Monday, December 7, 2020

How to Reduce Noise in Microsoft Teams Meetings

Good microphones like Blue Snowball microphones can help you sound better in a virtual meeting. But you can also use a new feature in Microsoft Teams to reduce the background noise that comes through your calls. In this new video Mike Tholfsen demonstrates how to reduce background noise in Microsoft Teams calls. It's an impressive demonstration of filtering noises like crunching chips and vacuum cleaners running. 

Applications for Education
If your school is using Microsoft Teams for online instruction, this feature is one that you'll want to show your students and colleagues how to use. It can help you sound better which in turn will help your students follow your instruction a bit better. It can help your students sound better which will make it easier to hear their questions during live online instruction. 

New Shapes and Fonts in Book Creator

Book Creator is one of my favorite tools for creating ebooks. It's a versatile tool that can be used to publish multimedia fiction and non-fiction stories. I've also recommended using it to have students create portfolios of their best work. 

Last week Book Creator introduced a few new features. Two of those are available to all users including those who are on the free plan. Those new features are new shapes and new font choices. The new shapes can  be added to any page and customized on any page in a Book Creator book. The same is true for the twelve new fonts available in Book Creator. 

I wasn't terribly excited about new shapes until I watched this video that Book Creator published. It demonstrates how the shapes can be used together to create artwork in a book. 

A Fun and Free PD Webinar!

Every week I join Rushton Hurley for a fun half-hour webinar that is simply titled Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff. We enjoy answering questions that are sent in before and during the webinar. And we enjoy sharing some interesting things that we've found around the web. My shares lean toward "cool and practical" while Rushton's lean toward "cool and inspiring." Register here to join us for the next webinar this Thursday at 4pm ET/ 1pm ET. 

The recording of last week's episode is available to view here. All of the resources we shared can be found here on the Next Vista for Learning webinars page

Five Key Features of Making Comics in Canva

Last week Canva introduced new comic strip creation templates. There has long been tools for making comics in Canva, but now Canva is offering templates specifically for making comics. Canva's comic gallery contains templates for making comics in a variety of layouts and formats. All of the templates can be customized to your heart's content. 

If you are a current Canva for Education user, you may already know that your students can now collaborate online on any graphics. That's just one of the many good features available when making comics in Canva. In this video I demonstrate how to create comics in Canva and outline five key features of creating comics in Canva. 

Five Key Features of Making Comics in Canva

  • Online, real-time collaboration on comic strips. 
  • Customize hundreds of pieces of artwork/ drawings/ clip art. 
  • Customize the size, spacing, and number of frames per comic. 
  • Publish comics as stand-alone websites. 
  • Publish comics as PDFs and images. 

Applications for Education
In my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter I outlined five ideas for incorporating comic strip creation into your classroom. Those ideas included illustrating vocabulary words, illustrating favorite stories, creating timelines, making digital greeting cards, and illustrating original writing. 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

The Week in Review - Here Comes the Snow!

Good morning from Maine where, if the weather forecast is correct, by this time tomorrow my cleanly raked lawn will be covered in a foot of fresh snow. It sure feels like it's going to snow. I'm looking forward to doing some sledding and making snowmen with daughters. I'm not looking forward to shoveling. I hope that you also have something fun that you're looking forward to this weekend. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. City Walks - Hear and See Cities Around the World
2. Twelve Free Apps for Math Instruction
3. Write on PDFs in Google Classroom - Good Tool for Math
4. Three G Suite/ Google Workspaces Updates to Note
5. Inexpensive Equipment to Improve Online Meetings
6. Dozens of Bell Ringers to Start Your Social Studies Lessons
7. Three Ways to Create Online Forms to Collect Samples of Your Students' Work

Professional Development Opportunities 
Through Practical Ed Tech I'm currently offering two on-demand learning opportunities:
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. 
  • Wakelet is a great tool for making collections of resources, recording video, and more!
  • GAT Labs offers a great, free guide to using Google Workspaces in online classrooms.  
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 31,000 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.

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