Monday, May 31, 2021

Games, Maps, and Pictures - The Month in Review

Good morning from Maine where we're ending the month with a cold and rainy day. It's so chilly and damp that we have the heat on! Last week it was over 90F and I was turning getting all of our air conditioners out of winter storage. Such is life in northern New England. 

This month I wrapped up my Teaching History With Technology course. A few folks have asked if I'll offer it again during the summer. I will offer it again but I've not chosen dates. I'll announce that as soon as possible. What I do have firm dates for is The Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. Early bird registration ends tonight! Register here

Finally, I hope that everyone has a great end to the school year and a well-deserved rest in June. 

These were the most popular posts in May:
1. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
2. Fling the Teacher! - A Fun Review Game
3. Mult.dev - A New Way to Quickly Make an Animated Map
4. Ten Good Tools for Telling Stories With Pictures
5. How to Find Public Google Docs, Slides, Forms, Sheets, and Drawings
6. Combine Canva and TeacherMade to Create Online Activities
7. Brainstormer - A Collaborative Brainstorming and Voting Tool
8. Three Good Ways to Make Online Word Games
9. My Ten Favorite "Hidden" Office 365 Features
10. Ten Google Workspaces Features for Teachers You Might Be Overlooking

Register Today!
Early bird registration for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp ends at midnight (Eastern Time). Register for the session of your choice right here!

On-demand Professional Development
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 36,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fourteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • And 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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

An Easier Way to Share in Google Meet

Last week a new menu option appeared in Google Slides, Docs, and Sheets. That new menu appears just to the left of the share button in Slides, Docs, and Sheets. It's icon resembles and upload icon, but it's not an upload option. The new option is to present to a Google Meet meeting. With just one click you can down present your Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets to everyone in a Google Meet meeting. 

Now when you're in a Google Meet meeting you can just click on the "present to a meeting" icon in Google Slides, Docs, or Sheets to show everyone in the meeting the slides, document, or spreadsheet that you have open on your screen. Watch my short video that is embedded below for a demonstration of the new Google Meet presentation option for Docs, Slides, and Sheets. 



Applications for Education
It has always been fairly easy to share Google Slides, Docs, and Sheets in Google Meet meetings. This just makes it a little bit easier for teachers and students. In particular, this should make it easier for students to share in one-on-one or small group meetings in which they're looking for feedback from you and or their classmates.

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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured graphic created by Richard Byrne.

How to Move from Google Drive to OneDrive

It's that time of year when some teachers and administrators will be leaving one school district for another. For some that means leaving a district that uses Google Workspaces (formerly known as G Suite for Education) for a district that uses Office 365 and all of the associated Microsoft tools including OneDrive. If that's the case for you, don't worry because it is fairly easily to move your files from Google Drive to OneDrive. 

In my video that is embedded below I demonstrate how you can move your files from Google Drive to OneDrive. Like most processes, there is more than one way to do this. In the video I focus on using Google Takeout which is probably the easiest way to get all of your files out of Google Drive at once. 


On the topic of summer, today is the last day for early-bird registration for The Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. Register here!

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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured graphic created by Richard Byrne.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

How to Overlay Text on Images in Google Docs

Earlier this week Google finally added the option to overlay text on top of images in Google Docs. Since then I've had a few people email me to ask for clarification about how that works. The most important "trick" of the process is to write your text before adding your image. Then when you insert your image you'll position it behind the text. Once that's done you can use all of the normal text editing processes in Google Docs. In this short video I demonstrate how to overlay text on images in Google Docs. 



It's important to note that the new image options in Google Docs haven't been added to all Google accounts, yet. I'm still only seeing it in two of my four Google accounts.

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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured graphic create by Richard Byrne using Canva.

Brainstorming, Games, and Flying Teachers - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it is a damp 45F to start Memorial Day weekend. In fact, it's going to be unseasonable cool all weekend. The cool weather won't stop us from having fun outside. We have a full weekend planned with lots of bike riding, playground visits, and a trail walk and picnic that my four-year-old "planned" for us. I hope that you also have some fun things planned for your weekend. 

