Saturday, August 6, 2016

PrepFactory - Free SAT & ACT Prep Activities

As autumn approaches many high school students in the United States will turn their attention to college applications and the SAT or ACT exams. Some students' parents will spend lots of money on test prep materials and or tutors. But students don't have to spend money to access excellent SAT and ACT preparation materials.

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

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where I'm having a relaxing morning while watching the Olympic cycling road race. I'm looking forward to watching the archery team matches later today too because 20 years ago I trained in that sport at the USOC training center California. Reading NBC's webpage about archery reminded me that you should always fact-check what you read on a website. NBC's page about archery is riddled with errors.

On a somber note, this week the world lost one of the true pioneers of educational technology. Dr. Seymour Papert passed away last Saturday. I never personally met Dr. Papert, but his mindstorm, Logo, introduced me to educational technology when I was an elementary school student. Dr. Gary Stager wrote a tribute that beautifully summarizes Dr. Papert's contributions to the world.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Three Good Ways to Use Word Clouds With Students
2. 10 Sites and Apps for Vocabulary and Spelling Practice
3. Evernote's Free Plan Is Almost Worthless - Here Are Two Good Alternatives
4. Owl Eyes Offers a Good Way to Guide Students Through Classic Literature
5. Handy Web Tools That Solve Three Problems for Every Classroom
6. A New Lesson Plan Tool for Google Docs
7. Try DropItToMe to Collect Files from Students and Colleagues

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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.
D2L offers a great LMS and they want your input to make it even better.
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, August 5, 2016

How to Create Video Quizzes on Vizia

Last week I shared some information about a new video quiz creation tool called Vizia. Since then I've received some questions about how it actually works. To address those questions I created the short video that is embedded below.

As mentioned in the video, all of the responses to your questions are collected in a spreadsheet that you can download and or open in Google Sheets. Once the responses are in Google Sheets you could use the Flubaroo Add-on to grade the responses to your quiz.

Applications for Education
Vizia could be a good tool to use to create short flipped video lessons in which you ask questions to check for understanding. One way that I might use it is to put a campaign commercial into the Vizia editor then create questions that ask students to identify the persuasion techniques that are used in the commercial.

The Value of Add-ons and Systems

Back in June when Google launched the new quizzes feature in Google Forms I saw plenty of people Tweeting things about the evils of multiple choice. Many of those same people accused Google and bloggers like me of perpetuating the evil practice of using multiple choice. The trouble with Twitter is that people often read just a headline and respond to it. Or they respond out of context without looking at the full picture. (That's one of the reasons why I don't often get involved in Twitter chats, but that's a topic for another blog post).

Here's where tools like Google Forms' quiz mode, Add-ons like Flubaroo, and other simple quiz systems like Formative have value for me and many other educators. A short multiple choice quiz that gives students instant or near instant feedback can be one part of giving you and your students an opportunity to see what they know about a topic before embarking on a new unit of study. Those same little quizzes can be used by students as a review tool to help identify what they need to spend more time reviewing. By using the instant feedback mechanisms in tools like Google Forms' quiz mode, Flubaroo, and Formative students don't need to wait for me to mark all of their responses and return them. And by having the grading done nearly instantaneously, I have more time to sit with students in one-on-one or small group settings. That meeting time is also used more effectively because the students and I already have a list of the area(s) in which we need to focus.

On a related note, if you're wondering how to use Google Forms' quiz mode, I made a video about it which you can find on my YouTube channel or watch as embedded below.

More Than 11,000 People Get Their Ed Tech Tips This Way

Keeping up with changes in the educational technology landscape can feel like a daunting task. Heck, even keeping up with the blog posts that I publish on Free Technology for Teachers can feel like a lot to do. That's why in January of 2014 I launched the Practical Ed Tech weekly newsletter.

The Practical Ed Tech newsletter is sent out just once per week on Sunday evening (depending on your timezone). The newsletter features one of my favorite ed tech tips and also includes a list of the most popular posts of the week from Free Technology for Teachers. It provides a quick and easy way to get informed about the latest cool tools and tips in the ed tech world.

You can sign up here to join more than 11,000 educators who get their ed tech news through the Practical Ed Tech newsletter.