Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Week in Review - Where Did the Time Go?

Good morning from Maine where the air feels cool and crisp this morning. We had a couple of similar mornings earlier this week. And I spotted my first red leaves this week! School starts on Monday. Where did the time go?

I'm also asking myself, "where did the time go?" this weekend because my oldest daughter turns four on Sunday. It still feels like just yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital. Now she's in pre-K and "rockin' in her school shoes," as Pete the Cat would say. While we can't have a big party for her, we are going to have cake and ice cream and do a bunch of her favorite fun things. I hope that all of you have a fun weekend too.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How to Use Grid View in Google Meet - No Chrome Extensions Required!
2. How to Create Split Screen Videos in Flipgrid
3. Five Current Google Meet Features to Note
4. Five Tips for Live Online Instruction
5. How to Direct Students to Videos Based on Answer Choices in Google Forms
6. Five Zoom Features You Need to Know
7. Factitious 2020 - Can You Spot Fake News Stories?

Online Back to School PD Opportunities
Two weeks ago I hosted Get Organized With Google Classroom, Meet, and Calendar. You can access the recording an associated materials here. This week I hosted A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video. Next week I'll be hosting a webinar on search strategies. Details for that webinar will appear on Monday on PracticalEdTech.com.

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 28,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 400 Google tools tutorials.  
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has more than 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last thirteen years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

Friday, August 21, 2020

A Comics Activity as an Icebreaker

Disclosure: Pixton EDU is currently an advertiser on this blog. 

As the new school year begins you may find yourself looking for some new ways to conduct icebreaker activities. One thing you can try is having students create avatars for themselves then talk about their designs. Then after making those avatars you might have them design a little comic to tell a story. Pixton EDU offers tools for doing both of those things.

In Pixton EDU you and your students can create characters to represent yourselves. Once you've done that you can use Pixton EDU's free Truth-or-Lie activity. Truth-or-Lie is designed as an ice-breaker or familiarization activity for your class. In the activity students create a short comic strip in which they tell a truth or a lie. They then share those comics with  you and their classmates who have to guess if the comic represents a truth or a lie.



Pixton EDU is currently running a back-to-school offer. That offer gives you 15% off their annual premium plan with this link. To be clear, everything in this blog post can be done without the premium plan.

Factitious 2020 - Can You Spot Fake News Stories?

In yesterday's episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff I shared some information about an update to a favorite resource of mine, Factitious. Factitious is a game that is designed to help students practice identifying real and fake news stories. The 2020 version of the game features stories about COVID-19.

To play Factitious simply go to the site and select start. You'll then see an article appear on the screen. Read through the article, click the source listed at the bottom, and then select either the green check mark or red X to indicate whether or not you think the article is a real news story. After you make your selection you'll get instant feedback and an explanation of how you can tell if the article was a real or fake news story.

Points are awarded in Factitious based on accuracy, speed, and whether or not you viewed the source link before making a guess at the legitimacy of the story. The 2020 version of Factitious contains three rounds with five stories in each round.

Applications for Education
Factitious is a good game for students to play after you've taught a lesson or two about how to recognize signs of misleading or false information. Alternatively, you might choose a story or two from the game to build a lesson around.

How to Include Videos in Microsoft Forms Response Feedback

Last week I shared directions on how to include videos in the answer feedback on questions in Google Forms. Microsoft Forms users can do a similar thing. When you create a quiz with Microsoft Forms there is an option to include messages to display when students view their answer summaries. Those messages can include video links.

In the following video I demonstrate how to include videos in the answer feedback in Microsoft Forms.


Applications for Education
Including videos in the answer feedback can be a good way to provide students with explanations of correct answers or incorrect answers on a quiz. You could include links to videos that you've made or links to good videos made by others.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Five Zoom Features You Need to Know

As the new school year gets going there is going to be a lot more Zoom calls in our future. At my school students are going to be on Zoom or Google Meet for at least two days of every week to start the year. If that sounds like you, here is a handful of reminders about Zoom features and how to use them.

Virtual Backgrounds:
This is an option available to Mac, Windows, and some Chromebook users. This option allows you to place any picture of your choosing in place of the background that is in your default webcam view. It’s possible to use the virtual background as a means for making a green screen video. Here’s a video on how to make a green screen video with Zoom.

Whiteboards: 
Zoom has an integrated whiteboard that you can use at any time during a meeting. You’ll find the whiteboard function in the screen-sharing menu during your Zoom call. This video shows you how to use the whiteboard in Zoom.

Breakout Rooms: 
During a Zoom call you can divide participants into groups for small group discussion then bring them back into one large group. In order to use breakout rooms in Zoom you must have the breakout room function enabled in your account settings. For a detailed overview of how to use Zoom’s breakout rooms function, watch this recorded webinar hosted by Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning.

Waiting Rooms: 
Enable the waiting room function in your Zoom account settings to prevent students from joining your Zoom meeting before you get there. Waiting rooms also allows you to make sure that no one joins your meeting without your approval. Watch this video to see how to enable the waiting room function.

Recording: 
If you plan to record your Zoom meetings, enable recording by default in your account settings. Doing this will ensure that you never forget to hit the record button at the start of your meeting.