Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Week in Review - Bad News and New Fonts

Good morning from Maine where the 50F air and the appearance of red leaves makes it feels like the end of summer is near. This always leaves me feeling conflicted as I don't want summer to end, but I also love the arrival of autumn. I'm looking forward to getting outside this weekend and I hope that you also have something you're looking forward to this weekend.

This week I hosted the third of four Practical Ed Tech professional development webinars that I'm offering in August. By September we'll all be too busy to commit to a specific time for a webinar so I'm offering an on-demand PD course in September.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Quizizz Adds Three New Features Including Tools for Making Math Problems
2. How to Add New Fonts to Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets
3. How to Extract Audio from a Video
4. EDpuzzle Live Mode - Turn Video Lessons Into Group Activities
5. 8 Epic Tools to Try This School Year - A Podcast With Vicki Davis
6. How to Use Socratic by Google
7. Bad News - Interactive Simulation Shows Students How Misinformation is Spread

Would you like to have me visit your school this year?
Click here to learn more about my professional development services.

Thank You for Your Support!
  • More than 370 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. 
  • PrepFactory offers free, personalized SAT and ACT prep. 
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County has been supporting this blog for many years.
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides 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
  • 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 Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing. 

A Modification to Book Trailer Projects

Over the years I've written plenty about book trailer videos and the tools that students need for making book trailer videos. For the most part, the book trailers that I've made and those that I've seen have been designed to entice the viewer to read the book featured in the video. This week I read Scott McLeod's and Julie Graber's book Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning which changed some of my thinking about book trailer projects.

In Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning McLeod and Graber share protocols and ideas for reframing some common classroom activities. One of the activities they mention is the "Pumpkin Book Report" in which students decorate pumpkins to look like characters from books they've read. Students then record videos of their pumpkins and those videos are combined by the teacher in Flipsnack. McLeod and Graber suggest that this project can be improved if teachers ask students to articulate why they chose the character, share passages from the book that represent the character's traits, and share the theme of the story.

The modification that McLeod and Graber suggest for the Pumpkin Book Report could easily be applied to book trailer videos. Rather than just highlighting key points in their chosen books, students could focus on a theme of their chosen books or on the traits of a central character.

A Quick Way to Check if a Website is Working Correctly or Not

On Thursday afternoon I was having trouble loading a couple of websites that I planned to use in a presentation. To make check if the problem was on my end or with the website I turned to a handy site called Down For Everyone Or Just Me? The site will tell you if a website that you're trying to visit is down or not. To use the site just enter the name of a site into the search tool on Down For Everyone Or Just Me? and you will quickly get a yes or no answer. Watch my short video overview below.

Applications for Education
The next time you try a site in your classroom and the kids say to you, "it's not working" put the site's address into Down For Everyone Or Just Me? to see if the problem lies with the site or with your school's filters.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Practical Ed Tech Live - Episode #2 Now Available in Six Places

Earlier today I recorded the second episode of Practical Ed Tech Live for the new school year. As I mentioned last week, this year I'm starting each episode with five to ten minute overview of new and interesting things in the world of educational technology. The second half of the episode is when I answer questions from readers, viewers, and listeners like you.

The latest episode can be viewed as embedded below. You can also find it in podcast format on five platforms including Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Radio Public, and Click here to find it in podcast format. 

Here's a copy of the show notes.

A Good Source of Free Music for Multimedia Projects

Last fall the Free Music Archive, one of my go-to sources of free music for multimedia projects, nearly closed. Fortunately, it was taken over by KitSplit who has kept it running. The Free Music Archive provides free, high-quality, music in a wide range of genres. The content on Free Music Archive is used under various creative commons licenses.

Anyone can download music from FMA for use in podcasts, videos, and other digital presentation formats. Downloading music from FMA does not require any kind of registration. In the following video I demonstrate how to find and download free music from the Free Music Archive.

Applications for Education
FMA can be a good resource for high school students looking for music tracks to use in podcasts and videos.

I am hesitant to use FMA in middle school or elementary school settings because there isn't a way to filter out tracks that might have inappropriate lyrics in them.

The Free Music Archive does offer an FAQ for educators that addresses many questions about use and re-use of audio tracks from the FMA.