Monday, February 22, 2021

How to Create a Google Slides Template

A couple of weeks ago I published directions for creating and editing master slides in Google Slides. Last week I received a follow-up question regarding using those edited master slides as a template for other presentations. If you're using Google Slides in a G Suite for Education Google Workspaces for Education account, there is a fairly easy way to turn your master slides into a template for you and your students to use and re-use. In this video I demonstrate how that process works to create a Google Slides template. 



Applications for Education
Creating a template is a great way to use consistent branding of presentations and it's also great for helping students follow guidelines for presentations. For example, I have a rule that font must be at least 28 points with no more than three lines per slide. Having a template for students to follow is a good way to help them follow those basic guidelines.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Recordings, Whiteboards, and Snow - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where a fresh coat of snow fell last night. It's just enough to make for good sledding and skiing, but not so much that it's a pain to clear from the walkways and driveway. 

This week I was school vacation week here in Maine. I took most of the week off from writing new blog posts. I did, however, publish a few new videos on my YouTube channel. The rest of the week I spent mostly tinkering around the house, riding my bike, and doing a little skiing. Now I'm ready for school to start again on Monday. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Three Easy Ways for Students to Make Short Audio Recordings - No Email Required
2. Whiteboard.chat - Create Online Whiteboards You Can Share and Monitor
3. Some of my Favorites - Creating Green Screen Videos
4. Video - How to Annotate Your Screen in Google Meet
5. Ten Time-savers for G Suite for Education Users
6. Some of my Favorites - Flipgrid Whiteboard
7. Some of my Favorites - DIY Common Craft Videos

Thank you for your support! 
  • More than 300 of you have participated in a Practical Ed Tech course last year. Those registrations help keep Free Technology for Teachers and Practical Ed Tech going. I couldn't do it without you!
  • BoomWriter is hosting a unique creative writing contest for kids. Check it out!
  • Spaces takes a new approach to digital portfolios. Give it a try!
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 33,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fourteen 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.

Some of my Favorites - Geocaching!

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools.

Geocaching is one of the things that I spend a good bit of time talking about in both my workshop 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Learning. Geocaching is a great activity to do to get kids outside for hands-on learning experiences. Here are five things that you can teach through geocaching activities.

Geospatial Awareness
The core of geocaching activities is locating hidden caches. This can be done through the use of GPS (either on a phone, a smartwatch, or on a dedicated GPS unit) or in an "old school" method of using maps. Finding a cache can require students to have an understanding of the distance between two or more places.

Cardinal Direction
Do your students know in which direction to turn if you tell them to walk north? Teach them about cardinal direction through geocaching activities. You can set up geocaching activities in and around your school yard that don't require students to use any electronic devices. Simply make a map or make a list of clues that give students information about the directions and distances they need to go in order to find a series of caches.

Earth Science
Let students test use their knowledge of rock types or plant types as they seek geocaches. You can incorporate a little civic duty into the lesson by asking students to pick up litter they find while geocaching.

Citizenship
If you or your students use the official Geocaching website to find caches in your area, you may find some that border on private property. This is an opportunity to teach students about respecting the property of others. Another opportunity to teach a lesson about citizenship is found in playing by the rules of geocaching. For example, students shouldn't move caches they've found.

Digital Citizenship
As with any activity that incorporates an online, public-facing component participating in official Geocaching activities provides us with a good opportunity to review the basics of good digital citizenship. Students who are placing caches for inclusion on the public listings of Geocaches need to be mindful of not including personally identifying and other sensitive information in their descriptions and hints.

Bonus item: It's hard for me to talk about geocaching without thinking about a couple of classic "geography songs." Enjoy!


Friday, February 19, 2021

Some of my Favorites - Create Labeling Activities in Google Drawings

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools and blog posts.


In the video that is embedded below I demonstrate how to use Google Drawings to create a labeling activity and then distribute it to students through Google Classroom. In the video I used the example of creating an activity in which students drag state names onto a blank map of New England. A variation on that activity would be to have students using the arrow tools in Google Drawings to draw connections between the labels and the states. Watch the video below to see how the whole process works including how students complete the activity in Google Classroom.

Make Sign-in/ Sign-out Sheets With Google Forms or Microsoft Forms

This week is school vacation week here in Maine. I usually take this week off to go ice fishing on Moosehead Lake. Unfortunately, that's not happening this year. Instead I'll be "staycationing" and working on some projects around home. While on my staycation I'll be sharing some of my personal favorite tools.

In the past, I've always been fortunate that I didn't have "wanderers" who signed-out for the bathroom and never re-appeared. That's largely due to the fact that my classes are electives that kids choose to attend to begin with. So I never kept great records of when kids signed-out and signed-in from trips to the bathroom. But this year, for contact-tracing purposes, I have to keep much better records of when students leave my classroom than I have in the past. Rather than keeping a paper sign-out/ sign-in sheet, I'm using a Google Form that I have posted as a material in Google Classroom.

In the following video I demonstrate how I created a sign-out/sign-in sheet in Google Forms, how I post it in Google Classroom, and how students utilize it. In the video I also provide a possible modification of the Form.



It is possible to the same thing with Microsoft Forms. In this video I demonstrate how to create a sign-in/ sign-out sheet with Microsoft Forms. In the video I also explain variations on the form and how students complete the form.