Wednesday, March 23, 2016

An Interactive Cartogram of News

Unfiltered News is a new site that uses an interactive cartogram to help you find trending news stories from around the world. To find stories through Unfiltered News simply open the website and click on a topic listed within one of the circles on the map. Once you've made a selection a list of stories will appear on the right side of your screen. Click on a story to read it in full. From the menu on the right side of the screen you can choose a different location and a new list of stories will appear.

Applications for Education
Unfiltered News could be a good resource for social studies classes in which students are learning about current events. Unfiltered News does a nice job of showing visitors which stories are trending where in the world. This could lead to a good discussion with students about why certain topics are trending in one part of the world, but are not trending in another part of the world.

H/T to Google Maps Mania

5 Settings You Should Know for School or Classroom Facebook Pages

As I mentioned yesterday, maintaining a Facebook fan page for your school or classroom can be a good way to keep parents informed of upcoming events. When you create a Facebook fan page for your school or classroom there are some default settings that you will want to change in order to keep the page as school-friendly as possible. Those five changes are outlined below. You can make all of these changes from the general settings panel of your Facebook page.

1. Profanity filter. This one is self-explanatory. You'll want to turn it on.

2. Visitor posts. This setting enables you to decide if you want visitors to be able to write posts on your page's wall. I have this option turned off because I don't want to worry about parents or students posting things that they shouldn't share publicly and or airing a grievance in public. I also don't want to worry about having to manually filter spam from the wall.

3. Messages. I turn off the option for people to send private messages through the Facebook page. I turn it off because I want parents and students to use my school email address for questions. I do that just in case there ever needs to be an archive of a message or series of messages. The school can archive email, your Facebook page cannot.

4. Tagging ability. I set this so that only page administrators can tag the page in posts. It gives me a little more control over where page appears.

5. Expiring posts. Turn on this option to set expiration dates for posts. This is handy because you might be posting information that has a limited shelf life. For example, you probably don't need a reminder about an open house night to continue to appear three weeks after the event.

This topic and many like it will be covered in depth in the latest section of Blogs & Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders. Click here to learn how to earn CEUs or graduate credit for the course. 

10 Somewhat Interesting Things About Me and Free Technology for Teachers

Over the last few months there have been a lot of new visitors and subscribers to and the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page. Welcome and thanks for joining me here. And thank you to long-time followers who have helped this blog and the corresponding Facebook page grow. Whether you're new here or you've been with me for eight years, here are some things you may not know about me and 

1. With very few and infrequent exceptions, everything that you see here is written or recorded by me. Last year only 32 of 1181 posts were guest posts. 

2. I love dogs and cats. I make regular contributions of time and money to Harvest Hills Animal Shelter and Buddy Up Animal Society. (Adopt, don't shop).

3. I was a high school social studies teacher before and other consulting work became my full-time job a few years ago. I also coached middle school basketball. (If you're thinking about becoming a full-time blogger/ consultant bear in mind that when I made the jump I was on the 10th step of my district's pay scale and still didn't make $35k. I also don't have any dependents other than dogs). 

4. I do miss being in the classroom on a regular basis. I especially miss the special education students that I worked with.  Fortunately, living in a small town means that I often run into former students. In fact, that happened last weekend at the grocery store. 

5. Inspiration for blog posts comes from questions from readers, press releases that I'm sent, conversations with teachers and administrators, and sometimes from my dreams (yes, I have dreamed about blog posts). 

6. Sitting still is not something that I do well. My hobbies are biking (road and mountain), skiing, fly fishing, and paddling. Other than home, Iceland is my favorite place in the world. 

7. is technically owned by Byrne Instructional Media, LLC. Income comes from advertising, speaking at conferences, running workshops in schools, hosting summer workshops, hosting online courses, and some consulting with start-ups. 

8. Instagram is the place that I post fun things like pictures of my dogs, places I ski and bike, or the goofy selfies that I take.

9. Outside of this blog I post content on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook Page, on my YouTube channel, and on Practical Ed Tech.

10. My number one blogging tip is, "create helpful content." 

Questions? You can email me richardbyrne (at) or find me on Twitter

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