Saturday, October 13, 2018

Join 16,000+ Who Get Their Ed Tech Tips This Way

Every Sunday evening I send out the Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week. I started doing that four years ago as a way to provide people who want to get their ed tech tips in weekly format instead of a daily format. In the weekly mailing I include my tip of the week (usually with a video tutorial or two) and a list of the previous week's most popular posts on Free Technology for Teachers.

As of this week more than 16,000 people have subscribed to my Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week. You can subscribe here or through the form embedded below.

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Animations, Screencasts, and Podcasts - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where I'm home for a while after nearly four weeks of speaking at conferences and consulting with schools. When I started my little tour there were leaves on all of the trees in my yard. This morning I woke up to discover that one of those trees is completely bare. In other words, autumn is in full swing here in Maine. This is my favorite time of year to be outside. As soon as my daughter wakes from her nap, we're going to play outside. I hope that wherever you are this weekend that you get outside to play too.

These were the week's most popular posts on
1. Using Brush Ninja and Screencastify to Make Science Presentations
2. Two Detailed Presentations About Copyright for Educators
3. How to Use Automatic Captioning in Google Slides
4. How to Create Personalized Certificates in Bulk Through Google Sheets
5. Eight Options for Creating Screencasts on Chromebooks
6. Google Classroom Now Has a Random Name Selector
7. Synth - Quickly Record Short, Interactive Podcasts

Now Booking 2019 School Visits
If you would like to have me work with your school this year, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) or click here for more information.

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.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
Book Creator is a great tool for creating multimedia books.
Kami is a great tool for annotating and collaborating on PDFs. 
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
Seterra offers a huge selection of geography games for students. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

One Click Provides More Room to Work in Google Docs

I just spent the last three weeks working with students and teachers who had Chromebooks as their primary computers throughout the school day. One of the things that I showed some of the students during that time was how to expand the size of the Google Docs editor so that they had more screen space dedicated to their documents and less dedicated to the editing menus.

If you use Google Documents and want a little more room to view your pages, you can make that space appear with just one click. In the upper, right corner of your screen you will now see an option for "compact mode" in each of your Google Documents. Click the compact mode arrows to collapse the formatting menu and receive about an inch of more space to work in your documents. Below you will see some screenshots showing you where to find the compact mode arrows.

Before using the collapse menu.

After using the collapse menu.

Answers to FAQs About Automatic Captioning of Google Slides

Last night I published a video demonstration of the new automatic captioning feature in Google Slides. Today, I've received eight emails from readers asking questions about automatic captioning. The theme of the questions are the same so I'm guessing that there are other readers with similar questions. Here's what you need to know about automatic captioning of Google Slides right now.

1. It's not available for all users, yet. As I mentioned earlier this week, the feature will be rolled out over the course of the next couple of weeks.

2. It is only available in English.

3. You must use Google Chrome on a Chromebook, Windows, or Mac computer.

4. The captions do not save.

5. It does not translate.

Kindness Bookmarks and Kindness Bingo

This week I had the opportunity to observe a great teacher-librarian in action at Sigsbee Charter School in Key West, Florida. One of the activities that she did with kids was making "kindness bookmarks." The kids made bookmarks like the one in the picture for this post. All of the bookmarks weren't the same, but they all had the theme of surprising people with kindness when they opened a book in the library.

Seeing the kindness bookmarks activity prompted me look for other kindness-themed activities. That search brought me to PBS Learning Media's Kind Acts Bingo activities. Kind Acts Bingo isn't a typical bingo game of chance. Kind Acts Bingo has a board of acts of kindness for students to do then check-off through the course of a day, week, or month. There are two Kind Acts Bingo boards available here.

Applications for Education
These kindness activities were created for elementary school students, but you can certainly use the same concepts with students in middle school and high school. If the bingo boards don't quite fit with your school or classroom setting, use the boards as a template to create your own version of Kind Acts Bingo.

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