Thursday, July 1, 2021

All Paygrade Features are Now Free

PayGrade is a classroom economy simulation that you can use all year in just about any classroom setting. Recently, PayGrade was acquired by an online investment company called Stash. A result of that acquisition is that all of the features of PayGrade are now free for all teachers and students. 

How PayGrade Works
Last year I wrote this detailed overview of how PayGrade works. The following is a condensed version of that overview. 


PayGrade lets you create an online classroom space in which students have to complete jobs to earn virtual currency. PayGrade offers a list of jobs that you can assign to your students or you can create your own jobs for students to complete. Some of the default job listings that you'll find listed in PayGrade are secretary, conservationist, and technology assistant. The rate of pay for each job is something that you can choose.

At the end of each week in PayGrade your students get paid in virtual currency that they can redeem for various rewards of their choosing. Students also have the option to just bank their virtual currency for use at a later date.

PayGrade isn't just a simple "students do jobs, students get rewards" system. That is because students have to pay bills from their virtual paychecks before they can spend their currency for things that they want.

This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com.

Coming Later This Month...

The July session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp begins in eleven days. If you haven't registered for the session of your choice, you can do so up until the day before it starts. While the early-bird discount has passed, you can still get group discounts. 

There is a July session and an August session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. In all both sessions we'll cover ten key topics over the course of ten live webinars (recordings will also be available). 

These are the topics for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp:
  • Teaching Search Strategies & Digital Citizenship
  • Video Projects for Every Classroom
  • Classroom Podcasting 101
  • Building Digital Portfolios
  • Fun Formative Assessment Methods
  • Using AR & VR in Your Classroom
  • Making Virtual Tours
  • Easy Ways to Make Your Own Apps
  • Simple and Fun Makerspaces Projects
  • Blending Technology Into Outdoor Lessons

Register online or email me to register your group of five or more. 


Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a group discount?
Yes, there is a group discount available. You can save $50/person if you have five or more people registering from your school district. Email me for a discount code to apply to online group registrations or to initiate a PO registration.

Can I register with a purchase order or check?
Yes, you can certainly register with a purchase order. Send me an email or have your business office send me an email to initiate that process. Because of the additional paperwork and delay in receiving funds, the early registration discount doesn't apply to purchase order registrations.

Can I get CEUs/ contact hours?
You will receive a certificate from me indicating that you participated in ten hours of professional development time. Whether or not your school, state, or province will accept it for license/ certificate renewal is a determination that you will have to make. The rules about CEUs vary widely from state-to-state and I can't possibly keep track of them all.

What platform are you using for the webinars?
All of the webinars will be conducted through the GoToWebinar platform. I've tried many other webinar services, but I keep coming back to GoToWebinar because of it's reliability. I've used it for almost a decade for hundreds of webinars. You can access GoToWebinar on any computer or tablet.

Will the sessions be recorded?
Yes, all of the live webinars will be recorded. If you have to miss a session, you'll be able to watch the recording. That said, I find that people get the most out of webinars when they can attend live broadcasts and ask questions in real-time. Therefore, I encourage you to pick the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp session that works best with your schedule.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Annotations, Expeditions, and Summer - The Month in Review

Good evening from Maine where a line of strong thunderstorms is a hopeful signal that our heatwave is about to break. June was the busiest month I've had in more than a year. Between end-of-school activities, hosting webinars, training for bike races, and trying to be the best dad I can be it felt like I never relaxed. This week, I'm doing that. I hope that you are also enjoying some rest after a long school year. 

In July I'm hosting the next section of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. There is still time to register to join me for ten hours of live webinars with me during the week of July 12th. Register here

These were the month's most popular posts:
1. Three Good Options for Annotating PDFs
2. 15 Updates Coming to Google Workspace for Education
3. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
4. Science Research Papers Annotated With Teaching Resources
5. Four Important Padlet Updates to Note
6. Five Sources of Summer Math Activities for Elementary School Students
7. Expeditions Pro - A Replacement for Google's VR Tour Creator
8. Icons8 - Easily Add Icons to Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets
9. Wick Editor - A Nice Tool for Creating Animations
10. How to Create Interactive Checklists in Google Docs

On-demand Professional Development
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 36,000 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.
This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

What Was Watched in June - My Most Popular Tutorials

In June I published a new video every other day on my YouTube channel. There are now more than 36,000 people subscribed to get notified as soon as I publish a new video. My channel contains more than 1,000 tutorial videos covering everything from fundamental aspects of Google Workspaces to making your own Android apps to making videos and many other topics suggested by readers and viewers like you. Below are the ten videos on my YouTube channel that were watched the most in June. 

1. The Basics of Creating a Quiz in Google Forms


2. How to Add a Timer to Your PowerPoint Slides


3. Wheel of Names - A Random Name Picker and More


4. How to Draw on Your Screen in Google Meet


5. How to create shared Google Drive folders


6. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game


7. How to print a Google Form or save it as PDF


8. How to Use Adobe Spark to Create a Video


9. How to Share Videos Through Google Drive


10. How to Create Comic Strips in Google Slides


This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. Feature graphic created by Richard Byrne using Canva. 

Narakeet - Quickly Turn Slides into Narrated Video Lessons

A reader recently emailed me looking for advice on how to create narrated video based on slides made in Canva. She didn't want to record her own voiceover audio. My suggestion was to try using Narakeet to have the slides converted into a narrated video. 

Narakeet lets you upload slides and have them converted into a video that is automatically narrated for you. You can choose from about twenty voiceover options, adjust the speed of the voiceover, and choose to have captions automatically added into your video. 

To use Narakeet you must have your slides in PPTX format. Fortunately, all of the popular slideshow creation tools including Canva and Google Slides let you export your presentations as PPTX files. When you upload your PPTX file to Narakeet your speaker notes are used as the basis for the narration that is created for your video. When your video is completed you can download it as an MP4 file that can be used anywhere that you typically share videos. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to use Canva and Narakeet to create an automatically narrated video lesson. 



Applications for Education
Narakeet is a great tool for those who have a set of slides lead lessons, but don't want to use their own voices to narrate the slides. Narakeet provides a quick and easy way to turn those slides into a video lesson. 

Just like any audio slideshow video, when you make a video with Narakeet you'll want to make sure that you have a new visual every 5-10 seconds or else students will get bored and tune out.  

This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. Feature graphic created by Richard Byrne using Canva.