Google
 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Try This Fun, Free AR App for Outdoor Lessons

Spring is here in the northern hemisphere and those of us in northern climates are ready to get back to playing outside without wearing seven layers of clothing. This is the time of the school year when my students always ask about having class outside. If you're an elementary school teacher who is ready to get your kids outside for a lesson, take a look at Plum's Creaturizer.

Plum's Creaturizer from PBS Kids is a free iOS and Android app that lets students create fun cartoon creatures then place them into outdoor settings through the use of augmented reality. The purpose of the app is to have students learn and show how the characteristics of an animal help it thrive in its environment. In the following video I demonstrate how the app works (apologies for the background noise, I recorded this video outside to show how the AR feature works in real settings).

Edublogs Publishes a Report on the State of Educational Blogging

Edublogs, a popular student blogging service, recently published the findings of their annual survey to gather feedback from teachers, students, and school administrators about their use of educational blogs. This year 688 people completed the survey, down from 777 last year, but up from the 587 two years ago. Sue Waters wrote a detailed report of the survey's findings. There are a few items from the survey that jumped out to me. The use of tablets is on the decline. Only half of the respondents indicated that they work or learn in a 1:1 environment. Almost half of all student blogs are private.

Tablet use on the decline
Based on my observations at conferences and the conversations that I have had with school leaders over the last year, this is not surprising. In short, the rise of affordable Chromebooks combined with some of the peculiarities/frustrations of trying to type on tablets makes Chromebooks and other affordable laptops a better choice for blogging.

Only half of respondents in 1:1 environments
If you haven't started a classroom blog because you don't have dedicated laptops for each student to use, this survey proves that you don't need 1:1 to use blogs in your classroom. You might need to give students more time to complete a blogging activity and or plan it a little differently than those in 1:1 environments, but you can still use blogging effectively in your practice. Strategies for classroom blogging are covered in detail in Blogs & Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders.

Half of student blogs are private
I have mixed feelings about this statistic. On one hand I recognize the need to protect student privacy and making a blog private is one way to do that (as is teaching students not to reveal personally identifying information/ sensitive information). On the other hand, making the blogs private limits the opportunity for students to have their work shared with a global audience. Unfortunately, the survey results don't include explanations from respondents in regards to why they made their students' blogs private.

If you haven't tried blogging with your students or you want to try again, take a look at my comparison of classroom blogging tools.



Join Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders to learn how to make blogging a successful part of your practice.

GE Teach Tour Builder - Create Google Earth Tours for the Web

GE Teach is a fantastic project developed by Josh Williams. Josh and his students were some of the first to use the new version of Google Earth in a classroom. In fact they used it before it was available to the public. (Click here for a video overview of the new Google Earth). The new version of Google Earth works differently than the old version, particularly when it comes to building tours. Josh built a free tool that makes it relatively easy to create and publish tours to view in the new version of Google Earth.

GE Teach Tour is a free tool that you and your students can use to create tours to play in the new web version of Google Earth. To get started head to geteach.com/tour/ then enter a title for your tour. The next step is to give your first placemark a title and to enter a description of the location you're featuring with that placemark. To place your placemarks in your tour you can either manually enter latitude and longitude coordinates or you can click on the map to insert your placemarks. Finally, to add images to your placemarks you will have to link to publicly available images that are in your Google Drive account or on another image hosting service like Flickr (by the way, linking to images found on sites that prevent hotlinking won't work).

When you have completed all of the steps to build your tour in GE Teach you will then save the file as a KML that you then import into Google Earth. (Click here for directions on importing KML to Google Earth). Once you're KML file is loaded it will play your tour just like the default Voyages that you can find in Google Earth.

Applications for Education
GE Teach Tour could be a great tool for teachers who want their students to create Google Earth tours on their Chromebooks. Students can use GE Teach Tour to create things like Google Lit Trips, to map stories, or to construct a tour of significant landmarks in a region.

We'll be covering how to use Google Earth and Google Maps in more detail in Teaching History With Technology starting on May 8th.

H/T to the Google Earth Blog

Monday, April 24, 2017

Free, Live Online Review for AP Government Exam

On May 2nd two of my favorite history teachers, Keith Hughes and Tom Richey, are hosting an online review session for students who are taking the AP Government exam. The free, live session will be held at 8pm EDT on May 2nd. You and you're students can join the session here. Watch Keith's promo video embedded below to learn more.

How to Control What Appears in Your Facebook Feed

This afternoon I received an email from a reader who was quite upset that I was posting on her Facebook account. Since I'm not in the business of hacking the social media accounts of my readers, I think she meant that she was seeinf a lot of the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook posts in her stream. The only people who control what you see in your Facebook account are you and Mark Zuckerberg's employees. You can adjust what you see when you sign into your Facebook account by using the various visibility controls that Facebook makes available to users. The following video that I made will give you a crash course on how to adjust what you see on Facebook.

