Wednesday, February 13, 2019

ReadWorks Now Offers Illustrated eBooks

ReadWorks, a fantastic free service for ELA teachers, recently added new illustrated ebooks to their library. These illustrated ebooks can be used in the same way that all other ReadWorks ebooks can be used by you and your students. That includes distributing ebooks to your students through a ReadWorks classroom and or through Google Classroom.

ReadWorks is more than just a library of free ebooks for schools. ReadWorks offers standards-aligned lesson plans that incorporate ebooks from their library. And the ebooks themselves are all labeled with a recommended grade level and a lexile score range. All articles are accompanied by lists of key vocabulary terms and suggested comprehension and or discussion questions.

Every ReadWorks ebook can be read online. Students can also listen to every ReadWorks ebook. The combination of new visuals and the read-aloud function makes ReadWorks lessons accessible to more students than ever before.

FAQs About the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp

Earlier this week I sent out an email about super-early registration for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. Some people have already jumped on that offer and others have emailed me with questions about the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. Here's a short list of the some of the frequently asked questions and their answers.

1. What topics will be covered in the workshop?
• Teaching search strategies
• How to use AR & VR in your classroom
• Coding with kids
• Making movies
• Podcasting
• Fun formative assessment
• Putting it all together…

2. Do I have to be a G Suite for Education user?
No, you do not. This is not a G Suite for Education training session.

3. I teach elementary school, will this be too advanced for my students?
No. This is designed to be inclusive of all K-12 educators.

3. Do I need to bring my laptop/ iPad/ Chromebook?
Yes, you must bring your own laptop, Chromebook, iPad, or Android tablet. Better yet, bring them all.

4. Do I have to stay at the Bethel Inn & Resort?
No, you can stay anywhere you want and you will still get breakfast and lunch included in your registration.

5. What can my spouse and kids do during the day?
The resort itself offers an 18 hour golf course, walking and biking paths, swimming, and spa services. There are outfitters in town who are happy to provide canoe and kayak rentals and shuttle service so you can explore the Androscoggin River that flows through town.

6. I'm thinking about flying, is there public transportation available between the airport and the resort?
While the Bethel Inn & Resort is in a beautiful location, it is about an hour’s drive from the Portland airport. I recommend renting a car if you are flying to Maine.

7. I need to register with a purchase order, can you accommodate that?
Yes, I can. I'd prefer if you can register online, but I can accept a PO from most schools in the U.S. Send me an email to start that process.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Handful of Resources and Ideas for Valentine's Day Lessons

Valentine's Day is only a couple of days away. If you're looking for some last minute activities to do in your classroom, take a look at these resources.

Why Do We Love? is a TED-Ed lesson that explores some philosophies on why people love. The lesson won't provide you with any clear answers, but it will make you think. And isn't that what philosophers want you to do?



Storyboard That offers templates for designing and printing Valentine's Day cards. To do this your students will first have to create a simple three-frame storyboard. Then they can print the story in a foldable card format. In my video embedded below I demonstrate how to create a Valentine's Day card on Storyboard That.



Canva offers design templates for almost every card-giving occasion. That includes offering Valentine's Day card designs. In the video below I demonstrate how to use Canva to design cards.



If you're wondering if you can use Canva with students under the age of 13, please read this statement from Canva's CEO Cliff Obrecht.

The Science and Math of Valentine's Day
The following video from It's Okay To Be Smart (produced by PBS Digital Studios) explains why humans kiss, the history of symbols associated with kissing, and some cultural views of kissing. When I saw this video I immediately thought of my friends who teach middle school and high school health classes.


The following fun video, also from It's Okay to Smart, attempts to use math to determine the odds of a 25 year old woman finding love in New York. (Remember, the video is just for fun).


Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

New Features are Coming Soon to Your Gmail Inbox

Last year Google added Smart Replies to all Gmail accounts including those of G Suite for Education users. The Smart Replies feature has become quite the time-saver in my busy day. This week Google announced a new Gmail feature that could also prove to be a time-saver for many of us.

Over the next couple of weeks you will start to see new options when you right-click on the subject line of an email in your inbox. The new options will include adding labels, replying to and forwarding messages with one click, searching for emails with the same subject line, and opening emails in multiple tabs. I anticipate using the labeling and searching tools quite a bit once they appear in my Gmail accounts.

These new features are being rolled out over the next two weeks. If you don't see it now, keep trying and you'll see it before too long.


Try These 6 Things When a Website Doesn't Work as Expected

In the last week I've fielded a half-dozen emails from readers who were experiencing problems with web tools not working as they expected. This seems like a good time to revisit six things that you should check when a website doesn't work as you expected it to work.

1. Is your browser updated? This isn't as common as it used to be, but in some instances of a site not working properly the cause can be traced to using an outdated version of a web browser. If you're using an older version of a browser, not only will some sites not work correctly, you are also opening yourself up to more potential security threats.

2. Do you have cookies enabled? Many websites require cookies in order to offer you the best possible experience. Explania and Common Craft offer good explanations of how cookies work.


3. Are you using a pop-up blocker? It is not uncommon for a website to use a pop-up window for account log-ins. If the pop-up is blocked, you won't be able to log-in.

4. Are you using the site on a tablet/ iPad/ phone? While it would be great if every site was optimized for tablets, that is not the case.

5. Have you checked your spam folder? If you sent a help request to the help desk/ site administrators, they may have replied and had their messages flagged by your spam filter. I've experienced this more than once when using a school district email address.

6. Last, but not least, in the words of The IT Crowd, "have you tried turning it off and on again?" Or logging out and logging back in? It's amazing how often that can fix a problem.


Disclosure: For years I have had an in-kind business relationship with Common Craft.