Help Yourself to 30 Minutes of GAFE Professional Development

30 Minutes of GAFE PD

I recorded a Google Hangout on Air for the North Carolina Google Educator Group. Here are the video and the slides. Additionally, there are direct links to when I cover specific topics in the video.



Google Classroom

Assignments and Content



Going Deeper with Google Classroom

Updated Going Deeper with Google Classroom

Google Classroom is awesome. Teachers can take it beyond substitution to redefine teaching and learning in their classroom. I have posted ten strategies to help teachers do so on the BAMNetwork Radio blog.

Going Deeper with Google Classroom – Part 1

  • Anchor Activities in the About Tab
  • Create a Question for Class Discussions
  • Easily Find All Google Classroom Files by Student
  • Google Classroom as Backchannel for Students to Help Each Other
  • Make it All Accessible to Absent Students and/or Convert to Blended Learning

Going Deeper with Google Classroom – Part 2

  • Google Forms for Do Nows and Assessment
  • Hyperdocs
  • Choosing a Theme Image
  • Make a New Google Classroom for Each Class Unit
  • A Strategy for Differentiation

Thank you for reading these suggestions. I hope they help you go deeper with Google Classroom. Please comment below or tweet me at @edtechtom if you would like to chat more about going deeper with Google Classroom.

Google Classroom – A Differentiation Strategy


I am honored to contribute to the BAM Radio Network EdWords Blog. In my first post there, I document a strategy for differentiation in Google Classroom. I hope its screen caps and embedded YouTube video help you make even better use of Google Classroom. If you would like to discuss further, please comment below or tweet me at @edtechtom. Thank you for reading.

Five Strategies for Using Video in the Classroom

Five Strategies for Using Video in the Classroom

Strategy 1: Never Project to the Whole Class

Student devices and simple strategies render whole-class video projection obsolete. When students view video individually, they can watch at their own pace by pausing and rewinding. They can be assessed and engaged at their own pace.

A video projected to the whole class lives in the recesses of students’ memories where it can be forgotten or misremembered. A video shared for individualized viewing will live on a teacher website, LMS or, preferably, Google Classroom. There students can access it anywhere, anytime. The time for whole-class projection is over. No 1:1 devices? Try a computer lab.

Strategy 2: Take Advantage of YouTube Beyond Pressing Play

Teachers can make their own videos for free using their device’s built-in webcam and Screencastify. Beyond simply uploading and sharing videos, there are four components of YouTube teachers should take advantage of:


Teachers can add text boxes to their videos using annotations. This is a great opportunity to point students to further resources or scaffold content conveyed in video. This is what it looks like:


Adding annotations when uploading video or adding them to old videos is easy.


Cards appear in the upper-right corner of a video. They link to other videos. This is a great way to point students to another resource. Notice the use of an annotation and a card in this video:


Making cards is simple. They can be added when uploading videos or to old videos.

Here I demonstrate adding cards and annotations to a YouTube video:

Custom Thumbnails

A YouTube video thumbnail appears when a video comes up in search results or is embedded on a website. YouTube gives users three thumbnails to choose from when uploading a video. Each is a paused moment from the video. They rarely look good. Users can also upload a custom thumbnail.

It is helpful to students to have an image and title on a custom thumbnail. I design mine using Google Slides (keeping the default 16:9 ratio in page setup) and then screen capture them to create an image. Google Drawings works too. I have made custom thumbnails for the first video in each of my playlists:

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Here are steps to add custom thumbnails to your videos.

Watch as I demonstrate how to add a custom thumbnail to a YouTube video:


My playlist, Student-Centered and Future Ready, contains videos created by others. YouTube users can make playlists using all videos on YouTube, not just their own. This is a great way to easily curate and share videos with students. Creating playlists and adding videos to them is as easy as clicking “Add to” in any YouTube video:

Adding to or Creating a Playlist

Strategy 3: Use DragonTape to Edit and Curate YouTube Videos

Is there a great video for your next lesson that has a moment of inappropriate content? Do you want students to watch that video with the offensive content magically removed? That’s what DragonTape does. DragonTape lets users make mix-tapes using YouTube videos.  The magic is that users can crop videos and insert clips from the same video over and over again. This means a YouTube video can be cropped in infinite ways. Teachers can also use DragonTape to curate videos like they would playlists in YouTube.


DragonTape allows users to make mix-tapes with YouTube videos. Additionally, users can crop videos and use the same video multiple times.

Strategy 4: Use TED-Ed to Add Assessment and Engagement

TED-Ed is a great tool to add assessment questions, discussion prompts, and links to further resources after students watch a video.

TED-Ed Plain

A YouTube video in TED-Ed. “Think” questions are multiple choice. “Dig Deeper” leads students to further resources. “Discuss” questions give students a discussion prompt and opportunities to comment on responses.

Here is a tutorial to help you get started using TED-Ed.

Don’t have time to create a TED-Ed lesson? Search through their more than 150,000 lessons to see if they have what you need.

Strategy 5: Use EDPuzzle to Add Assessment and Engagement

EdPuzzle allows teachers to add assessment questions and their own voice to videos as students watch them. This is what a student sees when watching a video in EdPuzzle:

EdPuzzle Answer a Question

Student view of a video in EdPuzzle. The yellow mark shows where a student has to listen to a voice recording of their teacher.

Here is a tutorial to help you get started using EdPuzzle.

Don’t have time to create an EdPuzzle lesson? Search through the many lessons other teachers have created!

If you would like to discuss these strategies further, please comment below or tweet me at @edtechtom. Thank you for reading.


Social Studies and EdTech? I Co-Wrote the E-Book!


I am honored to announce my Imagine Easy blog posts about Social Studies and educational technology have been combined with work from Matthew Farber to form an e-book, A Technology Toolkit for Social Studies Teachers. This e-book can be downloaded for free. I hope it will be useful for your practice. Please comment below or tweet me at @edtechtom if you would discuss or share feedback. Thank you for reading.

5 Videos To Move You Towards Student-Centered And Future Ready Teaching

5 Videos Student-Centered Future Ready 4

As educators, we know we need to make changes. We need to make school a positive place for students and teachers alike. We need to turn schools into places relevant to modern life. Those opinions are not very controversial, but it is difficult to answer questions they raise: What is the problem? What does solving the problem look like? Does changing how we do things really impact students? How does the teacher’s role change? What should we aim for when changing the way we teach?

For that last question, we should focus change on two areas: making classrooms and schools student-centered and future ready. Those two terms are not interchangeable.  Student-centered learning is the idea that the classroom should be centered on students rather than a dominant teacher. Future Ready Schools is a US Department of Education initiative working towards making school a place where digital learning tools enable student success after post-graduation. The term is often used to describe classrooms and schools where students are working on 21st-century skills.

These concepts are inter-related. Classrooms are teacher-centered when memorizing content is king. Memorizing content does nothing to give students future-ready skills for 21st-century jobs. Student-centered classrooms have students creating, collaborating, communicating and problem-solving. These skills are likely to help them achieve future personal and professional goals.

So grab some popcorn and get fired up to make your teaching student-centered and future ready!

Video 1 – What is the problem? XQ: Rethink

This video makes a strong case that American high schools are relics of the Industrial Revolution. Viewers should consider how this problem applies to elementary and middle schools too.

Videos 2 and 3 – What does solving the problem look like? Architect of the Possible and NCMS Ed Camp Period

Architect of the Possible starts with EdTechTeam CEO Mark Wagner speaking about Google Apps for Education (GAFE). It is well understood that GAFE are awesome for teachers and students.  The video gets really good at the 3:07 mark where he describes a public high school in New Zealand. Its innovative practices are obviously future ready. When Mark talks about student agency and 20% time at the school, it becomes apparent that it is student-centered as well.

The educators at Northfield Community Middle School in Northfield, NJ trust their students so much, they turn a period of every day over to them. Edcamps have grown in popularity and have been shown to be effective for educators.

Video 4 – Does change really impact students? Penn Manor: The Power of Open in Education

Penn Manor School District in Pennsylvania has a very student-centered approach. Charlie Reisinger, IT Director, says the district starts conversations with students by saying, “We trust you.” Students are given root access on their district-issued devices. This approach is as student-centered and future ready as it gets. At the 6:00 mark, the video tells the story of how this approach affected one student. Warning: anyone with any emotional attachment to children, people with learning needs, or education might get a little misty-eyed watching this part.

Video 5 – How does the teacher’s role change? I am NOT a Teacher

In keeping with being student-centered, let’s address the question of teachers last. This is not to lessen teachers’ importance. It is meant to emphasize the need to make it about the student. This video is uncomfortable for teachers at first glance because of its title, I am NOT a Teacher. Keith Hughes is a teacher FOLE. His insights will make you reconsider how students learn and how teachers facilitate that process.

Thank you for considering these ideas. If you would like to discuss student-centered and future ready teaching, please comment below or Tweet me at @edtechtom.

The Impossible to Fail Quiz in the New Google Forms

After Chris Aviles introduced me to the Impossible to Fail Quiz at EdCamp New Jersey, I liked it so much I used it with my students and created a tutorial to show other teachers how to make it. This quiz is a great strategy to deliver precise remediation to students who need multiple opportunities to learn. However, since I published that blog post, Google has since changed Google Forms. So here is my updated tutorial. 

Start by opening Google Drive and creating a new Google Form:

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Follow the pattern of adding a section and a question for as many questions as you want. I recommend keeping it short. I like five questions.

Now add the magic of the Impossible to Fail Quiz: videos! Wrong answers will direct students a video that reviews the concept addressed by the question. I use Screencastify to make videos with my ChromebookSnagIt works too, but I prefer Screencastify. Making your own screencast videos is great, but you can use any video on YouTube if you prefer. Keep the video short so students watch and quickly return to the question. To add videos to the quiz:

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Add a video corresponding to each of your questions in the order of the questions. The second video should help students answer the second question and so on.

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Now return to your multiple choice questions. You have to tinker with them so that correct answers advance to the next question and incorrect answers advance to the videos.

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Do this for each question.

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This is what students will see after they correctly answer the final question:

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Take care of one last detail on each of the video pages and you have an Impossible to Fail Quiz ready to go!

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With that, the Impossible to Fail Quiz is ready to go. Take the Google Classroom Impossible to Fail Quiz designed in this tutorial to acquaint yourself with the student user experience.

If you have any questions, please comment below or tweet me at @edtechtom. Thank you for reading!