Story Cubes - Templates to Help Students Plan Stories

Read Write Think's Cube Creators provide templates designed to break the writing process into six distinct parts. There are templates for writing biographies, mysteries, short stories, and a blank template that you can customize. Students enter the required information into the online template. When the template is completed, it can be printed with lines for cutting and folding to create an actual cube.

Applications for Education
Cube Creator templates could help students get started on a writing assignment when they're confronted with writer's block. The templates also provide guidance for outlining and formatting a story. These templates are suitable for elementary school use.

Getting Going With G Suite - An Online Course

Next Tuesday at 7pm Eastern Time I am starting a new section of my popular online course Getting Going With G Suite. Once again this course will offer a graduate credit option.

This course offers everything you need to know to take advantage of the great things that G Suite offers to teachers and students. Getting Going With G Suite is a webinar series designed for teachers and administrators who are new to using Google Apps for Education. Getting Going With G Suite is a five week course covering everything you need to know to integrate Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Calendar, and Google Sites into your practice.

Getting Going With G Suite costs $147. (Subscribers to the Practical Ed Tech newsletter receive a discount code). Three graduate credits are available for the course through my partnership Midwest Teachers Institute and Calumet College of St. Joseph. Graduate credits require an additional fee and completion of weekly assignments.


The course will meet on May 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30 at 7pm Eastern Time. The live meetings are recorded for folks who register but cannot attend every live meeting.

ViewedIt - Quick and Easy Screencasting

ViewedIt is a free Chrome extension that makes it quick and easy to create and share screencast videos. With the extension installed you can record your entire screen or just one window tab. ViewedIt will let you record yourself with your webcam too. The best part of ViewedIt is that you can track who watches your video.

To record on ViewedIt you simply have to click the extension icon then choose what you want to record. When you're done recording your video is automatically stored on ViewedIt. From ViewedIt you can share your video via email and social media. If you choose to share via email, you will be able to track who watched your video.

The shortcomings of ViewedIt are that it doesn't let you download your videos and it doesn't let you upload your videos to YouTube.

Applications for Education
ViewedIt could be a good screencasting tool for teachers who use Chromebooks and want to share tutorial videos with their students. Being able to track when your students watch your videos could prove to be handy.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

10 Math Tutorial YouTube Channels Not Named Khan Academy

One of the most popular posts of all time on this blog featured math tutorial YouTube channels for high school and college students. That post was originally created as a response to an email from a reader who was seeking suggestions for math videos that were not on Khan Academy. This evening I took some time to update my list of math tutorial channels on YouTube that are not Khan Academy. Here's the new list.

Yay Math! features an excited teacher teaching mathematics lessons to his students. The videos capture just the teacher and his whiteboard with some feedback from students. The videos cover topics in Algebra and Geometry. You can check out the Yay Math! companion website to learn more about Robert Ahdoot, the teacher featured in the videos.

WowMath.org is developed by high school mathematics teacher Bradley Robb. His YouTube channel has more than six hundred videos covering topics in Algebra and Calculus. You can access the videos on a mobile version of WowMath too.

Patrick JMT offers of hundreds of videos covering topics in Algebra, Trigonometry, and Calculus. The channel also includes tips for answering math questions on the SAT and on the GED.

Numberphile is a neat YouTube channel about fun number facts. There are currently thirty-three videos in the Numberphile collection. The videos cover things like 998,001 and its Mysterious Recurring DecimalsPi and Bouncing Balls, and 1 and Prime Numbers.

Bright Storm is an online tutoring service. On their YouTube channel Bright Storm provides hundreds of videos for Algebra I, Algebra II, Trigonometry, Precalculus, and Calculus. Bright Storm also offers some SAT and ACT prep videos.

Ten Marks is another online tutoring service that offers mathematics tutorial videos on their site as well as on their YouTube channel. Some of the lessons in their playlists include lessons on units of measurement, decimals, fractions, probability, area and perimeter, and factoring.

Math Class With Mr. V features seven playlists made by a mathematics teacher teaching lessons on basic mathematics, geometry, and algebra. In all there are more than 300 video lessons. Like most mathematics tutorials on YouTube, Math Class With Mr. V uses a whiteboard to demonstrate how to solve problems.

The Open University is one of my go-to YouTube channel for all things academic. A quick search on The Open University reveals seven playlists that include lessons in mathematics. The lessons that you will find in these playlists are more theoretical than they are "how to" lessons.

The New Boston is primarily a channel for computer science lessons, but it also has some good playlists of geometryalgebra, and basic mathematics lessons.

Math Doctor Bob's YouTube channel offers nearly 700 video lessons on statistics, algebra I and II, calculus, geometry, and much more. The lessons feature Doctor Bob giving the lesson in front of a whiteboard so you see him and don't just hear his lessons.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Kitchen Science - Let's Make Butter

SciShow Kids recently released a new video titled Let's Make Butter. The video provides directions for making butter in your kitchen then goes on to explain the science of what happens in the process of making butter.


