Wednesday, October 14, 2020

How to Use Immersive Reader in Microsoft Forms

A couple of days ago I wrote about recently discovering that Immersive Reader works in Microsoft Forms. Immersive Reader is Microsoft's free accessibility tool that enables students to hear text read aloud. It also enables students to see text in larger size, in greater contrast, and in greater spacing. When used in Microsoft Forms Immersive Reader lets students hear quiz questions and answer choices read aloud. 

Watch my short video to see how to enable Immersive Reader and how it works in Microsoft Forms. It's important to note that anyone can use Immersive Reader and it works in Chrome as well as in Edge.

How Prevent Weird Formatting in Your Blog Post Editor

A couple of weeks ago during Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff someone asked why her blog posts don't appear correctly when copying from a Word document into the blog post editor. Similarly, formatting gets weird when copying from a Google Document into a blog post editor. The reason for this is that both Word and Google Docs include some additional "hidden" information along with the text that you actually see in your blog post editor. 

The solution to the weird formatting problem that occurs when copying from Word or Google Docs into a blog post is to use your blog editor's HTML or Text mode instead of the Compose or Visual mode. When you do this you'll be inserting just text into your blog post editor. You'll have to then manually insert any links that you want to appear in the blog post. Likewise, you'll have to manually insert any spacing or indentations that you want to appear in the blog post. 

In the following video I demonstrate how to copy text from Google Docs into Blogger and into Edublogs without creating weird formatting issues. 

Applications for Education
There are some good reasons why you might be copying from Word or Google Docs into a blog post editor. One of those is having students write essays or short articles that you want to include in a classroom blog without having to give students editing access on the blog. 

Another reason you might be writing a blog post in Google Docs or Word is because you're writing where your Internet connection is spotty. For example, there's a picnic table at a little park that I like to sit at to write when the weather in nice. The trouble is that cell phone coverage is poor there and wi-fi is completely unavailable so I'll write in offline mode in Google Docs then copy and paste into my blog post editor when I do have Internet access. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Three Silent Videos About COVID-19

One of my students came ranting into class today because of a conversation she'd had with another student about facemasks and social distancing. The person she was talking with didn't think that social distancing did anything. "Mr. Byrne, how else can I explain it to her?" was the question that my student had for me. My recommendation was to share this visual made by Common Craft

Why Social Distancing Matters is one of three silent videos that Common Craft published earlier this year to help people understand how they can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The other two videos that Common Craft produced in this series are Why Masks Matter and What is Contact Tracing?

Create and Conduct Polls in Google Slides

Poll Everywhere is a polling tool that I've used off and on throughout the past decade. It's a great tool for gathering questions from an audience, polling an audience, and seeing word clouds of sentiment from an audience. People can respond to your poll questions from their laptops, tablets, and phones. 

You can use Poll Everywhere as a stand-alone tool or you can integrate it into Google Slides. When you use it in Google Slides you can seamlessly transition from your regular presentation into a polling slide. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Poll Everywhere in Google Slides. 

Applications for Education
Tools like Poll Everywhere are great for quickly assessing whether or not your students are "getting it." I like using the word cloud option in Poll Everywhere to get a sense of how my students are feeling. In fact, the slide that you see in the video above is one that I'll be using this morning to ask my virtual and in-person students how they're feeling after the long weekend. 

Get the Poll Everywhere Chrome extension here

Talking Instead of Reading

It has been nearly fifteen years since I first tried my hand at making instructional videos for my students. The first ones were not good. In fact, in response to one of my first attempts I had a student say "Mr. Byrne, please don't do that again." But I did try again and again and again. When I finally got better at it was when I dropped the script and just started talking into the camera instead of reading into the camera. 

Today when I make videos for my YouTube channel or for my students, I don't have a script at all. Instead, I just have some bullet points in a notebook (yes, a physical notebook) that I refer to while recording. 

I'm sharing this tip today because I'm seeing a lot of people try to make instructional videos for the first time this fall. Similarly, a lot of teachers are using webinar tools extensively for the first time this fall. If you're reading off of a script, your students will tune you out very quickly and or just try to "get the notes" from a classmate without having to watch your video or webinar. Keeping it short and sweet while talking to your students instead of reading to your students can go a long way toward getting them to actually watch your video. 

And don't be afraid to show some personality and or mess-ups. We're teachers, not video producers so don't feel like it has to be perfect every time you publish a video lesson for your students to watch. 

If you want some more tools, tips, and instruction on how to make and teach with video, consider enrolling in A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video