To all of you that ended your school year this week, congratulations! You made it through a school year unlike any other! To those who still have a few weeks left (as I do), the finish line is in sight and you're going to make it!

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. A Collaborative Brainstorming and Voting Tool - No Registration Required
2. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
3. How to Combine Canva and TeacherMade to Make Online Activities
4. Fling the Teacher! - A Fun Review Game
5. Five Warm-up Activities for Group Brainstorming Sessions
6. New Text Overlay Options in Google Docs
7. Seven Good Tools for Creating and Publishing Online Timelines

Register This Weekend!
Early-bird registration for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp ends on Monday at midnight (Eastern Time). Register for the session of your choice right here!

On-demand Professional Development
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 35,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fourteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • And 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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Five Activities for Teaching and Learning With Primary Sources

As a history teacher one of my favorite yet challenging things to do was introduce my students to primary sources. It's great because it reveals to them a whole new world of research opportunities. There's nothing better than a student saying, "wow! Mr. Byrne, look at this!" At the same time learning to read, evaluate, and utilize primary sources can be long process with some students. The following are some of the online activities incorporating primary sources that I've done with my students over the years.

1. Compare textbooks, primary sources, and Wikipedia.
This is a rather simple activity that I've done over the years as an introduction to the value of primary sources. In the activity I provide students with a textbook entry, a Wikipedia entry, and a primary source document about the same event or topic. I then have them read all three and compare the information about the event. The outline of questions for students is available in this Google Document that I created.

2. Guided reading of primary sources through Google Documents.
One of my favorite ways to use the commenting feature in Google Documents is to host online discussions around a shared article. Through the use of comments connected to highlighted sections of an article I can guide students to important points, ask them questions, and allow them to ask clarifying questions about the article. All the steps for this process are outlined in Using Google Documents to Host Online Discussions of Primary Sources.

3. Historical Scene Investigations.
Historical Scene Investigation offers a fun way for students to investigate history through primary documents and images. Historical Scene Investigation presents students with historical cases to "crack." Each of these thirteen cases present students with clues to analyze in order to form a conclusion to each investigation. The clues for each investigation come in the forms of primary documents and images as well as secondary sources. HSI provides students with "case files" on which they record the evidence they find in the documents and images. At the conclusion of their investigation students need to answer questions and decide if the case should be closed or if more investigation is necessary. (Once you have done a couple of these with your students it becomes easy to craft your own HSI activities or have them craft HSI activities for each other).

4. Historical Image Identification.
Find some historical images in the World Digital Library, the Flickr Commons, or the Digital Public Library of America. Take those images and put them into a Google Drive or OneDrive folder. Then have your students pick a photograph to research to identify who or what is featured in the image. Take it a step further and have students use ThingLink to add interactive labels to those images. 

5. Layer old maps on top of modern maps.
In Google Earth your students can layer images of old maps on top of current maps. This is a great way for students to see how early cartographers saw the world. It can also provide some insight into how and why early explorers chose the paths that they traveled. The David Rumsey Historical Map collection is my go-to place for historical maps.

What's the Difference Between a Primary and a Secondary Source?
If you're looking for a good video explanation of the differences between primary and secondary sources, the Gale Family Library at the Minnesota History Center offers this good and concise explanation for students.


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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. 

How to Make Good Explanatory Videos - The MinuteEarth Style

MinuteEarth is a popular YouTube channel whose videos I've featured a handful of times on this blog. Their short videos provide explanations of interesting science topics like why rivers curve, how some waves get so big, and why it is hot underground. A few years back MinuteEarth published a video about the process their team uses to produce their videos



Applications for Education
This video could be helpful in showing students the process of creating a good, concise explanatory video. In particular, it is notable that the visual components are the last things added to the video.

On a related note, Video Projects for Every Classroom is one of the ten big topics to be covered during the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. Register here!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

What's in Common? - A Search Lesson

Dan Russell has provided the inspiration for many of the web research lessons that I have conducted with students over the years. Every week he posts an interesting search challenge for readers then provides the answers a few days later. The challenges vary in difficulty, but I always learn something from them regardless of how difficult they are. A few years ago he posted a challenge called What's In Common? In the years since, I've used various modifications of that challenge to help students discover and practice utilizing a variety of search tools and strategies.

