Saturday, April 14, 2018

18 Free Image Sites and Tools for Schools

A picture is worth a thousand words, but it might also be worth a thousand dollars if your school gets hit with a copyright violation claim. This happens to schools every year as students or teachers inappropriately use an image that they do not have the rights to.

Thankfully this does not have to be the case as there are loads of high quality pictures that can be used in school projects without any licensing concerns. These can include images that are released under creative commons, or are in the public domain, or simply are copyright-free. Of course depending on the license, it may still be necessary to cite where the image came from to provide proper attribution (and it can be a good practice to do even if not required).

There are many sites and tools that can help educators and students find free photos, clipart, icons, and more. See below for a list of many of these, and be sure to share your suggestions for other resources to add to this collection.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Googley Poem Projects for National Poetry Month (or any time of year)

April is the time of year
For kids to write a poem.
There's loads of fun activities
Here for you to show 'em.

Google tools can be used
To make the perfect rhyme,
With templates, tools, and writing prompts
To save your students time.

Draggable Drawings, random Sheets,
And Google Docs highlighting
Will give your students inspiration
For their creative writing.

So look below to find out more,
Then get your students on it,
Writing their ode, haiku, free verse,
Their ballad or their sonnet.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Free Tech Curriculum for all Subjects with Google's Applied Digital Skills

What skills do our students need to be successful in their future? What skills do adults need to be competitive in the job market?

Although we can certainly give a wide range of answers, one theme would likely be common:

To be successful, students and adults need technology skills and the ability to apply them in practical ways in daily life, in learning opportunities, and in their jobs.

These skills might include:
  • Budgeting for expenses
  • Creating a resume
  • Planning an event
  • Managing a project
  • Researching and writing on a topic
  • Making a presentation

But how do people develop these needed skills? One excellent option is Google's Applied Digital Skills program. This is a totally free, online curriculum, with engaging videos and practical projects that teach technology skills to students (middle and high school) as well as adult learners.

In this post we will take a look at four topics: "What is Applied Digital Skills?", "What is in the curriculum?",  "What is the instructor experience?", and "What is the student experience?". Also, see below for details about several free trainings I will be leading in the coming months to help educators get up and going with the program.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Springtime Magnetic Poetry with Google Drawings

Spring is here, and April is National Poetry Month, so what better time to have your students work on their creative writing skills with a Springtime-themed writing activity.

In the past I have shared Google Drawing templates for students to create drag-and-drop "magnetic" poetry with a winter-theme as well as for Valentine's Day.

This time I have updated the template for Springtime. Just like before, doing this activity with technology such as Google Drawings provides many benefits:
  • No limit on the quantity of words provided. Just copy and paste more of them as needed.
  • Great tech skills practice with dragging and dropping and copying and pasting.
  • Ability to edit the words provided if needed.
  • Ability to add your own words.
  • Easy collaboration with others.
  • Easy to share or download your final creation.
  • No pieces to get lost.
  • It’s free!
See below to get your free copy of the Springtime Magnetic Poetry template to use with your students (or yourself) however you want, as well as directions on how to use it.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Copy Comments to Google Classroom Docs and Slides

Several months ago I shared a blog post about "How to Force a Docs Copy WITH Pre-Loaded Comments to Help your Students". The post explained a URL trick you can use to not only make a copy of a document, but to also copy any comments you have made in the Doc.

This can also be a creative way to provide additional resources, links, and assistance to your students in their projects. Instead of just getting a copy of a worksheet, HyperDoc, study guide, or other document, students can also have comments pre-loaded into their copy of the document. These comments can provide them with:
  • Additional directions
  • Hyperlinks to resources
  • Voice recordings from the teacher
  • A checklist of items for the student to resolve
  • And more

The only drawback was this trick does not work in Google Classroom. So if you use Classroom to push out copies of Docs or Slides to students, there was no way to also copy the comments during that process.

Until now…

See below for details on a great new Chrome extension that lets you copy comments for Docs and Slides when making copies through a Classroom assignment.

What's New in Google - March 2018

Catch up on everything new in G Suite for Education from March 2018, and see great ideas and resources!

Because the end of the month fell during Spring Break for most all of our schools, we did not hold our normal monthly Google User Meeting. However, I still wanted to share out all of the new updates from the month, so I have included them below.

We will be back on track with live Google Hangout meetings at the end of April. The monthly meetings are hosted by the Google Educator Group of Ohio, but are open to anyone from any location. The purpose of these meetings is to:
  • Connect Google-using educators
  • Share the latest Google Apps news and features
  • Provide tutorials, demonstrations, and how-to’s
  • Share best practices of how Google Apps is being used within schools
  • Ask questions and get answers
The video from the meeting is recorded and available for later viewing for those who cannot attend or connect live. See below for all of the updates from March 2018 for G Suite for Education.

