Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Learn How to Use These 5 Time-saving Gmail Features in 2020

Some days it feels like I'm playing the world's longest game of whack-a-mole in my inbox. If this sounds familiar to you and you're a Gmail/ G Suite user, there are some things that you can do to tilt the odds of winning that game of email whack-a-mole in your favor. Those things include creating canned responses, scheduling messages, enabling smart replies, and creating message filters. Those time-saving Gmail features are demonstrated in the video below.


One more time-saver is to make sure that you have your contacts organized into groups. Doing that can save you time when you're trying to send a message to department members, parent groups, or any other group that you frequently send the same messages to.

FAQs About Teaching History With Technology 2020

For the new year I have updated my popular Practical Ed Tech course, Teaching History With Technology. The course begins next Wednesday. I announced the course about ten days ago and I've answered a handful of emails about it. Here are those questions and answers.

1. Will the sessions be recorded? 
Yes. Every live webinar in the course will be recorded so that you can go back and watch it whenever it is convenient for you. Of course, you'll still be able to send me questions just like you would if you were there for the live webinars.

2. How long are the webinars?
Each one is planned for an hour plus some time for Q&A as needed.

3. Can I register with a purchase order?
I will accept a purchase order if you have five more people from the same school who want to register together. Otherwise, I can't accept a PO because it generally takes a colossal amount of time to navigate school district paperwork requirements. Any major credit card can be used to register.

4. Do you offer any kind of certificate?
I do provide a certificate of completion for five hours of PD time. Whether or not your school district or certification/license office will accept it for license/certification renewal is a determination you will have to make.

5. Will I be able to use this with elementary school students? 
I've had lots of elementary school teachers take this course since I started offering it in 2015. I designed the course so that the ideas, tools, and resources can be modified to use with students as early as 4th grade through high school students.



Register Here!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

How to Make an Interactive Graphic With Canva

One of the many neat things that you can do with Canva is create interactive infographics. In fact, you can use nearly any design template in Canva to create interactive graphics. In the following video I demonstrate how you can make interactive graphics in Canva and then publish those graphics on your blog.


Applications for Education
Adding some hyperlinked elements to an infographic could be a good way for students to make the sources of their information readily accessible to viewers. Using the linking tool could also be a good way for students to provide additional information about the key points that they emphasize in their graphics.

The Twelve Most Popular Posts on Free Tech for Teachers in 2019

It's the end of the year. For me it's the end of my twelfth year of blogging about educational technology. Do I have twelve more years in me? We'll find out... In the meantime here are the twelve most popular posts that I published in 2019.

1. How to Add Audio to Google Slides - Updated
2. 5 Handy Google Slides Features You Might Be Overlooking
3. Ten Free Tools for Creating Mind Maps and Flowcharts - Updated for 2019-20
4. How to Use Flipgrid to Create Whiteboard Videos
5. 5 Helpful Gmail Features for Teachers
6. Google Expeditions is Now Available on Chromebooks!
7. Three Lessons to Learn from the $9.2M Copyright Ruling Against Houston ISD
8. How to Create Video-based Lessons
9. Where On Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego? - A Great Geography Game
10. An Online Lab for Learning About Weather Patterns and Forecasts
11. Boclips - Millions of Ad-free Educational Videos
12. Tools to Improve the Accessibility of Websites, Videos, and Slides


Monday, December 30, 2019

Ten Blogging Activities for Kindergarten Through High School Classrooms

Whether your students are just learning how to type or they’re aspiring journalists, there are lots of ways to use blogging as a classroom activity. Edublogs offers a nice directory of active classroom blogs. Take a look through that directory to find some good examples of how teachers are using blogs in all grade levels from Kindergarten through twelfth grade. Some of my favorite examples are outlined below.

A Blogging Activity for Almost Every Classroom
Blogs started as a way for anyone to write and share his/ her thoughts with the world. A simple activity to promote that process with students is to have them write short summaries at the end of the week. Depending upon the age and ability of your students you can require more or less depth and detail in their summaries. The important thing is that students spend time thinking about what they've learned and pondering questions. 

Blogging Activities for K-2
One of the best ways to use blogging with students of this age is to have students write a sentence or two about a picture. You could start the process by uploading a picture then having students write one comment about what they see or what they think about the picture. One of my favorite examples of this activity came from Jennifer Lefebvre who had her students write about their class mascot which was a stuffed animal. Her students wrote about what the mascot did and what they did with the mascot.

In the fall of 2018 I worked with a second grade class that invited parents to participate in a modified blogging activity. The blog was established through Seesaw. Parents used the video recording function in Seesaw to record themselves reading books. Those recordings were then posted on the classroom blog for students to watch.

Blogging Activities for 3-5
I don’t think you’ll find a better example of using blogging with students of this age group than Linda Yollis’ Classroom Blog. The blog has the tagline, “Third graders learning and sharing together.” On the blog you’ll find lots of examples of students blogging including “Family Blogging Month.” During Family Blogging Month Mrs. Yollis invites parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles to comment on the blog. The blog post announcing Family Blogging Month even includes a video from students about how to write quality blog comments.

It is at this age that many students are introduced to reading news and current events. A site like DOGO News is a good place to find age-appropriate articles for students to read. You can post links to these stories on your classroom blog then have students respond to the stories with comments of their own. Depending upon your students, you may need to include some discussion prompts with the articles that you post for your students to read.

Blogging Activities for 6-8
This is a great time to start letting students have a larger role in communicating information about their schools. Creating a student council blog is one way that you can give students that increased communication responsibility. Let them post daily or weekly announcements in text or video form. Have them write about the decisions that were made in student council and how the decisions were made.

A blogging activity that I did with eleventh grade students that could easily be modified for middle school students is blogging as historical characters. Students in my U.S. History class wrote a series of blog posts in which they attempted to use the voices of delegates to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. After writing their blog posts they then had to respond in character to classmates’ blog posts.

Blogging Activities for 9-12
By the time students reach high school they are capable of managing and maintaining their own blogs. In doing that students are creating portfolios of their thoughts and their work. You could have students create their own blogs that will serve as portfolios of their work done in your classroom or for the work they’ve done in all of their classes. What’s important in doing this is that students should be writing a more than just simple “I did X.” They should write about the process and what they learned through the process.

My current (2019-20) computer science students use Google Sites to write updates about the projects they’re working on. This process forces them to stop and look at what they’ve done and what they still need to do. Having them blog about their projects in progress also gives me the opportunity to see where I might need to interject into their project processes.

When I taught a current events course for eleventh and twelfth grade students I made them all editors on a group blog created with Blogger. Every week each student was responsible for posting a news article or video of interest to them along with their own commentary about their chosen article or video. All students were also responsible for commenting on their classmates’ posts.

One more example of using blogs with high school students comes from my old colleague Pam Chodosh who used blogging as a publishing outlet for students in her high school journalism class. Obviously, anyone visiting the blog could read the students’ stories. But Pam was able to give her students’ work a bigger audience by getting a local newspaper to link to some of the stories. Those links provided students’ with a far bigger audience than any printed school newspaper could have.

This was an excerpt from a book that I've been working on forever and will, hopefully, publish in 2020.