Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Great Series for Introducing or Reviewing Arduino Programming Concepts

Arduino programming was one of the things that we were really starting to get rolling on just before school closed. Now that my school is closed and we're doing remote teaching and learning, I'm using EDpuzzle to create review activities for my students.

This week I used EDpuzzle to create lessons based on a great series of Arduino programming basics. The videos were produced by Bob at I Like to Make Stuff. In the three part series he covers the big, basic concepts of programming in general before moving into the specifics of Arduino programming. The final video in the series puts everything together for viewers. And if you're wondering what an Arduino is, Bob has that covered too. The first video in the series is embedded below and the rest can be found on I Like to Make Stuff.

If you're wondering what EDpuzzle is and how it works, I have that covered here.

And you're interested in learning more about Arduino, there's a section of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp dedicated to it. 

Quick Tip - Apply Custom Colors to Google Slides

Regular users of Google Slides are probably familiar with the process of adding images to the backgrounds of their slides and changing the background color. There is one little background color option that is easily overlooked. That option is applying a custom color that isn't listed in the default color menu in Google Slides.

In Google Slides it is possible to use any color you like as the background for your slides. To do this simply open the background colors option then at the bottom of the menu click the little "+" icon to open another menu in which you can enter a color code or drag your cursor on a palette to select a custom color shade. The process is demonstrated in my video that is embedded below.

Applications for Education
This is certainly not a game-changing feature of Google Slides, but it might be pleasing to some teachers and students who want a little more control over the color schemes in their slides. 

Free Webinar Tomorrow - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions

For the last few weeks Rushton Hurley, founder of Next Vista for Learning and a former virtual school principal, has been hosting free webinars all about making the transition to online teaching and learning. Tomorrow, I'm going to join him as a co-host for a webinar titled Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions.

As the title implies, during tomorrow's webinar we'll be taking questions and doing our best to answer them for you. We'll also share some of our favorite cool finds and pass along a few tips and tricks. The webinar will be live at 1pm ET/ 10am PT. You can register here.

Last week Rushton hosted a webinar with Susan Stewart that they called Activities Across Grade Levels: The Power of an Image. If you're an elementary  school teacher, this is a webinar for you. The recording is embedded below and you can get the slides and chat transcript here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

An Option for Making Sure Students Know They Have Google Classroom Assignments

Yesterday afternoon a friend texted me to ask if there was a way to check to see if students have looked at announcements or assignments in Google Classroom. Unfortunately, there isn't a "read receipt" type of feature built into Google Classroom. That doesn't mean all hope is lost for determining whether or not students recognize that they have assignments or announcements to read in Google Classroom. Here's what I've been doing and recommending to friends and colleagues who ask.

To make sure that my students are acknowledging that they have new assignments and announcements in Google Classroom I've been sending out group emails that simply say, "You have a new assignment, please check Google Classroom. Please let me know that you've read this email." But I don't leave it at that. Before I send out the email I make sure that I've enabled "request read receipt" in the message settings. The screenshot below shows you where that option is found. By having read receipt enabled I can see if a student has opened the email even if he or she doesn't actually reply to me.

If you don't see the Read Receipt option in your G Suite for Education account, ask your domain administrator if he or she can turn it on. Domain administrators can turn it on for all users or for individual users.

On a related note, my video on how to create contact groups in Gmail is embedded below.

Two Ways to Find Free Ebooks to Download

Every day I'm hearing from teachers who can't get back into their classrooms because their school buildings are completely closed. My own school building has very limited access and only by administrative approval right now. These kind of closures have left some teachers searching for online alternatives to the books, particularly free reading time books, that are in their inaccessible classrooms. If that describes your situation, here are a couple of good places to search for free ebooks that you and your students can download.

Google Books
Google Books can be a great place to search for free ebooks. One of the features that I like best about Google Books is the option to search within a book for keywords and passages before you download it. In addition to downloading ebooks you can embed free ebooks from Google Books into blog posts and webpages.

The Internet Archive
Before you jump to the Internet Archive I have to give my usual disclaimer about it. There is a ton of educational materials available through the Internet Archive. However, there is also material that you probably wouldn't want younger students to stumble upon. Therefore, I always recommend searching the Internet Archive yourself and then just selecting and downloading materials to share without sending your students to the site directly.