Sunday, March 31, 2019

Add-ons, Jeopardy, and Carmen San Diego - The Month in Review

Good morning from Maine where we still have plenty of snow, but it is starting to melt fairly quickly.

This month I had the privilege to speak at a couple of conferences and spend a week working with my favorite charter school in Key West, Florida. In April I'll be speaking at three events starting with New Jersey City University tomorrow. If you're interested in having me speak at your conference or work with your school, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com

These were the month's most popular posts:
1. Where On Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego? - A Great Geography Game
2. 5 Favorite Google Slides Add-ons
3. My 5 Favorite Google Forms Add-ons
4. Six New G Suite Features for Teachers and Students
5. Get a Copy of My Jeopardy Gameboard Google Slides Template
6. My 5 Favorite Google Docs Add-ons
7. Five Good Places to Find Current Events Stories for Kids
8. Make Trading Cards for Historical and Fictional Characters
9. 5 Good Chrome Extensions for Teachers and Students
10. Fast & Fun Formative Assessment - Slides


The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is happening on July 15th and 16th. I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Register in March and save $50! Registration is now open here.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.

More Than 14,000 People Get Their Ed Tech Tips This Way

Every week I record three to five tutorial videos. I've been doing this for the last five years. There are now more than 1,000 videos on my YouTube channel including 300 tutorials about various G Suite tools. As of this weekend more than 14,000 people have subscribed to my YouTube channel so that they're notified as soon as I publish a new tutorial. You can subscribe here. Three of my most popular tutorials of the last 365 days are included below.

How to Use Google's VR Tour Creator


How to Share Videos Through Google Drive


How to Create a QR Code for a Google Form

5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons – Spring 2019

As the winter fades and spring begins to bloom here in New England, kids and adults are itching to get outside more often. This is a great time to take your students outside for some lessons. That's why on Tuesday at 4pm ET I'm hosting a Practical Ed Tech webinar titled 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons.

In this live webinar you’ll learn five ways that you can incorporate technology into outdoor lessons. These strategies can be used in elementary school, middle school, or high school settings.

Join me on April 2nd at 4pm Eastern Time to learn how you can blend technology into outdoor lessons.


In this webinar you’ll learn about:

  • Augmented Reality 
  • Digital mapping
  • Geocaching 
  • Activity tracking 
  • Observing and collecting scientific data

Your registration includes:

  • Access to the live webinar on April 2nd at 4pm Eastern Time. 
  • Unlimited access to the webinar recording. 
  • Digital handouts. 
  • PD certificate.
Use code "April" to save $5 on registration. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Math Keyboard and More Updates to Microsoft Forms

Microsoft Forms doesn't get as much coverage on this blog as Google Forms, but that doesn't mean that Microsoft Forms doesn't have some great features. In fact, it has some features that I wish Google would add to Google Forms.

In March Microsoft added some nice features to Microsoft Forms. For students and teachers, the most significant of those new features is the inclusion of a math keyboard. This feature lets students use a virtual keyboard to answer open-ended math questions in Microsoft Forms.

A small, but convenient update to Microsoft Forms lets you launch Forms from the header of Office.com

Six G Suite Updates You Might Have Missed in March

Every month Google rolls out new features for G Suite and many of their other products. Some of those updates are irrelevant for teachers and students while others can have a direct impact on how teachers and students use their favorite Google products. If you want to see every update that Google makes to G Suite throughout the month, follow the G Suite Updates Blog. But if you prefer to trust me to filter and pass along the relevant updates, here's what I think were the Google product updates that were relevant for teachers and students.


  • You can now use your own VR tours in Google Expeditions
    • You can use Google's VR Tour Creator through your G Suite account if your domain administrator has enabled it. Those tours can now be used in the Android and iOS versions of Google Expeditions. I wrote about this update and included tutorials here

Cards, Assessments, and Poems - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the April showers have arrived a couple of days early. That's okay because all week long it was sunny and warm which let my kids and dogs get lots of outdoor playtime. Speaking of outdoor playtime, next week I'm hosting a webinar about how to blend technology into outdoor lessons.

