Monday, October 1, 2018

Three Digital Portfolio Styles - And Tools for Making Them

This post originally appeared in my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter and on my Practical Ed Tech website. 

This week I am working with a group of teachers who want to have their middle school students create digital portfolios that they will maintain throughout the school year. The first part of our work will be to decide what artifacts they want students to put into their portfolios and how they want those artifacts displayed. To guide that work I've broken various digital portfolio tools into three style categories.

Simple, Shareable Folders
This style is the least aesthetically pleasing but it can be the easiest way to get started. In this style students use Google Drive folders, OneNote notebooks, Dropbox folders, or a similar type of online storage tool that lets them share folders with you. These won't have any aesthetic appeal and there isn't much room for students to explain why they added a particular artifact, but if your students are already using Google Drive or OneNote this method is quick as it doesn't introduce a new tool to them.

It is important to note that if you decide to use this style you need to develop a folder structure and naming conventions that all of your students must follow. Without an established folder structure and naming conventions for students to follow you will pull your hair out trying to figure out which artifacts are where within the portfolio.

Website or Blog as Portfolios
In this style of digital portfolio creation students write blog posts or create web pages to showcase examples of their best work. When students do this they should include explanations of why they document, presentation, video, or other artifact is an example of their best work.

Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano coined the term Blogfolio to describe using blogs as portfolios. I recommend reading her detailed overview of the ways that students and teachers can utilize blogs as portfolios.

If you decide to pursue using blogs or websites as portfolios I recommend trying Edublogs, Google Sites, Weebly for Education, or Blogger.

  • Edublogs is great for kids who don't have email accounts or Google accounts because you can manage their usernames and reset passwords for them. 
  • Google Sites is good if your students are already using G Suite for Education because they can import anything from Google Drive into the pages of their Google Sites. 
  • Weebly for Education is a good choice if you want to have students make their own websites, but you're not a G Suite for Education school. Weebly for Education will let you create and manage student accounts. 
  • Blogger is my last choice of these four options but it is still solid if your students are over age 13 and they have Google accounts. 
Use a Service Designed for Digital Portfolios
This is the route to go if you have students making a mix of digital and physical products that you want to store in one place. This is also the route to go if you're not married to school-wide deployment of G Suite for Education or Microsoft 365 Education. There are two tools that I recommend more than any others in this category. Those tools are SeeSaw and ClassDojo Student Stories

Both SeeSaw and ClassDojo let you create multiple classrooms with your account. In those classrooms you can assign activities to your students. An activity could be a prompt to add a particular type of artifact to the portfolio. Both systems let students take pictures, record videos, and write explanations of the items that they add to their portfolios. Additionally, SeeSaw will let students record themselves talking over pictures that they have added to their portfolios. Both systems were designed with K-6 students in mind, but can be used by students of all ages. You really can't go wrong with either service. 

Here's a video overview of ClassDojo's Student Stories

Here's a video overview of SeeSaw.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Ten Tools for Teaching With YouTube Videos

If you can get past the distraction of cute animal videos, video game highlights, and other nonsense, you can find excellent educational videos on YouTube. But even then it's not enough to just share the video with your students either in your classroom or online. When sharing videos with students in an online format, add some questions for them to answer or ideas for them to consider as they watch. Here are five tools that are good for doing that.

After a few years EDpuzzle remains at the top of my list of recommended tools for creating flipped video lessons. It is a neat tool that allows you to add your voice and text questions to educational videos. On EDpuzzle you can search for educational videos and or upload your own videos to use as the basis of your lesson. In your EDpuzzle lessons you can make it a requirement for students to answer a question before moving forward in the video. EDpuzzle has an online classroom component that you can use to assign videos to students and track their progress through your video lessons.

Vialogues is a free service that allows you to build online discussions around videos hosted online and videos that you have saved on your computer. Registered users can upload videos to Vialogues or use YouTube videos as the centerpieces of their conversations. After you have selected a video from YouTube or uploaded a video of your own, you can post poll questions and add comments that are tied to points in the video. Your Vialogue can be made public or private. Public Vialogues can be embedded into your blog or website.

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. You can use VideoNotes to have students submit questions to you and each other while watching videos. Of course, you can insert questions into the conversation for your students to answer too.

Teachem is a service that uses the TED Ed model of creating lessons based on video. On Teachem teachers can build courses that are composed of a series of videos hosted on YouTube. Teachers can write questions and comments in "flashcards" that are tied to specific parts of each video and display next to each video. Students can take notes while watching the videos using the Teachem SmartNote system. Creating a Teachem course a straight-forward process of choosing a video URL then writing corresponding questions. When you create a Teachem course you can make it public or private. Public courses can be accessed by anyone that has address for your course. Teachem contains an option to collaborate with colleagues on the creation of courses.

TES Teach makes it easy for teachers to organize and share educational materials in a visually pleasing format. On TES Teach you arrange videos, links, images, and files around any topic of your choosing. TES Teach has built-in search tools so that you do not have to leave your TES Teach account in order to locate resources. When you share a set of TES Teach materials with your students they can give you feedback to show that they understand the materials or they can ask questions about the materials. You can also see if your students actually looked at all of the materials that you have shared with them.

