Sunday, March 8, 2020

5 Topics for Student Podcasts

Podcasting can be a great way to get students to record their own thoughts and to record conversations with other people like classmates or community members. Just like a writing assignment it can be hard for students to decide what to podcast about. Here's a handful of suggestions to get started.


  • Book review. Rather than writing a book report, have students record their thoughts about books they've recently read.
  • DIY or Q&A podcast. Students are knowledgeable about lots of things. Ask them to share their knowledge about a favorite topic.
  • Conversations in a second language. This can be a good way for students to practice a second language with a partner.
  • School news. Students can record school announcements. Let them add to it with commentary about neat things happening in your school community.
  • Conversations about community. Instead of the traditional "interview your parents about their lives" journalism assignment, have students talk to a few people about important moments in the history of their local communities. 

If you want to learn how to start a podcast and get more ideas for using podcasts in your classroom, join me on Tuesday at 7pm ET for Classroom Podcasting 101

How to Host an Online Meeting With Zoom

In my recent post titled Tips and Tools for Teaching Remotely I mentioned using Zoom to host online classes if Google Hangouts Meet or Microsoft Teams aren't available to you. I've used Zoom's free plan for about five years and it has been more than adequate for one-on-one and small group meetings. Zoom's free plan lets you have up to 100 people in a meeting for up to 40 minutes.

One of my favorite features of Zoom is that you set your account to default to recording all meetings as soon as they start. That way you don't forget to record the meeting. The meeting recording will save on computer. The recording can be uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo, or any file sharing service that you like to use to distribute files to your students.

In the following video I demonstrate how to schedule and host online meetings with Zoom.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast Episode 36 - Teaching Online and More

This episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast is a bit longer than the usual weekly episodes. The first ten minutes of this episode is spent explaining some strategies and tools for teaching online. I did this in response to all of the emails and Tweets I've received in the last week regarding teaching online if your school is closed because of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

After the first ten minutes the podcast follows my usual outline of sharing some news and notes from the world of ed tech, followed by my reflections on my week of teaching, and the episode wraps up with a Q&A. Get the full show notes here.

As is mentioned in the podcast, next week I'm hosting a webinar titled Classroom Podcasting 101. Get the details and register here.

Listen to this week's episode of The Practical Ed Tech Podcast right here or on your favorite podcast network.



Listen to all episodes of the podcast here or find them on the following podcast networks:

Watch2Gether - Host Live Online Discussion About Shared Videos

Watch2Gether is a service for sharing videos that I've used off and on since 2011. When I first started using it you could share YouTube videos and host live chats about those videos on the same page. Over the years it has expanded to offer support for using videos from Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram, and half a dozen other places. Watch2Gether has also grown to offer video chat in addition to text chat.

It is easy to start using Watch2gether. To get started enter a nickname for yourself (it could be your real first name) then search for a video or enter the URL of a video that you have previously bookmarked. When you have found the video you want a chat column will be present on the right side of your browser. You can invite others to chat with you by sending them the URL assigned to your chatroom.

Applications for Education
Watch2gether is a nice tool to use to have students share observations, ask questions, and answer questions while watching video clips in your classroom or as part of a flipped lesson they're completing at home.

There is an option to moderate discussions and ban participants who are not participating appropriately.

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where I'm up before the sun to get a little work done before starting a day of play with my kids and dogs. Much of the snow that covered our yard just last week melted away in the spring-like temperatures that we had twice this week. In other words, mud season has started!

This week I had the privilege to speak at the Inspired Learning Convention in Upton, Massachusetts. Thank you to Dave Quinn and his staff who put that event together. If you'd like to have me speak at your school or conference, please get in touch by sending an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com

These were the most popular posts of the week:
1. An Easy Way to Create Your Own Online Jigsaw Puzzles
2. Tips and Tools for Teaching Remotely
3. How to Search the Smithsonian's Open Access Collection
4. The Tower of Epiphany - A New "Think Like a Coder" Lesson
5. Gribrouillon - Freehand Drawing on Online Maps
6. How to Use Mixkit to Find Free Audio and Video Clips for Your Projects
7. Quillionz - Quiz and Discussion Questions Automatically Generated from Documents

2020 Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp!
Registration is open for the 2020 Practical Ed Tech Summer. Head here to learn more and score a discount code.

Classroom Podcasting 101
Join me on Tuesday for a new Practical Ed Tech webinar titled Classroom Podcasting 101.

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 it includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 17,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 300 Google tools tutorials. 
  • The Practical Ed Tech Podcast is where I answer questions from readers, share news and notes, and occasionally talk to interesting people in education. 
  • 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.