This week I didn't do any traveling. I stayed home and hosted some some webinars including a Best of the Web presentation. If you missed my Best of the Web webinar, you can view it right here.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Make Trading Cards for Historical and Fictional Characters
2. Fast & Fun Formative Assessment - Slides
3. Langscape - An Interactive Map of Languages
4. Theme Poems and Shape Poems - Activities for Poetry Month
5. How to Create an Activity Tracker With Google Forms & Sheets
6. The Story of the United States Told in 141 Interactive Maps
7. Check Out the Periodic Table of iOS 12 Apps for Education



The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is happening on July 15th and 16th. I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Register in March and save $50! Registration is now open here.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.

Friday, March 29, 2019

5 Resources for Teaching and Learning About the Science of Baseball

The Major League Baseball season started yesterday. The Yankees won, boo! The Red Sox lost, double boo! If you have students who are as excited as I am about the start of the baseball season, try to capitalize on that enthusiasm with one of the following educational resources.

Exploratorium's the Science of Baseball is a bit dated in its appearance, 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.

The Baseball Hall of Fame has free lessons that are aligned with the Common Core Standards for Math and English Language Arts. There are lessons for math, social studies, science, the arts, and character education.

ESPN's Sport Science has a handful of little resources about the science of baseball. One of those resources is Anatomy of a Pitch. In Anatomy of a Pitch seven pitchers from the Arizona Diamondbacks explain how they throw their signature pitches. Each explanation includes slow motion footage and the pitchers explaining the release points, finger positioning, leg uses, and rotations involved in each their pitches.

The Physics of Baseball is a PBS Learning Media lesson for students in high school. Learn about motion, energy, aerodynamics, and vibration.

Perfect Pitch is a nice little game produced by the Kennedy Center's Arts Edge. Perfect Pitch uses the backdrop of a baseball diamond to teach students about the instruments in an orchestra through a baseball game setting. The game introduces students to four eras of orchestral music and the instruments used in each. Students can create their own small orchestras and virtually play each instrument to hear how it sounds. After building an orchestra students then test their knowledge in short quizzes about the instruments and their sounds.

There's a Poem for That! - Lessons for National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. Earlier this week I shared a couple of Read Write Think poetry activities that you can use in elementary school. For those who teach middle school and high school language arts, I recommend taking a look at TED-Ed's playlist of poetry lessons.

There's a Poem for That is a series of six TED-Ed lessons featuring six famous works. In the series you will find lessons about poems from Frost, Shakespeare, Yeats, O'Keefe, Gibson, and Elhillo.

Last Weekend for Early Registration Discounts for Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp

The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is down to only ten seats remaining and only three days left to get the early registration discount. If you have been thinking about joining us this summer for two days of hands-on learning, now is the time to register.

Here's a list of ten things that you can learn during the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

1. Helping students develop better search skills.
2. Using augmented reality in education.
3. Using virtual reality in education.
4. Infusing technology into outdoor lessons.
5. Making videos with students.
6. Producing podcasts with students.
7. Interactive digital storytelling.
8. Crafting meaningful formative assessments.
9. Creating a plan to make the most of the technology you have in your school.
10. Workflow hacks to free up time to take care of yourself throughout the school year.




Here are ten fun things you do before after each workshop day:
1. Hike a stretch of the Appalachian Trail.
2. Fly fish for rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout in a blue-ribbon stretch of the Androscoggin River that runs through Bethel and the neighboring town of Gilead.
3. Adventure a little further north and explore the Rapid River and Pond in the River. The Pond and the River are the setting for the classic, We Took to the Woods.
4. Hit the links at the Bethel Inn & Resort, the host of this year’s Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.
5. Try the other award-winning course in the area at the Sunday River Resort in neighboring Newry.
6. Bring your mountain bike or rent one locally to explore the new trails that connect to the Bethel Inn & Resort.
7. Taste some of the local craft beer (Maine has more breweries per capita than all over states).
8. Paddle on one of the local lakes.
9. Look for moose early in the morning or at dusk along route 16 through Grafton Notch.
10. Just chill out and watch the sunset over beautiful western Maine.

There are just three days left to register at the early bird rate.

Register today and save $50!




This Chrome Extension Helps You Tune Out Negativity on Social Media

I have long said (half jokingly) that YouTube comments are a lot like the graffiti you find on the walls of dive bar bathrooms. In other words, nothing good is found in them. There are some exceptions to that rule but they are few and far between. It seems that Google agrees with me because they recently launched through Jigsaw, one of their subsidiaries, a Chrome extension designed to hide toxic comments on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Disqus.

