Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the April showers and wind arrived in earnest on Thursday and didn't stop until late last night. Thankfully, it looks like today will be a nice day for playing outside and doing a bit of spring yard work. The governor of Maine issued a stay-at-home order this week so playing in the yard is the extent of our travel for a while. I've never appreciated having a backyard more than right now. I hope that wherever you are that you can get outside a bit this weekend too. After a week of online teaching and learning we all need some fresh air.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Now You Can Use Flipgrid to Make Screencast Videos
2. Learn How to Use These 5 Time-saving Gmail Features in 2020
3. An Option for Making Sure Students Know They Have Google Classroom Assignments
4. Create Video-based Lessons a Little Faster With This Chrome Extension
5. Schedule Individual Online Office Hours Meetings via Google Classroom
6. A Map Coloring Challenge
7. How to Create Simple Videos on a Chromebook - No Apps or Extensions Needed

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, I am planning to host some in April so stay tuned for more information about those soon. And I'm always available to schedule custom, online PD for your school.

Thank You for Your Support!

Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides 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
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 18,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 350 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 Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

Webinar Recording - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff

On Friday afternoon Rushton Hurley and I hosted the second episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff. It's a half-hour webinar that we do to, you guessed it, answer tech questions and share some interesting tools that we've found on the web. This week we answered some of the questions we answered included privacy in online meetings, copyright, and pesky problems with microphones.

The webinar recording, slides, and links to additional resources can be found here.

Friday, April 3, 2020

A Random Name and Image Picker

Wheel of Names is a free random name picker website that I learned about from Tony Vincent in one of his Tweets earlier this week. There are plenty of random name pickers available on the web. Wheel of Names is a little different than most because it not only lets you enter names, it lets you upload images to be chosen at random. Wheel of Names also lets you create a free account that you can use to save a series of wheels. That option could be helpful if you have multiple classes and don't want to enter names whenever you need to pick a name at random.

In the following video I provide an overview of how you can use Wheel of Names. Highlights of the video include:
  • Uploading images for random selection. 
  • Customizing the playback of the random selector wheel. 
  • Saving and accessing multiple random selector wheels. 

Applications for Education
Besides using Wheel of Names to pick names, you could use it to pick images or words at random. In that sense you could use it as a tool to give random writing prompts to students.

The Practical Ed Tech Podcast - Episode 40 - For Real This Time

In this episode share some new and neat things from the world of ed tech, share a new way to support my work (if you want to), and answered some questions from readers, viewers, and listeners like you. The complete show notes can be found here.

Shout-out to Tony Vincent and Mr. Charlwood for a couple of the cool tools.

You can listen to episode 40 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:

How to Use PDFs in Google Classroom

On Thursday afternoon a reader asked me about using PDFs in Google Classroom. She was having a little trouble with students not being able to access the PDFs she was trying to share. I made the following video to help guide her and anyone else in the same situation through the process of sharing PDFs in Google Classroom.

In this video:
  • How to attach PDFs directly to announcements in Google Classroom. 
  • How to upload PDFs to Google Drive. 
  • How to distribute PDFs as assignments in Google Classroom. 

There are a few reasons why someone might want to use PDFs instead of Google Docs in Google Classroom. First, if you are new to Google Classroom and don't have time to recreate some of your resources attaching PDFs is quick and easy. Second, you may not want students editing the contents of the document. A PDF doesn't mean a student can't edit it at all, it's just a lot more difficult for them to do that. Third, the item you're sharing was designed as a PDF and will lose some important formatting if it's converted into Google Docs or Word format.

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