Friday, May 31, 2019

8 Good Resources to Help Students Develop Spelling Skills

Last night the Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in an eight-way tie! In honor of the eight champions, here are eight resources that can help your students develop their spelling skills.

Making Sense of Spelling
Making Sense of Spelling is a TED-Ed lesson that explains why some words have multiple correct spellings, the relationships between words, and why not all words are spelled the way they sound.

Flippity Spelling Words
Flippity offers a great Google Sheets template that you can use to create custom, individualized spelling games for your students. Watch my video embedded below to see how you can create spelling games with Flippity's Spelling Words template.

Teach Your Monster to Read Minigames
Teach Your Monster to Read is a fun online environment in which students play games that are designed to help them improve the speed and accuracy with which they recognize letters, sounds, and words. Students play the games as friendly monster avatars that they are helping learn to read. If you want something that doesn't require any set-up time, try the minigames on Teach Your Monster to Read. Teach Your Monster to Read Minigames are games that students can play in a short amount of time and can quit at any time. The idea behind this being that students can quickly jump into a game and get a bit of practice in intervals rather than having to play through a longer game. There are six minigames that let students practice sound identification for every letter of the alphabet. There are three minigames that have a basic spelling component to them.

World's Worst Pet
World’s Worst Pet is a free iPad app that contains a series of fun vocabulary games. In the app players have to help bring home Snargg, the world’s worst pet, who has run away. To get Snargg back players have to fill his food dish by learning new vocabulary words. Each of the six levels in the game contain ten dishes (each dish represents a new set of words) that can be filled. Four games are available for each dish. The games are fill-in-the-blank, synonym identification, antonym identification, and definition identification. World’s Worst Pet is designed for students in grades four through eight. The app contains a total of 1,000 vocabulary words.

Knoword is a fun and challenging game that tests your ability to match definitions to words. Knoword is played like this; you're presented with the first letter of a word, its part of speech, and the definition. You then have to fill in the correct spelling of the word. If you enter the correct word, you earn points. If you don't get it right, you lose points. Knoword is probably best suited to use by students in middle school and high school. I think many of the words would be too difficult for elementary school students and they could end up frustrated with the game.

Spell It Out Challenge
Vox's Spell It Out challenge presents you with the final winning words from twenty past national spelling bees. You will hear the word pronounced then you have to type it in the spelling box to submit your answer. Before submitting your answer you can hear the word used in a sentence and see the origin of the word.

TinyTap Games
TinyTap is a service that lets you create educational games for your students to play on their iPads, Android tablets, and in their web browsers. For the most part the style of games that are created on TinyTap are identification activities in which students either choose an answer or type an answer to a question. Recently, TinyTap added the option for students to speak responses to game questions. TinyTap's Talk or Type feature lets you create activities that your students can interact with by speaking. 

ABCya Spelling Games
ABCya offers hundreds of games covering a wide range of topics. The games are designed for K-6 students. One of the spelling games that you might want to try is Submarine Spelling. Submarine Spelling is a based on the Dolch Word List. Students progress through the list by hearing then spelling each word by dragging and dropping letters into the correct order. Spelling the words correctly moves students' submarines through the ocean. 

Copyright, VR, and Summaries - The Month in Review

It's the last day of May. Congratulations to those of you who have just finished the school year! And to those who still have some time to go, you can do it! The end is in sight.

As I do at this time every month, I've put together a list of the most popular posts of the last 30 days. In this list you'll find an article about copyright lessons for teachers, tools for creating end-of-year reviews and summaries, and ideas for using virtual reality in your classroom.

These were the most popular posts in May, 2019:
1. Three Lessons to Learn from the $9.2M Copyright Ruling Against Houston ISD
2. 5 Ways to Quickly Create Audio Slideshows for End-of-Year Events
3. Ten Great Tech Tools for Social Studies Lessons
4. How to Add a Calendar to an Edublogs Page or Post
5. Three Ways to Create Digital Collages to Summarize the School Year
6. Rivet - A Reading App from Google
7. 5 Ways for Students of All Ages to Make Animated Videos
8. Twelve Tools for Creating End-of-Year Review Activities
9. How to Make an Animated Timeline in Google Slides
10. Five DIY Virtual Reality Projects for Students

Thank You for Your Support!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Ten Workshops I Can Run For Your Next PD Day

Over the last ten years I've had the good fortune to run workshops and give presentations at hundreds of schools and conferences. I'm frequently asked what I cover in my workshops and keynotes. Some of the outlines and slides from those presentations have appeared in blog posts in the past. But my list of workshops and keynote topics is always evolving with the times and technologies available to schools. That said, here are the ten workshops that I'm currently offering to schools for summer and fall professional development days.

  • Teaching History With Technology
  • Getting Going With G Suite
  • AR, VR, and Mixed Reality in Education 
  • DIY App Creation  
  • Teaching Search Strategies Students Need to Know 
  • Fast & Fun Formative Assessments  
  • Making & Teaching With Video 
  • To Geography and Beyond With Google Earth & Maps 
  • Blending Technology Into Outdoor Learning 
  • Keeping Track With Google Keep, Calendar, and Classroom
All of these workshops can be modified according to grade level (elementary, middle, high), the technology available to teachers and students, and to time allotted for professional development. 

If you're interested in having me run a professional development workshop at your school, please get in touch with me at richardbyrne (at) or complete the short form below. 

Finally, if you'd like to work with me in a small group setting this summer, there are two tickets left to join me for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp in July.

How to Use Gmail's Confidential Mode

Yesterday, Google announced that beginning on June 25th confidential mode will be available by default in all G Suite domains. The confidential mode will allow you to send emails that your recipients cannot print, copy, download, or forward. Through the confidential mode you can even require that recipients have to use an SMS code to access the content of the messages that you send to them. In the following video I demonstrate how to use the confidential mode when sending an email and what a recipient sees when receiving an email in confidential mode.

Applications for Education
Confidential mode could be a good setting to use when you're sending messages to colleagues regarding a student's grades, accommodations, or other information that shouldn't be distributed to anyone that doesn't absolutely need to know it. I would use this mode when sending confidential emails to colleagues who have a habit of printing emails and forgetting to pick them up from networked printers.

Learn more about Gmail and all aspects of G Suite for Education in my upcoming course, Getting Going With G Suite

Quick Key - Quickly Score Paper-based Quizzes With Your Phone or Tablet

This morning I answered an email from a reader named Eric who was looking for an alternative to GradeCam. His school district is possibly not renewing their subscription to GradeCam, but based on his message (copied below), it sounds like he likes the technology of GradeCam.

Here's the message I received:

I teach an AP class and when it comes down to it my students will sit for a traditional bubble sheet test during the AP Exam. So, I would like to prepare them as much as possible for this. I do implement best practice and conduct other assessment types, but for my unit assessments I think it is important that they get use to this. Do you know have any other platform that will allow us to print off a bubble sheet that use technology to score it for free? We traditionally ask up to 20-25 multiple choice questions per test.

My suggestion was to try the Quick Key service offered by Validated Learning. Quick Key has free and paid plans. The free plan provides thirty question bubble sheets and a license to score up to one hundred quizzes per month. You can use the free Quick Key iOS or Android app to scan the bubble sheets and have the scores automatically added into a spreadsheet.

My Thoughts About Bubble Sheet Scoring Apps
I've written about Quick Key and similar apps in the past. Whenever I do that I receive comments (on Facebook or Twitter) or emails from folks who think that I shouldn't promote these types of apps because they promote giving multiple choice tests. The reality is that there are lots of good teachers who, like in the case of the teacher who emailed me today, have to administer multiple choice bubble sheet tests whether they want to or not. A tool like Quick Key can make the scoring process quicker which in turn gives teachers more time for other things like developing new and interesting teaching strategies to use in their classrooms.