Applications for Education
Rainy days like the one we're having here in Maine are perfect for kitchen science lessons. My daughter is a little too young for this activity, but if you have kids of elementary school age, this could be a nice rainy day science lesson.

Practical Ed Tech Webinar FAQs

Starting in May and running through the end of August I will be hosting five different professional development webinars for teachers and school administrators. I recorded the video embedded below to answer some of the questions that are most frequently asked about my Practical Ed Tech webinars. Watch the video and you'll get the discount code for the webinars as well as a chance to see a guest appearance from one of my dogs.


Of course, you can always email me at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com if you have questions that aren't answered in the video or on the webinar registration pages.

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from rainy Maine. The rain doesn't stop us from playing outside, but it's not quite as fun as playing in the sun. I am hopeful that all of our April showers will soon be replaced by May flowers. Speaking of things happening in May, next month I'm kicking off my summer schedule of Practical Ed Tech professional development webinars. Join me for one or all five of my courses and you'll be ready to start the next school year with lots of new ideas about using technology in your classroom. Of course, if you're the type of person who prefers an in-person learning environment, the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps are for you.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. A Tour of the New Google Earth - Google Earth in Your Browser
2. More Than 400 Science Animations
3. The PeriodicTable of Videos - An Update from the Archive
4. SeeSaw Now Directly Accepts Google Drive Files
5. WriteReader and Sesame Street Partner to Help Kids Create Multimedia Stories
6. Loopy Makes It Easy to Create Animated Simulations
7. 5 Good Ways for Students to Create Digital Showcases of Their Work

I am offering five different online courses over the next four months.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Three Simple Platforms for Publishing Writing

I recently finished making a couple of videos that teach people how to create self-hosted WordPress blogs. Using a self-hosted WordPress blog is the way to go if your goal is to create a robust platform to showcase your professional work. But creating a blog like that could be overkill for those who just want to find a quick and easy to way to publish their thoughts online. The following three platforms reside somewhere between Creed Thoughts and full-fledged blogging platforms.

Telegra.ph gives you a simple place to publish your writing and pictures without the need to create an account on the site. To publish you simply go to telegra.ph and start writing. You can include pictures in your writing, but you cannot include videos. Your writing will be given its own URL that you can share with those you want to read your work. The whole process of publishing on Telegraph is quick and easy. Here's my first Telegraph entry.

Draft is a free, collaborative writing platform that provides a distraction-free environment. When you write in Draft you won't see anything but the text in front of you. Draft is stripped of options for messing about with font colors or inserting pictures. Anyone who has an email address can participate in editing a document in Draft. Draft is a nice option for people who don't have access to Google Docs and or those who just want to focus on the text and not worry about playing around with font styling.

Page O Rama is a free service for quickly creating stand alone webpages. Creating a webpage with Page O Rama is very simple. Just visit the Page O Rama homepage, select a web address, title your page, and start typing. Page O Rama offers a good selection of text editing tools including page breaks. If you want to, you can add images to your Page O Rama pages too. If you think your page is something that you're going to want to edit and update occasionally, you can enter your email address to create an administrative log-in.

5 Good Ways for Students to Create Digital Showcases of Their Work

As I look at dreary weather outside my window it doesn't feel like the end of the school year is near, but it is getting near for many people. The end of the school year is when many of us start to think about summative activities for our students to do to show what they have learned over the course of the year. Having students create a showcase of their best work is a good way to have them reflect on the school year while also showing you and their parents what they've learned. Creating a digital showcase makes it easy for parents to see what their children think are their best works. Here are five ways that your students can create a digital showcase of their best work.

Adobe Spark's webpage creator offers a fantastic way to create simple webpages in which your students can include images, text, and videos. Consider having your students arrange their pages chronologically so that the top of the page shows their work at the beginning of the year and then as viewers scroll down they see your students' latest work. Click here for a video tutorial on how to use Adobe Spark. Adobe Spark works in your web browser and is also available as an iOS app.

Tackk is a free service on which your students can create a page to announce an important event, to advertise an event, or to show off their best digital works. To create a Tackk page you do not need to register for an account, but unregistered Tackk pages expire after seven days. If you register for the service your Tackk pages stay up indefinitely. Tackk offers an edu version which lets students integrate their G Suite accounts, Edmodo accounts, or Office 365 accounts. Creating a Tackk is a simple matter of uploading an image then adding text in the customizable fields above and below an image. In addition to images Tackk pages can accommodate videos, audio files, and maps. Learn more about Tackk in my video here. Tackk can be used in your web browser. It is also available as an Android app and as an iOS app.

SeeSaw offers a fantastic way for students to organize a digital portfolio that they can share publicly or privately. The most outstanding feature of SeeSaw is the option for students to record videos in which they talk about the artifacts in their digital portfolios. And as was explained in a post earlier today, SeeSaw now makes it easy for students to import items from the G Suite for Education accounts.

Google Sites might be the obvious choice for teachers who work in schools that use G Suite for Education. Google Sites will let you create a site on which you give each student his or her own page to manage. By doing that you're only tracking updates on one classroom site as opposed to trying to keep track of each student's individual sites created in a service like Adobe Spark or Tackk. Another good feature of Google Sites is that it is designed for importing files from Google Drive which makes it easy for students to showcase their best docs, slides, videos, and drawings. The downside to using Google Sites is that it rejects a lot of third party embed codes.

ClassDojo's Student Stories offers a convenient way for your students to create a portfolio that their parents can see while they're also checking all of the other information that you share with them through the ClassDojo platform. Student Stories puts students in charge of assembling their portfolios. Their portfolios can include digital work as well as physical work that they take pictures of with a camera on a mobile device or on a laptop. You moderate your students' submissions before anyone can see them. To submit work students simply scan a class QR code then add their submissions. Watch the video embedded below to see how it works. Click here for a PDF of directions on how to use Student Stories.


Three Tools That Help Students Analyze What They Write

Probably every high school teacher since the dawn of time has asked his or her students to have someone else proofread their essays before turning them in for a grade. Unfortunately, students don't always comply with that request. And even when they do get someone to proofread, some items might go undetected. That's why an online writing analysis tool can be helpful to students. Here are three free services that help students analyze their writing.

Slick Write is a free tool that helps you analyze your writing or that of others. To use Slick Write you can write new text in the provided text editor or copy and paste chunks of existing text into Slick Write's text editor. Either way Slick Write will provide you with an analysis of your writing. That analysis will include typical things like a word count, a readability score, and an estimated reading time for your document. Slick Write will also analyze your use of adverbs and prepositional phrases throughout your document.

The Hemingway App, found at Hemingwayapp.com, provides students with lots of helpful information about their text. To use the service students just paste some text into the Hemingway editor and it will provide you with a bunch of information about that text. Hemingway highlights the parts of your writing that use passive voice, adverbs, and overly complex sentences. All of those factors are accounted for in generating a general readability score for your passage. The short video embedded below shows how easy it is to use Hemingwayapp.com to analyze your writing.



Paste your text into Analyze My Writing and it will generate a ton of information about your writing. Analyze My Writing will give you a break-down of the readability of your writing on five indices. The analysis will include listings of the most common words and most common word pairs in your writing. A listing of how frequently you use punctuation and punctuation types is included in the analysis provided by Analyze My Writing. Finally, a word cloud is included at the end of the analysis of your writing.

Loopy Makes It Easy to Create Animated Simulations

Loopy is a free tool for creating your own animated simulations or illustrations of a concept. This free animation tool is designed to showing relationships between two or more parts of a system. It's perfect for showing cause and effect or for showing a workflow system.

To create an animation on Loopy you simply have to click on the blank canvas to place a circle that represents the start of a system. Then click on the canvas again to add another element to your system animation. To connect the two (or more) pieces you use a drawing tool to connect them. Once you've drawn the connections you can add cause and effect commands by selecting them from the Loopy editor.

Applications for Education
It took me a few minutes of playing around and remixing existing simulations to get the hang of how Loopy worked. Once I had it figured out, I quickly saw the potential for Loopy animations to help students understand how systems work. Give your students some time to use Loopy and they could create animations to illustrate their understanding of cause and effect relationships in science and engineering.

H/T to Lifehacker

SeeSaw Now Directly Accepts Google Drive Files

SeeSaw is a great tool for creating digital portfolios with your students. SeeSaw lets students create digital portfolios that include pictures, documents, presentations, and videos. Your students can even use SeeSaw to record a video of themselves talking about an artifact in their portfolios.

This week SeeSaw made it easy for Google Drive users to add files to their SeeSaw portfolios. Whether you use Google Drive on your iPad, your Android phone, or on your laptop, you can quickly move slides, documents, drawings, and spreadsheets from Google Drive to a SeeSaw portfolio. The following videos show you how SeeSaw's Google Drive integration works.





Applications for Education
If your school is using G Suite for Education, SeeSaw's new Google Drive integration is for you and your students. This integration will let your students quickly find the best examples of their work and share them in a concise portfolio format. And with SeeSaw's video recording option you can have your students record themselves explaining why they chose the items they placed into their portfolios.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Create Sesame Street Fan Fiction on WriteReader

WriteReader recently announced a partnership with Sesame Street that essentially lets students use Sesame Street artwork in their own multimedia stories. As I wrote on Monday, it's essentially fan fiction for elementary school students. Take a look at the following video to see how your students can create their own multimedia Sesame Street stories by using WriteReader.


If you've never tried WriteReader, watch my short video embedded below to learn more about how it works.



Disclosure: WriteReader is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How to Create Your Own Placemarks in the New Google Earth

A new version of Google Earth was released yesterday. In my initial review of it I was excited that it now works in your web browser while also being disappointed by the lack of creation tools that it contains. Fortunately, you can still put your own multimedia placemarks on Google Earth by importing a KML file In the following video I demonstrate how to create a KML to use in the new version of Google Earth.