The What's In Common? challenge asks you to identify the shared characteristics of two or more pictures, events, and or scenarios. In Dan's original post he asked readers to find the commonalities between three floods and he asked readers to find the commonalities between three plants.
What do these two have in common besides being dogs?

Applications for Education
What I like about the What's In Common? challenge is that I can make it as easy or as difficult as I need it to be based on my students' current skill levels. For example, I might make one challenge based on reading the content of webpages that students find while searching and make another challenge based on being able to discover and use the meta data in images.

In addition to his blog, Dan Russell has a great book titled The Joy of Search. That book is packed with tips for becoming a better users of search engines. 

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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Three Days Left!

The first session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp is just a month away. If you haven't registered for the session of your choice, you can do so up until the day before it starts. However, there are just three days left to complete the early-bird registration

There is a June session, a July session, and an August session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. In all three sessions we'll cover ten key topics over the course of ten live webinars (recordings will also be available). 

These are the topics to be covered:
  • Teaching Search Strategies & Digital Citizenship
  • Video Projects for Every Classroom
  • Classroom Podcasting 101
  • Building Digital Portfolios
  • Fun Formative Assessment Methods
  • Using AR & VR in Your Classroom
  • Making Virtual Tours
  • Easy Ways to Make Your Own Apps
  • Simple and Fun Makerspaces Projects
  • Blending Technology Into Outdoor Lessons

Register online by May 31st to save $50 on registration for the session of your choice. 


Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a group discount?
Yes, there is a group discount available. You can save $50/person if you have five or more people registering from your school district. Email me for a discount code to apply to online group registrations or to initiate a PO registration.

Can I register with a purchase order or check?
Yes, you can certainly register with a purchase order. Send me an email or have your business office send me an email to initiate that process. Because of the additional paperwork and delay in receiving funds, the early registration discount doesn't apply to purchase order registrations.

Can I get CEUs/ contact hours?
You will receive a certificate from me indicating that you participated in ten hours of professional development time. Whether or not your school, state, or province will accept it for license/ certificate renewal is a determination that you will have to make. The rules about CEUs vary widely from state-to-state and I can't possibly keep track of them all.

What platform are you using for the webinars?
All of the webinars will be conducted through the GoToWebinar platform. I've tried many other webinar services, but I keep coming back to GoToWebinar because of it's reliability. I've used it for almost a decade for hundreds of webinars. You can access GoToWebinar on any computer or tablet.

Will the sessions be recorded?
Yes, all of the live webinars will be recorded. If you have to miss a session, you'll be able to watch the recording. That said, I find that people get the most out of webinars when they can attend live broadcasts and ask questions in real-time. Therefore, I encourage you to pick the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp session that works best with your schedule.

Seven Good Tools for Hosting and Organizing Group Brainstorming Sessions

Earlier this week I shared five brainstorming warm-up activities and a video about how to use a new online brainstorming tool called Brainstormer. Of course, there are many tools for hosting collaborative brainstorming sessions including good, old physical sticky notes. Here are some other tools that I've used to facilitate and record group brainstorming sessions over the years. 

Canva offers a selection of brainstorming templates that can be used collaboratively. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Canva's real-time collaboration function for an online brainstorming session. In the video I also demonstrate how you can tell if the template support real-time collaboration or not.


Post-it offers a free iPhone and iPad app and an Android version of the same app. Both versions of the Post-it app let you snap a picture of a collection of sticky notes that you want to digitize. After snapping the picture you'll be able to sort and group the digitized version of your sticky notes. You can export your digitized stickies and groups of stickies as PDF, PowerPoint, and Excel files. Watch the video below to see how the Post-it app works.



