Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Best of 2021 - 27 Videos That Can Help Students Improve Their Writing

As I do every year, I'm taking this week as a break from publishing new blog posts and will be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year. Here's one from March.

The Writer's Workshop is a playlist of twenty-seven TED-Ed video lessons about writing. The The Writer's Workshop contains lessons on basic topics like how to use punctuation and point of view. It also offers videos about more difficult topics like how to make your writing humorous.

A few of the videos from The Writer's Workshop playlist are embedded below.

First, Second, and Third Person


When to Use Apostrophes


How to Make Your Writing Funnier




Applications for Education
TED-Ed's The Writer's Workshop is a good place for students to find some quick lessons on punctuation and grammar. Students who are ready to take their writing to a new level could benefit from the TED-Ed videos on irony, introductions, and building fictional worlds.

Best of 2021 - 700+ Free Typing Games for Kids

As I do every year, I'm taking this week as a break from publishing new blog posts and will be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year. Here's one from September. 

TypeTastic is a site that offers more than 700 free typing games for students of all ages. I first reviewed TypeTastic a few years ago shortly after it was launched and only offered thirteen games. Since then it has obviously added hundreds of more games and many more features. Just like when it launched a few years ago, TypeTastic's games are all optimized to work well on a laptop, desktop, or tablet. Although one might argue that learning to type on a tablet makes it more difficult to develop touch typing skills.

TypeTastic is designed for students to work through units of games. Before each game there is an introduction to a new skill and or a review of a previous skill. Each game within each section contains multiple levels for students to work through. Each game could take students an hour or more to completely master.


TypeTastic is divided into sections for K-2, upper elementary, and middle school/ high school. For K-2 the games start with basic skills like identifying the letters on a keyboard and build up to touch typing skills. The upper elementary games begin with learning and practicing the homerow before progressing through learning to touch type numbers and symbols. The middle school/ high school section has the same progress as the upper elementary section but has a greater emphasis on speed. The games are also a little more complex than the elementary school games.

Applications for Education
TypeTastic offers two free versions. There is an ad-supported version that anyone can access and a basic schools version. The schools version is free for teachers who register with a verified school email address. The schools version removes advertising and gives you an access code that you can share with your students to access the ad-free version of the games. There are also paid plans that give teachers access to reporting on the progress of their students. 

Best of 2021 - Save Google Forms Progress

As I do every year, I'm taking this week as a break from publishing new blog posts and will be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year. Here's one from August. 

This week Google finally added a feature to Google Forms that teachers and students have requested for years. You can now save your work in progress when answering questions in Google Forms!

Google Forms will now save students' work in progress when they are completing a quiz or any other Google Form that you give to them through Google Classroom. The only thing that students have to do to have their work saved in progress is make sure that they are signed into their Google accounts. That shouldn't be too hard to remember if the students have accessed the form through Google Classroom. Students' work will be saved in progress for thirty days from the time that they first open the form. 

Teachers do not need to take any action to enable the new save-in-progress feature (officially called Autosave) of Google Forms. It will be on by default starting today for some Google Workspace domains and will be on by default for all Google Workspace domains by September 15th. Teachers can disable autosave by opening the settings menu in Google Forms then choosing "presentation" followed by "restrictions."   

Autosave in Google Forms is available now in some Google Workspace domains and will be available in all Google Workspace domains by September 15th. 

Applications for Education
Saving Google Forms responses in progress has been a feature that teachers have requested for as long as I can remember (and I've been teaching with Google Forms longer than most middle school students have been alive). Students will no longer have to start over if they get disconnected from the Internet or the bell rings to end class before they've finished answering all of the questions on a Google Form.

Here's a tutorial on how to use the save in progress feature.



There are some situations in which you may not want students to be able to come back to a Google Form to finish it after they've started. For example, a student intentionally taking a long time to answer quiz questions so that he/she can return to it later after looking up answers. In that case you can disable the autosave option on that particular form.

Google Forms Tutorials



Tuesday, December 28, 2021

50 Tech Tuesday Tips - My eBook for Busy Tech Coaches

I interupt this week's "best of series" to bring you something from the shameless commerce division of my life...

Are you a tech coach, a tech integrator, a media specialist, or a teacher who gets asked to put on workshops after school or on staff development days? Do you need ideas for what to do during those workshops? If so, my new ebook is for you!

Curated from more than 400 editions of The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips provides you with ideas for lots of helpful things that you can teach to your colleagues and to students. Throughout the ebook you'll find tutorials and handouts that you can pass along in your school. 

Some of the many things you'll find in 50 Tech Tuesday Tips include:

  • What to do when a web app isn't working as you expect.
  • Building your own search engine.
  • How to create green screen videos.
  • Improving instructional videos. 
  • Streamlining email management.
  • Creating educational games. 
  • DIY app creation.
  • Podcasting tips for teachers and students. 



Get your copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips right here!

No, this ebook isn't free but the tools that feature within it is free to use. Creating something like this takes many, many hours but reading it can save you many, many hours. Purchases of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips make it possible for me to create other free resources like The Practical Ed Tech Handbook that I update and give away to thousands of teachers every year.

Best of 2021 - Email Addresses for Cats and Dogs

As I do every year, I'm taking this week as a break from publishing new blog posts and will be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year. Here's one from March.

People often get a kick out of learning that my dogs have their own email addresses. You can send them email at Mason or Fionn (at) freetech4teachers.com and they'll get back to you as soon as they learn to type.

My dogs have email addresses because I conduct a lot of workshops throughout the year and I don't always want to use my personal email account to either register for a service or to demonstrate a function on a big screen. By using the fake email accounts that I've created for my dogs I don't have to clutter my personal email with lots of account registrations that I may or may not use again. Likewise, I don't have to open my personal accounts on a big screen in front of a group.

The other reason that I use my dogs' email accounts to register for services is so that I can demonstrate how to use a site or app from square one. For example, when I conduct Google Workspaces workshops I will use Mason's email account to demonstrate all facets of setting-up an account, adjusting settings, and adding new content to the account. By doing it this way new users see all steps on my screen the same as they will on their own screens.

If you find yourself conducting a lot of training sessions for colleagues or students, take a minute or two to create a fake email account for demonstration purposes.