Applications for Education
Creating a series of placemarks to display in Google Earth can be a good activity for students that helps them understand the relationship between events and their locations. A classic example of this is having students map the locations of battles of the American Revolution.

I'll be covering how to use Google Earth and Maps on Chromebooks during the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp this summer. Early registration discounts are available for until the end of the month.


Find Inspiration for Video Projects While Judging a Video Contest

This is a guest post from Rushton Hurley. Rushton is the founder of Next Vista for Learning and the author of Making Your School Something Special

Every year, Next Vista for Learning challenges students at schools around the world to create videos telling about the efforts of those who work to make life better for others. Could you take time, perhaps even with your students, to help us choose the winners?

There are three videos, linked below, and you can follow the link to the ballot to cast a vote. All told, it should take about ten minutes to complete the videos and cast a vote.

Here are the three finalists:

Lake Norman Health Clinic

Shining Hope Farms

Kamloops BC Salvation Army

The deadline for our being able to count your vote is April 30th. Please help!

Service via Video 2017 ballot: http://tinyurl.com/ServiceviaVideo-Apr2017

Thanks so much for taking part and helping encourage these students to tell stories of service!

Practical Ed Tech Live Recording

Yesterday afternoon I hosted another edition of Practical Ed Tech Live. The Q&A session was streamed live on the Practical Ed Tech Facebook page and on my YouTube channel. If you missed it, you can watch the recording as embedded below. The text of the questions that I answered can be seen here. As always, if you have a question for me send an email to richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com and I'll be happy to include your question in next week's episode of Practical Ed Tech Live.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Tour of the New Google Earth - Google Earth in Your Browser

This morning Google released a completely new version of Google Earth. The new version is designed to be used in the Chrome web browser or in a new Google Earth Android app (iOS version coming eventually). I spent about an hour trying out the new web version of Google Earth. Then I recorded the video that is embedded below.


A few thoughts about the new version of Google Earth. First, it appears that Google is placing an emphasis on having users view places rather than discover places on their own. Second, while you can create a series of bookmarks that isn't nearly as powerful as creating your own recorded tours as you can in the desktop version of Google Earth (fortunately, that is still available). Third, the option to layer images over locations seems to be missing in the web version of Google Earth. Overall, I'm disappointed that Google seems to have stripped-down Google Earth in the name of making it faster for web use. Of course, I reserve the right to change my opinion on this new version if or when Google makes the new version as robust as the old version.

A Crash Course on the History of Movies

Thanks to Open Culture I learned about a new Crash Course that should be fun to follow for the next sixteen weeks. Crash Course Film History promises to take viewers through the evolution of movies from a technical perspective as well as the cultural evolution of movies. The first episode in the series goes back before the invention of film and discusses the first "illusions" and performances before then covering the invention of film and slides. Watch the first lesson as embedded below or jump here to follow the whole series as it becomes available.

Dotstorming Adds Helpful New Features

Dotstorming is a good tool for hosting online brainstorming sessions and or general gathering of ideas from an audience. I've featured it in some of my workshops over the last couple of years because it is quick and easy to get a lot of people using it at once. On Dotstorming you can have people submit ideas in the forms of text, image, and video links. All submissions appear in a grid where viewers can then vote and comment on the submissions. Recently, Dotstorming added a couple of new features that teachers will find helpful.

Dotstorming has always let users add images to their submissions, but now the process is a little easier than it was before. In the past you had to use a specific "add image" command to add an image. Now you can just paste the URL for an image into a submission and the image will appear.

The second new feature is the option to clear a board. Choosing to clear a board will remove all comments and votes that have appeared. The original submissions themselves stay on the board.

Applications for Education
The improved "add image" option should make it a little easier for students to include images in their submissions to a Dotstorming board. The "clear board" option will be useful to teachers who want to re-use the same board for multiple classes. The "clear board" option will also be useful if you want to have students vote at the beginning of a lesson and have them vote again at the end of the lesson.

Learn more about Dotstorming in this video that I made for new users.

Speak to Go - Explore the World With Your Voice in Virtual Reality

Speak to Go is a new Google WebVR experiment. Speak to Go lets you explore the world in virtual reality by just speaking the name of a place. Speak into Speak to Go and you'll be shown Street View imagery of that place. For example, I spoke the word "Maine" and I was quickly taken to Acadia National Park in Maine. Had I been more specific and said "Portland, Maine" I would have seen imagery of Portland.

Speak to Go is designed to be used with phones inside of virtual reality headsets. However, it can also be used in the Chrome web browser if you allow access to your microphone. The imagery isn't as immersive in the web version as in the VR version, but it is still good.

Applications for Education
Speak to Go is a nice option for exploring virtual reality imagery without the need to touch a screen or click a command. In the web version, Speak to Go makes exploring Street View imagery slightly more accessible to everyone.

