Saturday, August 21, 2021

A Tip for Structuring Group Notes in Google Docs

Fourteen years ago when I first started using Google Docs with students I got the idea to have my whole class take notes on the same document. It sounded good in my head on my drive to school. In practice it was a disaster as my students were quickly frustrated by accidentally writing over each other's notes. So then I tried having them each pick a color to write with to differentiate and avoid writing over each other's notes. That also didn't work well. Eventually, I decided to put a grid into the document and have students write within a square in the grid. That worked, kind of... It worked better when I broke the class into smaller groups and had them take notes in the grid on a shared Google Doc. 

Today, when I have students working in small groups and recording notes, I assign them to a Google Doc (Google Classroom makes that easy to do) that has a preformatted grid in it for them to write in. I've used this method in my computer tech classes when students are working on troubleshooting processes. I've used this method when I taught U.S. History and had students reading and evaluating historical documents. Both of those examples are explained and demonstrated in more detail in this new video that I recorded on Thursday



If you want to learn more about using Google Documents in your classroom I have a complete video overview of how to get started with Google Docs. And here are ten other Google Docs editing features you should know how to use.

Images, Inquiry, and Virtual Backgrounds - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is rising on what should be a great weekend to celebrate my oldest daughter's fifth birthday! I'm sure every parent says the same, but I can't believe how fast she's growing. It seems like just yesterday I was holding her in the hospital and now she's asking me to take her fishing, help her ride her bike, and spell words. 

This week I took a day off to take my daughters to Story Land before it closes for the year. I also snuck in a long bike ride this week. You might say I'm soaking up what's left of summer. I hope that those of you who are still on summer break are doing the same. And I hope that those who have started the new school year are off to a great start!

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. 12 Good Places to Find Historical Images to Spark Inquiry
2. How to Create a Random Question Generator
3. Five Good Tools for Making Your Own Educational Games and Practice Activities
4. Resources to Help Students Recognize Logical Fallacies and Cognitive Biases
5. Where I'd Like to Go - An Icebreaker With Google Drawings
6. Poetry, Maps, and Templates - Google Jamboard Activities to Try
7. Flipgrid Virtual Backgrounds - How and Why

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 37,000 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. 
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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.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Coming This Sunday Evening

Last Sunday evening the subscribers to my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter got copies of the 2021-22 version of The Practical Ed Tech Handbook before anyone else. This Sunday I have two more resources that will only be available through my newsletter. Those resources are colorful poster-style PDFs of email etiquette reminders for students. 

If you're not subscribed my newsletter, you can do so right here

But if you don't want to subscribe to my newsletter, that's okay. I do have the following videos to share with you on the topic of email etiquette. 

The video below was made by a teacher for the purpose of sharing email etiquette tips with students. 



Watch Clear Email Communication by Common Craft to learn how to get a recipient's attention and how to get a response from that recipient.



Disclosure: I have a long-standing, in-kind relationship with Common Craft.

Five Things To Make With Google Slides Besides Standard Presentations

Based on the initial view count, yesterday's post about creating interactive diagrams in Google Slides seems to be fairly popular. That's inspired me to put together a list of other ways to use Google Slides besides just making standard slideshow presentations. I've made videos about all of the following ideas and those videos are included along with descriptions below. 

Create Choose Your Own Adventure Stories in Google Slides
This is a project that I helped a fourth grade class do a few years ago. The students wrote short stories in Google Slides. The ending of their stories had three possible outcomes. Each outcome was linked to the final paragraph of their stories. When readers got to the last paragraph they could click to choose the ending they wanted to read. In this video I demonstrate how to create choose your own adventure stories in Google Slides.



Create Comic Strips in Google Slides
By using tables and the built-in clipart in Google Slides you can create your own comic strips. Watch this video to learn how to do that.



Make an Animated Video With Google Slides
More than a decade ago Common Craft pioneered a new style of video using very simple animations to craft clear explanations of complex topics. Students make that same style of video by using some clipart, some basic Google Slides transitions, and a screencasting tool like Screencastify. That process is demonstrated in this short video.



Place Yourself in Front of Any Landmark With Google Slides
I mentioned this idea last week in my video about icebreaker activities with Google Drawings and Slides. The idea is to use a tool like Photoscissors to remove the background from a photograph of yourself and then overlay that new image on a Google Slide of a famous landmark or any pretty scenery of your choice.



Make Interactive Diagrams and Charts in Google Slides
This is the activity that I mentioned in yesterday's blog post. As I shared yesterday, you can have students make interactive diagrams of just about any process or sequence. I've had students make interactive diagrams to mock-up mobile apps and I've had them make interactive diagrams of trouble-shooting processes. When I taught U.S. History I had students make interactive diagrams of the branches of government.

The 2021-22 Practical Ed Tech Handbook

Earlier this week subscribers to my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter received their free copies of the 2021-22 edition of The Practical Ed Tech Handbook. It's a 75 page PDF that features my favorite tools, tips, and strategies for using a wide variety of educational technology tools in your classroom. If you're not subscribed to my newsletter, you can now get your copy of The Practical Ed Tech Handbook right here

Table of contents for the 2021-22 version of The Practical Ed Tech Handbook:
1. Communication with students and parents – page 5
2. Creating Blogs & Websites – page 9
3. Web search strategies – page 16
4. Digital citizenship – page 27
5. Video creation and flipped lessons – page 30
6. Audio recording and publishing – page 42
7. Backchannels and formative assessment – page 44
8. Digital portfolios – page 48
9. Augmented and Virtual Reality – page 50
10. Intro to Programming and Makerspaces – page 54
11. Accessibility Tools – page 59
12. Ten Time-saving ways for teachers to use tech – page 65
13. Remote Instruction Tools and Strategies – page 67
14. DIY Game Creation – page 72

Get your copy of The Practical Ed Tech Handbook right here.