Monday, March 26, 2018

12 Terrific Podcasts to Learn Something New Everyday

As lifelong learners, we should always be looking for ways to learn something new everyday. One of my favorite tools for this is podcasts.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well. If there was an "Eric Curts Bingo Game" one of the squares would be:
  • Eric says "Speaking of that topic, I was just listening to a podcast recently that talked about that, and I learned…"

For what it's worth, some of the other squares would probably be:
  • Eric drinks a Coke Zero.
  • Eric tells you about a movie or TV show you JUST HAVE TO SEE.

Back to podcasts though… I have blogged about podcasts before, including 11 of my favorite podcasts that deal specifically with Educational Technology. I would encourage you to check out that post to see that list of recommendations. However, podcasts can be a great way for you, and your students, to learn information from a wider range of topics.

At last count, my podcast app indicates that I am currently subscribed to 155 podcasts. Now I certainly can't listen to all of those, but they provide me with new options everyday to learn something new. In this blog post I would like to share some of my favorite podcasts for learning new information. These can be great for your own personal growth, to bring into class and incorporate into a lesson, or for your students to use for their own learning.

Note: Some of these podcasts can have episodes that deal with more mature topics, but the hosts are always good about mentioning that early in the episode if that is the case.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Bionic Educator

This year at the Ohio Educational Technology Conference, I had the privilege once again to take part in the FREd Talks. FREd Talks are sort of like our version of TED Talks (FREd stands for "Finding Real Education").

These presentations are usually called Ignite Talks or something along those lines. They are quick 5 minute talks where you have 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds.

In the past I have done FREd Talks or Ignite Talks on "The 4 C's of Education" and "The Big Blank Wall" For my talk this year I did "The Bionic Educator". I have been fascinated with the rise of artificial intelligence and what that means for education, teaching, and learning. This is a topic I expand on in longer sessions and keynotes, but I tried my best to boil it down to just 5 minutes of the most critical ideas.

See below for a recording of the presentation, along with a written version of what I shared.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

My 2018 MACUL Sessions

I am excited and honored to be presenting at the 2018 MACUL Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan this March 8th and 9th.

I always look forward to an opportunity to see old friends, make new friends, share some ideas, and learn so many new things from others.

Below is a list of sessions I will be presenting at MACUL 2018, along with any associated resources. Please feel free to join me for any of these sessions. I look forward to sharing, learning, and chatting with you!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

3 Ways Google Drive and MS Office Can Live Together in Harmony

- Coke versus Pepsi
- Star Wars versus Star Trek
- Google Drive versus Microsoft Office
These are the timeless struggles of humanity.

So you are using Google Drive and its productivity tools such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides. But you still have Microsoft Office files from years and years before. What can you do with all of those existing Office files? Is there any way for your Microsoft files and your Google Drive to live in harmony?

Although Microsoft Office and Google Drive can often be thought of as competing products, they actually can work together in many ways. Google allows you to store all of your Office files in Drive, and then once they are there you can use them in three main ways:

  • You can convert your MS Office files into Google format
  • You can leave the files in MS Office format and then do light editing with a helpful extension
  • You can leave the files in MS Office format, but then open and edit them locally in Office with the Drive File Stream tool

In this blog post we will take a look at all three of these options and how they work. You may end up using all three, or find just the one that works best for you and your specific needs. See below for all the details.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

3 Googley Valentines Activities for Kids

With Valentine's Day coming up, this is a great time to highlight some activities I really love! In this case I am talking about technology activities for students that tie into the holiday theme while also promoting creativity and writing.

I this blog post I will be sharing three Valentine-themed projects that use Google tools. Two of them are ideas I have shared in the past, and one of them is new twist on an old idea for this post. Hopefully you find all of them to be fun ways to engage your students, while working on practical skills.

See below for a description of each activity, access to all the templates, and links to the original blog posts for the projects I am re-sharing. Hope you love them!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Write Right with Google Tools

Writing is a skill that crosses all subject areas and all grade levels. No matter what you teach, it is critical for your students to be able to express their ideas clearly when writing.

There are a multitude of ways for students to improve their writing, including many technology tools that come from Google or that work with G Suite. With these technology tools, the writing process can be improved at all stages from planning to writing to self editing to peer editing to assessment to revising to publishing.