Google's Jamboard has exploded in popularity in the last eighteen months. Part of that popularity is due to the many ways in which teachers and students can use Jamboard. Jamboard can be used to host group brainstorming sessions. In larger classes I break students into smaller groups and have each group work on a specific page within the Jamboard session. At the end of the session we review the ideas from each page and put the most popular ones on a final page. Here's an overview of how to use Jamboard in Google Classroom

 

I started using Padlet more than ten years ago to host collaborative brainstorming sessions with my students. My favorite way to use it is to have students share ideas for research prompts related to a larger topic. For example, I'd give my students a broad topic like World War II and then have them add their ideas for topics to research that are connected to World War II. There are lots of ways to add notes to Padlet walls. Nine of those ways are featured in the video below


Brainstormer is a free, registration-free tool for hosting online brainstorming sessions. It has two noteworthy features. First, it doesn't require any kind of registration in order to use it. Second, at the end of every brainstorming session students can vote for their favorite ideas that were submitted during the session. In this short video I provide a demonstration of how Brainstormer works. The video includes the perspective of a teacher using it and the perspective of a student using Brainstormer. 



Dotstorming is a collaborative brainstorming tool that I've used and written about for half of a decade or more. One of its key features is the option to have participants in a brainstorming session vote for their favorite ideas submitted during the session. The value of Dotstorming in an online or in-person classroom is that it allows you to gather ideas or answers to a problem from your students and then have your students vote for the favorite idea or answer. Those vote totals can then be the basis for discussions with the whole class or in small groups.

Rye Board provides you with a blank canvas on which you can place text notes, images, and drawings. Notes and pictures can be dragged and dropped into any arrangement that you like. Drawings can be added in the spaces between notes and or directly on top of images on your Rye Board. Rye Board allows for two collaborators at a time. Watch my video that is embedded below to see how Rye Board works.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Seven Good Tools for Creating and Publishing Online Timelines

Creating timelines has been a staple in history teachers' playbooks since the beginning of history. Writing a timeline is a good way for students to chronologically summarize sequences of events and see how the events are connected. When I was a student and when I started teaching timelines were made on large pieces of paper. For someone with handwriting like mine and a keen interest in history, there was never enough room on even the largest paper to make the timeline look nice. Today's students can make timelines online and not have to worry about running out of space nor are they limited to just having text on their timelines. 

These are my go-to recommendations for creating multimedia timelines. This list has been updated for the second time this year because some of my old "go-to" tools relied on Flash and are no longer available and some tools were updated. One new has been added to the list as well.

Timeline JS
Timeline JS is a great tool if your school is using G Suite for Education. Timeline JS creates a timeline based on entries made in a Google Spreadsheets template provide by Timeline JS. Your entries can include videos, images, text, and audio recordings. Take a look at this tutorial to learn how to use Timeline JS.  

Flippity Timeline Template
If Timeline JS seems a bit too complicated for your students, Flippity.net offers another way to create a multimedia timeline through a Google Spreadsheet. Simply fill in the blanks in Flippity's timeline template to create a multimedia timeline. In the following video I demonstrate how it works.



Google Slides & PowerPoint
Google Slides and PowerPoint both offer templates for making timelines. Using those templates you can create a timeline that includes text, links, images, and video. One of my most-watched videos is this one about making timelines in Google Slides. You can also make animated timelines with Google Slides by following the directions in this tutorial.



Sutori
Sutori is a complete multimedia timeline creation service. Students can build timelines that include pictures, videos, and text. As a benefit for teachers, not only can you include media like pictures and videos, you can also include quiz questions in your timeline. So if you wanted to have students view a few events on a timeline and then answer a few comprehension questions, you can build those questions right into the timeline.

Padlet
Padlet is a tool that I've used for more than a decade to create all kinds of multimedia collages and galleries with students. In the last couple of years Padlet has added a lot of new templates for teachers and students. One of those templates is a timeline template. You can use this template to add events in any date format of your choosing. Padlet supports inclusion of video, audio, image, hyperlinks, and text.

 


Canva
Canva is one of those web tools that the more time you spend with it the more features you discover "hidden" in it. One of those hidden features is the ability to create timelines to save as images and PDFs. Canva has about a dozen timeline templates that you can modify by altering the text size and style, inserting images, and dragging-and-dropping other design elements. Watch the following short video to learn how to create a timeline in Canva.