Tune is a Chrome extension that you can use to filter toxic comments out of YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Disqus. Once you have the extension installed you can choose which networks you want to apply Tune to. Tune will then attempt to identify toxic comments and filter them from your view. You can unhide the comments if you want to know what Tune hid for you.

I installed Tune this week and applied it to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. It certainly filtered everything that could be considered toxic and lots of other comments that were totally benign. Fortunately, you can tune Tune to help it learn what is and isn't a toxic comment. I ended up clicking "no" on the question of "should this be hidden?" that Tune presents to you whenever you unhide a comment.

Applications for Education
Tune could be a good Chrome extension for students to use to remove negativity from the comment streams on the some of the social networks that they use. I like that Tune is quite strict about what it lets through for display. If students don't see negative comments, they can't feed the trolls on social media. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Where Do Baseball Fans Live? - Interactive Map

Despite the couple of games that the Mariners and Athletics played in Japan last week, Major League Baseball is calling today the opening day of the season. As a lifelong fan of the defending World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, I am excited for the start of the season. Where do Red Sox fans live? How far does the fandom spread? And what's the disbursement of fans for the other Major League teams? Those questions can be answered by looking at SeatGeek's interactive map titled Where do MLB Fans Live?

Where do MLB Fans Live? is an interactive map that shows which teams are the most popular teams in each county in the United States. A few things found through the map were not surprising at all. For example, every county in Maine and New Hampshire the Red Sox are the most popular team. And a few things revealed in the map did surprise me. For example, growing up in Connecticut I always felt like the state was evenly divided between Yankees and Red Sox fans (with a few oddball Mets fans sprinkled in), but according to this map the state is predominantly a Red Sox state.

There are a couple of flaws with the data interpretation on SeatGeek's Where do MLB Fans Live? The data is drawn from analyzing the behavior of shoppers on SeatGeek. So it is entirely possible that a team is more popular in a county than another but the fans of that team are more active shoppers. Another flaw is that the map only shows which team is most popular in the county but doesn't show how much more popular it is than another team. So it is possible that a county could be split 49% to 51% in favor of one team. Most statisticians would not consider that difference to be significant.

Applications for Education
I'm sharing this map because I think that it could be a good tool for introducing students to the nuance of data interpretation and manipulation. The map could also be used as a model for how to represent data through maps or through infographics.

H/T to Maps Mania

Weebly vs. Google Sites

One of the questions that I am frequently asked revolves around selecting a platform for making a classroom website. There are two tools for that purpose that I recommend more than any others. Those are Weebly and Google Sites. There are a few factors to consider when choosing which one is right for you and your students. In this post I'll highlight those factors to consider.

Weebly
Weebly has two product offerings that teachers can use. There is the standard or consumer version of Weebly that anyone can use. There is also a Weebly for Education product. For the purposes of this post I am focusing on Weebly for Education.

Weebly for Education gives you access to lots of great-looking design templates that are easy to customize. Weebly for Education sites support the inclusion of just about anything you might want to embed into them including Flipgrid grids and Padlet walls along with all of the standard things like pictures, videos, and audio files.

What really makes Weebly for Education different from the consumer version of Weebly is the ability for teachers to create classroom accounts in which they manage their students' usernames and passwords. Through those accounts students can contribute to one classroom site and or develop their own individual sites. Students whose accounts are created by their teachers don't need to have email addresses.

Here's my video overview of Weebly for Education.


Google Sites
Google Sites is a convenient option for building a classroom website if your school uses G Suite for Education. You and your students can easily access Google Sites from your Google Drive dashboard or by going to Sites.Google.Com.

Google Sites is a part of your G Suite account which makes it convenient and easy to display any file that you have stored in your Google Drive. The integration with your G Suite account also makes it easy to add Google Calendars to pages in your Google Sites.

A common complaint about Google Sites is the lack of design flexibility (although it has improved of late). The other common complaint about Google Sites is that it can be finicky when it comes to trying to embed media that is not hosted on a Google service.

Here's my short overview of how to get started with Google Sites.


Bottom line: Google Sites is a convenient choice if your school already uses G Suite for Education. Otherwise, I favor Weebly for Education.

Change the Appearance of Any Page With Mozilla's X-Ray Goggles

During the Best of the Web webinar that I hosted yesterday I mentioned Mozilla's X-Ray Goggles product. It's a great tool that lets you see the code behind any web page and change that code to display anything that you want in place of the original text and images. After you have made the changes you can publish a local copy of the web page. Watch the following video that I created to learn how to use Mozilla's X-Ray Goggles.


