Friday, July 9, 2021

TeacherMade - One of My New Favorites in 2021

I'm taking this week to recharge and get ready for the next session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. For the next few days I'm going to highlight some of my favorite new and new-to-me tools so far this year. 

Canva offers nearly two thousand worksheet templates for teachers to copy and modify. All of the templates can be downloaded as PDFs. You could print them and give them to your students to complete. But who wants another thing to have to print and keep track of? So instead of printing worksheets made with Canva's templates, download the PDF and then upload it to TeacherMade where you can quickly turn that PDF into an online activity. 

On TeacherMade you can upload a PDF then add to it fillable text boxes, lines for matching activities, multiple choice questions, and interactive hotspots to highlight specific points in the PDF. You can also use TeacherMade to add audio to an uploaded PDF. Depending upon the type of questions that you select, TeacherMade will automatically score assignments for you. 

Watch my video to see how you can use Canva and TeacherMade together to create online worksheets for your students. The video also shows how a student can access the online activities that you create with TeacherMade. 


You can learn more about using TeacherMade in this video and in this video. I also have nearly two dozen Canva tutorials listed here

Applications for Education
I'm always apprehensive to write about worksheets because a lot of people hear or read "worksheet" and think that it's just a time-filler for rote practice. Canva offers worksheet templates that aren't just rote practice activities. For example, in the video above I used a worksheet template for evaluating writing. When you browse through Canva's worksheet templates gallery you'll find lots of templates that have a similar goal of providing guidance for an activity rather than rote practice of skills or facts.

The thing that I've always appreciated about Canva is that it enables people like me who don't have a natural knack for graphic design to create good-looking graphics, presentations, and PDFs. Looking through Canva's worksheet templates I found plenty of templates that I would snap-up if I was teaching social studies or language arts today. Unfortunately, I didn't see any good templates for computer science so I guess I'll have to make my own.

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, TodayHeadline, and 711Web. Featured graphic created by Richard Byrne.

Mote - One of My New Favorites in 2021

I'm taking this week to recharge and get ready for the next session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. For the next few days I'm going to highlight some of my favorite new and new-to-me tools so far this year. 

Earlier this year I shared a series of videos about how to add voice comments to Google Documents, Google Slides, and Google Classroom. All of those videos featured the use of a free Chrome extension called Mote. Mote also offers teachers the ability to add voice notes to Google Forms. 

With the Mote Chrome extension installed you can now record voice notes directly in Google Forms. Those notes can be played back in Google Forms even if students don't have the Mote extension installed. Of course, if they do have the extension installed students can record audio responses to questions in Google Forms. 

In this video I demonstrate how to add voice recordings to Google Forms. The video shows teacher and student perspectives of using Mote to add voice recordings to Google Forms. 



Applications for Education
My first thought when I saw that Mote would work with Google Forms was to use it in world languages courses. Teachers can now record prompts for students to listen to and speak replies to directly in Google Forms.

As I demonstrated in the video above, adding voice notes to Google Forms could be a good way to provide audio support for students who need it when taking an assessment in Google Forms.


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 711Web.

Blackbird Code - One of My New Favorites in 2021

I'm taking this week to recharge and get ready for the next session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. For the next few days I'm going to highlight some of my favorite new and new-to-me tools so far this year. 

Blackbird is a new platform for teaching programming to middle school and high school students. Blackbird is positioning itself as a platform that fills the gap between using a blocks-based service like Scratch and writing code in an IDE. Blackbird doesn't use blocks or even offer any blocks. Instead, Blackbird provides a series of interactive lessons in which students write JavaScript. 

Blackbird lessons are arranged in progressive units. From the first lesson students are building a game they can customize to their heart's content. When they've finished all of the lessons students can move onto a "workshop" where they can work on independent projects that you can observe from your teacher dashboard in Blackbird. 

There were a few features that stood out to me during my first run-through of Blackbird. First, students can get choose how much guidance they get on each lesson. Second, students' progress is locked in place as they go. Third, from your teacher dashboard you can see how much time your students spend on each activity. 

Students can use just the basic instructions for each lesson or click on the definitions and "deep dives" embedded within the instructions. Those definitions and deep dives give students an explanation of what they're writing and puts the explanation into an applicable context. 

Blackbird units are composed of progressive lesson sequences. When a student completes a lesson with 100% accuracy the code they wrote for that lesson is locked. It's locked because the next lesson will build upon their correctly written code. Locking the previously written code in place prevents students from accidentally changing their existing code and thereby impacting what they're currently working on. 



Applications for Education
While it's helpful to have some prior coding experience, Blackbird can be used by teachers who don't have any prior coding experience. Blackbird provides detailed tutorials and lesson guides for teachers who don't have coding experience. Furthermore, teachers can do the exact same lessons and activities as their students to learn alongside them.

This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that regularly steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin and 711Web. 

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Bibcitation for Chrome - One of My New Favorites in 2021

I'm taking this week to recharge and get ready for the next session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. For the next few days I'm going to highlight some of my favorite new and new-to-me tools so far this year. 


Earlier this year Bibcitation launched an update Chrome extension that makes it easy for students to properly cite sources of information. Some of its key features include automatic formatting of citations in dozens of styles, easy transfer of citations to your documents, and one-click addition to your existing Bibcitation bibliographies. Yesterday, I made this short video that demonstrates the key features of Bibcitation's Chrome extension. Take a look and see how easy it is to use Bibcitation. 


Applications for Education
As I wrote earlier in the week, one of the things that I have always liked about Bibcitation is that it provides support for dozens of citation styles in addition to the standard MLA and APA formats. Bibcitation is also easy to edit if students do find a mistake with the formatting. Finally, Bibcitation doesn't require students to register in order to use it. Completed Bibliographies can be downloaded as a document, as a BibTex file, or as HTML.

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 711Web.

Forky Mind Mapping - One of My New Favorites in 2021

I'm taking this week to recharge and get ready for the next session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. For the next few days I'm going to highlight some of my favorite new and new-to-me tools so far this year. 

I've tried dozens, possibly more than one hundred, mind mapping and flowchart creation tools over the last thirteen+ years of writing this blog. In fact, my first published writing was as a co-author of a chapter about mind mapping in the book What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media. I tell you that to say I've seen a lot of mind mapping tools. Of those, the best ones are usually the simplest ones. Forky is a new mind mapping tool that fits into the category of simple but effective. 

Forky is a free mind mapping tool that focuses on just connecting text boxes. As you'll see in this video, all that you have to do to make a mind map with Forky is to double-click on the screen then start typing in the text box that appears when you double-click. To add a new connected idea just hit the tab key on your keyboard and a new text box appears for you to type in. If you want to create a new text box that isn't connected to a previous one, just double-click somewhere else on your screen. You can make connections between boxes after they're written by simply holding the shift key while clicking on one box then another. 

Forky doesn't include support for inserting images, video, or any other media. It's just for writing a series of connected ideas. You can invite other people to view your Forky mind maps via email. 




Applications for Education

Mind mapping tools like Forky can be helpful to students when they are planning a creative story that has a few storylines in it. Forky's option to invite a collaborator could be used by students to invite their teachers to review their mind maps and provide some feedback.