Thursday, January 31, 2019

How to Use Audio or Video in Your Sub Plans

The other day I saw a meme that read, "a teacher never realizes how much they do until it's written down in sub plans." Many of the the comments written under that meme said things like, "that's why I go in when I'm sick" and "it takes forever to write sub plans." I felt that way for a long time too. Then one day about nine years ago I was so sick that the idea of writing a sub plan was exhausting. So instead of writing a detailed sub plan I just made a voice a recording on Vocaroo and embedded it into my classroom blog. Then for my sub plan I sent an email to our school secretary that just read, "have kids visit blog and listen to my directions." That was nine years ago. Today, there are more options for quickly creating audio or video recordings to use in sub plans.

Places to Post Your Sub Plans
Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, or a class blog can be a good place to post your audio or video instructions. Many LMSs like Otus and Edmodo have places to post your audio or video instructions too. Whatever you do, make sure the place that you post your instructions to is a place that your students are already familiar with visiting for important class information. This is not the time to experiment with a new platform.

Audio Tools for Sub Plans
As I mentioned above, Vocaroo was the tool that I used when I started leaving audio sub plans. Vocaroo is still a great option because it doesn't require registration and it works on Windows, Mac, and Chromebook. Recordings can be downloaded, shared with a link, or embedded into blog posts. If you're using Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, or another LMS just post the link for your students to click and listen. Watch this video for an overview of Vocaroo.

Another option for making audio recordings in your web browser is Online Voice Recorder. It works in manner that is similar to Vocaroo. The advantage of Online Voice Recorder is that you can crop your recording file.

If you would prefer to create your audio recordings on your phone, then I recommend trying's iPhone and Android apps. You do have to create an account on in order to use the app, but once you have created an account it is easy to just tap the record button and start talking. Unique URLs are created for each of your recordings. You can share that link anywhere that you would share any other kind of link. There is also an option to share directly to Google Classroom.

Video Tools for Sub Plans
If you use Google Classroom, you should try Screencastify to record short videos with your webcam. Screencastify provides the option to save your recording directly to Google Drive and to share it directly to Google Classroom. Screencastify is also a good choice because you can record your screen to give instructions while also recording with webcam at the same time.

You can broadcast from your YouTube account from computer or from your phone. Regardless of how long it is, your broadcast is saved in your YouTube account and from there you can share it anywhere that your students can see it. Of course, this won't work if YouTube is blocked in your school. If that's the case for you, try recording on your phone then uploading the video to Google Drive. Once your video is in Google Drive it can be shared anywhere via the "anyone can view" link available in the sharing menu for all Google Drive files. Watch this video to learn how to do that.

A Few Final Thoughts to Keep Your Principal Happy

  • I wrote this with middle school and high school classrooms in mind. 
  • If your school requires that you use a standardized substitute template, use it but add links to your audio or video in it. 
  • Having every student play your video or audio at the same time could make your classroom sound like the Tower of Babel. Designate a student who can play the recording aloud for the whole class including the substitute. 
  • Still keep a written emergency sub plan in your desk just in case your students come to class and all of the sudden there isn't an internet connection. 

Videos, Image Editing, and G Suite - The Month in Review

Good morning from frigid South Paris, Maine. As I posted in an Instagram story, this morning it's so cold that even in my office I'm wearing a down jacket. Like every January in Maine we've had a lovely mix of frigid days and snowy days. I like the winter, but these frigid days just make me appreciate summer days even more. Speaking of summer, this week I opened the registration for the 2019 Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

As I do at the end of every month, I have put together a list of the ten most popular posts of the month. This month's list includes a couple of cool image editing tools, some updates to G Suite for Education products, and a library of educational videos.

These were the most popular posts in January, 2019:
1. Boclips - Millions of Ad-free Educational Videos
2. The WWII Museum Announces D-Day Electronic Field Trip
3. Remove Image Backgrounds With PhotoScissors
4. Doodle 4 Google 2019
5. Free PDF Containing 30 Pages of Illustrated Vocabulary Lessons
6. A New Look is Coming to Google Slides, Sheets, Docs, and Sites
7. How to Create a Self-grading Quiz from Google Classroom
8. Picture Yourself in Front of Any Landmark With Remove.BG and Google Slides
9. Students Can Create Their Own Tours to Share in Google Expeditions
10. How to Use Canva to Create a Timeline

Now Booking Summer Workshops!
I know that June can feel a long way away in the middle of January, but I'm already booking my summer workshop calendar. If you'd like to have me come to your school this spring (I have two May openings) or summer, please take a look at my speaking page and fill out the short form at the bottom of it.

