Quantcast

News

Good morning from Maine where it is going to be another great weekend for playing in the snow. One of my dogs is doing that as I write this. He's happiest when it's cold and snowy. Just take a look at the picture in this post, that's one happy dog! I hope that wherever you are this weekend that you have time for something fun that makes you as happy as my dog is when he's rolling in snow. 

This week I hosted or co-hosted a couple of webinars. If you missed the Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions webinar that I do with Rushton Hurley, you can watch it here. The content of the webinar about Google Earth that I hosted on Tuesday is now available as a self-paced course right here

These were the week's most popular posts:

1. Annotations, Games, and Audio - The Month in Review

2. Two Search Refinement Tips That Helped My Students Today

3. How to Make Sure Students Aren't Unsupervised in Google Meet Video Calls

4. How to Use Google Calendar to Book Zoom Meetings

5. Daddy, What Are Hiccups?

6. How to Make a Copy of a Google Doc That Isn't Directly Shared With You

7. Why My Dogs Have Email Addresses and Your Dog or Cat Should Too


Thank you for your support! 
  • Registrations for my Practical Ed Tech webinars is one of the primary ways that I am able to keep this blog and my email newsletters going. More than 300 of you have participated in a Practical Ed Tech course last year. I couldn't do it without you!
  • BoomWriter is hosting a unique creative writing contest for kids. Check it out!
  • Spaces takes a new approach to digital portfolios. Give it a try!

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 34,000 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. 
  • And if you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Instagram or Strava.

When your school issues you a Google Workspaces for Education account your profile picture will just be a simple letter icon featuring your initials. Many people leave it that way only because they don't know how easy it is to change it. In the video below I demonstrate how to change your Google profile image.






Applications for Education

Changing your Google account profile image can help with name recognition so that parents begin to put a face with a name as soon as they start receiving emails from you. They won't have to wait until the first parent-teacher conference or open house night to make the association between your face and name.



If you have more than one teacher in your district with the same name or similar names (at one point there were three Mr. Burns and a Mr. Byrne in my district) students seeing an email with your profile picture can visually confirm that they are emailing the correct person.


On a related note, a lot of people don't realize that there is a difference between signing into a Chrome profile and signing into a Google account. I explained the difference in this short video

Every year on March 7th the National Archives Daily Document features Alexander Graham Bell's drawing for his telephone patent. Take a look at that drawing and you might start wondering, like I did a few years ago, about how many changes and improvements to that design have been made since 1876. The patent search option in Google Scholar can be used to help us find out how many subsequent, related patents have been filed since Bell's 1876 patent. In the following video I demonstrate how your students can use Google Scholar to trace product development through patent research.






Applications for Education

Using the patent search function in Google Scholar can be a good way for students to attempt to trace product developments over time. In this case the challenge for students would be to find the major, subsequent innovations in telephone technology. Of course, the concept can be applied to almost any product that has been patented at some point in time. Read more about the strategy and application here.

Back when I was in high school we had to learn how to create bibliographies by working from a template that my history teacher, Mr. Diggs, provided to us. When I went to college, I referred to that template and an early version of The Student Writer to make bibliographies. Today, students have a wealth of online tools that can help them properly structure citations and bibliographies. I've featured a handful of them over the last couple of years. Here they are. 


Google Docs includes citation tool that makes most citation add-ons redundant. With citation tool in Google Docs you can create MLA, APA, and Chicago style citations directly in Google Docs without the need for a third-party add-on. You'll find the new citation feature in the tools drop-down menu in Google Docs. Watch this video to see how it works.




Microsoft Word users have a couple of options available to them when it comes to getting help with bibliography formatting. First, Word has a built-in reference tab in which you can choose the style for your bibliography and then simply enter the requested information to have your bibliography created for you. The other option is to use the EasyBib add-in for Word. The EasyBib add-in for Word will generate citations and bibliographies from links and book titles. 