Over the years I have done many blog posts on tech tools for the various stages of the writing process. To make it more convenient, I have pulled together all of those different resources into this one post. See below for an overview of Google tools that can be used to help students and teachers through the writing process.

For each portion of the writing process I have listed some key resources and ideas, but have also linked to my earlier blog posts for each. Be sure to click the links for the related blog posts in each section to get all of the directions, examples, and resources for each.

Friday, February 9, 2018

My OETC 2018 Sessions

I am excited and honored to once again present at the Ohio Educational Technology Conference (OETC 2018) in Columbus this February 13th through 15th.

I always look forward to this opportunity to see old friends, make new friends, share some ideas, and learn so many new things from others.

Below is a list of sessions I will be presenting at OETC 2018, along with any associated resources. Please feel free to join me for any of these sessions. I look forward to sharing, learning, and chatting with you!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

9 Awesome Add-ons to Supercharge Google Slides

Google Slides is already a powerful tool for student creation and collaboration. You can see a wide range of educational uses on my Google Slides resource page.

As awesome as Google Slides is, you can make it even awesomer with the use of Add-ons. Just like Docs, Sheets, and Forms, you can now install Add-ons for Google Slides. Add-ons are third-party tools that provide you with extra features and functions that are not normally available in Slides.

Although Add-ons are still a relatively new option for Slides, there have already been many excellent Add-ons created. In this blog post we will take a look at nine of my favorites that can be valuable for students and educators.

See below for details on how to find, install, and use Add-ons, in addition to links and explanations for each of my recommendations. Also you can watch the recorded video from the webinar where I cover all of the topics in detail.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

What's New in Google - January 2018

Catch up on everything new in G Suite for Education from January 2018, and see great ideas and resources!

Below is the recorded video from our January 2018 Google User Meeting, along with the meeting agenda and all the awesome resources and G Suite updates from the last month. This includes 22 new Google updates and 25 Google resources for your class.

The monthly meetings are hosted by the Google Educator Group of Ohio, but are open to anyone from any location. The purpose of these meetings is to:
  • Connect Google-using educators
  • Share the latest Google Apps news and features
  • Provide tutorials, demonstrations, and how-to’s
  • Share best practices of how Google Apps is being used within schools
  • Ask questions and get answers
The video from the meeting is recorded and available for later viewing for those who cannot attend or connect live. See below to view the recorded video, agenda, and all the resources from the January 2018 meeting:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

My 2018 FETC Sessions

I am excited and honored to be presenting at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC 2018) in Orlando, Florida this January 23rd through 26th.

I always look forward to an opportunity to see old friends, make new friends, share some ideas, and learn so many new things from others.

Below is a list of sessions I will be presenting at FETC 2018, along with any associated resources. Please feel free to join me for any of these sessions. I look forward to sharing, learning, and chatting with you!

Friday, January 12, 2018

21 New Free Interactive Pear Deck Templates for Google Slides

Last month I shared a blog post about the new Pear Deck add-on for Google Slides (as part of my "12 Days of Tech-Mas" series of posts).

The add-on is a simple, but fantastic, way to take your existing (or new) Google Slideshows and make them interactive. You can add multiple choice, text entry, numeric entry, drawing, and draggable activities to each slide. When the presentation runs, the interactive slideshow displays on each student's device, so the students can actively participate and you can collect their responses.

As awesome as that is … it just got better!

The Pear Deck add-on just got a major update that includes a fresh look with an easy-to-use sidebar, and (best of all) 21 new pre-made high-quality interactive templates. With a few clicks you can add these to your slideshow, edit them if needed, and engage your students more than ever.

See below for all of the details on each of the 21 new templates. Plus you can win a year of premium Pear Deck access by filling out the raffle form at the very bottom of this post!

Monday, January 1, 2018

What's New in Google - December 2017

Catch up on everything new in G Suite for Education from December 2017, and see great ideas and resources!

Below is the recorded video from our December 2017 Google User Meeting, along with the meeting agenda and all the awesome resources and G Suite updates from the last month. This includes 23 new Google updates and 28 Google resources for your class.

The monthly meetings are hosted by the Google Educator Group of Ohio, but are open to anyone from any location. The purpose of these meetings is to:
  • Connect Google-using educators
  • Share the latest Google Apps news and features
  • Provide tutorials, demonstrations, and how-to’s
  • Share best practices of how Google Apps is being used within schools
  • Ask questions and get answers
The video from the meeting is recorded and available for later viewing for those who cannot attend or connect live. See below to view the recorded video, agenda, and all the resources from the December 2017 meeting: