Saturday, August 3, 2019

Get Organized With Google Classroom, Calendar, and Keep

The primary way that Free Technology for Teachers stays afloat is through the sale of my on-site professional development workshops and professional development webinars. As of this morning, more than 300 of you have purchased and participated in one of my Practical Ed Tech online webinars in 2019. Thank you!

The next professional development webinar that I'm offering is an updated version of Get Organized With Google Classroom, Calendar, and Keep. In this webinar on August 8th at 4pm you will learn how to use Google Classroom, Calendar, and Keep to streamline your workflow when it comes to distributing assignments and tasks. You'll also learn how to use Google Classroom and Keep to efficiently provide feedback to your students. And you'll discover how Google Calendar and Keep can be used in setting goals and staying on track to reach them.


  • Live at 4pm ET on August 8th (click here for your local time) 
    • It will be recorded for those who cannot attend live. 
Who is it for?
  • This webinar is intended for those who are new to using Google Classroom, Google Calendar, and Google Keep. It’s also a good refresher for those who haven’t used Classroom, Calendar, or Keep in a while and want to see what’s new and helpful.

How to Embed Google Docs Into Your Blog Posts

One of the things that makes Google Documents popular is that you can easily publish your documents for anyone to read online even if they don't have Google accounts of their own.

How to Embed a Google Doc Into Your Blog
You can do this by choosing the "publish to the web" option found in the "file" drop-down menu in your Google Document. When you open that menu you'll also see an option to get an embed code to place in blog posts to display your documents. That's where a lot of people get stumped. In fact, this morning I received an email from a reader who was having trouble with that last step. The embed code that Google Docs provided wouldn't render her document in an easy-to-read format in her blog. Like many questions that I get, the best way to explain the solution is to show it. That's what I do in the following video.

Applications for Education
You might be wondering why would anyone want to do this when Google Docs can easily be shared in Google Classroom, emailed to others, or added to Google Sites. The answer is that some people (parents) who need to read your document might not have access to Google Classroom or don't want to be bothered with email. Another reason is that if you're already using a tool like Blogger or Edublogs, it's easier to keep using those services than to transition everything to Google Sites.

How to Use Flipgrid to Create Whiteboard Videos

A couple of days ago Flipgrid released some new features that all teachers can use in the new school year. Those new features include tools for creating whiteboard-style instructional videos. You can use this feature to create whiteboard videos for your students to watch in Flipgrid. You can also have your students use the whiteboard tools to reply to a prompt that you have given to them. In my video that is embedded below I provide an overview of how to use the new whiteboard function and a couple of other new functions in Flipgrid.

What is Flipgrid?
In short, Flipgrid is a free service that you can use to post prompts for your students to respond to with short videos that they record through their laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, or phones. Your prompts and your students' replies can be kept private or you can make them public. I have a complete set of Flipgrid tutorial videos available here.

Friday, August 2, 2019

What is Two-Factor Authentication? - And Why You Should Use It

Last night I had a chat with someone who had her Netflix account hacked. The hacker changed her password and the email address associated with the account. This prompted a bigger conversation about how accounts get hacked and some simple steps to prevent being hacked. Those steps include not using the same password for multiple services, creating strong passwords, and using two-factor authentication whenever it is offered.

Two-factor authentication, sometimes called two-factor verification, is a system in which you have to enter a password and then receive an SMS (text) message or email through which you verify that you actually tried to sign into your account. I use this on every service that offers it including my Google account and all bank accounts. This is great because if someone does try to sign into one of my accounts from a computer or phone other than mine, I immediately get a text message. My friends Lee and Sachi LeFever at Common Craft have a great video that explains two-factor authentication. You can see that video here.

Unfortunately, Netflix doesn't currently offer two-factor authentication to protect users' accounts. Fortunately, while it's massively inconvenient to have your Netflix account hacked there isn't too much damage that a hacker can do with your Netflix data. The best thing that you can do to protect your Netflix account is to use a strong password that you only use on Netflix. Again, Common Craft has a good video about creating strong passwords.

For help in creating a strong password consider using a tool like Wolfram Alpha's password generator.

Common Craft videos can be reviewed online for evaluation purposes. To use embed them into a blog as I've done requires a membership (which are very reasonably priced).

Disclosure: I have an in-kind relationship with Common Craft.

ClassHook Gets a New Look

ClassHook is a service that I recommend trying when you're looking for video clips to illustrate a concept and don't want just another "how to" video. ClassHook provides a search tool for finding clips from well-known television shows and movies to be used in your lessons. You can search according to topic, standard, grade level, and length of video clip. As good as ClassHook is, the user interface was a little clunky until yesterday when a new user interface was revealed.

ClassHook's new user interface streamlines the search and browse section of the site. Now when you click on "browse" you will find all of the search refinement options listed in one convenient place next to the clips that you're browsing through.

When you do find a video clip that you want to use in ClassHook you'll find that the tools for working with that video are easier to access than they previously were. When you select a video all of the tools for adding discussion questions, creating pause prompts, and sharing the clip are clearly labeled directly above and below the video.

My favorite ClassHook feature is the Pause Prompts feature. This lets you add questions to the timeline of the video. The question appears and pauses the video when it reaches the point in the video that you have specified. Watch my video that is embedded below to see how Pause Prompts work.