Applications for Education
Mozilla's X-Ray Goggles provides a good way for students to see how the code of a webpage works.

As I mentioned in the video, you could use X-Ray Goggles to alter an article on the web to make it a satire story. Then print the page and give it to your students to try to identify the satire elements of the story.

Google Earth and Maps Lessons for Five Subject Areas

Google Earth and Google Maps are two of my favorite educational technology tools that often are seen as only being useful for geography or history lessons. While they are good for lessons in those subjects, Google Earth and Google Maps can be used for lessons in other subject areas. Here are some ideas and resources for using Google Earth and Google Maps in multiple subject areas.

Language Arts
Google Lit Trips is probably the most popular example of using Google Earth in the context of language arts. Google Lit Trips are Google Earth tours based on books and authors. In Google Earth and on Google's My Maps services your students can create their own tours highlighting important places in a book or important places in the life of an author.

Science
Google Earth provides a great way for students to explore interesting geological landmarks in 3D. Using the timeslider in the desktop version of Google Earth can show students the changes in a landscape due to erosion and other natural and man-made forces.

There is no shortage of lesson plans featuring Google Earth available online. Ac couple that I recommend looking at are Rich Treves' flooding and volcano lessons and What's a Watershed created at the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College.

Math
For K-5 classrooms there is probably no better place to start than on Tom Barrett's Maths Maps site. There you will find short, Google Maps-based activities that require students to perform measurements and use arithmetic to answer questions. The activities represent a great combination of mathematics and geography.

If you have middle school or high school students, you will want to explore Real World Math. On Real World Math you will find lesson plans that utilize Google Earth for teaching the concepts used in calculating volume of solids, timezones, and rocketry. 

Physical Education
Perhaps my favorite use of Google's My Maps is for planning safe walking, hiking, and biking routes. You can also use Google Earth to help students understand how elevation change alters the speed at which routes are completed.

Art
By using Google's My Maps tools or the desktop version of Google Earth, students can map the locations of where a piece of local art is housed, where it was created, and the places that inspired the artist. Each placemark on a student's map could include a picture of the artwork, a picture of the artist, and or a video about the art and artist. To provide a complete picture a student can include text and links to more information about the art and artist.

For some inspiration on this topic take a look at Monet Was Here on Google Arts & Culture.

I'll be providing detailed demonstrations of Google Earth and Google's My Maps tools in my upcoming Practical Ed Tech webinar, 5 Ways to Use Google Earth & Maps in Your Classroom

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Langscape - An Interactive Map of Languages

Langscape is an interactive map created at the Maryland Language Science Center. The Langscape interactive map displays more than 6,000 markers representing more than 6,000 languages. Each marker represents the native language of that location. Zoom-in and click on a marker to learn more about the language. When you click on the marker you will be able to find more information about that marker through links to pages on Ethnologue, Language Archives, and Wikipedia. Those pages will provide information about whether or not the language is extinct and its origins.

Applications for Education
Langscape could be a good resource for students to consult when researching the history and culture of a place or region in the world. Students may be able to use the information available through Langscape to learn how the native language in an area contributed to the dialect and or accents present in that area today.

H/T to Maps Mania

Check Out the Periodic Table of iOS 12 Apps for Education

Mark Anderson, known as ICT Evangelist on Twitter, recently published a handy guide to educational iPad apps that are updated for iOS 12. The guide is arranged in periodic table format. Rather than featuring elements, the table features iPad apps. The guide is further arranged into eight categories. The categories of apps on Mark's Periodic Table of iPad Apps are literacy, numeracy, learning, teaching, creativity, demonstrating,  collaboration, and workflow. Not every app is free, but many of them are free. Take a look at the chart right here.

Earlier this year Mark Anderson published, in collaboration with Steve Bambury, The Periodic Table of iOS Apps for AR and VR. This table is a great resource for teachers who have wondered if augmented reality or virtual reality has a place in their classrooms. The table includes AR and VR apps for use in science, literacy, geography, history, math, and art. Take a look at the chart right here. And if you're wondering about the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality, take a look at the following slide from my introduction to AR & VR webinar.