Remove Distractions
When you're showing a video in your classroom you can remove distracting sidebar and "related" materials from YouTube with the following tools. 

ViewPure is one of my longest standing recommendations for viewing YouTube videos without distractions. At its basic level to use View Pure just copy the link of a video into the "purifier" on the View Pure website and then click purify. Your "purified" video will be displayed on a blank white background. You can password-protect links to videos that you share through ViewPure (click here for directions). In the last year ViewPure expanded to offer curated collections of educational videos.

Watchkin is a service that provides a few ways to watch YouTube videos without seeing the related video suggestions and comments. You can enter the direct URL of a video into Watchkin to have the sidebar content removed. You can search for videos through Watchkin and have family-friendly results displayed (if a video appears that is not family-friendly Watchkin has a mechanism for flagging it as inappropriate). Watchkin also offers a browser bookmarklet tool that you can click while on to have the related content disappear from the page.

Quietube is a convenient tool that you can add to your browser's bookmarks bar. With Quietube installed you can simply click it whenever you're viewing a video on YouTube and all of the related clutter will be hidden from view. Installing Quietube requires nothing more than dragging the Quietube button to your toolbar.

Tube is a free tool that provide a minimalist view of YouTube. When you go to the Tube website the only things you will see are "Tube," a disclaimer, a link to the developer's Twitter account, and a search box. Enter your search terms into the Tube search box and a list of results appears below it without showing any advertising or other sidebar content. When you click one of the videos in the search results it is displayed nearly full-screen on a plain white background. makes it possible to view YouTube videos without displaying the related videos and associated comments. To use simply copy the URL of a YouTube video and paste it into SafeShare also offers browser a bookmarklet tool that will eliminate the need to copy and paste links from YouTube into SafeShare.

FAQs About Upcoming Practical Ed Tech Courses

This weekend I have answered a bunch of questions about the two Practical Ed Tech courses that are starting next week. I figure that if even one person asks there are probably a few others who are curious about the same topic too. Here's a list FAQs about the Practical Ed Tech courses that are starting next week.

1. Do I have to attend all of the live webinars?
No, you don't have to attend all of the live webinars. If you miss one, you can go back and watch the recording that will be available a few hours after the conclusion of the live broadcast.

2. How long is each webinar?
Each webinar is scheduled for sixty minutes plus about fifteen minutes for Q&A.

3. Can I send you questions outside of the webinar times?
Absolutely, you can

4. Will the PD certificate count toward my license/ certificate renewal?
That's a determination that you will have to make in consultation with your local regulating body. There are too many regulating bodies, rules, and nuances for me to make a definitive statement on whether or not the hours will count for your teaching license. (If you live in Maine, email me because I do have lots of first-hand experience with the Maine DOE).

5. I've never used G Suite for Education, will this be too advanced for me?
No, it won't. The Getting Going With G Suite course is designed for beginners.

6. I teach K-3 students, are the concepts in Teaching History With Technology too advanced for them?
While most of the course content can be adapted for K-3, third grade is about the earliest age that I would start using the content and concepts of the course.

7. Is there homework?
There are suggested practice activities to do between webinars but they aren't required.

Create a Screencast Within Padlet

Back in June I published a video that demonstrated ten types of notes that you can add to Padlet walls. Thanks to Dan Methven I recently learned that there is another new way to add notes to Padlet walls. The new type of note is a screencast video.

If you install Padlet's Chrome extension you can launch a screen recording tool directly from a Padlet note. You can record your screen and voice for up to five minutes. Your recording will be automatically added to your note when stop your recording.

Applications for Education
Padlet's screencasting feature could be used to have students create short instructional videos to post on one Padlet wall. One use of this would be to assign each of your students a topic within a unit. Each student would then use Padlet's screencasting feature to make a short instructional video to share with the class.

Just a reminder that Padlet altered their business model last spring. You can have three Padlet walls for free with all functions for free. Users who had more walls than that prior to the change have all of those pre-existing walls grandfathered into their free accounts.

Classroom, Math, and Instagram - The Month in Review

It's the end of September. By now everyone has been back in school for at least a month. I hope that the start of school year has gone well for you. As we head into October here's a look back at the most popular posts of September, 2018.

A quick reminder, in October I'm hosting two professional development courses. Getting Going With G Suite starts on Tuesday and Teaching History With Technology starts on Thursday.

These were the most popular posts in September:
1. Two New Google Classroom Features That Everyone Has Been Asking For!
2. Math Playground - Hundreds of Math Games & Instructional Videos
3. ReadWorks Now Integrates With Google Classroom
4. 250 Google Tools Tutorials for Teachers
5. Share Math Playground Activities to Google Classroom
6. If You Manage a School Facebook Page, Watch Out for This Scam
7. Poetry 180 - A Poem for Every Day of the School Year
8. A Parent's Guide to Instagram - Including a Glossary and Discussion Questions
9. 5 Ways to Use Google Sheets in Your Classroom
10. 5 Ways to Use Google Slides Besides Making Presentations

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) 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.
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Book Creator is a great tool for creating multimedia books.
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University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
Seterra offers a huge selection of geography games for students.