ClassTools
Russel Tarr, a history teacher and developer of ClassTools.net, recently released a new template called the Wikipedia Timeline Generator. This free tool will take a Wikipedia article and generate a timeline based on that article. That's not all it does. You can edit the entries on the timeline to correct dates, to edit the information associated with the dates, delete entries on the timeline, and add new dates to the timeline. Timelines created with the Wikipedia Timeline Generator can be embedded into web pages and or shared with the unique URL assigned to your timeline.

In this short video I demonstrate how to use the Wikipedia Timeline Generator hosted by ClassTools. 


The Master View in Google Slides is Now the "Theme Builder"

If you logged into your Google Slides today, you may have noticed a new option in the "view" drop-down menu. Where there used to be a "master" option there is now a "theme builder" option. This change is purely cosmetic because nothing else changed. The functions of "theme builder" are exactly the same as "master view." The announcement from Google said that this change was made to better communicate what that setting is for and to eliminate a non-inclusive term from the menu. 

Five Warm-up Activities for Group Brainstorming Sessions

Yesterday morning I published a blog post and video about a new online brainstorming tool called Brainstormer. Writing that post reminded me of a set of brainstorming warm-up activities designed by Ethos3. Ethos3 is a presentation design company that has worked with some of the biggest name brands in the world. The Ethos3 Slideshare channel is a good place to get some inspiration and tips for designing your own slideshows. One of those slideshows is Wake Up Brain! In the slideshow you'll find five warm-up activities that can be done at the start of almost any brainstorming session.



Applications for Education
Whether you're brainstorming with colleagues to craft a new mission statement for your school or you're brainstorming creative story ideas with your middle school students, the warm-up activities in this slideshow can help you get the ball rolling.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

A Collaborative Brainstorming and Voting Tool - No Registration Required

Brainstormer was my featured "cool share" during last week's episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff. I chose to feature it for two reasons. First, it doesn't require any kind of registration in order to use it. Second, at the end of every brainstorming session students can vote for their favorite ideas that were submitted during the session. 

In this short video I provide a demonstration of how Brainstormer works. The video includes the perspective of a teacher using it and the perspective of a student using Brainstormer. 



Applications for Education
As I wrote when I initially tried Brainstormer, I've reviewed a lot of online brainstorming tools over the years. With the exception of one (Dotstorming) they all leave the question of "which idea should we act on first?" up to discussion. Those discussions can take as long or longer than the brainstorming session itself. Having a voting component at the end of Brainstormer sessions can give students clarity as to which ideas they should act on first. Not having screen names on the voting page could help to prevent the voting being influenced by the perceived popularity or perceived intellect of a student.

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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured graphic created by Richard Byrne using Canva.

Students Can Tinker With Web Apps on CodePen

Last week at the end of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff I briefly mentioned a site called CodePen that I've been using with my students for the last couple of weeks. CodePen is a site on which students can create web apps or modify existing web apps that others have added to the CodePen galleries. The neat thing about CodePen is that in real-time students can see how HTML, CSS, and Javascript are used together to create web apps. 

In the following short video I provide an overview of the basic features of CodePen. In the video I also show how students can use CodePen to tinker with web apps to learn about the functions on HTML, CSS, and Javascript in a web application. 



CodePen Free and Paid Plans
CodePen offers free and paid plans. My students and I have only used the free plan so far. The paid plan offers additional features that could be helpful to me in the future. Those features include Professor Mode and Collab Mode. Professor Mode would let me remotely watch my students' progress in real-time. Collab Mode would let me and my students collaborate on projects in real-time much like working in Google Docs. You can read more about CodePen's paid plans for educators right here

This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that regularly steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image created by Richard Byrne using Canva.

New Text Overlay Options in Google Docs

Google has finally added a feature to Google Docs that many of us have been waiting a long time to see. That feature is the ability to overlay text on top of images in Google Docs!

For years the only way to work with text and images in Google Docs was to wrap the text around an image. Now you can place text directly behind or directly in front of an image. In other words, you can overlay text on the images that you insert into Google Docs. 

To overlay text on an image in Google Docs first write the text that you want to appear. Then insert the image of your choice. After you've inserted an image then click on it to bring up the "image options" menu. In the "image options" menu you'll now see the choices of "behind text" and "in front of text" under the text wrapping settings. See my screenshot as a reference for where to find the new text overlay options. 


