Sunday, October 4, 2020

How to Disable or Limit Google Classroom Notifications

If you're like a lot of the teachers I'm hearing from this fall, you're using Google Classroom more than ever. And if that's the case you might be feeling like you're getting overrun with notifications from Google Classroom. That was certainly the case for someone who asked me and Rushton Hurley for help in the latest episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff

If you're feeling overwhelmed or just annoyed by a barrage of notifications from Google Classroom, you can turn them off. That's exactly what I demonstrate in this new video

Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Week in Review - Search, Coding, and Microsoft Forms

Good morning from Maine where the sun is rising and revealing all of the colors of fall. Fall is my favorite time of year to be outside. Playing outside is what I plan to do with my kids today. My oldest daughter has been asking all week for us to make a leaf pile for her to jump into. So that's the first order of business after breakfast. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you have something fun on your schedule. 

This week was a weird one in my classroom. On Tuesday we went back to 100% remote teaching and learning. Then on Friday we learned we're going back to a hybrid model next week. Flexibility and being prepared for anything is the theme of this fall. Through it all, I keep blogging. 

These were the most popular posts of the week:
1. "Whoa!" - This Is Why We Should Review Search Strategies Every Year
2. Think Like a Coder - The Final Episode!
3. Good Video Lessons About Cyberbullying and Digital Privacy
4. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
5. How to Use Microsoft Forms for a Classroom Sign-in/ Sign-out Sheet
6. A Similarity Checker in Word - How Did I Miss This?
7. How to Add Shapes and Drawings to Google Docs

Thank you for your support!

  • More than 300 of you have participated in a Practical Ed Tech course or webinar this year. Those registrations help keep Free Technology for Teachers and Practical Ed Tech going. I couldn't do it without you!
  • Pixton EDU is a great tool for creating comics and storyboards. 
  • Cloud Stop Motion makes it easy to create a stop motion video in your web browser. 

Other Places to Follow Me

  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers. 
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Friday, October 2, 2020

How to Record a Video Presentation in Canva

For years Canva has been my go-to tool for making things like infographics, video cover images, and social media posts. Increasingly, I'm using it to design slideshows. A relatively new feature in Canva is the option to record a video of the presentations that you create in Canva. It's kind of like making a narrated screencast of your slides. The difference is that you can do all of the recording right in Canva and you can see your speaker notes to help you through the recording but the speaker notes don't get included in the final video. Take a look at my new video that is embedded below to see how Canva's built-in presentation recording tool works.


Canva for Education is completely free for teachers and students. Signing up for it gives you access to all kinds of cool features including the one demonstrated above and real-time collaboration

Research Starters from the National WWII Museum

Last week at the end of one of my classes we were talking about how everyone was adjusting to wearing masks all day and social distancing in school. A couple of my students grumbled about it. That grumbling was met by a reply from another student who said, "Guys, it's not that big a deal! It's not like World War II and we have to ration everything!" That statement then launched the conversation down the road to explaining what rationing in WWII meant. (Yes, this was all happening in my computer science class). I did a quick Google search to find some images of ration books from WWII to help some of the students understand what we were talking about. 

My Google search for "WWII ration books" took me to the National World War II Museum's website (a great museum to visit in person if you're ever in New Orleans). On the website there is a digital exhibit about ration books. That exhibit is part of a larger section of the National World War II Museum's website. That section is called Research Starters

Research Starters covers ten topics related to American involvement in World War II. Some of those topics include rationing, D-Day, and the role of women in WWII. The research starters aren't intended to be comprehensive overviews of the topics. Instead, the research starters are designed to launch students into further investigation of the topics. In some cases the research starters will point students to another section or collection on the National World War II Museum's website and in some cases students will have to leave the site to further their investigations. 

Applications for Education
When I taught U.S. History I always found visuals like those in the ration books exhibit to be useful not only in helping students understand the topic at hand but also for inspiring some conversation and curiosity. If you teach U.S. History, the Research Starters collection on the National WWII Museum's website is one that I'd keep bookmarked. 

How to Add Shapes and Drawings to Google Docs

Yesterday morning I had a colleague come into my classroom to ask me how she could create a document that had some arrows and boxes in it. Basically, she was trying to replicate and then slightly modify a diagram she'd seen in a textbook. I showed her a couple of methods for doing this. I'm guessing that my colleague isn't the only person who has or will wonder how to add shapes and drawings to a Google Doc, I made the following short video

In the following video you'll see two ways to add shapes and drawings to Google Docs. The first method is to use the special characters menu in Google Docs. The second method involves using the "insert drawing" menu in Google Docs.