Saturday, April 28, 2018

PhET, Grasshoppers, and AR Creatures - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where spring is in the air. Lately, we've had some rainy days mixed with wonderfully warm and sunny days. That's a winning combination to make the flowers grow start to sprout in our gardens. It's also great for getting outside to walk, run, bike or just enjoy not having to wear a parka. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that the weather lets you get outside for fun too. And if the weather isn't great, take some time to catch up on this week's top stories on Free Technology for Teachers.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. PhET PowerPoint Add-in - Add Science & Math Simulations to Slides
2. A Fun App That Helps Kids Learn How Animals Adapt to Their Environments
3. 5 PowerPoint Features Often Overlooked by Students and Teachers
4. How to Use Flipgrid - A Guide for Getting Started
5. Grasshopper - Learn to Code on Your Phone
6. WikiWhere - A Challenging Map Game
7. How to Convert Old Google Sites to New Google Sites

Online PD Opportunities
On May 7th I'm launching a self-paced course about classroom video projects. This is in addition to all of the other on-demand webinars and self-paced courses currently available on

For the rest of the month, group packages for my G Suite for Teachers online course are on sale. If you have five or more teachers register from your school, you get 40% off. Have more than 15 and you can get an even better deal.

Book Me for Your Conference
I’ve given keynotes at conferences from Australia to Alaska for groups of all sizes from 50 to 2,000+. My keynotes focus on providing teachers and school administrators with practical ways to use technology to create better learning experiences for all students. I like to shine the light on others and so I often share examples of great work done by others as well as my own. Click here to book me today.

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.
MySimpleShow offers a great way to create animated videos for free.
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.
QuickKey provides an efficient way to conduct online and in-person formative assessments.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Book Creator Now Offers "Read To Me" Mode Online

Last summer the Book Creator team launched a web-based version of their popular iPad app. The web-based version, called Book Creator for Chrome, has been a hit with teachers and students.

The latest update to Book Creator for Chrome includes a feature called "Read To Me." Read To Me is a text-to-speech function that reads the words on the pages of any book created in Book Creator. Read To Me highlights each word as it is read aloud. The pages of the books automatically turn when the end of a page is read aloud.

Read To Me works in Chrome, Safari, and Edge. It also works within the iPad app.

Book Creator's Read To Me includes the option to change the speed at which the text is read aloud. You can also specify whether or not words are highlighted and whether or not multimedia elements are played within the book when Read To Me is enabled.

Watch Live - Bison Calves in Yellowstone

A few minutes ago I was browsing Facebook when I noticed that the Yellowstone National Park page was livestreaming images of bison and their new calves. You can view the stream here right now.

If you're not able to view the stream because of restrictions on your school filters or you want more information about bison, check out the following resources.

Meet the American Bison does a fine job of showing younger students basic facts about bison. If you look carefully, you'll also notice that it does a great job of modeling how to cite the sources of images used in a video.

Older students who want to learn about bison should turn to the resources available on the Yellowstone National Park website. Those resources include the following video about the challenges of bison conservation.

And find more resources for learning about Yellowstone in this blog post written by Beth Still.

TED-Ed Lessons About Every Element on the Periodic Table

For years I have referred readers to the University of Nottingham's Periodic Table of Videos. That table provides a video about every element that is in the Periodic Table. Recently, via Lifehacker, I learned that the producers of the Periodic Table of Videos partnered with TED-Ed to create lessons about every element in the Periodic Table.

TED-Ed's Periodic Videos page features an interactive Periodic Table of Elements. Click on any of the elements to launch a video. Below the video you will find a link to the related TED-Ed lesson. (Note, I had to reduce my browser size to see the links). Each of the TED-Ed lessons follows the typical format of providing a handful of multiple choice and short answer questions. The lessons also include some links to additional references.

Here's the lesson about Technetium.

If the questions that the TED-Ed lessons ask are too simple for your students, you can customize the lesson after registering on TED-Ed. You can also create similar lessons by using EDpuzzle.

A Convenient G Suite Update

On Thursday Google announced a small update to G Suite that could prove to be convenient and reduce confusion for folks who have more than one Google account. In the next few weeks G Suite administrators will be able to add custom images or logos to appear next to users' profile pictures. This will mean that when you're signed into services like Google Calendar you will be able to see your school's logo next to your profile image or profile initials.

This isn't a huge update by any means. This update could help users quickly confirm that they're in their school Google accounts instead of their personal accounts. It might also be reassuring to parents who are booking appointments with you through the appointment slots feature in Google Calendar to see the school's logo appearing at the top of the calendar.

G Suite administrators will find directions for uploading system-wide custom images and logos right here.

Is your school making the switch to G Suite for Education this summer? If so, my online G Suite for Teachers course will provide you with everything you need to know to feel comfortable using it in your classroom. My group rates allow you get training for your whole school for less than the cost of sending a few people to a Google Summit.