And speaking of summer, the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is happening on July 15th and 16th. I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Register in February and you'll save $70! Registration is now open here.

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.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.

Seterra offers a huge selection of geography games for students. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Two More Lessons in TED-Ed's "Why Should You Read..." Series

Last fall TED-Ed started publishing a series of lessons titled "Why Should You Read..." The series features TED-Ed lessons that explain the significance of classic works of literature. When I last wrote about the series it contained seven lessons. The series is now up to nine lessons. The latest lessons are about Fahrenheit 451 and the works of Flannery O'Connor. Those lessons are linked and embedded below along with the seven other lessons in the series.

Why Should You Read Fahrenheit 451?

Why Should You Read Flannery O'Connor?

Why Should You Read MacBeth?

Why Should You Read A Midsummer's Night Dream?

Why Should You Read Kurt Vonnegut?

Why Should You Read "Waiting for Godot?"

Why Should You Read "Don Quixote?"

Everything You Need to Know to Read "The Canterbury Tales."

Why Should You Read Edgar Allan Poe?

CleverPDF Offers 20 Ways to Work With PDFs in Other Formats

CleverPDF is a free service that anyone can use to convert a PDF into a Word document, a Pages file, or an ePub file. That's just the tip of the iceberg of what's on offer from CleverPDF. The service can be used to create PowerPoint slides, Keynote slides, images, Numbers, and Excel files.

In addition to turning existing PDFs into other formats, CleverPDF can be used to convert other files into PDFs. For example, you can use CleverPDF to create PDFs from Word, PPTX, Excel, and images.

And if you already have a PDF, but need to modify it, CleverPDF has tools for that too. CleverPDF will let you combine PDFs, split PDFs, apply watermarks to your PDFs, and encrypt your PDFs.

I used CleverPDF to convert one of my PDFs into a Word document today. It was quick and easy. I didn't have to register on the site or enter my email address in order to convert my PDF and then download the Word document.

Applications for Education
CleverPDF could be useful for applying watermarks to draft documents that you want to send to colleagues for review. Of course, it could also be a good choice when you need to convert a PDF into an editable format.

Six Educational Activities That Have a Super Bowl Theme

The Super Bowl is this weekend. My prediction is that the Patriots will win. I'm guessing that my American readers have a student or two who has an interest in the game too. Try one of the following resources to turn your students' enthusiasm for the Super Bowl into a fun lesson.

NBC's Science of Football is a series of ten videos from NBC Learn explaining and demonstrating math and science concepts as they relate to football. The list of topics covered in the Science of NFL Football includes Torque & Center of Mass, Pythagorean Theorem, Geometric Shapes, Projectile Motion & Parabolas, Vectors, Kinematics, Nutrition, and Newton's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Laws of Motion.

Choosito has a lesson plan that asks students to investigate the causes and effects of concussions. The lesson includes studying the trends in concussion diagnoses and treatments during the last 20 years.

Practical Money Skills hosts a series of eight online games designed to teach students some money management skills. One of the games that is timely considering that the Super Bowl is just a few days away is Financial Football. Financial Football has students answer questions about budgets, savings, and spending to move their football teams down the field against another team. The games use real NFL team logos. Financial Football takes at least twenty minutes to play.

The Superb Owl is a cute video about owls. The video presents interesting facts about four types of owls. The whole four minute video is presented as if it is an NFL pre-game show.

One of the dangers of playing football is the risk of head injuries. TED-Ed has a good lesson that explains what happens to your brain when you get a concussion.

NFL Play 60 Kids Day Live is a virtual field trip happening today at 12pm Eastern Time. The free virtual event will take kids on a tour of the field where the Super Bowl will be played. Throughout the tour there will be appearances from NFL players and cheerleaders who will share tips for staying physically active and healthy. You can register for the virtual field trip right here. For those who cannot attend the live broadcast, the virtual field trip will be available on-demand at a later date. And there are lots of related lesson plans that you can download and other videos that you can view on-demand on the NFL Play 60 Teachers' page. There are lesson plans that can be used in elementary school and middle school physical education, science, math, and language arts.

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