Monday, August 31, 2020

The Month in Review - Back to School

Greetings from the Free Technology for Teachers world headquarters in Maine.

It's a sunny day here in Maine and great afternoon to soak up the last rays of summer sunshine. Leaves are starting to change color on some of the trees around here. The first red leaves of the year provide a small sense of normalcy as we start a new school year in a way that is definitely not normal.  I hope that all of you can also find some small sense of normalcy as your new school year begins too.

One of the normal things that I do every month is create a list of most popular posts of the month. Here's that list:

1. New Google Classroom and Google Meet Updates to Note
2. Use Whiteboards in Google Meet Without Screensharing
3. How to Use Grid View in Google Meet - No Chrome Extensions Required!
4. How to Make a Whiteboard Video in Flipgrid
5. What You Need to Know About the Latest Version of Flipgrid
6. All About Zoom Breakout Rooms
7. Seven Zoom Tutorials to Watch Before School Starts
8. Five Tips for Live Online Instruction
9. How to Direct Students to Videos Based on Answer Choices in Google Forms
10. Five Current Google Meet Features to Note

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 460,000 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.

How to Use Google Drive to Comment on Videos

One of the great "hidden" features of Google Drive that is often overlooked is that you can comment on almost any file that you upload to your Google Drive. This includes videos that you upload to Google Drive. That's exactly what I demonstrate in this new video.


Applications for Education
As I mentioned in the video above, using uploading videos and sharing them in Google Drive can be a good way for you to give students private feedback on videos that they make. You could also use commenting on videos to have students ask you questions about instructional videos you share with them.

Every U.S. Presidential Election Through 2012 Explained

Last week I featured a couple of videos about the Electoral College that Keith Hughes produced. Keith has many other excellent videos for U.S. Government and U.S. History students. One set of those videos is Presidential Elections Explained. In that set of videos Keith explains the outcomes and significance of every U.S. Presidential Election through 2012. I've embedded a few of those videos below.

The First Presidential Election


The Election of 1860


The Election of 1904


The Election of 2008

Saturday, August 29, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good evening from Maine where we had a cold and rainy late August day. It was a good day for making cookies (oatmeal chocolate chip) and watching Winnie the Pooh with my kids. After a long first week back at school, it was the kind of day that I needed.

I didn't have students in my classroom this week. This week was all about getting my classroom organized for social distancing, re-imaging computers, and rebuilding the network for my classroom. And we had a few meetings too. As I Tweeted earlier this week, our staff meetings are happening outside and some folks are bringing camp chairs to them. If there's an upside to our "new normal" it's that we're getting outside more often during the school day.

These were the most popular posts of the week:
1. Three Ways for Students to Join Google Classroom
2. Getting Started With Flipgrid - Teacher & Student Views
3. Tools for Displaying YouTube Videos Without Distractions
4. The Five Things I've Been Asked About the Most at the Start of the New School Year
5. ICYMI - Get Your Free Copy of the 2020-21 Practical Ed Tech Handbook
6. How to Use Remind to Send Messages to Multiple Classes at the Same Time
7. How to Use Nicknames in Google Meet - And Why You Should Try It

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 460,000 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.

How to Increase the Chances of Your Students Actually Watching Your Instructional Videos

On Friday I gave a couple of presentations at my school about ways to improve the chances that students actually watch the entirety of the videos that we share with them. Some of the ideas that I shared apply to videos that you make and some of the ideas apply to videos that you find online. In total there were five key points in my presentation. Those points are outlined below.

1. Turn on your camera, elevate it, look at it. 
Even if it's subconsciously, students want to see your face and know that you're there. Turning on your camera, even when making a screencast video, can improve the chances that your students will watch your video and pay attention to it.

Put your camera at eye level or slightly higher. Doing this makes it easier to make eye contact with your camera which makes for a far better viewing experience than looking up at your face. A better viewing experience is going to increase the odds of students watching your video all the way through.

2. Include a call to action. 
At the end of your video, ask your students to do something. That something could be to write a response, record a response (Flipgrid is perfect for that), or to complete some kind of hands-on task. Whatever it is, give students something to do with the information that they've just received from your instructional video.

3. Make playlists in Google Slides/ PowerPoint/ Keynote. 
Whether you're sharing your own videos or videos that you've found online, consider putting them into slides and then sharing the slides with your students. This removes the distracting "related" content on YouTube.

Google Slides users can share their slides full of videos via Google Classroom. After students have the link to view the slides you can still add more videos to the slides and students will see those additions.

4. Use the "go to section based on answer" function in Google Forms. 
You can add videos into your Google Forms and then have students answer questions posted below those videos. If you use, "go to section based on answer" you can require students to answer questions about the videos correctly before moving on to the next section of the form. The process is outlined in this video.

5. Use EDpuzzle.
EDpuzzle is a tool that I used a lot last spring and will probably use a lot this fall to build questions into videos that I share with students. The best feature of EDpuzzle is the option to prevent students from fast-forwarding videos just to get to the questions. Here's an overview of how to use EDpuzzle.