Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Week in Review - A Bunch of Turkeys

Good evening from Maine where today it finally felt like spring. At this time last week the ground was covered in fresh snow. This evening, it was 60F and sunny. We had a fun day playing outside here and I hope that wherever you are this weekend, you got to enjoy some fresh air too.

As I do every Saturday, I've put together a list of the most popular posts of the previous seven days. Take a look and see if there is something useful that you missed earlier in the week.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Seven Ideas for Flipgrid Activities
2. Use Whiteboards in Google Meet Without Screensharing
3. Classright - A Google Sheets Add-on for Bulk Management of Google Classroom
4. Quickly Create Online Whiteboards for Your Students
5. An Important Setting for Using Audio and Video in Google Slides
6. Ten Ways to Use Wakelet
7. The Geometry of Castles - A Math Lesson in Google Earth

Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp!
Registration for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp is open. By popular demand I've added more early-bird tickets. This online PD event will feature ten live, interactive webinars on a wide array of topics applicable to every classroom. It will be held three times this summer. There is a June session and two July sessions. Register for the session of your choice here.

On-demand PD
I've been hosting professional development webinars for a decade.
Thank You for Your Support!
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Friday, May 15, 2020

Ten Ways to Use Wakelet

One of the reasons that Wakelet has become popular in schools in the last couple of years is that it can be used for a wide range of activities. It's also popular because it can be used in a wide range of grade levels and subject areas. I mentioned this in a webinar that I hosted yesterday afternoon. This morning I woke up still thinking about that so I made a list of ideas for using Wakelet. Here are ten ways that Wakelet can be used by students and teachers.

If you've never tried Wakelet, watch this video to learn how to get started. 

1. Make an online art gallery.
Wakelet lets you upload images to display. Students, their parents, or you can take pictures of their artwork then upload it to a collaborative Wakelet collection. You can even embed that collection into a website.



2. Make and share instructional videos.
Last year Wakelet integrated Flipgrid's video recording tool. You can use this to create instructional videos within a Wakelet collection. This can be a great way to organize a series of instructional videos around a topic or unit that you're teaching.



3. Question/ Picture/ Video of the Day.
If you're not using a learning management system that contains an easy way to post daily prompts for your students to reply to, consider using Wakelet. You can post a prompt and have your students reply by writing a reply, recording a video, or by uploading an image. Just make sure you've enabled collaboration on your Wakelet collections.

4. Organize research.
Use Wakelet's browser extension to save links and files while researching a topic for paper or presentation. Use the "easy reorder" option in your Wakelet collection when you need to sort your resources.


5. At-home activity collections.
Parents are looking for suggestions for educational activities they can do at home with their kids. Create a Wakelet collection to share suggestions with parents. You might even consider enabling collaboration on the collection and letting parents contribute to the collection.

6. Video collections.
Want to do more than just make a playlist in YouTube? Consider making a collection of videos in Wakelet. You can include videos from many sources besides YouTube and organize collections by theme or topic.

7. Archive a Twitter chat.
Do you participate in Twitter chats? Do you want to have a record of that chat? You can import a Twitter hashtag into a Wakelet collection.

8. Simple blog or journal.
You can write as much or as little as you like in a post in a Wakelet collection. Use this as a simple way to create an online journal that can be public or private.

9. Aspirations board.
Use Wakelet as a place to share goals or aspirations. These collections could feature pictures, writing, or both.

10. End-of-year reflections and highlights.
Create a collaborative Wakelet collection in which students share their reflections or highlights from the school year.

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.