Thursday, September 30, 2021

Fall, Forms, and Games - The Month in Review

The sun has set on a cool, crisp evening here in Maine. The maple leaves are changing colors from green to amazing shades of red and orange. In short, my favorite season of the year is here! 

As September ends and October begins it feels like all of the commotion of the beginning of the school year is over and we're now settled in. This is a good time to take a look back and see if there's anything you missed in September that could help you moving forward through October and the rest of the school year. An easy way to do that is to take a quick look at the most popular posts on Free Technology for Teachers in the month of September. That list is included below. 

These were the most popular posts of the month:
1. Five Fun Breakout Games for Online and In-person Classrooms
2. Ziplet - A Good Way to Share Digital Exit Tickets
3. Save Google Forms Responses in Progress
4. Five Ideas for Using Google Jamboard This Fall
5. Tract - Project-based, Peer-to-Peer Learning
6. 21 Canva Tutorials for Teachers
7. Five Helpful YouTube Features for Teachers
8. How to Make Chrome Run a Little Faster
9. The Difference Between a Chrome Profile and a Google Account
10. 700+ Free Typing Games for Kids

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.

Search Strategies Students Need to Know - A New Practical Ed Tech Course

A couple of weeks ago I hosted a live Practical Ed Tech webinar titled Search Strategies Students Need to Know! I've now taken the content and concepts of that webinar and broken into a self-paced mini course.

Search Strategies Students Need to Know contains ten self-paced modules, templates for helping students conduct better online research, and materials for developing search practice activities for your students.

Course highlights include:
  • Search refinement strategies and tools for all students.
  • Alternatives to Google search.
  • How to save and organize search results.
  • Developing your own school-safe search engine.
Course materials include templates that you can use and modify for your needs.
  • Creating search challenges for students
  • Pre-search checklists for students
  • Paired search activities for students
  • Research documentation templates
What's included in your registration?
  • Ten self-paced modules.
    • Each module will take ten to twenty minutes to complete.
  • Templates and handouts to download.
  • Direct access to me for Q&A.
  • Certificate of completion.


Getting Started With Padlet - What You Need to Know

Padlet is a tool that I've been using and recommending to others for more than a decade. I started using it back when it was known as Wall Wisher. I often used it to create digital KLW charts with my U.S. History students. Over the years Padlet has evolved by adding more features, updates to the user interface, and updates to privacy and sharing options. If you haven't tried Padlet or you're looking for a tutorial to share with others who are new to using Padlet, take a look at my new video that covers all of the basics that you need to know to get started using Padlet with students.



Some other ideas for using Padlet in your classroom include:

ICYMI - Two Ed Tech Guys Webinar Recording

Last week Rushton Hurley and I hosted the second episode of the new season of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. If you missed it, the recording can be watched here and all of the links/ resources from the session can be found here

The next live session of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Question and Share Cool Stuff will be next Thursday (October 7th) at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT. You can register to join us right here!



We welcome everyone to join us for the live session. We'll answer any live questions as well as questions submitted in advance. You can send us your questions in advance via email or through the Next Vista for Learning contact form.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

My Top Five Productivity Tips

This is an excerpt from my weekly Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week Newsletter. The newsletter is sent out every Sunday evening (Eastern Time). In my newsletter you'll find my favorite tip of the week as well as a list of my most popular posts of the week. You can register for the newsletter right here

Can Your Comments
I find that I answer the same questions fairly often in my email. Likewise, when giving students feedback on assignments I can often use the same comment from assignment to assignment and from student to student. Therefore, I have message templates stored in my inbox and have re-usable comments stored in Google Classroom.

If you’re an Outlook user, you can also create canned responses to use to answer frequently asked questions in your email. 

(My newsletter contained directions for creating canned comments in Gmail and Outlook). 

Ignore Email…
This is one of many productivity tips that I picked up while reading Cal Newport’s Deep Work. Don’t ignore your email completely. Just ignore it until you actually have time to read it and respond to it. (My newsletter contained more information on this habit).

Use Filters
When it is time to tackle my inbox, I have some filters in place that help me prioritize messages landing in my inbox. (My newsletter contain more details and directions on this).

Automate Everything
When planning your week, use email scheduling and assignment scheduling so that you don’t have to manually send messages every day. Every popular LMS (learning management system) contains a scheduling tool that you can use to write up a list of assignments and have them distributed on a schedule over the course of a week or month. Gmail users, you can schedule messages to be sent in the future. (My newsletter contained more information including tutorials on automation).

A Big Things List
My to-do list doesn’t include little things like “take kids to school” because that’s something that has to be done and can’t be put off for “later.” My to-do list has things that could be put off, but that I’d feel unproductive if I did put them off. For example, right now I’m trying with all my might to finish a big writing project. So on my to-do list I put “write 1,000 words.” It doesn’t have to get done that day, but I feel a lot more productive when I do get it done.