Monday, August 6, 2018

ClassTag's Marketplace Opens Tomorrow - Enter to Win Free Supplies

Last month ClassTag announced that they were launching a Marketplace through which teachers can earn classroom supplies and other products as rewards for having a high level of engagement with parents through the ClassTag system. The ClassTag Marketplace was initially going to launch last week but its launch was delayed until tomorrow.

To generate interest in their marketplace ClassTag is hosting a contest that will award $1,000 of marketplace credit to ten teachers who enter the ClassTag Parent-Teacher Engagement Contest. To enter the contest you have to write a short essay about the innovative and creative ways you've engaged with your students' parents. Entries are due by August 20 and the complete contest rules can be found here.

A Free Presidential Timeline Poster for Your Classroom

For the last few years C-SPAN Classroom has offered a free poster depicting a timeline of American presidents. That offer is back for the 2018-19 school year. The poster shows each President's time in office, a short biography, the era of American history in which each President served, and a couple of major events that happened during each President's time in office. The poster is free for anyone who has a free C-SPAN Classroom account. (By the way, if you haven't logged into your C-SPAN Classroom account since the last school year, you will probably need to update your account this fall).

Applications for Education
C-SPAN Classroom offers a number of suggestions for using the poster in your classroom. I had a similar poster in my classroom eight years ago. I let my students choose a President from the poster and create a short video biography of their chosen President.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Videos, Scratch, and Fly Fishing - The Week in Review

Good evening from rainy Paris Hill, Maine where I'm home after a few days of fly fishing. It was nice to get away and recharge offline before a busy few months of workshops and conference keynotes starts on Monday when I fly to Kansas. I'll probably be offline most of tomorrow too as I soak up as much time with my kids as I can before the week starts. I hope that you get time for fun and relaxation this weekend too. If part of your plans call for catching up on some ed tech reading, take a look at this week's most popular posts.

These were the week's most popular posts on FreeTech4Teachers.com:
1. Free iPad Apps for Creating Animated Movies
2. 10 Overlooked Google Docs Features
3. Use Flipgrid to Publish Instructional Videos
4. 7 Ways to Make Animated GIFs
5. Scratch 3.0 and a New Creative Computing Curriculum Guide
6. A Short Guide to Getting Started With Google Drive
7. Try Using Icebreaker Tags and New Staff Orientation

Only Three Days Left!
As I write this, I only have three days left in my 2018 workshop calendar. If you would like to have me lead a professional development day at your school in November or December, please get in touch ASAP. I can be reached at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com - more information is available here.

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. Send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com 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.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
Kami is a great tool for annotating and collaborating on PDFs. 
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
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.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Use Flipgrid to Publish Instructional Videos

The new school year will be here soon and I haven't taken a break all summer. I'm taking a short break from the Internet to go fishing at one of my favorite places in the world, Kennebago Lake. I'll be back with new posts on Saturday. While I'm gone I'll be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year so far. 

In Sunday's Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week I mentioned three ways to use Flipgrid now that all features are free for all users. One of those ways is to have students record and publish instructional videos. They can do this is a few ways. They can record themselves in front of a whiteboard, they can upload a video made with a tool like Screencast-o-matic, or they can record a video with the Flipgrid mobile app. In the following video I demonstrate how to publish an instructional video on Flipgrid.

10 Overlooked Google Docs Features

The new school year will be here soon and I haven't taken a break all summer. I'm taking a short break from the Internet to go fishing at one of my favorite places in the world, Kennebago Lake. I'll be back with new posts on Saturday. While I'm gone I'll be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year so far. 

Google Docs has a lot of features that new users often don't notice. Some these are features that even experienced Google Docs users overlook. Some of these features will save you time, some will give you more formatting flexibility, and others will improve the way that you share your documents.

1. Word Art
Just like in Google Slides, you can insert Word Art into Google Documents. The process of using Word Art requires that you use the "drawing" option found in the "insert" drop-down menu. Word Art is great for inserting colorful headlines into your documents.

2. Insert your signature
Once again the "drawing" option found in the "insert" drop-down menu is quite helpful. Use the drawing pad's free-form line drawing tool to create your signature and insert it into a document. You can do this with a mouse, but if you have a touch-screen computer it is even easier to do. Inserting your signature is a great way to personalize letters that you send home to parents.

3. File Export
Not everyone with whom you have to share documents is going to jump on the Google Docs bandwagon. For example, I used to write for a publication that only accepted Word files. That didn't mean that I had to write my articles in Word. I wrote my articles in Google Docs then just downloaded those articles as Word docs before sending them off as attachments. You can also download your Google Documents as PDFs, Rich Text documents, HTML, Plain Text, Open Document, and ePub.

4. Sharing Restrictions
One the original selling points of Google Docs was document sharing and collaboration. That feature is still the thing that makes Google Docs special. In fact, just yesterday at the BETT Show I saw someone presenting just that feature. But sometimes you want to share your documents without letting other people make copies of them or print them. So when you open your sharing settings select "advanced" and you can prevent people from copying, downloading, or printing your documents.

Restricting printing is a great option to use when you just want someone to look at your document for a final review but you don't want them to print it. For example, when writing up a IEP you might want a colleague to look at it, but you don't want him or her to print it because you know that he or she is the one who sends everything to a network printer and then forgets to pick it up for an hour.

5. Voice Typing
It used to be that you needed a third-party application in order to use voice input in Google Docs. Now you can just open the "tools" drop-down menu and select "voice typing" to start using voice input into Google Documents.

6. Google Keep Notepad
Are your students using Google Keep to bookmark references for inclusion in a research paper? If so, they can access those bookmarks without having to leave Google Docs. They can access those bookmarks and insert them into their documents by opening the Google Keep Notepad from the "tools" drop-down menu.

7. Change Default Page Layout
The question that new Google Docs users ask me more than any other is, "can I use landscape mode?" Yes, you can use landscape mode. Open the "file" drop-down menu and select "page setup." From there you can change the page orientation, the page size, change and set default margins, and you can even change the page's background color.

8. Columns & Grids
Need columns in your document? You can insert those from the "format" drop-down menu. However, the columns will apply to the whole page. If you only need columns for part of the page, use the "table" drop-down menu to insert a simple 1x2 table. The table's cells will expand as you type.

9. Headers, Footers, and Page Numbers
In the early years of Google Docs headers, footers, and page numbers had to be manually inserted. Today, you can have headers, footers, and page numbers automatically inserted into your document by making those selections from the "insert" menu. You can even apply them retroactively.

10. Import & Convert Word Documents
If your school is transitioning from a Windows environment to a G Suite environment, you probably have old Word documents that you'd prefer to not have to copy and paste or rewrite entirely. You can import and have those old documents instantly converted to Google Docs format. There are two ways to do this. First, if you just have one or two documents you can import them by selecting "file upload" in Google Docs. Second, if you have a lot of Word documents, bundle them into a folder then use the "folder upload" function in Google Drive. Just make sure your Google Drive settings (the gear icon in the upper-right corner) is set to "automatically convert to Google Docs."

If you're new to using Google Docs or G Suite in general, check out my G Suite for Teachers course.