Webinar Recording - Best of the Web 2019

This afternoon I hosted a free webinar in which I highlighted some of my favorite new and updated ed tech tools. During the webinar I gave brief demonstrations of Google's VR Tour Creator, Synth for podcasting, Bouncy Balls for monitoring noise, and programming augmented reality experiences through Metaverse. The webinar also included short demonstrations of Mozilla's Goggles tool, a Chrome extension to keep you from visiting Facebook too often, a tool for making animated GIFs, and how to virtually place yourself in front of any landmark.

If you missed today's Best of the Web webinar, you can now watch the recording on my YouTube channel or as embedded below.


The slides used in the webinar are embedded below.



Many of the tools featured in today's webinar will be featured in greater detail in the series of Practical Ed Tech webinars that I'm hosting in April

5 Tuesday Webinars in April

This year there are five Tuesdays in April. I'm hosting a Practical Ed Tech professional development webinar on each of those Tuesdays. You can register for them individually or register for all five at once through the special offer at the bottom of this page. Read on to learn more about each webinar and how to register for them.

5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons
As the winter fades and spring begins to bloom here in New England, kids and adults are itching to get outside more often. This is a great time to take your students outside for some lessons. In this live webinar you’ll learn five ways that you can incorporate technology into outdoor lessons. These strategies can be used in elementary school, middle school, or high school settings.

This webinar will be at 4pm ET on April 2nd. Learn more or register here.

Intro to Using AR & VR in Your Classroom
Take a look at any ed tech blog or magazine today and you’re bound to see an article about virtual reality or augmented reality. You might think that these are new technologies but they’ve actually been used in education for more than two decades. But today it is easier and cheaper than ever to bring virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) into your classroom. In this webinar you will learn how you can use these powerful technologies in your classroom.

This webinar will be at 4pm ET on April 9th. Learn more or register here.

5 Ways to Use Google Earth & Maps in Your Classroom
Google Earth and Google Maps can be powerful tools in many subject areas, if you know how to use them. In this webinar you will learn how to use Google Earth and Google Maps in social studies, language arts, science, physical education, and mathematics (elementary level) lessons.

This webinar will be at 7pm ET on April 16th. Learn more or register here.

Search Strategies Students Need to Know
In this webinar you will learn why informational searches are the hardest types of Internet searches for students to conduct. You will learn how to help students break-down complex search topics into manageable pieces and then put the whole picture together. You’ll learn how to help your students save students tons of time by thinking before searching. And you’ll learn how to develop instructional search challenge activities to use with students of any age.

This webinar will be at 7pm ET on April 23rd. Learn more or register here.

5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom
In this one hour live webinar you will learn how to create and complete five video projects that can be done in almost any classroom. You’ll learn how your students can make animated videos, make documentary-style videos, and instructional videos. Whether your students use Chromebooks, iPads, Android, Windows, or Mac, you can do these projects.

This webinar will be at 4pm ET on April 30th. Learn more or register here.

Five Webinars for the Price of Three!
You can register for each webinar individually or register for all five at once for the price of three.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Theme Poems and Shape Poems - Activities for Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month here in the United States. This is a good time to remind you or introduce you to a couple of good resources from Read Write Think about poetry.

RWT's Theme Poems interactive provides students with 32 pictures to use as the basis for writing short poems. To write a poem students launch the interactive then choose a theme. Within each of the five themes students will find related images. Once they choose an image students are prompted to write the words that come to mind as they look at the image. Students then create poems from those words. The finished product can be saved as a PDF and or emailed to a teacher from the RWT site.

Shape Poems is a simple poem generation template hosted by Read Write Think. Shape Poems provides a template for writing poems in the shape of an object, about that object. Shape templates can be selected from one of four themes including sports, school, nature, and celebrations. Students then select a shape and identify words that they associate with their chosen shape. When completed, students can hear their poems read to them and or print their poems.

Applications for Education
Every RWT interactive has related lesson plans. Visit the RWT Theme Poems interactive page to find a handful of lesson plans appropriate for use in K-5.

Getting students interested in writing poems can be a difficult task. The Shape Poem generator provides a nice selection of templates that may pique students' interest in writing poetry.

Six Good Lessons About Man's Best Friend

As long-time readers of this blog know, I love dogs. Small dogs, big dogs, skinny dogs, and fat dogs, I love them all. And I have a particularly soft spot for older dogs in shelters (I've adopted three in the last decade). So it was with much interest that I watched the latest TED-Ed lesson about dogs.

A Brief History of Dogs traces the evolution of dogs from their origins as wild wolves to their current state as domesticated lap dogs. In the lesson you'll also learn how dogs and humans came to be as bonded as they are today.


A Brief History of Dogs isn't the first lesson that TED-Ed has published about dogs. How Do Dogs "See" With Their Noses? was released about four years ago. It provides a great explanation of how dogs' noses work. The most interesting part of the video is the explanation of how dogs' senses of smell allow them to identify friends, foes, and potential threats. The video is embedded below. You can find the full lesson here.



If you've ever wondered why dogs tilt their heads in response to a question or other prompt, SciShow has some answers for you in the video embedded below.



Why dogs pant is another question your dog-owning students may wonder about. SciShow Kids has that answered in the following video released last week.



Whether its from a deer, a moose, a horse, or any other mammal, my dogs have a hard time not scooping up a mouthful of poop. While I don't like the habit, thanks to Why Do Some Animals Eat Poop? I know why they do it. Why Do Some Animals Eat Poop? explains why and how some animals get nutrients from eating the excrement of other animals. The video also mentions why the feces of some animals has more nutrients than that of other animals. Like all MinuteEarth videos, the description notes on YouTube for this video include a list of the references used in producing the video. Watch the video on YouTube or as embedded below.



"why do animals have tails?" SciShow Kids has the answer to that question in their latest video. The video explains how some animals use their tails to communicate and some use them for balance. The video also explains why humans don't need tails.

Free Webinar Tomorrow - Best of the Web 2019

The last few Wednesdays I have hosted a live Q&A session in which I answer questions from you, my awesome readers. Tomorrow, I'm going to mix it up and instead of hosting a live Q&A I'm going to host a free live webinar featuring the highlights from the latest version of my Best of the Web presentation.

The webinar will be held tomorrow at 4pm ET and will run for roughly 35-40 minutes. You can register for tomorrow's Best of the Web webinar right here.

It will be recorded for those who cannot attend the live presentation. The recording will be posted on this blog on Thursday. You do not need to email me to get the recording.

Monday, March 25, 2019

How to Measure Distance in Google Earth

Last year Google added a measuring tool to the web browser version of Google Earth (the desktop version always had one). While it worked, it didn't have as many options as the measuring tool in the desktop version. Since then Google has added some more options for measuring distance in the browser version of Google Earth. It's still not as feature-laden as the desktop version, but the web version of Google Earth is definitely improving. Here's my updated video on how to measure distance in the web version of Google Earth.




Check out Tom Barrett's Maths Maps for ideas on how to incorporate the measuring tools of Google Earth and Google Maps into mathematics lessons.

How to Create an Activity Tracker With Google Forms & Sheets

Last week I gave a presentation at the MACUL Conference titled 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons. One of the topics within that presentation is the idea of tracking time spent exercising or playing outside. One fairly easy way to do that is to create a Google Form that students or their parents can use to submit the number of minutes that they spent playing outside. In this video I demonstrate how to make an activity tracker by using Google Forms, Google Sheets, and a pivot table within Google Sheets.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Lessons About the Making of Maple Syrup

Today is Maple Syrup Sunday here in Maine. This is always a welcome sign of spring.

The method of collecting sap from maple trees has changed a bit over the years, but the concept of boiling sap to make syrup remains unchanged. In the following videos you'll see the traditional collection method and the modern collection method.

My friend Gardner Waldeier AKA Bus Huxley on YouTube collects maple sap to make maple syrup. He does it the old fashioned way and he made a video about the process. Gardner's video shows viewers how he collects maple sap and turns it into maple syrup. In the video explains why maple sap is collected at this time of year, how much sap he'll collect from a large tree, and just how much sap it takes to make a gallon of maple syrup. You also get a nice tour of Gardner's woodlot and plenty of images of his helpful dog.



Maple Syrup the Modern Way is a three minute video about the process commercial producers use to make syrup.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Picture Books, Story Maps, and Emojis - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where I'm home after a few days in Detroit for the MACUL Conference. It was great to meet many of you who have been following this little blog of mine for years. Getting to meet teachers all over the world is one of the best things to come from writing this blog for last 11+ years. Thank you!

The snow just keeps falling here in Maine even though the calendar says that it's spring. Eventually, the snow will stop and the warm weather will arrive and then it will be time for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. The early registration discount is available until the end of March.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Where On Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego? - A Great Geography Game
2. 5 Free Tools for Creating Online Picture Books
3. Are You Being Phished? - A Lesson from Google
4. A New Way to Add Images to Google Sheets
5. How to Create a Map-based Story With StoryMap JS
6. How to Add Emojis to Word Documents - And How to Use Them in a Lesson
7. 5 Ways to Tell Stories With Maps


The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is happening on July 15th and 16th. I've secured a beautiful location for it that offers lots of activities for the whole family within walking distance. Register in March and save $50! Registration is now open here.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.

Make Trading Cards for Historical and Fictional Characters

Read Write Think Trading Cards is a free tool that students can use to create trading cards about people, places, and events both real and fictional. You can use it in your web browser, as an Android app, or as an iOS app. In this video I demonstrate how to use Read Write Think Trading Cards in your web browser.




Applications for Education
Some of the ways that the Read Write Think Trading Card app could be used by students is to create a set of trading cards about characters in a novel, to create a set of cards about people of historical significance, or to create cards about places that they're studying in their geography lessons.

How to Manage Chrome Extensions & Google Docs Add-ons

Earlier this week during the Practical Ed Tech Live Q&A I addressed a topic that I have received a lot of questions about during the last few weeks. That topic is the vetting or trustworthiness of add-ons for G Suite tools (Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Forms) and Chrome extensions. One of my recommendations on that topic is to disable or remove the add-ons and extensions that you find yourself not using on any kind of regular basis. The fewer third-party services you have connected to your account, the fewer opportunities there are for your account to be compromised in some way. In the following videos I demonstrate how to manage Chrome extensions and G Suite add-ons.


Friday, March 22, 2019

The Story of the United States Told in 141 Interactive Maps

Manifest Destiny - The Story of The U.S. Told in 141 Maps is a great website developed by Michael Porath. As you probably guessed from the title of this blog post, the site features 141 interactive maps chronicling the expansion of the United States from March 1789 to August 1959. When you click on any of the maps you will see the new territories acquired in that year and month. Each map is accompanied by a brief description of how the new territories were acquired.

Applications for Education
If you're creating a website or an interactive ebook to supplement or replace the textbooks in your U.S. History curriculum, Manifest Destiny - The Story of The U.S. Told in 141 Maps is a resource that I highly recommend including. 

Things to Learn and Do at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp

For the last two days I have been featuring slides from my presentations at this week's MACUL Conference in Detroit. Many of the things in those slides will be included in the hands-on learning experiences at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp that I'm hosting in July. Here's a list of ten things that you can learn during the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.

1. Helping students develop better search skills.
2. Using augmented reality in education.
3. Using virtual reality in education.
4. Infusing technology into outdoor lessons.
5. Making videos with students.
6. Producing podcasts with students.
7. Interactive digital storytelling.
8. Crafting meaningful formative assessments.
9. Creating a plan to make the most of the technology you have in your school.
10. Workflow hacks to free up time to take care of yourself throughout the school year.




Here are ten fun things you do before after each workshop day:
1. Hike a stretch of the Appalachian Trail.
2. Fly fish for rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout in a blue-ribbon stretch of the Androscoggin River that runs through Bethel and the neighboring town of Gilead.
3. Adventure a little further north and explore the Rapid River and Pond in the River. The Pond and the River are the setting for the classic, We Took to the Woods.
4. Hit the links at the Bethel Inn & Resort, the host of this year’s Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp.
5. Try the other award-winning course in the area at the Sunday River Resort in neighboring Newry.
6. Bring your mountain bike or rent one locally to explore the new trails that connect to the Bethel Inn & Resort.
7. Taste some of the local craft beer (Maine has more breweries per capita than all over states).
8. Paddle on one of the local lakes.
9. Look for moose early in the morning or at dusk along route 16 through Grafton Notch.
10. Just chill out and watch the sunset over beautiful western Maine.

There are just nine days left to register at the early bird rate.

Register now and save $50!



From Basic to Advanced Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom

My last presentation of the day the 2019 MACUL Conference was 5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom. Before the presentation started I introduced those who came early to cell phone crashing.

