Wednesday, August 29, 2018

View Upcoming Google Classroom Assignments in Google Docs

A new little side panel option recently appeared in my Google Docs. In fact, it appeared while I was in the middle of a workshop in which I was showcasing some Google Docs add-ons.

The new side panel in Google Docs provides quick access to Google Calendar, Google Keep, and Google Tasks. You can view items from all three services in the right-hand side of your screen while you're working on a Google Document. You can access any and all of your upcoming Google Calendar events, including Google Classroom assignments, while working on a document. Watch my video that is embedded below to see how you can access upcoming Google Classroom assignments through Google Documents.


Learn more about Google Classroom and Google Calendar in tomorrow's Practical Ed Tech webinar, Get Organized With Google Classroom, Calendar, and Keep

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

5 Ideas for Making Multimedia eBooks With Students

For many years Book Creator was my go-to recommendation for teachers who wanted to have their students create multimedia ebooks on iPads. So when the folks at Book Creator launched an online version to use Google Chrome I quickly added it to my list of recommended web tools too. Book Creator can be used by students to create multimedia ebooks that include video, images, audio, text, and free-hand drawings. You can watch an overview of Book Creator here. After getting familiar with Book Creator consider having your students make one of the following types of ebooks.

1. Multimedia Comic Books
Book Creator offers a half-dozen page layout templates including three specifically designed for students who want to make their own comic books. Within those comic templates students will find options for adding speech and thought bubbles, word art, comic stickers, and clip art to the pages of their comic books. They can also add utilize all of the other Book Creator tools like recording audio and inserting videos into the pages of their comic books.

2. Digital Portfolios
Book Creator supports uploading many kinds of media and then adding that media to the pages of an ebook. This can be a great way to have students build digital portfolios of their best work.

3. How-to Guides
Combining text, pictures, and video on the same page can be an excellent way to build a how-to guide for everything from conducting science experiments to tuning a lawn mower's engine.

4. Creative Writing
Students can enhance their creative writing by adding sound effects, mood music, or spoken words to the pages of their Book Creator ebooks. Students can do this by selecting the option to import media into any page of their ebooks.

5. Multimedia Reports
Watching videos and listening to podcasts is increasingly a part of the research that students do when beginning a research assignment. Rather than just writing summaries of the content of those videos or podcasts, students can embed them into the pages of their reports written in Book Creator.

Book Creator is available for individual registration as well as school-wide registration. From now until the end of September Book Creator is offering a great discount on their school-wide package




Disclosure: Book Creator is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Monday, August 27, 2018

G Suite and Chrome Accessibility

Accessibility options for G Suite for Education services and Google's Chrome browser have improved in the last couple of years. If you use these services with students who need improved accessibility options, the G Suite user guide to accessibility is a resource that you should bookmark. The user guide is divided into sixteen sections. In the first section you will find recommendations for the best screen readers to use while using G Suite on Mac, Windows, and Chrome OS computers. The other sections of the guide are devoted to specific products within the G Suite including Google Classroom. Each section contains information on accessibility shortcuts, screen reader instructions for each app, and in some sections you will find how to videos like this one for using a screen reader with Google Docs.



The Chrome Web Store includes a small collection of recommended extensions that can improve content accessibility.

ClassDojo Releases Three New Features for the New School Year

If you're a ClassDojo user, you should have recently received an email about three new features that have been added for the 2018-19 school year. One of those features is significant and two are just convenient.

The significant update is found in ClassDojo's new Student Portfolios service. This free service was announced at the end of the last school year will soon be available to all users. ClassDojo Portfolios are student-led portfolios. Students can choose the items that they want to include in their portfolios. They can include pictures, documents, videos, notes, and drawings in their portfolios. Just like in the current Student Stories teachers will have to approve all submissions before they are shared. Parents are able to see only the work of their children and not of other children in the class. The best of ClassDojo Student Portfolios is that the portfolios can stay with a student from year-to-year even when they change teachers.


Class Stories is the ClassDojo feature that teachers can use to distribute pictures, videos, and written updates about their classes for parents to see. Student Stories is updated for the new school year with an option to share multiple pictures in a story. This feature is kind of like including multiple pictures in one Instagram post.

Finally, ClassDojo now gives you the option to display all points, only positive points, or no points when sharing updates with parents.

Get Your Copy of the 2018-19 Practical Ed Tech Handbook

Last night subscribers to the Practical Ed Tech Newsletter were sent copies of the 2018-19 Practical Ed Tech Handbook. This annual publication is a free, 36 page PDF that highlights my favorite educational technology sites and apps.

The Practical Ed Tech Handbook is organized into nine sections. Those sections are:

  • Communication tools and strategies. 
  • Search strategies. 
  • Digital citizenship.
  • Video creation and flipped lessons. 
  • Audio recording and publishing. 
  • Backchannels and informal assessments. 
  • Digital portfolios. 
  • Augmented reality and virtual reality. 
  • Programming.
You can download a copy of the Practical Ed Tech Handbook here, view it as a Google Doc, or view it as embedded below. 


(If your school blocks Box.com, you won't be able to download the PDF through the links above. If that's the case for you, send me a note at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to request a copy).