Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Ten Updated Microsoft Teams Features for Teachers to Note

Mike Tholfsen is my go-to person for all things related to Microsoft Education products. He regularly updates his YouTube channel with informative videos about the latest features added to Microsoft Teams, Word, PowerPoint, Immersive Reader, and more. And as a product manager at Microsoft he has early access to features that are rolling-out to users. That means his videos sometimes include overviews of features before anyone else has used them. 

Mike's latest video highlights ten updated Microsoft Teams features for teachers. Most of the updates apply to the awesome reading progress feature that is now in Microsoft Teams. The complete list of features highlighted in Mike's video is posted below. 

  • Returning marked up passages to student in Reading Progress
  • Updated OneDrive and Teams file picker in Reading Progress
  • Timed passages in Reading Progress
  • Edit draft assignment in Reading Progress
  • Keyboard shortcuts in Reading Progress
  • Feelings Monster and Reflect
  • Reflect data in Class Insights
  • Reflect data for School Insights
  • Content from Camera in Teams meetings
  • CART Captions in Teams

A Thanksgiving Special!

As many of you know, the primary means of support for Free Technology for Teachers comes through the sales of my Practical Ed Tech courses and professional development services. 

This week and through next Tuesday all of my Practical Ed Tech self-paced courses are on sale for 33% off the regular price. You can register for any or all of the courses right here!

Course Offerings

Search Strategies Students Need to Know!
Based on my most popular webinar, this ten-part course guides you through essential search strategies for students of all ages. More importantly, it provides you with activities to duplicate and or modify to use in your classroom. Click here to start this course today!

A Crash Course in Google Earth & Maps for Social Studies
Google Earth and Google Maps should be staples in the toolbox of anyone who teaches social studies lessons. These are powerful tools that can be used by elementary, middle, and high school students.

This course will teach you how to use Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google My Maps in your classroom. In this crash course I outline five social studies lesson activities that utilize Google Maps and Google Earth to help students make discoveries and to demonstrate what they’ve learned. Click here to get started today!

A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video
A Crash Course in Making & Teaching With Video is a self-paced course consisting of six modules designed to help you create instructional videos and make sure that your students actually watch those videos. Get started right here.

Copy Specific Pages in Google Sites

Google Sites (the new, current version) has a new feature that could be helpful to those people who make a lot of variations of the same website. That new feature is the ability to copy specific pages from one site into a new site. 

The new page copying option lets you select a specific page or set of pages to copy from an existing site into a new Google Site. To do this simply open the editor for your existing Google Site, open the "three dot" menu next to the publishing button, then select the pages you want to copy. I've included screenshots of the process below. 

Step 1:

Step 2:

Applications for Education
This new feature could be helpful at the beginning or end of each school year. If you want to create a new Google Site for each school year, but don't want to start from scratch each year, simply copy the pages that you want to re-use and then build the new site from there.

Watch this video for an overview of Google Sites publishing and sharing settings. 

How to Create Filters and Labels in Gmail

Last week I answered an email from a reader who wanted to make sure that email from specific senders always ended up in a priority folder in her Gmail account. My suggestion was to create a filter for the sender's email address and then apply a label to the email. I've done this for years to make sure that I don't miss messages from a few people and to make automatically sort out messages that have specific keywords. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to create filters and labels in Gmail. 

Applications for Education
As I mentioned in the video above, I create filters in my Gmail (Google Workspace mail) to send all of my students' emails about homework and other assignments into one folder that is labeled "homework." Then when I'm going through my inbox I can respond to all homework questions at the same time.

Monday, November 22, 2021

My Big List of Resources for Teaching & Learning About American Thanksgiving

American Thanksgiving is later this week. All month long I've been sharing Thanksgiving-themed resources and ideas. This post combines all of them into one place. If you have school this week and you're looking for some last-minute Thanksgiving resources, take a look through this list. 

The Science of Thanksgiving Foods
The Reactions YouTube channel, produced by The American Chemical Society, has a few good video lessons that address the science of a traditional American Thanksgiving meal. 

Better Thanksgiving Potatoes Through Chemistry explains the chemical properties of raw potatoes and which ones to pick for roasting based on their chemistry. The video then goes on to explain the science of roasting potatoes before finally revealing the best method, based on science, for roasting potatoes.

The Truth About Tryptophan explains why it might not be just the turkey that is making you sleepy after a big Thanksgiving dinner.

 How to Fry a Thanksgiving Turkey Without Burning Your House Down provides an overview of the science involved in deep frying a turkey and how you can use that knowledge to avoid a disaster on Thanksgiving.

Where Thanksgiving Food Comes From
Where Does Your Thanksgiving Dinner Come From? is an interactive storymap that I've shared in the past and still find to be a neat resource. The map displays where eight popular Thanksgiving foods are grown and harvested in the United States. The storymap includes a map for each ingredient. Each map shows the locations of commercial producers. Fun facts are included in the storymap too. For example, did you know that Illinois has at least twice as many acres of pumpkins as any state?

Through It's Okay to Be Smart's The Surprising Origins of Thanksgiving Foods students can learn how the most common, traditional Thanksgiving foods originated and evolved to what they are today. This lesson includes an explanation of how archaeologists and scientists determined that turkeys were one of the first animals to be domesticated in North America. We also learn why the turkeys we find in the grocery store today are so much bigger than those of just a few generations ago. 

Corn is often seen as a symbol of Thanksgiving. Today, corn and many products made with it are a staple in the diets of many of us. How did corn become a staple of our diets? What has enabled it to become one of the most cultivated crops in the world? And what are the consequences of cultivating so much corn? Those questions and many others are addressed in the TED-Ed lesson titled How Corn Conquered the World.

Create a Digital Thankfulness Turkey
Last fall I received a few emails from readers looking for some ideas on how to do a digital version of the classic Thanksgiving Thankfulness Turkey project in which students add feathers to a drawing of turkey and each feather has something they're thankful for written on it. My suggestion for creating a digital version of the Thankful Turkey was to use a combination of Pixabay and Google Drawings. I made this short video to illustrate how that process would work. 

Macy's Parade 101
Parade 101 features four video demonstrations of hands-on activities that students can do at home with their parents or in your classroom. The four activities include inflating balloons through the use of baking soda and vinegar, designing balloons for the parade, making and using sculping dough, and building model floats. All of the videos include lists of needed supplies. 

I like all four of the activities. If I was to recommend one for Thanksgiving day it would be building model floats or designing because they can be done with cardboard, paper, glue, markers, and other common household materials that don't make a mess and don't have to be done in a kitchen. That said, I think the most fun one is the inflating balloons activity. 

In addition to the videos and STEAM projects Parade 101 offers some printable coloring sheets and puzzles. An interactive timeline of the history of the parade is still available to view as well.

American vs. Canadian Thanksgiving
My Canadian friends celebrated Thanksgiving last month. Besides the timing of the holiday, there are some other differences between American Thanksgiving and Canadian Thanksgiving. There are also some commonalities between the two holidays. The following videos provide a humorous look at the similarities and differences between American Thanksgiving and Canadian Thanksgiving.

Reminder! You should always preview videos before showing them in your classroom. I know many high school teachers who will not have a problem sharing these, but teachers of younger students may want to proceed with caution.

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