H/T to Maps Mania for the link. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

5 Good Resources for Teaching and Learning About the American Revolution

Today is Patriots' Day. Here in Maine as well as in Massachusetts and Wisconsin it's an official state holiday. The day commemorates The Battles of Lexington and Concord. As a New Englander this is a good day to review some good resources for teaching and learning about the American Revolution.

Teaching American History has a series of interactive lessons about the American Revolution that are suitable for middle school and elementary school use. The lessons are divided into three chronological sections; 1775-1778, 1778-1781, and Treaty of Paris 1783. All of the lessons in the first two sections ask students to locate a place on a map. Students then answer a question about that place. After answering the question students are given a short text lesson. The lessons appear in chronological order. In the section on the Treaty of Paris students move through a series of placemarks on a map to learn about the terms of the Treaty of Paris.

America, A Narrative History is a text published by WW Norton. As a free supplement to the book, Norton has published ten Google Earth tours. These tours include major themes and events in US History. The list includes the Revolutionary War, the path to the Civil War, WWII, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, Lewis & Clark's expedition, the Indian Removal Act, Pre-Columbian North America, the national parks system, and the 20th Century power grid. All of the tours include multiple images and references. Some of the tours also have "tour questions" for students to answer.

Pictures of the Revolutionary War is a compilation of images about the Revolutionary War. The images in the collection chronicle the stirrings of rebellion in the pre-revolution years, the war from both American and British perspectives, and events following the Revolutionary War.

Crash Course has a ten part series on U.S. History. Included in that series is Taxes & Smuggling - Prelude to Revolution.



Keith Hughes offers Colonialism for Dummies as part of his series on U.S. History for Dummies.

Desmos Now Offers an Online Geometry Tool

Desmos, the company known for its online graphing calculator, recently released a new online geometry tool. Desmos Geometry is designed to help students understand geometry concepts through the use of drawing and diagram manipulation tools. Your students can use Desmos Geometry or you can use to create demonstrations. Desmos has created a page of resources for learning how to use Desmos Geometry.


It's important to note that Desmos made clear in its launch announcement that Desmos Geometry is meant to be a fast and light tool, it's not meant to duplicate the features of tools like Geogebra.

Number Rack & Geoboard - Good Apps for Elementary School Math

Geoboard is a free app on which students stretch virtual rubber bands over pegboards to create lines and shapes to learn about perimeter, area, and angles. The app is available as as an iPad app and as a Chrome app. It can also be used directly in any updated web browser. The browser-based version can be found here.


Number Rack provides a set of virtual number beads that are grouped into sets of five red and five white beads. Number Rack on the iPad allows students to have up to 10 rows of beads. Number Rack on the web provides up to five rows of beads. You can obscure some of the beads to model subtraction and addition with the virtual beads. Number Rack for iPads is available here and it is available here for the web.

Applications for Education
Neither of these apps offer anything ground-breaking. If you're looking for mobile versions of classic elementary school math activities, these apps are worth a look.

Words of the World - Learn the Origin of Words

Words of the World is another excellent set of videos from the same people that brought us the popular Periodic Table of VideosWords of the World is a collection of videos featuring historians and linguists explaining the origins of and history of the use of words in the English language. The videos attempt to put the words into a somewhat modern context. For example this video about the word "guerrilla" makes reference to Che Guevara. The video I've embedded below explains the word "coup."


Applications for Education
Words of the World could be an instructive model for your own lesson combining history and language arts. Have your students pick a word or two that they think is common and research it. Then have them create their own short videos in which they explain the history of those words. You might even have them research the dialect of the areas in which they live. For example, where I live we have a Range Pond. Most people would pronounce that as range, like "home on the range" yet everyone around here pronounces it as rang as in "the bell rang."  I'm not sure why that is the case, but I would love to find out.

WriteReader and Sesame Street Partner to Help Kids Create Multimedia Stories

WriteReader, a fantastic multimedia writing platform, has just announced a partnership with Sesame Street. This partnership brings Sesame Street characters into WriteReader's bank of images for students to use in their own stories. Now when students create a story in WriteReader they can choose one or all of twenty Sesame Street characters to place into scenes in their stories.

In WriteReader students can craft entire stories featuring Sesame Street characters. For example, students can write a story that is a dialogue between Elmo and Oscar the Grouch. Or you might have a student write a story about Big Bird going on an adventure.
Applications for Education
The Sesame Street characters in WriteReader could be used to help your students develop new story ideas. In a way, it's kind of like fan fiction for elementary school students.

If you're an elementary school teacher who hasn't tried WriteReader, the most important thing for you to know is that the platform is designed for collaboration between you and your students. When your students write in their WriteReader accounts you can log-in and see what they have written and then make suggestions directly below what they have written in their stories. Watch my video below to see how it works.



