Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sushi, Gmail, and Kahoot

At the end of every month I like to take a look at the search terms visitors frequently use on Free Technology for Teachers. It gives me a sense of what people are interested in learning about. That information helps me brainstorm new blog posts for the next month. The three most commonly searched terms in Septmeber were "Gmail tips," "sushi monster," and "Kahoot." Here's some information related to all three of those terms.

Sushi Monster
Sushi Monster is a free iPad game from Scholastic that helps kids practice their addition and multiplication skills. This is the premise of Sushi Monster; students feed their Sushi Monsters by correctly choosing two numbers that when added or multiplied result in the number that the monster wants to eat. When the monster has been fully fed students move on to feeding a new monster. The video below provides a good demonstration of Sushi Monster in action.

Gmail Tips
Creating and using contact groups can save you a lot of time when you're sending messages to groups of parents, colleagues, or students. Watch the video below to learn how to create a contact group.

Use Gmail offline, unsend a message, reply all vs. reply:
Setting your Gmail account for offline use is easy and makes it easy for you to work on email even when you don't have a connection to the Internet.

Every once in a while you might hit "send" a bit too early. The undo send function can rescue you from that situation.

No one likes to be copied on a email thread when they don't need to be. Make sure you know when to use "reply all" and when not to use it.

In April Kahoot released a new team mode. The team mode is designed to be used with students who are sharing computers, tablets, or phones. In team mode students arrange themselves in teams around a shared computer or tablet. When you start a Kahoot game you'll now choose "team mode." With team mode selected your students will be prompted to enter a team name and a list of the team members. After the teams have entered their names you will be ready to start the game. One of the nice features of team mode is that students have time to discuss their answer choices before they are allowed to submit a response. From there the game is played and scored as any other Kahoot game is scored.

Kahoot's ghost mode essentially gives students the opportunity to play a Kahoot review game against themselves. In ghost mode students measure their progress against themselves. First, run a Kahoot game as you normally would. At the end of the game select "ghost mode" to run the game again. In ghost mode students play against their own scores from the previous game. Then when you run the game students will be competing against the "ghost" version of themselves from the previous running of the game. For example, I play a game as a student in the first running of a game then in the second running of the game I'll be competing against my previous score as well as those of my classmates.

One of the features of Kahoot that I frequently demonstrate in my workshops is the option to duplicate and edit quizzes that teachers have contributed to the public Kahoot quiz gallery. Duplicating and editing existing quizzes can save you a lot of time when you need to find a quick review activity for your students.

Wizer - Create & Share Interactive Writing & Drawing Assignments

Wizer is a great, free service that bills itself as a tool for creating "blended worksheets." While that is a fine a description I think it doesn't tell the whole story of what can be done through Wizer. Recently, Wizer added a new feature for creating interactive assignments. You can now ask students to draw responses to questions and prompts. These assignments, like all other Wizer assignments can be distributed through Google Classroom. Click here to try a Wizer drawing assignment.

Since it launched earlier this year Wizer has offered teachers the option to create interactive writing assignments in a couple of ways besides the aforementioned drawing option. You can create fill-in-the-blank activities that provide students with instant feedback as they work. The other style of writing assignment that you can create on Wizer is an interactive image assignment. You can upload an image and have students label it. As they write their labels they can receive feedback as to whether or not they labeled the image correctly. In that regard it is like Thinglink but with a quiz component.

In addition to writing activities, you can use Wizer to create multiple choice, matching, and open-ended question activities. All of the activities that you create on Wizer can be shared to your students through Google Classroom. If you do not have Google Classroom you can share your activities by giving students a link and an activity pin code.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Week in Review - A Costume Wedding

Good morning from Maine where I'm getting ready for my friend Josh's wedding later today. Since Josh and his fiance are fun-loving people and it's October, they've turned their wedding into a costume party. It should be fun for everyone.

As I do every weekend, I've put together a list of the most popular posts of the week. I do this to help you get caught up on interesting things you might have missed during the week. Creating the list also gives me an idea of what you might want to learn more about in the coming weeks.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Practical Ed Tech Handbook - Updated for 2016-17
2. 5 More Overlooked Google Slides Features Students Should Know
3. 5 Neat Things Students Can Do With Google Drawings
4. How to Create a Book Trailer Video
5. GameOn World - A Great, Multiplayer Geography Game
6. How to Use Voice Typing in Google Documents
7. Spend a Few Fall Evenings Learning New Tech Skills To Use In Your Classroom

Getting Going With GAFE, Teaching History With Technology, and Blogs & Social Media for Teachers will start in October. Graduate credits are available. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
Pixton provides a great way to create comics. 
SeeSaw is the best platform for creating digital portfolios with K-8 students. 
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.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explainer videos.

How to Use the New Explore Function in Google Slides

Earlier this week Google introduced a new feature to Google Slides, Docs, and Sheets that they are calling "Explore." The Explore function in Google Slides can help you find a better layout for each slide in your presentation, help you find previous work that you've done about the topic of your presentation, and help you find information from the web about your topic. In the video embedded below I provide a short overview of the new Explore function in Google Slides.

Click here to learn how to earn graduate credits while learning more about Google Apps for Education.

Other Places We Can Connect

I receive a healthy amount of requests on my personal Facebook account every week. I decline most of them because I like to keep my personal Facebook account for interactions with family and friends that I've interacted with in person in some significant way (working together, going to school together, sharing meals, etc). But there are other places where I am happy to connect with you.

We can connect on Twitter. I post there almost every hour of the day. I'm most active during the day (Eastern Time).

I'm on Instagram. I mostly post pictures of my dogs, my daughter, and trees.

I'm on LinkedIn. I update that sporadically.

The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page is updated a few times a day.

My YouTube channel has more than 400 ed tech tutorial videos.

If you want fewer updates from me, the Practical Ed Tech newsletter is sent out just once per week on Sunday evenings.

I also have a few Pinterest boards that I try to update when I remember to do so.

Finally, you can always send me an email at richardbyrne (at)