Saturday, May 28, 2016

Summer Online PD Opportunities With Me

The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps have sold out, but there are other ways to learn with me this summer. This summer I'm offering three online PD courses for teachers. Two of those courses include a graduate credit option. You can bookmark the menu of courses here or read on for more information.

Getting Going With GAFE

Getting Going With GAFE is a webinar series designed for teachers and administrators who are new to using Google Apps for Education. Getting Going With GAFE is a five week course covering everything you need to know to integrate Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Calendar, and Google Sites into your practice. Click here to learn more about the course including how to earn 3 graduate credits.

Summer section: July 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th, and August 2nd at 7pm Eastern Time. Click here to register

Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders

Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders is a five week webinar series during which teachers and school administrators will learn the how to choose the best blogging platform for their situations, how to set-up a blog for classroom and school-wide use, and learn about strategies on how to manage blogs in classroom and school-wide settings. Participants will also learn how to avoid the mistakes that often lead to blogging endeavors being abandoned.  After establishing blogs we’ll jump into using social networks like Twitter, Google+, and Instagram to reach out to parents, students, and other members of school communities. Click here to learn more about the course including how to earn 3 graduate credits.

Summer section dates: July 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th, and August 4th at 7pm EST. Click here to register

Teaching History With Technology 

In Teaching History With Technology you will learn how to develop engaging and challenging learning activities through the use tools like Google Earth and Maps, video production tools, primary source databases, and how to help your students become better researchers. This course features three interactive online meetings along with a discussion forum in which you can further interact with me and your classmates. See the course highlights here.

Summer section dates: July 11th, 18th, and 25th at 7pm EST. Click here to register.

Discounts!

Subscribers to the Practical Ed Tech Newsletter can receive a discount on the registration for any or all of these courses by using the code "subscriber" during online registration.

Schedule a private webinar for your school. If you have ten or more teachers from the same district interested in a webinar, I can schedule a course tailored to your needs. To schedule a webinar series for your school send me an email richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com

The Week in Review - A Leisurely Breakfast at Home

Good morning from the Byrne Instructional Media, LLC headquarters in Woodstock, Maine. As I sit on my deck I can tell that it is going to be a beautiful weekend to play and relax in the outdoors. In fact, my dogs and I are going to do just that by going camping this weekend. Before we can do that I have to finish a couple of blog posts and Mason needs to finish his breakfast. As you can see in the picture to the left, he wasn't in a hurry to eat this morning. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you have time to relax just like Mason.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. 4 Google Apps Updates You Might Have Missed Last Week
2. 12 Tools for Creating End-of-Year Review Activities
3. 10 Sites and Apps for Vocabulary and Spelling Practice
4. How to Create Images, Videos, and Web Pages With Adobe Spark
5. 10 Ways to Use Adobe Spark in School
6. Interactive Maps of Travel Through the Roman Empire
7. Thousands of Free eBooks for Summer Reading

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. 
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. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

10 Sites and Apps for Vocabulary and Spelling Practice

Last night I watched the conclusion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. A recap of the finals is available on the Associated Press YouTube channel. Like many others who watched the finals, I have to admit that there were some new-to-me words in the final rounds. That reminded me that I have a bunch of sites and apps in my archives that can help students learn new vocabulary words and practice spelling new words.

Stumpy’s Alphabet Dinner is a fun app in which students feed letters and shapes to cartoon characters. The letters and shapes that students feed to the characters have to match the letter or shape displayed on the character’s stomach. If the child makes an incorrect match the character spits out the letter.

Building Language for Literacy offers three nice little language activities from Scholastic. The activities are designed for pre-K and Kindergarten students. The spelling activity is called  Leo Loves to Spell. Leo Loves to Spell asks students to help a lobster named Leo identify the first letter of a series of spelling words arranged in a dozen categories.

Spell Up is a fun Google Chrome experimentSpell Up is a game in which you hear a prompt to spell a word then have to speak into your laptop or Chromebook to see the word spelled on your screen. If you spell the word correctly it stays on the screen where it becomes part of a tower of words. If you spell a word incorrectly, it will fall off the screen and you will be prompted to try again (you can skip a word after a few tries).

