Saturday, May 21, 2022

Menus, Maps, and Broadcasts - The Week in Review

Good morning from western Maine where the warm weather is supposed to returned after a couple of cold and rainy days. We're planning to have fun enjoying the warm weather with a trip to Storyland! My kids love going there because of all of the kid-friendly rides. I love going there because it reminds me of happy childhood memories and I love watching my kids have fun making memories of their own. How much fun do we have there? My five-year-old yelled, "I'm living my best life!" while riding a rollercoaster at Storyland last summer. I hope that you have something as equally fun to do this weekend. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Add Dropdown Menus Into Sentences In Google Docs
2. New Google Docs Features You Might Have Missed
3. An Interactive Map of the Roman Empire
4. A Cool Lesson for a Hot Spring Day - How the Popsicle Was Invented
5. The National Archives to Host Online Professional Development This Summer
6. TARA - A Planning Tool for New and Veteran Teachers
7. Broadcast Google Slides Directly to Your Students' Computers

Webinars for Your School
I conduct professional development webinars throughout the year. I'll host a free one-hour webinar for any school or group that purchases ten or more copies of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips.

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 41,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • If you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Instagram or Strava.
This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include Icons Daily and Daily Dose. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Five Google Earth Activities to Get Kids Interested in the Outdoors

In last week’s Week in Review I mentioned a new book titled Outdoor Kids in an Inside World. In the book Steven Rinella presents a lot of ideas for getting kids interested and involved in learning about nature. In the first chapter he presents a big list of ideas for things that you can do to spark kids’ curiosity before you even head outside. As I was reading through those ideas it struck me that many could be done or be aided by the use of Google Earth.

Inspired by Steven Rinella’s Outdoor Kids in an Inside World, here are five Google Earth activities that you can do to get kids interested in learning about the world around them.
  • Trace a drop of rain from your house to the nearest stream, river, lake, or ocean.

  • How many total feet or meters of elevation change would you cross to walk from your school to the highest point in your state, province, or country.

  • Create a tour of the five most interesting geological features in your state, province, or country. Let students decide what qualifies as “interesting.”

  • Use the historical imagery in Google Earth to view changes in shoreline over the last fifty years. Have students create a list of the factors that contributed to those changes.

  • Take a walk outside and look for bird nests. Record their locations in a Google Earth file. Repeat the process the following year with another group of students and see if the bird nests are in the same places.
If you're interested in learning more about Google Earth, enroll in A Crash Course in Google Earth and Maps or take a look at Around the World With Google Earth.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Reducing Stress Through Tech - Podcast

Earlier this week I had the pleasure to be a guest on podcast hosted by Paulie Gavoni and Drew Carter. Their podcast is called The Crisis in Education Podcast. In the podcast they explore opportunities for sustainable improvements in schools. 

In the podcast I talked with Paulie and Drew about how technology can be used to reduce teacher stress. It had been about a year since the last time I was a guest on a long-form podcast. They brought the rambler out in me and I hope that you enjoy the podcast as much as I did. You can listed to Reducing Teacher Stress Through Free Tech right here. Highlights of the podcast are available here.


If you're interested in starting your own podcast, Anchor makes it easy to do that. Here's my short tutorial on how to create a podcast with Anchor. And here's a list of podcast topics for students

NearbyWiki - A Mapped Display of Wikipedia

NearbyWiki is a new website that displays Wikipedia entries on an interactive map. The purpose of NearbyWiki is for visitors to learn about buildings, statues, and parks by clicking through a map. For example, a search for Boston on NearbyWiki will reveal more than 500 markers on the map in and around Boston. You can then click on any of those markers to learn more about the place they represent. 

In the screenshot below you can see that I clicked on the marker on NearbyWiki for Brewer Fountain in Boston Common. I was then able to click through to read more about the fountain and bookmark it for later reference. 


Applications for Education
NearbyWiki could be a good tool for students to use to discover and learn about some interesting landmarks in a city or town. The upside to using NearbyWiki instead of Google Maps for this purpose is that students won't come across things like restaurant reviews that are written and published on Google Maps. 

Another way to think about using NearbyWiki in your classroom is to have students use it to find the Wikipedia entries for places in their local communities and then fact-check those entries. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

TARA - A Planning Tool for New and Veteran Teachers

TARA is a new tool designed to help you streamline your lesson planning process. It was designed by a couple of teachers for teachers. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to see a live demo of TARA. There was one feature of it that really stood out to me as something that can be useful to new teachers as well as those of us who have been around for a while. 

In TARA there is a resource bank that you can access while planning your lessons. The resource bank includes collections of resources from around the web. That's not the part that grabbed my attention (lots of services have similar collections). What grabbed my attention was inside the resource bank there is what I would call a "strategy bank." That strategy bank could be useful for new teachers who are looking for a little guidance on developing a lesson. The strategy bank could also be useful for experienced teachers who are looking for some inspiration for new ways to teach a favorite topic. 

The TARA resource bank for strategies includes links to templates and resources that you can duplicate, modify, and store in your free TARA account. Take a look at my screenshot below to see what it looked like when I went looking for ideas for class discussion openers and closers. 


Applications for Education
There are many more things that you could do within the TARA environment including creating your own collections of resources, managing to-do lists, and crafting full lesson plans. In the future I may spend more time exploring those. For now, I think the resource bank with its associated strategies bank is a feature that makes TARA useful for all teachers who are looking for some new strategy ideas.