Saturday, October 1, 2022

An October Video Project - Halloween Safety

Halloween is thirty days away. My kids have been planning their costumes since last November or so it seems because they're very excited about it. Last fall I shared a list of Halloween-themed activities and resources. In that list I included playing a Halloween safety review game from Kahoot. Keeping with the idea of Halloween safety, consider having students create a short video about trick o' treat safety. 

There are a lot of tools and ways that student could create a short video about trick o' treating safety. They could make a quick one-take video in Microsoft Flip in which they share a Halloween safety tip. Another option is to use Adobe Express to make a little audio slideshow about Halloween safety. And my favorite option would be to use Canva's video editor to make a little animated video about Halloween safety. 

A quick search for "Halloween" in Canva will provide you with templates for making Halloween-themed videos and lots of Halloween-themed animated GIFs and drawings. Here's a demonstration of how to create an animated video by using Canva's video editor. 



Applications for Education
Making Halloween safety videos could be a good way for elementary school students to show what they know about being safe on this fun day. Creating Halloween safety videos could also be a good exercise for middle school and high school students to do to practice video editing skills while creating PSA-style videos for younger kids. 

Friday, September 30, 2022

September's Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers

Good evening from Maine where the sun has set on the week and on the month of September, 2022. I don't know about you, but for me the month seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye. My oldest daughter started Kindergarten, I hosted a bunch of webinars, and tried to enjoy some cool autumn evenings. I hope that the first full month of the 2022-23 school year went well for you. 

As I mentioned above, I hosted a bunch of professional development webinars in September. I'd be happy to host one for your school or library. I'm also have some limited availability for in-person events this year. Please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about those opportunities. 

At the end of every month I take a look at my Google Analytics account to find the most popular posts of the month. Take a look and see if there's something interesting that you missed in September. 

These were the month's most popular posts:
1. A Great Alternative to Quizlet
2. My Top Ten Tools for Social Studies Teachers and Students
3. Quizalize Games - Turn Any Quiz Into an Epic Game
4. A Great Place to Find Free Images for School Projects
5. Two Tips to Make Chrome Run a Little Faster
6. A Free STEM Toolkit for Librarians
7. A Short Overview of the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine - And How I Use It
8. 5 Little Things You Can Do To Improve Your Videos
9. How to Create PDFs in Google Classroom
10. The Physics of Soccer Kicks

I'll Come You!
If you'd like me to come to your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or fill out the form on this page

50 Tech Tuesday Tips!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook that I created with busy tech coaches, tech integrators, and media specialists in mind. In it you'll find 50 ideas and tutorials that you can use as the basis of your own short PD sessions. Get a copy today!

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 43,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen 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 Strava.
This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Significant Changes to Screencastify's Free Plan Take Effect on Monday

Those of us who are using Screencastify's free plan will have some choices to make on Monday when the changes that Screencastify announced back in August take effect

What's Changing?

Starting on Monday, October 3rd Screencastify's free plan will limit you to having just ten videos in your account at a time. Previously, you could have as many videos as you wanted in your account as long as they were each less than five minutes. The new free plan limits you to ten videos, but the videos can now be up to 30 minutes. 

You can still export your videos, but not as MP4 files in the free plan which limits what you can do with the exported video file. So if you find that you bump up against the ten video limit, you can export one or delete one to get back under that limit. But bear in mind that Screencastify is also now limiting you to 30 minutes of export time in the free plan. That's a change from the previous unlimited export time. 

Screencastify vs. Chrome OS Screencasting

Screencastify built its reputation by being one of the first companies to offer a screencasting tool for Chromebooks. Then in June of this year Google added a screencasting tool to the Chrome operating system. In doing so it appears that Google is going after some of Screencastify's market share. 

The free version Screencastify still has more editing options than the Chrome OS screencasting tool. That said, if you don't need all of those options and just need some basic editing functions, the Chrome OS screencasting tool is probably going to be your better choice now because it offers unlimited video storage (via Google Drive). 

Five Ways to Use Screencastify in Your Classroom

Thursday, September 29, 2022

A Quick Way to Check the Safety of Links

One of the best ways to protect your computer and network from malicious software is to simply avoid opening links that appear in your email from unfamiliar senders. Additionally, you should avoid clicking on links that you weren't expecting and those that just set off your spidey senses. When you do come across a link that you think might be okay, but you're not entirely sure it is okay, you can check its safety with Google's Transparency Report Site Status tool without having to open the link your computer. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to use Google's Transparency Report Site Status tool to check the safety of URLs. 



Applications for Education
Over the years I've helped countless colleagues and students with problems on their computers. The vast majority of those problems can be traced back to malware or spyware that was installed by clicking on nefarious links. Using a tool like Google Transparency Report Site Status can help students avoid accidentally installing malware. Of course, the bigger solution is to teach students to be wary of clicking on links that they don't expect or don't trust.

Grading Google Forms Short Answers Without Google Classroom

Last week I got an email from a reader who was looking for advice about grading short-answer questions in Google Forms. Specifically, the person wanted to know if there was a more efficient way to grade short-answer questions than tabbing through the "responses" pages. 

While you can have short-answers automatically graded for you in Google Forms, it only works if students write their answers exactly as you wrote the answer key. That doesn't work well if you are requiring students to write complete sentences in their own words. In those cases you have to manually grade your students' responses to your questions. When I'm not using Google Classroom I do that by having Google Forms generate a spreadsheet of responses for me. I can then grade students' responses in one long column and update the scores in one long column. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to grade short-answer questions in Google Forms when you're not using Google Classroom.