Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Week in Review - Online Meetings, Baseball Cards, and Forts

Good morning from Maine where the birds are chirping and it feels like spring as I sip my coffee. We're going to spend the day playing in the yard. Spring has come a little earlier than normal here in Maine otherwise we might be going crazy isolating in the house. Rain is in the forecast for tomorrow so we'll probably be building some indoor forts. On a related note, my toddlers keep asking "when will all the sick people get better?" because they want to be able to go back to their gymnastics classes and their favorite playground.

This week I held some class meetings via Google Hangouts. The first one was a bit like herding cats, but the second and third ones went much better. How are your online class meetings going? How about online staff meetings?

Indulge me as I share one more personal note before jumping to this week's most popular posts. Every spring I look forward to opening day of baseball season. I usually make cook some hot dogs, get a cheap beer, and enjoy the first game the year. Opening day was supposed to be this past Thursday. Opening day being canceled prompted me to go up to my attic and look through old baseball cards. It was fun trip down memory lane that I shared on Instagram.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Three Ways to Share Docs in Google Classroom - When to Use Each
2. 5 Google Classroom Tips for Teachers - Things You Might Have Overlooked or Forgotten
3. An Option for Making Sure Students Know They Have Google Classroom Assignments
4. An Overview of How Students View and Return Assignments in Google Classroom
5. Two Collections of Hands-on Science Lessons Students Can Do At Home
6. A Solution to Zoom "Not Responding" on Windows 10
7. Knowt Will Turn Your Notes and Favorite Webpages Into Quizzes for You

Online PD With Me!
I've been hosting professional development webinars for a decade. My most popular webinars are available on-demand right here. If you prefer live webinars, starting April 6th I'm working with Ed Tech Teacher to teach Making Multimedia Social Studies Lessons - Audio, Video, and More.

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.

How to Share Your Computer's Audio in Microsoft Teams

Whether it's the basics of how the technology works or "features" right now we're all learning a lot about hosting online meetings. For example, this week I learned about sharing system audio in Microsoft Teams meetings. Microsoft Teams isn't a service that I use on a regular basis so when I do use it there is a bit of fumbling around at first. I learned about sharing system audio in Microsoft Teams by watching this video produced by Mike Tholfsen.


Applications for Education
As Mike explained in the video, sharing system audio is the way to make sure that your students can hear the videos and audio files that you have included in presentation.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Free Course - A Teacher's Guide to Creating Common Craft Style Videos

For more than a dozen years Common Craft videos have been used by teachers to help students understand topics including digital citizenship, personal finance, and many big technology concepts. One of the things that makes Common Craft videos popular is the clear and concise manner in which information is presented using a whiteboard, simple cutouts, and voice over. That style has become known as the Common Craft style and many teachers including myself have had students make videos using that style. Now Common Craft offers their own free course for teachers who want to make Common Craft style videos in their classrooms.

A Teacher's Guide to Creating Common Craft Style Videos is a free self-paced course that contains five modules. The modules start with the key concepts of the Common Craft style before moving onto walk you through the tools you need (and don't need), the planning process (a downloadable template included), and the final production steps. Throughout the course there are examples of work done by teachers and students.

And if you have never seen a Common Craft video before, here's a good one to get started.


For those looking to do a little more reading about the Common Craft style, take a look at The Art of Explanation written by Lee LeFever.

Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft. 

Anchor Offers a New Way to Remotely Record Podcasts With a Group

Anchor is the service that I have been using since last August to produce my weekly Practical Ed Tech Podcast. I use Anchor because Anchor makes it incredibly easier to record, edit, and publish my podcast to all of the major podcast networks at once. In other words, with just a couple of clicks my podcast gets distributed to Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, and a handful of other networks. You can see my whole process outlined in this video and blog post.

Most of my podcast episodes are solo efforts, but I have done a handful with guests including this one with Scott McLeod and this one with LT Rease Miles. I used Zoom to record those episodes and then publish them through Anchor. While that process works, it could be easier. Fortunately, Anchor has introduced a new way to record podcasts with remote guests.

Anchor now lets you record with up to four remote guests even if they don't have Anchor accounts. To do this just open the Anchor app, click record, and then click "invite friends" to send them a link to join you in your recording. Guests can open the link in Firefox, Safari, Edge, or the Anchor app (Chrome support coming soon) and start recording with you. The whole process is demonstrated in this new video from Anchor.


Applications for Education
If you're looking for a way to have your students create podcasts while your school is closed, Anchor's new remote recording option could be just what you need. Anchor offers some ideas for podcast topics here or you could head to the Story Corps Great Questions page to look for some podcast topics.

How to Quickly Turn Any Document or Webpage Into a Practice Quiz

On Tuesday I wrote about the new version of Knowt that will let you import any of your Google Docs, Word docs, or any public webpage into a notebook. Once in your notebook it just takes one more click to have a practice quiz created for you. As I demonstrate in the following video, Knowt will generate quizzes with three question formats and will generate multiple quizzes from the same document or webpage.


Knowt has a product for teachers coming soon. The teacher version will let you create notebooks and practice activities to share with your students. You can register for early access to the teacher version right now.