going With GAFE. The next class begins on Tuesday.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

An Overview of PrepFactory - Free SAT & ACT Prep

PrepFactory is a free service that offers excellent SAT and ACT preparation activities. The site offers free guides to SAT and ACT strategy along with a plenty of review activities to help students sharpen their skills and knowledge before taking the ACT or SAT. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of a student's perspective of PrepFactory.

Applications for Education
One of the better ways to prepare for a test is to review small chunks frequently. PrepFactory provides students with a good review system that breaks SAT and ACT review into bite-sized modules for each of the topics on the tests; each module contains a 3-5 minute video, notes on the video, and a five question video review quiz.

The modules help to identify problem areas for students. PrepFactory also provides tools to allow teachers to manage their classes by keeping track of how many modules their students have completed, and whether or not they've mastered strategy tips and tricks related to the SAT and ACT.

Disclosure: PrepFactory is an advertiser on