Monday, May 14, 2018

How to Install and Manage Chrome Extensions

From time-to-time the icons in my Chrome browser prompt questions from viewers of my YouTube videos. Usually, the questions are about which extensions I'm using. Today, I was sent this question:
Do you ever worry that by having so many extensions installed you have more risk for security breaches?

My answer was that I do worry about it, but I also try to only keep active the extensions that I use on a regular basis. To that end, I disable and or remove extensions that I haven't used in a while.

In the following video I demonstrate how to install, disable, and remove extensions from your Chrome web browser.

New TED-Ed Lesson - What Causes Constipation?

In late March TED-Ed answered "why isn't the world covered in poop?" Last week they published a lesson answering the related question, "what causes constipation?"

What Causes Constipation? teaches viewers about the roles of the large intestine and pelvic floor muscles in the process of expelling stool. The lesson also teaches viewers about the dietary changes and lifestyle changes a person can make to prevent chronic constipation.

Applications for Education
Once you get them past the obvious wise-cracks and giggles, this video is a good resource for upper elementary and middle school health and science classes. As a science lesson, the video covers basic anatomy and physiology. As a health lesson, the video provides a reminder about the benefits of nutrition and exercise.

How to Add Points of Interest to Virtual Reality Tours in Google's Tour Creator

Last week Google introduced the new Tour Creator for making virtual reality tours. I published a tutorial last week that shows you how to create a basic tour. Today, I made a new tutorial that shows you how to include featured points of interest within each scene in your tour. Those points of interest can include image overlays and text explanations. As is demonstrated in my video, adding an image overlay lets you highlight a detail within a scene.

What To Do When a Website Doesn't Work the Way You Expect It To

On a fairly regular basis I receive emails from readers who are experiencing frustration with a site, app, or add-on not working for them the way it worked for me in one of my demonstration videos.  I try to answer all of those emails, but I don't always get to them as quickly as I would like (despite appearances, this blog is a one man show). If you find yourself frustrated with a site, app, or add-on not working as you expected, here are some things that I suggest trying or checking.

1. Are you using a modern browser? In a lot instances of a site not working properly in a school, the cause can be traced to using an outdated version of a web browser. If you're using an older version of a browser not only will some sites not work correctly, you are also opening yourself up to more potential security threats. Find out which browser and version you're using by visiting

2. Is it a Google Docs/ Sheets/ Forms/ Slides Add-on? If so, check with your G Suite administrator to make sure that you have permission to install Add-ons. On a related note, not all G Suite domains will get the latest features at the same time. I tend to write about new features as soon as they are announced, but for some domains the latest features won't appear until weeks later.

3. Do you have cookies enabled? Many websites require cookies in order to offer you the best possible experience. Explania and Common Craft offer good explanations of how cookies work.

4. Do you have a pop-up blocker turned on? It is not uncommon for a website to use a pop-up window for account log-ins. If the pop-up is blocked, you won't be able to log-in.

5. Are you using the site on a tablet/ iPad/ Chromebook? While it would be great if every site was optimized for tablets, that is not the case.

6. Have you checked your spam folder? If you sent a help request to the site developers/ app developers, they may have replied and had their messages flagged by your spam filter. I've experienced this more than once when using a school district email address.

7. In the words of The IT Crowd, "have you tried turning it off and on again?" - Seriously, this often solves many problems. And while you're restarting your computer, run those updates you've been ignoring since January :)

Disclosure: For years I have had an in-kind business relationship with Common Craft.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Twelve Tools for Building End-of-year Review Activities (That Aren't Kahoot Games)

The end of the school year is quickly approaching. At this time of the year I start to get a lot of requests for suggestions for tools to create review activities. Here are twelve good options for creating review activities.

Video-based review activities:
Vizia is a free tool for creating video-based quizzes. On Vizia you an import a video from YouTube or from Wistia and then add questions along the timeline of the video. You can ask multiple choice questions as well as short answer/ open-response questions. Adding a poll question into the video is also a possibility in Vizia. All of the responses to your questions are collected in a spreadsheet that you can download and or open in Google Sheets. When you create a Vizia video quiz you have the option to require that viewers enter their names and email addresses before they begin. Alternatively, you could make the first question in the video a prompt to enter a name.

PlayPosit (formerly known as eduCanon) is an excellent service for creating, assigning, and tracking your students' progress on flipped lessons. PlayPosit allows you to build flipped lessons using YouTube and Vimeo videos, create questions about the videos, then assign lessons to their students. Once you have found a video through PlayPosit you can add questions to it at any point along its timeline. Students need to answer your questions before they move on to the next portion of your chosen video. You can track your students' progress within PlayPosit's classroom environment.

