Friday, May 15, 2020

How to Share Audio and Video in Google Classroom Without YouTube or SoundCloud

Earlier this week I had a reader ask me for advice on sharing videos in Google Classroom with her students without having to use YouTube. My suggestion was to simply upload the videos to Google Classroom as either announcements or as assignments. When you do that the video is automatically added to your Google Drive. And if you choose the assignment option, you can quickly distribute copies of the video to your students' Google Drives.

You can also share audio files with students by uploading them to your Google Classroom as announcements or assignments. Just like with videos, when you upload audio files to Google Classroom they are automatically added to your Google Drive. If you upload an audio file as an assignment in Google Classroom, you can choose to make copies for each student to have in his or her Google Drive.

In the following video I demonstrate how to upload and share audio and video files in Google Classroom without having to use third-party services like YouTube or SoundCloud.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Create Random Story Starters With Google Sheets

There are lots of neat things that you can do with Google Sheets if you know how to get started. Getting started is often the hardest part. Fortunately, there are sites like Flippity that offer great Google Sheets templates that are easy to follow. The latest template added to Flippity is a random story starter. Simply called Randomizer, Flippity's latest template can be used for story starters and random name selections for groupings.

If you just looked at Flippity's sample of the Randomizer template you would think that you can only add words to it. But when you watch my new video that is embedded below you will see that you can include pictures in the Randomizer template.

Applications for Education
Flippity's Randomizer template could be great for randomly generating writing creative writing prompts. The template could also be used to randomly generating groupings of students.

On a related note, Flippity does offer a random name picker template. A demonstration of how to use that template is included below.

Two Great Sets of Historic Maps to Use and Reuse

The Library of Congress offers a collection of images that are free to use and reuse. The LOC blog recently featured a subset of that collection called Maps of Cities. Maps of Cities is one of two sets of historic maps available through the Free to Use and Reuse collection. The other set of maps is called Discovery and Exploration.

Both the Maps of Cities and the Discovery and Exploration collections contain about two dozen historic maps that you can download and reuse for free in any classroom project. All of the maps can be downloaded as JPEG files (three sizes available) and as GIFs.

Applications for Education
I have always loved looking at maps because they spark my imagination. Historic maps in particular make me wonder about what life was like in the places depicted in those maps. Those ideas can be used to spark research and writing projects. You could have students research life about the places depicted in the historic maps. You could also have students attempt to write some historical fiction based on the maps.

Another use for these historic maps is to overlay them on current imagery. That can be accomplished in Google Earth. In the following video I demonstrate how that works.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

An Easy Way to Manage Tasks in Gmail

Raise your hand if you battle this same task management problem that I battle. I read and reply to an email then forget to do the follow-up task that is associated with email.

Here's an example of what I struggled with for years.A parent emails you on a Friday afternoon to request a meeting with you and two of your team members. You reply, "I'll set up the meeting on Monday." But when Monday comes you forget to include your team members on the meeting invitation. Does this ever happen to you? It happened to me a lot more before I started using the Add to Tasks feature in Gmail.

Add to Tasks in Gmail makes it easy to quickly add an item to your Tasks list and keep the context of the email connected to the task. The Task will appear in the sidebar of Gmail as well as on your personal Google Calendar. I find the combination of those two things to be tremendously useful in keeping track of tasks that are related emails that I send and receive.

Applications for Education
Adding an item to a Tasks list in Gmail can be a good way for students to set reminders for themselves about upcoming assignment due dates. While Google Classroom does provide an option to see assignments on their Google Calendars, some students might prefer to set reminders or advance the due date for themselves. Tasks makes it easy for students to create those reminders.

On a related note, Google Keep offers a couple of ways to create reminders.

Seven Ideas for Flipgrid Activities

One of the reasons that Flipgrid became popular and continues to grow in popularity is that it can be used across grade levels. Another reason for its popularity is that it new features are added to it on a regular basis. With every new feature comes a new way to think about how Flipgrid can be used in classrooms. I was thinking about this as I revised my slides for a webinar that I'm hosting tomorrow and I decided to jot down some ideas for using Flipgrid. Here are seven ideas for Flipgrid activities.

1. Question of the day.
This is an easy and obvious activity. It works in any classroom to get the day started. In our current state of remote learning and virtual classes having a question of the day in Flipgrid is a good way to keep the connections between you and your students going.

2. Q&A with guest speakers.
Flipgrid has a guest mode that you can use to invite people from outside of your class to join into a conversation. Use the guest access option to invite a guest speaker to post a video and reply to some of your students' questions. This could be a good way to host a virtual career day, to host an author, or host any expert who is willing to answer some questions from students.

3. Explain your work.
Last fall Flipgrid added a whiteboard capability. This lets you and your students draw on a white screen while recording. This is a great way to have students explain their work on a math problem or make a quick sketch of a flowchart.

4. Record a virtual tour.
About a month ago Flipgrid introduced a screen recording feature. This lets you and your students make screencast videos up to ten minutes long. You can make simple virtual tours by using the screen recording feature while navigating through Google Earth.

5. Pitch a book.
This might be my recent binge watch of Shark Tank coming through, but I think that a fun alternative to book reports and book trailers. Students can make thirty to ninety second "pitches" for the next book that their whole class should read. Students would pick their favorite book and pitch it to the class in an attempt to get their classmates interested in reading it. If you want, you could have students vote for their choice after all of the videos have been posted.

6. Make a puppet show. 
I regularly hear from teachers who want to use Flipgrid but have students who are not comfortable being on camera. In that case, have students use puppets on camera instead of putting their faces on camera. Looking for an at-home art project? Have kids make stick puppets to use in Flipgrid videos. Here's a Pinterest page full of ideas for making stick puppets.

7. Make a mixtape. Show highlights of the school year.
As the school year winds down many people start to think about creating videos to share highlights of the year. Flipgrid's Mixtape feature makes it easy to combine videos from multiple grids and multiple contributors. You can have students share their highlights of the school year. Or you might make a new grid and invite your colleagues to contribute their highlights of the school year. Don't forget that it is possible to upload videos to a Flipgrid grid which means that all submissions don't have to be recorded directly in Flipgrid.

The webinar that I mentioned at the top of this post is A Framework for Using Educational Technology. It will be live at 3pm ET tomorrow, May 14th.