Sunday, February 12, 2017

Practical Ed Tech Handbook - 2017 Edition

In 2015 and 2016 I published a 30 page PDF that I called the Practical Ed Tech Handbook. Those have been accessed more than 100,000 times. Today, I revised the Practical Ed Tech Handbook for 2017. Within the pages of the 30 page document you will find short reviews of my favorite tools for creating videos, the best tools communicating with parents including blogging and text messaging, and my favorite options for creating digital portfolios. The Practical Ed Tech Handbook also includes reviews of tools for recording and publishing audio files and tools for conducting formative assessments. Finally, the Practical Ed Tech Handbook includes resources for teaching digital citizenship and for helping students improve their web search skills.

The free Practical Ed Tech Handbook can be downloaded here or through the display embedded below.

The file is hosted on If your school blocks you won't be able to see the embedded display. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Snowy Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from snowy Maine where we're getting ready for the third snowstorm of the week. "Getting ready" for a snowstorm for me means making sure the snowshoes and skis are ready to go. Whether you're preparing for a snowstorm, basking in warm sunshine, or somewhere in between, I hope that you have a fun and relaxing weekend.

Speaking of weather, it might be snowy here now, but will be warm and sunny this summer when I host the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp and the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp.The first registrations were received this week. I hope that you can join us.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. How to Insert Videos Into Google Slides Without Using YouTube
2. 21 Tools for Conducting Digital Formative Assessments
3. 7 Places to Find Free Music & Sound Effects for Multimedia Projects
4. My Five Most Frequently Recommended Google Forms Add-ons
5. Tutorials to Help You Get Started Creating Apps in Your Classroom
6. How to Make Your YouTube Videos Interactive
7. 4 Audio Editing Tools for Chromebooks - A Comparison Chart

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.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
Math Playground offers hundreds of math games and tutorial videos. 
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.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosts workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

Videos With Little (and Not So Little) Kiddos

This is a guest post from Rushton Hurley, the founder of Next Vista for Learning and the author of Making Your School Something Special.

For many of us, student videos call to mind secondary, or perhaps upper elementary students putting together some creative thought about their learning.

Art teacher Tricia Fuglestad worked with her kindergartners to come up with messages about how to be kind. The result is a nice example of giving young students an understanding of their ability to share their voice, and perhaps even a sense of the responsibility that comes from that ability.

How I Can Be Kind

An interesting application of a video like this one is to have older students explain how the video would be different if they were to make it. What have they learned that would recognize a greater complexity in the world than kindergarten students tend to understand?

For older elementary students or middle schoolers, this could be about understanding what may be affecting the person to whom one is being kind. In high school classes, it could serve as a discussion about political messages within video and stories of kindness.

What might you do with this video or one like it?

Dotstorming Adds New Features and Limits Free Plan

Dotstorming is a good tool for gathering ideas from a group and then having the group members vote on those ideas. I have introduced Dotstorming to hundreds of teachers in workshops over the last two years. As recently as earlier this week I had teachers commenting on how much they liked using Dotstorming with their students. Yesterday, Dotstorming changed to a freemium service. Now you can only have five boards (collections of ideas) in a free account before you either need to delete a board or upgrade to a paid plan at a cost of $5/month.

In the same email announcing the fee-based plan, Dotstorming highlighted the relatively new options to download the contents of your boards as spreadsheets and the option to display names on your boards.

If you're interested in seeing how Dotstorming works, watch my video embedded below.

There are other services that can be used in a manner similar to Dotstorming. Padlet is one that comes to mind immediately. I have a set of Padlet tutorials embedded below.

Friday, February 10, 2017

5 Great Google Sheets Add-ons for Teachers

Google Sheets Add-ons make it possible for those of us who would otherwise struggle with spreadsheet scripting to get a lot of utility out of Google Sheets. From things like sending personalized emails to a list of students to creating rubrics to tracking attendance, the following five Google Sheets Add-ons can streamline processes for almost every teacher.

Flubaroo is a popular Google Sheets Add-on that enables me to grade all at once all of my students' responses to a quiz created in Google Forms. The autograde option in Flubaroo allows you to have students automatically receive their scores after submitting their responses to a quiz you created in Google Forms. The autograde feature will send students an email with their scores and the answer key (you can exclude the answer key). With autograding enabled students do not have to wait for you to run the grading process or wait for you to send emails. I have a complete set of Flubaroo tutorial videos embedded below.

Online Rubric is a Google Spreadsheets Add-on that enables to you create rubrics, enter scores, and email scores to students all from one place. Online Rubric provides very clear instructions for each step of the processes of creating a roster sheet, creating a rubric, and emailing grades to students. The video below provides a demonstration of how to use the Online Rubric Add-on.

Add Reminders is a Google Sheets Add-on that will set-up your spreadsheet so that you simply enter reminder messages and email addresses then specify a date on which you want your reminders sent. The Add Reminders Add-on allows you to send the same reminder to everyone in your email list or you can send individualized reminders to everyone in your email list. Watch the video below to learn how to use the Add Reminders Add-on.

Attendance Sorter is a Google Sheets Add-on that will take your messy attendance data collected through Google Forms and make it easy to sort in meaningful ways. The video provides a short overview of what Attendance Sorter can do for you.

Flippity provides teachers with handy Google Sheets templates for creating things like quiz games, audio flashcards, and progress trackers. Flippity's Google Sheets Add-on that makes all of their templates available with just a couple of clicks in any of your Google Sheets. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to install and use Flippity's Google Sheets Add-on.

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