Knoword is a fun and challenging game that tests your ability to match definitions to words. Knoword is played like this; you're presented with the first letter of a word, its part of speech, and the definition. You then have to fill in the correct spelling of the word. If you enter the correct word, you earn points. If you don't get it right, you lose points. You don't have to register to play Knoword, but you can register if you want to. Registering for Knoword gives you the option to keep track of your game statistics. Registered users can also earn badges based on their performances. In the few games that I played I noticed that Knoword is probably best suited to use by students in middle school and high school. I think many of the words would be too difficult for elementary school students and they could end up frustrated with the game.

Your students can test their spelling skills against those of past winners of the Scripp's National Spelling Bee on Vox's Spell It Out challenge. Vox's spelling challenge presents you with the final winning words from twenty past national spelling bees. You will hear the word pronounced then you have to type it in the spelling box to submit your answer. Before submitting your answer you can hear the word used in a sentence and see the origin of the word.

WordWriter is a neat writing tool from BoomWriter. WordWriter allows teachers to create vocabulary lists that they want students to incorporate into a writing assignment. Assignments are distributed directly to students through the class lists that teachers create in their BoomWriter accounts. Students do not need email addresses to receive the assignments. Teachers can log-in at any time to see if and when a student has completed an assignment. Click here for videos on how to use the service.

World’s Worst Pet is a free iPad app that contains a series of fun vocabulary games. In the app players have to help bring home Snargg, the world’s worst pet, who has run away. To get Snargg back players have to fill his food dish by learning new vocabulary words. Each of the six levels in the game contain ten dishes (each dish represents a new set of words) that can be filled. Four games are available for each dish. The games are fill-in-the-blank, synonym identification, antonym identification, and definition identification. World’s Worst Pet is designed for students in grades four through eight. The app contains a total of 1,000 vocabulary words.

PrepFactory is a free service for high school students can use to prepare for the SAT and or ACT. PrepFactory offers students a series of tutorial videos and written tips to help them prepare for both tests. After completing a tutorial students can test themselves in a series of practice questions. Each question set is timed and and limited to chunks of ten questions at a time. Students can earn badges for completing tutorials or question sets. Click here for video of PrepFactory in action.

Spell 'til You Drop is a free iPad published by McGraw-Hill. To play the game students have to correctly spell words as they are read aloud to them. The app gets its name from the game format used throughout the app. For each correctly spelled word students move across a footbridge. For each word spelled incorrectly a piece of the bridge drops away. The object is to cross each bridge before it collapses.Spell 'til You Drop offers eight levels of difficulty for students to play. The levels are loosely based on grade levels. One complaint about the app is that it lacks a QWERTY keyboard. Students who are familiar with QWERTY keyboards may be frustrated by searching for letters in Spell 'til You Drop's letter bank.

Flippity offers a great template for creating spelling practice activities for your students. Using Google Spreadsheets you can create an activity in which students hear a word read aloud then have to type it correctly into a quiz form. Students receive instant feedback on their practice attempts. A demo of the Flippity spelling practice activity is available here.

Disclosure: Prep Factory and Boom Writer are advertisers on FreeTech4Teachers.com.

How to Use Flippity and Flickr to Create Sets of Image-based Writing Prompts

Flippity is a great service that offers a handful of templates for creating flashcards, random name selectors, Jeopardy games, and progress trackers in Google Sheets. This morning I was thinking about ways to create writing prompt generators when I realized that Flippity's flashcard template could be used to create sets of image-based and text-based writing prompts too. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to use Flippity and Flickr together to create sets of image-based writing prompts.


Applications for Education
One of the biggest challenges that some students face when tasked with writing a fiction story is coming up with an idea to start a story. Flipping through a set of images and text can be a good way to find some inspiration for a story. By creating the set of prompts with images you've selected, you can control the type of images and phrases that your students will see in the writing prompts.

If using Flippity and Flickr seems too difficult, take a look at these resources for more writing prompt generators to use with your students.


The Origin and Meaning of Memorial Day

Memorial Day is on Monday. Here are a couple of quick resources that you may want to include in a lesson about Memorial Day.

The Meaning of Memorial Day is a two minute video covering the origins of the holiday in the United States. The video is embedded below.



The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers the following video overview of the history of Memorial Day.


For more resources for teaching about Memorial Day, visit Larry Ferlazzo's list of resources.