Disclosure: WriteReader is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Word Mover - A Great App for National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. If you have students who need a little help crafting poems, have them try Word Mover. Word Mover from Read Write Think is a free app that helps students develop poems and short stories. When students open the Word Mover app they are shown a selection of words that they can drag onto a canvas to construct a poem or story. Word Mover provides students with eight canvas backgrounds on which they can construct their poems. If the word bank provided by Word Mover doesn’t offer enough words they can add their own words to the word bank.

Applications for Education 
Word Mover could be a great app for students to use to as a story or poem starter. The app reminds me a bit of those refrigerator magnets that were popular for a while. You know, the ones that had individual words on them that you dragged around to create funny sentences. The same idea can be applied to Word Mover.

Word Mover is available for iOS, Android, and Web use.

Explore NASA Spacecraft in 3D

Spacecraft 3D is a free iPad app produced by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Spacecraft 3D uses augmented reality technology to bring NASA spacecraft to life on your iPad. To get started using the app you first need to print out the spacecraft target codes. Then your students can scan those target codes with their iPads. The spacecraft then becomes a 3D model that your students can explore.

Applications for Education
Using Spacecraft 3D could be a great way for students to learn about the robotic spacecrafts that NASA is currently using to explore our solar system. I think that the app could be used by students of any age. That said, younger students may have trouble holding their iPad cameras on target while also manipulating the screen on their iPads. I say this only because I had that problem when I tried the app.

A Concise Explanation of Augmented Reality

On Friday I shared a post about an augmented reality app from PBS Kids. That app lets students take pictures of animated characters in outdoor settings. That post prompted a question from a reader who wanted an explanation of augmented reality. My recommendation was to take a look at Common Craft's video on the topic. The video is embedded below.


Disclosure: I have an in-kind business relationship with Common Craft.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

More Than 400 Science Animations

Learners TV, like many similar sites on the Internet, offers an index of math and science video lessons. What makes Learners TV a little different is that it also has an index of more than 400 science concept animations. The science animations on Learners TV are organized into three categories; biology, physics, and chemistry. Please not that the animations require Flash and that you may have to be patient while they load.

Applications for Education
If you're looking for some animations to illustrate concepts mentioned in your science lessons, take a look at the Learners TV gallery of animations. I think it would be great if Learners TV had paired the animations to specific videos in their libraries, but that could be a project for students.

The Week In Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good evening from Connecticut where I'm visiting family for Easter weekend. It was a big day for me and Isla as it was our first long trip alone to drive down here. And other than one side-of-the-road emergency diaper change, it was a smooth trip. Check my Instagram tomorrow for a cute picture of a baby in an Easter dress. Whether you're traveling (it's school vacation week around here) or staying close to home, I hope that you have a great weekend.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Quick Key's New Google Forms Add-on Makes It Easy to Send Grades to PowerSchool
2. A Student With Autism Explains Autism
3. Peaks and Valleys - An Interactive Story Map
4. How to Annotate Images on a Chromebook
5. Explore National Parks for Free In Person or Online
6. Plum's Creaturizer - A Neat AR App to Get Kids Exploring Outdoors
7. 7 Good Resources for Teaching and Learning About Earth Day

Early registration discounts for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps are only available for 15 more days. Learn more here

Click here to learn how to bring me to your school or conference. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
QuickKey saves teachers tons of time when scoring formative assessments.
WriteReader is a fantastic multimedia writing tool for elementary school students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

Understanding the Science of Baseball

Baseball, my favorite professional team sport, is back in season. And soon Little League baseball will be starting again too. If you have elementary school students who are interested in America's National Pastime, take a look at Exploratorium's the Science of Baseball. The Science of Baseball is a bit dated in its looks, but it still has some nice resources that can help students understand how a bit of science and mathematics is involved in the game. The Science of Baseball includes video and audio clips of baseball players and scientists explaining how the weather affects the flight of the ball, the physics of various pitches, and reaction times to thrown and batted baseballs.

Applications for Education
The Science of Baseball has five suggested hands-on activities that you can do with your students after they have gone through the online resources. These activities could be a good way to get some of the Little Leaguers in your classroom excited about a science and mathematics lesson.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The PeriodicTable of Videos - An Update from the Archive

Earlier this week an email from a reader prompted me to take a look back through my archives for chemistry-related resources. The Periodic Table of Videos is one that popped-up that I hadn't thought about in years. In fact, it has been nine years since I wrote about it. In that time a lot of new videos has been added to it.

The Periodic Table of Videos is produced by The University of Nottingham. The table features a video demonstration of the characteristics of each element in the table. Each element in the Periodic Table displayed on the home page is linked to a video about that element. Elements highlighted in pink on the chart have recently updated videos about them.


To create flipped lessons out of the videos in the Periodic Table of Videos, try one of these seven good options for making flipped lessons.

