Saturday, October 26, 2019

Creativity and Leaf Piles - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and almost every leaf in my neighborhood seems to have landed in my backyard. The only good thing about leaf removal is making big piles for my kids to jump in. They sliding down their Little Tykes slide into the piles. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you're doing something fun too.

This week I announced the Practical Ed Tech Creativity Conference. This is a free online event that will happen December 10th through 12th. If you're interested in presenting, please fill out the short form found at the bottom of this page. If you want to register, you can do that in two seconds right here.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Kami - Annotate PDFs in Google Drive
2. Actively Learn - Find & Create Engaging Reading Assignments and More
3. A New, Free Online Conference for Teachers
4. A Halloween Writing Contest for Middle School Students
5. How to Use Loop to Gather Feedback from Students
6. A Couple of Fun and Simple Map Games for Students of All Ages
7. The Practical Ed Tech Podcast - Episode #15 Featuring Mike Tholfsen

I'll come to your school in 2020! 
I'm already booking my 2020 workshop and conference schedule. This will be my tenth year of speaking at schools and conferences. Send me an email at richard (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more.

On-demand PD
On PracticalEdTech.com I have seven professional development webinars available to view whenever you like.

Thank You for Your Support!
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. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

How to Create and Run Polls in Google Slides

Slido is a polling service that recently released a free Google Slides add-on and companion Chrome extension. The combination of the two tools makes it easy for anyone who uses Google Slides to quickly create and launch polls directly within the Google Slides editor. The thing that I like about Slido is that you can see your students' responses without having to toggle between presentation and editing modes in Google Slides. Your students' responses pop-up on the screen in realtime. Your students respond to your Slido poll or survey by simply going to Slido.com on their laptops or phones and then entering the code that appears on your polling slide.

Watch my short video below to see how easy it is to create, run, and respond to a poll made with Slido in Google Slides.

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast - Episode #16

It was a long week at school for me. I think you'll hear that in my voice in the latest episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast. In this episode I shared some news about the Practical Ed Tech Creativity Conference, shared my thoughts about Facebook's and Google's latest initiatives to deal with "fake" news, and answered a handful of questions from readers and listeners. The show notes with links to the resources mentioned in the episode can be found in this Google Doc.

Listen episode 16 of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast right here or on your favorite podcast network.



You can listen to all episodes of the podcast here or find them on the following podcast networks:

Thursday, October 24, 2019

How to Use Loop to Gather Feedback from Students

Loop is a relatively new tool for gathering feedback from your students. You can use it to gather feedback in the forms of text responses, multiple choice questions, and emojis. Loop includes tools for replying to a student's individual response to a group survey. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Loop to gather feedback from your students.


Applications for Education
Loop fits in a gap between tools like Kahoot and Google Classroom. For that reason it could be a good tool for engaging students in discussions about assignments, course topics, or the general feeling of the class.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Actively Learn - Find & Create Engaging Reading Assignments and More

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post that I wrote for a new supporter of FreeTech4Teachers.com. 

A few years ago I stumbled upon Actively Learn while walking through the ISTE conference. I was immediately impressed by what they were developing. At that time it was just getting started as a new platform through which teachers can create, distribute, and assess ELA activities. Since then Actively Learn has expanded to offer a catalog of thousands of free assignments with embedded media, standards-aligned questions, scaffolding notes, and teaching ideas for science, ELA, and social studies.

There are three key elements of Actively Learn that I really appreciate. First, it’s easy to locate interesting and engaging articles, videos, and simulations to share with your students. You can locate resources in the Actively Learn catalog by searching according to subject, topic, grade level, standard, or Lexile level. Second, unlike some other services, Actively Learn doesn’t limit you using their pre-made questions. You can easily add your own questions to the materials that you distribute to your students as assignments. Third, Actively Learn can save you time by automatically grading any multiple choice questions that you include in your assignments.

Here’s an example of how you could use Actively Learn in a science class. Open the Actively Learn catalog and find the Cells Topic page, which includes a variety of assignments related to cells. Some of the assignments are based on excerpts from textbooks, high-interest news or journal articles, videos, and PhET simulations. All of the assignments and articles have notes in the margins to describe concepts that may be challenging to students and standards-aligned embedded questions. Additionally, you can add your own notes into the margins for your students.

You can distribute an assignment to your students through Actively Learn’s classroom environment or distribute it through Google Classroom or Canvas. Throughout the assigned reading there are questions that your students should answer. You can edit or remove the pre-made questions. You can also add your own questions for students to answer. Take a look at the screenshot below to see the students’ view of an article. Watch this video for an overview of what a student sees in Actively Learn.

One of the options that I appreciate about Actively Learn’s online assignments is that students can flag sections of an article with "I don't understand" comments.

Actively Learn offers free and paid plans. The free plan includes all of the core features of Actively Learn including:

  • Locate materials according to subject, grade, standard, or Lexile level.
  • Customization of any of the instruction in Actively Learn (edit questions or notes).
  • Upload any Google doc, website, video, or PDF and turn it into an interactive assignment with your own embedded questions and notes.
  • Give feedback to students as they read and get real-time data on student reading progress.
  • Automatic grading of multiple choice questions.