Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Five Google Forms Refreshers for the New School Year

Answering a reader's question about Google Jamboard ideas that she should pass along to her colleagues prompted me to think about some "need to know" features of other Google Workspace tools for teachers. My mind turned to Google Forms as it is a tool that when used correctly can help be a huge time-saver for teachers. There are also features of Google Forms that can be beneficial to students. To that end, here are five Google Forms features that can help you and your students in the new school year. 

Set Default Point Values
If you've ever created a quiz in Google Forms only to discover that you forgot to assign point values, one small change to your preferences can make that a thing of the past. In your Google Forms preferences you can set a default point value for all questions that you add to your quiz. Here's a video demo of how to do that.



Create QR Codes for Google Forms
I uses a Google Form as a sign-in/sign-out sheet for my classroom. Rather than making students type a link or find a link within Google Classroom, I simply printed a QR code for the Google Form and then taped it to the wall. Then students can simply use their phones to scan the code and access the Google Form to sign-out or sign-in. Making a QR code for a Google Form is easy thanks to a feature built into Google Chrome, here's a video of how it works.


Provide Instant Feedback to Responses
I've long been a proponent of giving students practice quizzes and self-guided review activities via Google Forms. That's because I can provide students with instant feedback on their responses. Not only can I tell them if their answers were correct or not, I can also provide them with additional information about why their answers were correct or not. I'll often include links to additional information within my automated written feedback. Watch this video to see how to add answer feedback to Google Forms and see how students view that feedback.



Require Complete Sentence Responses
Google Forms has a setting called "response validation." With that setting enabled you can require that students write a minimum number of letters or words in order to submit responses to your Google Form. This video shows you how to use the response validation settings to encourage students to write complete sentences.


Combine Multiple Forms Into One
Over the course of the school year I'll make lots of Google Forms. Combining questions from those forms is an easy way to create a review activity for my students. Google Forms makes it easy to import questions from other forms into a new one. Here's a demo of how to do that.

Resources for Teaching and Learning About Fall

It's the first day of September and even though Autumn doesn't really start for a few more weeks, I'm already excited for the arrival of my favorite season of the year. The heat and humidity of summer are gone, the leaves on the trees are the prettiest they'll be all year, and I've always felt that the fall is a time of hope as the new school year begins. If you're looking for some resources for teaching and learning about Fall, here's a list of some of my favorites. 

ReadWorks is a great place to find reading-level appropriate articles on a wide range of topics including this article about the four seasons and this one about what causes seasons. Both articles include vocabulary lists, vocabulary practice activities, and question sets. ReadWorks also offers a collection of articles and lesson plans organized around the topic of weather. Through these articles and lesson plans students can learn about what causes rain, wind, and changes in temperature. 

Untamed Science offers a good, partially animated, explanation of why leaves change colors, what produces the colors, and why bright and sunny days are best for viewing red leaves. The video is embedded below.


Autumnal Colors is a short video produced by Thomas Rasel. The two minute video highlights the sights and sounds of autumn. A bugling elk and a squirrel preparing for winter are a couple of the sights and sounds included in the video.


Autumn from Thomas Rasel on Vimeo.


Autumn Stars and Planets is a short PBS video that explains why the stars and planets that we see from Earth change with the seasons. The video is embedded below.



Reactions, a great YouTube channel from the American Chemical Society, offers a nice video about the chemistry involved in the process of leaves changing color. The videos explains how chlorophyll and the glucose stored inside trees help reveal the reds, yellows and, browns of fall foliage.



SciShow Kids offers this short video lesson to answer the question, "why do leaves change color in the fall?" following video about the science of changing leaves.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Forms, Music, and Games - The Month in Review

The sun has set on the month of August and now it really feels like summer vacation is over. From racing my bike across Flint Hills of Kansas to explorting the woods and waters of Maine with my daughters to fun trips to Story Land I feel like I soaked up as much summer fun as I could. I hope that you did as well. (Note for my southern hemisphere friends, I hope you had a great winter). 

As I do at the end of every month I've compiled a list of the most visited posts of the last month. Take a look and see if there's something interesting that you missed earlier this month. 

These were my most popular posts in August:
1. A New Google Forms Feature Teachers Have Requested for Years!
2. Where I'd Like to Go - An Icebreaker With Google Drawings
3. Five Google Docs Activities Besides Just Writing Essays
4. Free Music for Classroom Projects
5. 12 Good Places to Find Historical Images to Spark Inquiry
6. Five Good Tools for Making Your Own Educational Games and Practice Activities
7. How to Create a Random Question Generator
8. Great Book Creator Resources to Start the New School Year
9. Superhero Science Lessons
10. Resources to Help Students Recognize Logical Fallacies and Cognitive Biases

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. 
  • 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.

11 Search Tips and Tools for Teachers and Students

As some of you have noticed, I wrote quite a bit about search tools and search strategies in July and early August. What you saw in those posts were excerpts from two projects that I've been working on. The first was The Practical Ed Tech Handbook (available to subscribers to my newsletter). The second is a still untitled book project. If you're interested in reading all of my recent blog posts about search tools and search strategies, here's a list of them all. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Five Ideas for Using Google Jamboard This Fall

A couple of weeks ago I published an excerpt from The Practical Ed Tech Handbook. That excerpt mentioned a couple of ways to use Google Jamboard in online and in-person classroom settings. This morning I had a reader reach out to me to ask if I had any other suggestions that she could pass along to the teachers in her middle school. Between my blog and my YouTube channel I was able to come up with five ideas for using Jamboard in your classroom this fall. 

Group Brainstorming Sessions
Jamboard can be used to host group brainstorming sessions. In larger classes I break students into smaller groups and have each group work on a specific page within the Jamboard session. At the end of the session we review the ideas from each page and put the most popular ones on a final page. Here's an overview of how to use Jamboard in Google Classroom

Map Labeling Activities
I like to use Jamboard to create templates for activities for students to complete. Last summer I made a mapping template to show a colleague how Jamboard can be used in a geography lesson. The process for using Jamboard to create mapping activities can be seen in this video.

Magnetic Poetry
This is an activity in which you create a template that has a bunch of words within little boxes made to resemble refrigerator magnets. You then distribute the template to your students for them to arrange the magnets to create poems. The process for making magnetic poetry activities can be seen here.

Philosphical Chairs
This is a use for Jamboard that was inspired by a question a reader named Chuck sent to me last fall. The idea is to have students move their avatars around the Jamboard to indicate their positions on a given discussion topic. Here's a video explanation of how the activity works.

Create Instructional Videos
Combine the use of a screencasting tool like Screencastify with a series of Jamboard pages and you can create an instructional video. The benefit of using Jamboard as your drawing tool instead of just using the built-in drawing tools in a screencasting tool is that you can distribute your Jamboard drawings and pages separately from the video if you want to. Here's how to use Screencastify and Jamboard together to make an instructional video.