Sunday, January 10, 2021

New Microsoft Teams Features for 2021

When it comes to learning about the latest features of Microsoft Teams there is no one better to follow than Mike Tholfsen. I've mentioned him a lot over the last couple of years. But for those who aren't familiar with him, Mike is the product manager for Microsoft Education. Last spring he started publishing a lot of tutorial videos for teachers. His latest video provides a run-down of eleven new features of Microsoft Teams for 2021. If you're a Microsoft Teams user, this video is for you. One of the things that I appreciate about this video and all of Mike's videos is that he explains use cases for the features. He also mentions which users may or may not have access to the various features.

 
Featured in the video:
  • 5 minute warning for the Teams Meetings.
  • New background options in Together Mode
  • Putting Teams apps into their own window
  • Changes to Teams video and call icons. 
  • Creating a Team directly from a SharePoint Site
  • Updated SharePoint tab app 
  • Updated SharePoint Pages tab app 
  • Teams mobile Meet Now for chat.
  • Updated iOS Meet app
  • Teams family and friends desktop and web app

Four At-home Science Experiments for Kids

Winter in Maine has lots of short and cold days. While I take my kids outside for sledding and skiing as much as possible, we still need to keep a list of fun indoor activities. That's why I subscribe to the SciShow Kids channel on YouTube. It regularly features science experiments that are perfect for young kids to do at home with the help of their parents. 

Last week SciShow Kids released a new compilation video that explains four fun science experiments that kids can do at home with their parents. I'm going to try the blubber experiment with my kids. The other three experiments are making balloon rockets (I that one with my kids a few weeks ago), making secret/ invisible ink, and making a visual illusions with cardboard and paper. The whole video is embedded below. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Annotations, Document Cameras, and Exercise - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it's going to be nice day with clear skies and temperatures peaking around 30F. In other words, it's going to be a good day for playing in the snow with my daughters. I foresee some sledding, skiing, and lots of fun in future. I'm also hoping to get some time this weekend to read A Concise History of Fly Fishing. I hope that wherever you are this weekend, you have something fun planned as well. 

This week was my first week back at school after winter break and I still managed to create some new blog posts and videos this week. Some highlights of this week in blogging include annotating your screen in Google Meet, a neat writing contest for kids, and turning your iPhone into a document camera. 

These were the most popular posts of the week:
1. Video - How to Annotate Your Screen in Google Meet
2. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
3. Overviewer - Turn Your iPhone or iPad Into a Document Camera in Zoom
4. Seven Apps and Sites to Encourage Healthy Diet and Exercise Habits
5. Boomwriter's Writing Bee - A Unique Creative Writing Contest for Kids
6. How to Add an Announcement Banner to Google Sites
7. My Favorite Feature of OneNote's Chrome Extension


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 in 2020. 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!
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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  • 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.

Daily Artifacts of U.S. History

Earlier this week I was catching up on some RSS feeds in Feedly when I came across this drawing from the patent application for the board game that became Monopoly. That drawing was the featured artifact of the day on the Today's Document website published by the U.S. National Archives. It's a resource that I frequently used when I taught U.S. History. Every day Today's Document features a new image or document from the archives. The documents are usually accompanied by some additional research links and lesson plan resources. 

The Library of Congress offers a daily artifact feed similar to the one offered by the National Archives. Today in History from The Library of Congress offers a new image or document along with the story of the notable event or person connected to it. The LOC generally includes more information about the featured artifact than what the National Archives includes about their daily documents. 

Applications for Education
When I was teaching U.S. History I used both of the resources on a regular basis. Sometimes I'd use, with modification, the lesson plans associated with the artifacts. Most of the time I just used the featured artifacts to spark little discussions about moments in history.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Ten Time-savers for G Suite for Education Users

Do you have a New Year's resolution to exercise more, read more, or just spend more time doing something fun? If you're a G Suite for Education user, you might make more time for your New Year's resolution by handling routine tasks more efficiently. To that end, here are some of my favorite time-saving tips for G Suite for Education users. 

Use a Comment Bank in Google Classroom
If you use Google Classroom to give Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets assignments to your students, create and use a comment bank to speed up the process of giving feedback to your students. Watch my video below to learn how to do this.



Use Google Keep to Add Comments to Students' Work
Google Classroom is great for giving feedback on final drafts of students' work. But if you don't use Google Classroom or you want to give students feedback on early drafts of their work, then the following method of using Google Keep to add comments to your students' Docs, Slides, and Sheets can be a time-saver.



Self-grading Quizzes
If you give multiple choice, true/false, or short-answer quizzes use automatic grading options that are available to you in Google Forms. In the following video I demonstrate how to create a self-grading quiz in Google Forms.



Set Default Point Values and Requirements in Google Forms
Almost everyone who has made created a Google Form has at one time or another forgotten to set a point value for a quiz question or forgot to require a response to a survey question. You can avoid doing that and having to go back and fix the error by creating default point values and a default question requirement for all of your Google Forms. Watch my video below to learn how to do that.



Copy and Reuse Questions from One Google Form to Another 
If you find yourself trying to make a few different versions of a quiz, importing questions from one quiz to another can be a bit of time-saver over manually rewriting entire questions and answer choices. 


Gmail Features for More Efficient Handling of Your Inbox
If opening your inbox feels like the world's longest game of whack-a-mole, Gmail has some features that can help you win at that game. Those things include creating canned responses, scheduling messages, enabling smart replies, and creating message filters. Those time-saving Gmail features are demonstrated in the video below. The video also shows you how to use confidential mode in Gmail.


Schedule Assignments in Google Classroom
I generally create all of the assignments for my classes at the start of the week. I don't give all of the assignments at once because I use the scheduling feature in Google Classroom. That way my assignments roll-out to students throughout the week to correspond to the lessons of the day. I do it this way because then I don't have to remember to post assignments at the beginning of each day. I also do it this way because I tend to work more efficiently when I focus on one task for a block of time once a week as opposed to small chunks throughout the week. (By the way, I write blog posts in similar manner).