Saturday, August 10, 2019

Rubrics, Whiteboards, and Phys Ed - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it is a beautiful morning for a bike ride. That's what I'm going to do as soon as I finish writing this week-in-review.

This week I hosted a professional development webinar all about using Google Classroom, Calendar, and Keep. If you missed it, it will be available on-demand at the end of the month. Next week I'm hosting a webinar about making animated videos and green screen videos. You can learn more about that webinar right here.

This week I also restarted the Ed Tech Fitness newsletter. More than 300 of you have now joined that community to participate in little challenges to improve or maintain good health throughout the school year. You can join us here.

Have a great weekend!

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Two Important Changes Coming to Google Classroom
2. How to Use Flipgrid to Create Whiteboard Videos
3. Google Drive Priority Page Now Available for All G Suite Accounts
4. Five Google Product Updates for Teachers to Note
5. Create a Directory App for Your School
6. Dozens of Apps for Physical Education
7. How to Use Creative Commons Search

Live PD in August!
In August I'm hosting some new and updated professional development webinars through PracticalEdTech.com. Those webinars are:
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides FreeTech4Teachers.com and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 15,000 are subscribed to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 300 Google tools tutorials. 
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing. 

Thank You for Your Support!
  • More than 300 of you have participated in a Practical Ed Tech webinar this year. Thank you!
  • Pixton is a fantastic tool for students to use to create digital stories. Get started by using their free "Truth or Lie" lesson plan. 
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County has been supporting this blog for many years. 

Try This! - A Series of Hands-on Science Lessons for Kids

Try This! is a series of videos produced by National Geographic Kids. Each of the videos in the series presents a hands-on science lesson or experiment that elementary school and middle school kids will enjoy.

Middle school students can probably do all of the experiments in the Try This! series on their own. Elementary school students will need some help from adults. As you can see in the couple of videos from the series that I have embedded below, each video states the concept that can be taught with the experiment and concludes with a brief explanation of what happened in the experiment.



Applications for Education
If you're elementary school teacher who is looking for some hands-on science lessons to do with your students, the Try This! series could be a good source of inspiration for you. This could also be a good resource to share with parents who are looking for fun and educational activities to do at home with their kids.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Add Video Comments to Google Documents

e-Comments is a Google Chrome extension that offers three great ways to add comments to Google Documents. You can use e-Comments to add canned text comments, you can use it to add audio comments, and you can use it to add video comments to Google Documents. All three options are equally easy to use.

Add Text Comments With e-Comments
This option lets you pick from a menu of more than 200 canned comments to insert into Google Documents. The great thing about this option is that the comments not only provide correction, they also provide suggestions and examples for correction.

Add Audio Comments With e-Comments
To use this option you open the comment bank provided by e-Comments and then click on the audio icon. Clicking that icon will let you record a voice comment that you can save and re-use as often as you like.

Add Video Comments With e-Comments
This option is found the same way as the audio option is found. Simply open the comment bank then click on the video icon to record a video comment to save and insert into the comments of any Google Document that has been shared with you.

About the e-Comments Comment Bank
When you install and activate e-Comments you can choose the grade range that you teach (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, or college). That selection will give you slightly different comments to pick from so that they are in line with your students' current abilities and needs.


You can learn more about Google Docs, Chrome extensions, and all things G Suite in the on-demand course that I'm offering starting on September 4th. Learn more about it here!

NASA Artifacts for Schools

Thanks to my friend Steve Dembo this morning I learned about a U.S. General Services Administration program that lets schools acquire artifacts from NASA's space program. The program has two parts. One part lets schools, museums, and similar organizations borrow artifacts. The other program lets schools acquire artifacts for no cost other than shipping fees.

The NASA Special Items program lets schools acquire things like old shuttle tiles, meteor strike test plates, shuttle thermal blankets, and food packets from the space program. The Special Items program seems to be the easier of the two programs to navigate as it does have an itemized list of what is available and what it costs to ship the items to schools. The steps required to acquire items through the Special Items program are outlined in this PDF.

The NASA Artifacts program is the program that offers the more unique items from the space program for schools and museums to display. The documentation required for participation in this program is much more complex than the Special Items program. And applications appear to be reviewed in greater detail than the Special Items program. The requirements and procedures for the NASA Artifacts program are outlined in this document.

27 Birds, 27 States - A Good Nat Geo Series for Kids

A few years ago National Geographic Kids started publishing a series of videos called 50 Birds, 50 States. For some reason they never got beyond 27 states. The 27 videos that were released do present a fun way for students to learn some basic facts about each state.

The videos are presented as animated rap videos featuring a bald eagle and the state bird of the state that the video features. For example, the video about Maine features an animated chickadee rapping with an animated bald eagle. Is it a bit hokey? Yes, it is. Would elementary school students like it? Yes, they probably will. You can find the videos here on the National Geographic Kids website or here on YouTube.



Applications for Education
The YouTube versions of these videos are good candidates to be used in services like EDpuzzle to develop simple video lessons for students to complete on their own or with guidance from you.

Here's my tutorial on how to use EDpuzzle to create a video-based lesson.