How to Annotate Images on a Chromebook

From time to time you may find yourself needing to highlight portions of an image or point out features of a diagram for your students. Or you may want students to do the same. For example, in an photography class you may have students mark an image to illustrate use of lighting and framing. On a Chromebook it's fairly easily to annotate images if you use Google Keep. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to download images to a Chromebook and how to then annotate them.


We'll cover lots of tips and topics like this one during the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp this summer.

Plum's Creaturizer - A Neat AR App to Get Kids Exploring Outdoors

Creaturizer from PBS Kids is a free iOS and Android app that lets students create fun cartoon creatures then place them into outdoor settings through the use of augmented reality. In the app students create cartoon creatures by swiping and tapping on the features they want their creatures to have (students can have multiple creature creations in the app). Then students go outside to take pictures that place their creatures in settings in which they utilize the features and traits of the fictional creatures. For example, I created a creature that had antlers, a long nose, and short arms. The app then challenged me to take a picture that illustrates how my creature would use its antlers in nature.

Applications for Education
Now that spring is here (in the northern hemisphere) I find myself thinking of fun ways get kids involved in outdoor learning activities. Creaturizer could be a fun app to have your students use to show what they know and or think about how animals use their bodies and adapt in nature.

Creaturizer doesn't require students to create accounts so it is convenient for elementary school students to use.

11 FAQs About the 2017 Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps

Early registration discounts for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps are available for sixteen more days. In the last couple of weeks I've answered a bunch of similar questions about the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp and the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp. Here are those questions and their answers which includes a guest appearance by my daughter, Isla.

1. What's the difference between the BYOD Camp and the Chromebook Camp? 
In short, the Chromebook Camp is designed specifically for addressing the needs of teachers and students who will be using Chromebooks as their primary devices in their classrooms. The content of the BYOD Camp is designed to be adaptable to any platform. Here's a video explanation with Isla.

2. My school is transitioning to G Suite for Education (formerly Google Apps), will this help me?
In short, yes. The both of the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps will include the use of Google tools in each day. The Chromebook camp will have more G Suite items than the BYOD camp. We will share methods for incorporating Google tools into much of what we do. That said, this is not focused only on Google tools. Both of the the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps are based on my framework of Discovery, Discussion, and Demonstration.

The first day is focused helping students use technology to discover and discuss information. Day one of the Chromebook camp will also cover workflow on Chromebooks. Likewise the first day of the BYOD camp will cover workflow on iPads, laptops, and Android devices. The second day of both camps is focused on demonstrating knowledge by creating new digital content including podcasts, videos, and other multimedia productions.

3. How much time will I have to practice on my own/ with my colleague? 
I build in lots of time for hands-on practice. Circular tables are used so that you can face each other, meet new people, and learn and work together. I explain a bit more in this video.

4. I want to bring my principal, will she/he benefit from attending?
Absolutely! As I've heard my friend Scott McLeod say, "the leaders must get it." This is a great opportunity for your principal to gain a great understanding of what you and your colleagues want to do when school starts again in the fall. Equally importantly, they'll learn why you want to do it.

5. My school is going 1:1 with iPads, will the BYOD camp help me?
Yes. We will be looking at a bunch of apps and their applications for classrooms.

6. Will you be streaming this online?
No. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps are designed to be hands-on and a livestream wouldn't really capture the experience. However, for 2017 I have designed an online course that will closely mimic the BYOD camp. Check out the Practical Ed Tech Jumpstart.

7. How do I get to Portland, Maine? What can I do once I'm there? How do I get around in Portland?
Portland has an international airport (airport code PWM) serviced by American, United, Delta, SouthWest, and Jet Blue. Boston/ Logan Airport is about 90 miles away. The hotel is about a ten minute cab ride from the Portland airport. Uber is available in Portland. When we’re done for the day you can walk to dozens of restaurants along the Old Port’s cobblestone streets, walk to the ocean, or even hop a boat and take a sunset cruise to see the islands in Casco Bay. Beaches and lighthouses are just a few minutes drive from the hotel (my favorite lighthouse is this one).

8. Why aren't these events free?
There are two reasons why they aren't free. First, I incur a lot of expenses in organizing and hosting the events. Second, while all of the sites and apps we will use are free, my time for teaching about them isn't free.

9. Are there things for my kids/ my spouse/ my partner to do during the day?
The great thing about the location of the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps is that it puts you in walking and or driving distance to lots of things. The Portland Museum of Art and the Children's Museum of Maine are within walking distance. Beaches are within 10-15 minutes of driving (if you just want to see the ocean, that's a 7 minute walk). There are many public and private golf courses within 10-20 minutes of driving.

10. We would love to attend but the dates don't work for us, will you be offering this at another time?
At this time I don't have plans to offer the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps on other dates. I am more than happy to come to your school district to offer a workshop. Please click here for information about my on-location professional development services.

11. Can I register with a purchase order / check from my school?
Yes, you can. To register with a purchase order or a check from your school email me or have your business administrator email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com and I will register you on receipt of the purchase order. Please note that the early registration discount is only available if you register through the online form.