Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where it is still an hour before sunrise as I compose this blog post. Next weekend we'll change the clocks and we'll be back to at least seeing some sunshine before school begins. Of course, that will also mean an earlier sunset. Such is life in northern New England. 

To the category of "things I've learned during this pandemic" this week I discovered that if I haven't shaved for a week my face gets extra itchy behind the masks that I have to wear all day in my classroom. I'll be back to the clean-shaven-but-covered-with-mask look on Monday. Before Monday gets here I plan to play outside with my kids and rake more leaves. I hope that you also have something fun to do this weekend. 

  • 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.
  • My YouTube channel has more than 30,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of edtech tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for thirteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • And if you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Instagram or Strava.

JotForm Offers an Easy Way to Schedule Meetings

Yesterday I wrote a short overview of some tools for scheduling parent-teacher conferences. JotForm was one of the tools featured in that post. One of the things that is great about JotForm's meeting scheduling tool is that it prevents double-booking of time slots. I made the following short video to demonstrate how easy it is to create a meeting scheduling form with JotForm. 

Friday, October 23, 2020

How to Simultaneously Caption and Translate Presentations

In this week's episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff Rushton and I addressed a question about improving the accessibility of presentations for ELL students. One of my suggestions was to try using the caption and translate option that is built into the online version of PowerPoint. 

In the online version of PowerPoint (free for anyone who wants to use) you can select the language that you are speaking in and the language in which you want your live captions to appear. For example, I can speak in English and have my captions appear in Icelandic. In fact, that's exactly what I demonstrate in the following short video

Take a Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video This Weekend

How to make instructional videos is far and way the topic that I have received the most questions about over the last six months. That's why I put together a self-paced Practical Ed Tech course on how to make and teach with video

A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video gives you everything you need to know to create instructional videos and nothing that you don't need to know. It's short enough for you to complete in a weekend and be ready to roll-out your first video on Monday morning. 

Whether you have a Windows computer, a Mac, or a Chromebook you can do everything that is taught in this course. Teachers of elementary school, middle school, and high school students will find this course prepares them to make videos for their students. And as a bonus, you'll get ideas for video projects your students can do.

In A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video you'll learn:

  • Best practices for creating instructional videos.
  • Five easy methods for making instructional videos.
  • How to responsibly share video lessons with your students.
  • The equipment you do and don’t need.
  • How to avoid copyright problems.
  • How to make sure your students actually watch your video lessons!

I announce the Practical Ed Tech webinars and courses on this blog because the registrations from them goes to keeping the lights on at Free Technology for Teachers. And while all the tools featured in the webinars and courses are available for free, my time for teaching isn't free.

Tools for Scheduling Parent-Teacher Conferences and Other Meetings

The end of the first quarter or third of the school year is almost here for many of us. That means it's time for parent-teacher conferences. At my school, we have to schedule those meetings with parents. Based on the questions I've seen in my inbox this week, my school isn't the only one that requires teachers to set conference times. I use the appointment slots feature in Google Calendar to set my schedule and let parents sign-up, but that's not the only way it can be done. 

JotForm
JotForm is a good alternative to Google Forms and Microsoft Forms. In JotForm there is an option to add appointment registration questions. You can set appointment slots of 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes. Once an appointment has been claimed it can't be claimed by anyone else visiting your form. 

Choice Eliminator 2
This is a Google Forms add-on that will remove answer choices from a question as they get used up. To use it you should make a question in Google Forms that has all available appointment times listed in a drop-down menu. Once a time has been chosen by one form respondent it cannot be claimed by anyone else. 

A known quirk of Choice Eliminator 2 is that there is a lag between when a choice is made and when it actually gets eliminated. That means it is possible that two people could make the same choice if they're filling out the form at the same time.

Calendly
The free version of Calendly will let you easily create appointment slots with just a click or two. More importantly, people who want to schedule an appointment with you just have to click a time on your calendar and enter their names in order to reserve an appointment. Visitors do not have to have a Google Account to view or enter information into an appointment slot. Visitors who make appointments with you through Calendly can sync the appointment to their own Google Calendars, iCal, or Outlook calendars.

Google Calendar Appointment Slots
Using appointment slots in Google Calendar makes scheduling very easy compared to trying to use email, a spreadsheet, or even a shared Google Calendar. Watch this video to learn how you can make appointment slots in your Google Calendar.



Here's how to combine Google Calendar appointment slots with Zoom and Google Classroom.