VideoNotes is a neat tool for taking notes while watching videos. VideoNotes allows you to load any YouTube video on the left side of your screen and on the right side of the screen VideoNotes gives you a notepad to type on. VideoNotes integrates with your Google Drive account. By integrating with Google Drive VideoNotes allows you to share your notes and collaborate on your notes just as you can do with a Google Document. Use VideoNotes to share videos like those found on Hip Hughes History with your students and have them submit clarifying questions to you and to each other.

Games-based review activities:
Purpose Games is a free service that allows users to create custom games, share games, and play games. There are two styles of games that you can create and play on Purpose Games. The simpler of the two styles is a fairly basic multiple choice game. The other style uses images and maps on which players have to name the places represented by placemarks on the image or map. For an example, try this game about the skeletal system. Purpose Games gives game creators the option to make their games public or private. If you select the private option, only the people to whom you send invitations will be able to play your game. offers a free service teachers can use to create their own educational games. Games made on can be shared via email or embedded into a blog or website. (Yet another reason for having a class website or blog). provides fifteen easy to use templates with which teachers can make educational games for their students. There are also many pre-made games available on

TinyTap is a free tool that allows you to create simple games for students to play on their iPads or Android tablets. To create a game on TinyTap you upload pictures or take new pictures and arrange them into a set. Then select each image to create questions about it. To create your question press the record button and start talking. When you have finished talking select a portion of your picture to serve as the answer. I created a small game about objects in my house. I took four pictures of things in my house. Each question asked players to identify the objects in my house. For example, when a player sees a picture of my kitchen he or she has to identify the tea pot by touching it. A playlist of tutorial videos showing all of TinyTap's options can be seen here.

Old, reliable flashcard activities:
Quizlet is a popular flashcard service that students can use in their web browsers or install as apps on their iOS and Android devices. Quizlet offers some helpful features in addition to the standard options of creating and sharing sets of flashcards. Quizlet offers a text-to-speech mode in eighteen languages. Second, they launched a new study mode that they've name "speller." Speller mode plays words for you that you then have to type correctly into the space provided. If you misspell the word that is read to you, Quizlet will show you your errors. Quizlet flashcards can be used without an internet connection if you have the Android or iOS app installed on your mobile device.

Flashcard Stash is a free vocabulary flashcard service for teachers and students. The service makes it easy to quickly create flashcards and sets of flashcards. As a registered user of Flashcard Stash when you type a word into a blank flashcard suggested definitions and sample context sentences are provided to you. You can then choose to add one or all of those definitions and sentences to your flashcard or you can write your own definitions and sentences. When making your own flashcards you can include images. If you don't have time to create your own flashcards you can choose to work with some of the pre-made lists of flashcards. Teachers registered on Flashcard Stash can create flashcard sets to share with their students. Teachers can create and manage multiple class lists within their accounts. Sharing class lists can be done by inviting students to view the flashcards via email or by posting a password-protected link to the lists on a class blog. The second method requires students to remember the password that you have created to access the list. Word lists can also be embedded into blogs or websites.

Flippity is a free tool for creating flashcards from data in a Google Spreadsheet. Flippity provides clear directions for the simple steps to take to create your flashcards. To create your flashcards use the Flippity template, enter your data, publish the spreadsheet to the web, then grab your Flippity link. Your Flippity link will take you to a Flippity page on which you and your students can flip through your flashcards. Flippity includes a shuffle function and an option to remove cards from your deck of flashcards as you flip through them.

Quiz-based activities:
Quizalize is a free quiz game platform. Students play your quiz games on their laptops or tablets by going to the Quizalize website then entering their names and a class code. Students are awarded points for correctly answering questions quickly. Students are given feedback instantly on every quiz question that they answer. A total score is presented to students at the end of every quiz. Creating quizzes on Quizalize is a simple process. To get started just name your quiz and tag it with a subject label. As you write each quiz question you can include a picture and up to four answer choices. You can specify a time limit of 5 to 120 seconds for each question. Quizalize offers a marketplace in which you can find quizzes created by other users. Some of the quizzes are free and others are sold for a dollar or two. To be clear, creating and playing your own quizzes is completely free.

Triventy uses a concept that is similar to Quizalize. To play a Triventy quiz game the teacher projects the game questions at the front of the room and students answer the questions on their mobile devices or laptops. Points are awarded for answering correctly. Bonus points are awarded for answering quickly. Students join the quiz game by going to and entering the game pin assigned to your game.

Socrative is the standard to which I still compare all new student response systems. Socrative uses cell phones and or laptops (user's choice) for gathering feedback from students. You can post as many questions as you like in a variety of formats. One of the more fun question formats is the "space race" format in which students can work individually or in teams to answer questions as quickly as possible.

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