Friday, March 5, 2021

Seven Free Tools That Help Students Format Bibliographies

Back when I was in high school we had to learn how to create bibliographies by working from a template that my history teacher, Mr. Diggs, provided to us. When I went to college, I referred to that template and an early version of The Student Writer to make bibliographies. Today, students have a wealth of online tools that can help them properly structure citations and bibliographies. I've featured a handful of them over the last couple of years. Here they are. 

Google Docs includes citation tool that makes most citation add-ons redundant. With citation tool in Google Docs you can create MLA, APA, and Chicago style citations directly in Google Docs without the need for a third-party add-on. You'll find the new citation feature in the tools drop-down menu in Google Docs. Watch this video to see how it works.


Microsoft Word users have a couple of options available to them when it comes to getting help with bibliography formatting. First, Word has a built-in reference tab in which you can choose the style for your bibliography and then simply enter the requested information to have your bibliography created for you. The other option is to use the EasyBib add-in for Word. The EasyBib add-in for Word will generate citations and bibliographies from links and book titles. 


Bibcitation is a free tool that supports dozens of citation styles. To use Bibcitation select the type of resource that you're citing and then enter the requested information. In many cases, just entering the title of a book or a webpage URL will fill-in all of the other required information for you. After you have entered into Bibcitation all of the resources that you need to cite, a list of the citations will be generated for you. You can then download all of the citations in your preferred style as a document, as HTML, or as BibTex. Here's a video overview of how it works.



QuickCite is a free tool that helps students create properly formatted MLA 8 citations. QuickCite can also be used by students to create informal citations for use in things like blog posts, slideshows, and videos. One of the features of QuickCite that I particularly like is that it provides little help bubbles for students to consult if they aren't sure what to enter into the citation. I highlight that feature and other features of QuickCite in the following video.



MyBib is another free tool that students can use to create citations and bibliographies in a wide range of styles including the popular MLA, APA, Chicago, IEEE, and Harvard styles. Watch my video to see how your students can use MyBib to create bibliographies.



Formatically is a free tool that was designed by college students to help other students create properly formatted works cited pages. To use Formatically's instant citation tool just paste the URL of the page that you want to cite into the instant citation tool. Once pasted into the tool you can choose the format that you want to use for your citation. If there is an error in the citation, you can correct it by clicking the edit icon at the end of the written citation. The system works the same way for books except that rather than entering a web page URL you enter a book title. Watch the video embedded below to learn more about Formatically's instant citation tool.

27 Videos That Can Help Students Improve Their Writing

The Writer's Workshop is a playlist of twenty-seven TED-Ed video lessons about writing. The The Writer's Workshop contains lessons on basic topics like how to use punctuation and point of view. It also offers videos about more difficult topics like how to make your writing humorous.

A few of the videos from The Writer's Workshop playlist are embedded below.

First, Second, and Third Person


When to Use Apostrophes


How to Make Your Writing Funnier




Applications for Education
TED-Ed's The Writer's Workshop is a good place for students to find some quick lessons on punctuation and grammar. Students who are ready to take their writing to a new level could benefit from the TED-Ed videos on irony, introductions, and building fictional worlds.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Why My Dogs Have Email Addresses and Your Dog or Cat Should Too

People often get a kick out of learning that my dogs have their own email addresses. You can send them email at Mason or Fionn (at) freetech4teachers.com and they'll get back to you as soon as they learn to type.

My dogs have email addresses because I conduct a lot of workshops throughout the year and I don't always want to use my personal email account to either register for a service or to demonstrate a function on a big screen. By using the fake email accounts that I've created for my dogs I don't have to clutter my personal email with lots of account registrations that I may or may not use again. Likewise, I don't have to open my personal accounts on a big screen in front of a group.

The other reason that I use my dogs' email accounts to register for services is so that I can demonstrate how to use a site or app from square one. For example, when I conduct Google Workspaces workshops I will use Mason's email account to demonstrate all facets of setting-up an account, adjusting settings, and adding new content to the account. By doing it this way new users see all steps on my screen the same as they will on their own screens.

If you find yourself conducting a lot of training sessions for colleagues or students, take a minute or two to create a fake email account for demonstration purposes.

The Wall of Birds - Hear the Calls of Birds and See Their Ranges

We're starting to see some birds returning to feeders around our house. Before too long we'll be waking up to the sounds of bird calls. Seeing the birds return reminded me of a great resource from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. That resource is the Wall of Birds

The Wall of Birds is a neat site published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The Wall of Birds features a mural of 243 hand-painted birds. The mural's backdrop is a map of the world. You can zoom and pan across the mural to see all of the birds. Clicking on a bird will open a side pane that contains information about that bird's habitat and habits. The side pane also contains an audio recording of the bird's call.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a YouTube channel that is full of short videos about birds in their natural habitats. The videos provide students with another way to see and hear a variety of birds.



Applications for Education
As the weather warms in the Northern Hemisphere a fun outdoor learning activity is to take students on nature walks during which they try to identify as many different birds as possible. They could do this by sight and sound with the help of some of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's resources.

Merlin Bird ID is another tool that could help students identify birds. It is a free iPhone and Android app that helps you identify birds that you see in North America. To help you identify a bird you've see Merlin Bird ID asks you a few questions about the color of the bird, its size, where you saw it, and when you saw it. Merlin Bird ID will suggest which bird you saw based on your answers to the identification questions. The suggestion will come with pictures of the bird and some information about it. In some cases you will be able to listen to a recording of the bird's call.

How to Make a Copy of a Google Doc That Isn't Directly Shared With You

From time to time I publish charts and other digital hand-outs that I have created in Google Documents. For example, I recently shared this chart comparing student blogging tools and this chart comparing multimedia timeline creation tools. When I share those charts I publish them as Google Documents marked as "view only." If you want to make copies of the charts you can do so by following the steps outlined in the short video embedded below.



On a related note, you can search for any publicly shared Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets by following the steps outlined in the video below.