Monday, July 24, 2017

Blocking and Filtering in Gmail

This afternoon a friend sent me a text message asking about methods for blocking and or filtering messages in Gmail. Like requests of this nature, it was easier to show the method than to explain it in writing. So I recorded the following video about how to block senders in Gmail.

The following video explains how to apply filters in Gmail.

Applications for Education
By using filters in Gmail, including the G Suite for Education version of Gmail, you can apply some automatic organization to your inbox.

Develop and Track ACT & SAT Prep Activities in PrepFactory

Disclosure: PrepFactory is an advertiser on

PrepFactory offers students a great selection of free SAT and ACT preparation activities. PrepFactory focuses on helping students develop good test-taking strategies while also not boring them with dozens of continuous rote exercises. For example, the Pattern Matcher game in PrepFactory has students look at questions and choose the best answering strategy rather than just answering the questions shown to them.

This past spring PrepFactory introduced helpful features for teachers. When you register as a teacher and create your classroom you can also create specific assignments for your students on an individual or class-wide basis. Then once your students have started on their assignments you can track their progress, see where they need to improve, and suggest more appropriate review activities.

Learn more about PrepFactory in the following video.

Disclosure: PrepFactory is an advertiser on

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Week in Review - New Headquarters

Good evening from the new Free Technology for Teachers world headquarters in Paris, Maine. Today, we moved into a home in the Paris Hill historic district. It's most notable resident was Hannibal Hamlin who was Abraham Lincoln's first Vice-President. As a lover of history, I'm excited to dig into more of the local history in my new neighborhood. You can expect some new blog posts in which I share the research methods I use to learn about the history of the area.

In other news, this week I hosted the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp. A big thank you to everyone who came and participated. I truly enjoyed the contributions that everyone made to the conversations throughout both days.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Students Can Now Guide Themselves In Google Expeditions
2. Save Time by Using JoeZoo Express to Give Feedback in Google Docs
3. The Periodic Table in Pictures and Words
4. How to Use Google's My Maps in Your Classroom
5. My Favorite Internet Search Tips for Teachers & Students
6. Summarize the Day With Pic Collage
7. 9 Features of ClassDojo's Digital Portfolio Platform - Coming Soon

Individual and group registration is still open my BYOD Camp. Register with a group and get a great discount!

I'm offering three online professional development courses in August. Join me for a few hours in August and you'll gain new skills and ideas to use in your classroom this fall.

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.
Beyond Tech Ed is hosting a great Chromebook training in Palm Springs. 
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
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.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Five Ways to Create Screencast Videos on Chromebooks

Creating a screencast video is a good way to show your students or colleagues how to use a new web tool. When Chromebooks first hit the market, the options for creating screencast videos were few and were tricky to use. Over time better options emerged. The following five tools are all easy to use to create screencast videos on a Chromebook.

Soapbox is a free tool from Wistia that makes it easy to create great screencast videos on a Chromebook or any computer that is using the Chrome web browser. With Soapbox installed in the Chrome web browser you can quickly record your screen and your webcam at the same time. The most distinguishing feature of Soapbox is that you can have your video transition from your screen to your webcam to a combination of the two. Soapbox includes some simple editing tools for zooming in on an area of your screen and calling attention to specific parts of your screen.

ViewedIt is a free Chrome extension that makes it quick and easy to create and share screencast videos. With the extension installed you can record your entire screen or just one window tab. ViewedIt will let you record yourself with your webcam too. The best part of ViewedIt is that you can track who watches your video. To record on ViewedIt you simply have to click the extension icon then choose what you want to record. When you're done recording your video is automatically stored on ViewedIt. From ViewedIt you can share your video via email and social media. If you choose to share via email, you will be able to track who watched your video.

Nimbus Screenshot is my favorite tool on this list because of its ease of installation and it is the only tool on this list that provided a customizable countdown timer. I like the countdown timer because it gives me a few seconds to prepare to start talking over my screencast. The other tools just started recording the second that I hit the record button. Nimbus Screenshot was also the easiest to install and configure on my Chromebook. Screencasts recorded with Nimbus Screenshot can be saved to your local drive or to an online Nimbus account. I usually choose to save to my local drive then upload to my YouTube channel. You can also save to your local drive then send it to Google Drive or another online storage service.

CaptureCast lets you record your webcam while recording your screen which you cannot do with the Nimbus tool. You can choose to record your screen, your screen and your webcam, or just your screen or just your webcam. CaptureCast gives you three options for recording definition. So if you're on a slower network you can choose a lower resolution recording to save processing time. CaptureCast lets you save a recording locally or send it to YouTube or to Vimeo.

Screencastify might have the most name recognition in this list, but I don't like it as much as some other tech bloggers like it. In fact, it's usually the last one that I'd recommend to new Chromebook users. The set-up process asks a lot questions that could confuse new users. The free version limits recordings to ten minutes and puts a watermark on the recording.

Explore Street View Imagery With Your Voice

This afternoon at the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp we spent some time exploring and talking about ways that Google Maps, Street View, Google Earth, and virtual reality can be used in classrooms. One of the things that seemed to engage everyone was Speak To Go With Google. Speak to Go is a Google WebVR experiment. Speak into Speak to Go and you'll be shown Street View imagery of that place. You can use Speak to Go in a VR viewer or you can use it in the Chrome browser on your Chromebook, MacBook, or Windows laptop. Learn more in my video embedded below.