Bibcitation is a free tool that supports dozens of citation styles. To use Bibcitation select the type of resource that you're citing and then enter the requested information. In many cases, just entering the title of a book or a webpage URL will fill-in all of the other required information for you. After you have entered into Bibcitation all of the resources that you need to cite, a list of the citations will be generated for you. You can then download all of the citations in your preferred style as a document, as HTML, or as BibTex. Here's a video overview of how it works.






QuickCite is a free tool that helps students create properly formatted MLA 8 citations. QuickCite can also be used by students to create informal citations for use in things like blog posts, slideshows, and videos. One of the features of QuickCite that I particularly like is that it provides little help bubbles for students to consult if they aren't sure what to enter into the citation. I highlight that feature and other features of QuickCite in the following video.






MyBib is another free tool that students can use to create citations and bibliographies in a wide range of styles including the popular MLA, APA, Chicago, IEEE, and Harvard styles. Watch my video to see how your students can use MyBib to create bibliographies.






Formatically is a free tool that was designed by college students to help other students create properly formatted works cited pages. To use Formatically's instant citation tool just paste the URL of the page that you want to cite into the instant citation tool. Once pasted into the tool you can choose the format that you want to use for your citation. If there is an error in the citation, you can correct it by clicking the edit icon at the end of the written citation. The system works the same way for books except that rather than entering a web page URL you enter a book title. Watch the video embedded below to learn more about Formatically's instant citation tool.




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.

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.

We're starting to see some birds returning to feeders around our house. Before too long we'll be waking up to the sounds of bird calls. Seeing the birds return reminded me of a great resource from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. That resource is the Wall of Birds


The Wall of Birds is a neat site published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The Wall of Birds features a mural of 243 hand-painted birds. The mural's backdrop is a map of the world. You can zoom and pan across the mural to see all of the birds. Clicking on a bird will open a side pane that contains information about that bird's habitat and habits. The side pane also contains an audio recording of the bird's call.



The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a YouTube channel that is full of short videos about birds in their natural habitats. The videos provide students with another way to see and hear a variety of birds.






Applications for Education

As the weather warms in the Northern Hemisphere a fun outdoor learning activity is to take students on nature walks during which they try to identify as many different birds as possible. They could do this by sight and sound with the help of some of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's resources.



Merlin Bird ID is another tool that could help students identify birds. It is a free iPhone and Android app that helps you identify birds that you see in North America. To help you identify a bird you've see Merlin Bird ID asks you a few questions about the color of the bird, its size, where you saw it, and when you saw it. Merlin Bird ID will suggest which bird you saw based on your answers to the identification questions. The suggestion will come with pictures of the bird and some information about it. In some cases you will be able to listen to a recording of the bird's call.

From time to time I publish charts and other digital hand-outs that I have created in Google Documents. For example, I recently shared this chart comparing student blogging tools and this chart comparing multimedia timeline creation tools. When I share those charts I publish them as Google Documents marked as "view only." If you want to make copies of the charts you can do so by following the steps outlined in the short video embedded below.






On a related note, you can search for any publicly shared Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets by following the steps outlined in the video below.



This week and next week at my school we have to hold short interviews with students who want to be in our technical programs next year. In normal years this happens in our classrooms. This year we're doing it over Zoom. 

To streamline the process of scheduling Zoom meetings with prospective students I created a Google Calendar appointment page on which they could book a time for an interview. Then in the appointment details I removed the default Google Meet link and replaced it with a link to a Zoom meeting. 

I couple of years ago I published this video about how to create appointment slot calendars in Google Calendar and how people can book one of the calendar slots with you. 


The video above is still accurate. If you want to take the process a step farther and include Google Classroom and Zoom in the process, watch this video that I published last spring. 

Tomorrow (Thursday) at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT Rushton Hurley from Next Vista for Learning and I will be hosting the next installment of our free webinar series that is simply titled Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff


Just like the title says, during each webinar we answer questions from anyone who attends as well as questions that have been sent to us in advance. You can email me or Rushton with your questions. In each episode we also share a couple of interesting apps, websites, or videos that we've found during the last couple of weeks.



Watch one of the recent episodes to get a sense of what tomorrow's webinar is all about.






Click here to register and join us for the next episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff.

Pages