5 Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom is a progression of easy to difficult projects that can be adapted for use in almost every classroom setting. When I do this in workshop setting, everyone actually makes five videos. In a conference presentation setting I just share some sample projects. Take a look at the slides here or as embedded below.


This is one of my favorite PD workshops to lead. I'd be happy to lead it at your school's next PD day. Get in touch with me here to learn how to bring me to your school's next PD day.

Introduction to AR & VR in Education

Worlds Are Colliding: Introduction to AR & VR in Education was my first presentation of the day today at the 2019 MACUL Conference. This presentation has been updated a bit since I gave it four weeks ago at a conference in Vancouver, B.C. The updates weren't so much about the slides (although there were a few of those) as they were about what I chose to focus on during the presentation. This time I put more emphasis on the DIY tools that teachers and students can use to create their own virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. Take a look at the slides here or as embedded below.


I do offer hands-on workshops on this topic. If you'd like to have me facilitate one at your school, please get in touch with me here.

Best of the Web - Spring 2019 Edition

This morning at the 2019 MACUL Conference I gave the latest edition of my popular Best of the Web presentation. It includes some of my old standbys as well as some new tools. A few of the new things in the presentation include YouHueVR Math, and Bo Clips. Some of the old standbys have updates that I talked about during the presentation but don't convey by just looking at the slides, sorry. You can view the slides here or as embedded below.


If you'd like to have me give this or another presentation at your conference or PD day, please get in touch with me here

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Fast & Fun Formative Assessment - Slides

I ended my day today at the 2019 MACUL Conference by giving a favorite presentation of mine, Fast & Formative Assessment. I always giving this presentation and, based on the level of audience participation, people who come to it enjoy it too. It's intended to provide attendees with ideas for fun assessment strategies and some hands-on experience with the tools. The slides alone don't provide the full experience, but you can get a sense of it by scrolling through my slides that are embedded below.


Resources & Ideas for Classroom Podcasting

The first presentation that I gave today at the 2019 MACUL Conference was all about podcasting. In the presentation I shared some research about the benefits of students producing podcasts. And as you might expect, I shared some tools and strategies for creating podcasts with your students. The slides from my presentation, Community Podcasting, are embedded below.


By the way, if you'd like to have me do a workshop on this topic at your conference or school, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com 

5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons - Slides

Today, at the 2019 MACUL Conference I gave three presentations. The second of those presentations was 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons. This is a topic that combines two things that I enjoy, educational technology and being outdoors. You can take a look at the slides as they are embedded below. Some of the content from this presentation will be included in the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp where you can get some hands-on practice using some of the things that are featured in the slides.

Recording of Yesterday's Q&A

Yesterday afternoon I sat down to answer another batch of questions from you, my awesome readers! I broadcast the Q&A on my YouTube channel and on Facebook. If you missed it, the recording is now available here and as embedded below.


Here is the list of questions that I answered during the broadcast:

How can I change the name that appears on my Google Account?

~Sharon

Google add on to curve text - like in word art on MS Word

~Catherine

What are the best apps for VR, AR, and how should we be embedding those in the classroom?

~Liz

What do you think of apps like Pocket Points? Are there apps that are better? Thanks.

~Aimee

Is there away is g suite for a student to check off something from a their own list and it disappear? I know of form choice eliminator—-that’s for one form many access but that’s not what I’m looking for.

~JoyceAnna

Is there a free software program that I can use to monitor my students desktop computers? I want to see what they are looking at and be able to remotely control their computer from my own computer at my desk. Thank you for your blog!

~Anthony

Can you share about using Metaverse to create an "Amazing Race" activity? My first book is about creating mystery adventure quests "Amazing Race" style and this topic is of great interest. Thanks Richard!

~Kim

What is the best way to send you websites for you to possibly post? I don't want anything in return, just to give you the option of posting the sites if you have not before.

~Anthony

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A New Way to Add Images to Google Sheets

Frequent Google Sheets users got a bit of welcome news yesterday. Google has added a new way to insert images into Google Sheets. Previously, the only images that you could add into a cell were those that were hosted online and publicly available for hotlinking. That has changed because the latest update to Google Sheets allows you to upload images to insert into cells in your spreadsheet.

This new feature is available now for some Google Sheets users and will be rolling out to other users over the next two weeks.

Applications for Education
This update probably won't mean much to most students. But for those students who do use Google Sheets to create data visualizations or to maintain databases that have a lot of visual components, this update could be helpful.