The new text overlay options are significant not only for creating documents from scratch in Google Docs, but also because of what it means when you import Word documents into Google Documents. Word has long supported the use of text overlays. However, until now that formatting was lost when you converted a Word document into a Google Document. That will no longer be the case now that Google Docs supports positioning text in front of and behind images. 

Applications for Education
This update isn't going to revolutionize the way that you, me, or our students use Google Documents. That said, it will be nice to have a better way for students to label images in Google Documents for either identification/ clarification purposes or for attribution purposes. It will also be nice to be able to upload Word documents and not lose the image and text formatting.

Like all new Google Documents features, this one will roll out over the course of a couple of weeks. I'm only seeing it in two of my four Google accounts at the moment.

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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

A Virtual Tour of Washington With Dr. Jill Biden

Tomorrow at 1pm ET Discovery Education is hosting a free virtual field trip to Washington, D.C. for elementary school and middle school classrooms. The virtual field trip will take students to six landmarks in Washington, D.C. Along the way students will hear from Dr. Jill Biden, Yolanda King (granddaughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. ) and a handful of experts on the history of Washington. You can register your classroom for the field trip right here

The places that will be featured in the virtual field trip are:

  • The White House
  • The U.S. Capitol Building
  • The Supreme Court
  • The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
  • Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
  • The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Discovery Education has prepared a companion guide for tomorrow's virtual field trip. You can access that guide as a PDF here. The guide includes questions for students to think about before the field trip, during the field trip, and questions for debriefing after the virtual field trip. 

On a related note, DocsTeach has a lesson plan about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. That lesson plan is centered around analysis of a primary source document.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Short Lessons About Memorial Day

Next Monday is Memorial Day. Students often confuse the origin and purpose of Memorial Day with those of Veterans Day. The following videos can help students understand the origins and meanings of Memorial Day and Veterans Day.


The Meaning of Memorial Day is a two minute video covering the origins of the holiday in the United States. The video is embedded below.



The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers the following video overview of the history of Memorial Day.


Jocko Willink isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoy his podcast and found this video that he released a few years ago to be quite moving.



To find more resources for teaching about Memorial Day, visit Larry Ferlazzo's list of resources.

Try using EDpuzzle to add questions into these videos and distribute them to your students.

One Week Left!

The first session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp is just a month away. If you haven't registered for the session of your choice, you can do so up until the day before it starts. However, there is only one week left to complete the early-bird registration

There is a June session, a July session, and an August session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. In all three sessions we'll cover ten key topics over the course of ten live webinars (recordings will also be available). 

These are the topics for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp:
  • Teaching Search Strategies & Digital Citizenship
  • Video Projects for Every Classroom
  • Classroom Podcasting 101
  • Building Digital Portfolios
  • Fun Formative Assessment Methods
  • Using AR & VR in Your Classroom
  • Making Virtual Tours
  • Easy Ways to Make Your Own Apps
  • Simple and Fun Makerspaces Projects
  • Blending Technology Into Outdoor Lessons

Register online by May 31st to save $50 on registration for the session of your choice. 


Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a group discount?
Yes, there is a group discount available. You can save $50/person if you have five or more people registering from your school district. Email me for a discount code to apply to online group registrations or to initiate a PO registration.

Can I register with a purchase order or check?
Yes, you can certainly register with a purchase order. Send me an email or have your business office send me an email to initiate that process. Because of the additional paperwork and delay in receiving funds, the early registration discount doesn't apply to purchase order registrations.

Can I get CEUs/ contact hours?
You will receive a certificate from me indicating that you participated in ten hours of professional development time. Whether or not your school, state, or province will accept it for license/ certificate renewal is a determination that you will have to make. The rules about CEUs vary widely from state-to-state and I can't possibly keep track of them all.

What platform are you using for the webinars?
All of the webinars will be conducted through the GoToWebinar platform. I've tried many other webinar services, but I keep coming back to GoToWebinar because of it's reliability. I've used it for almost a decade for hundreds of webinars. You can access GoToWebinar on any computer or tablet.

Will the sessions be recorded?
Yes, all of the live webinars will be recorded. If you have to miss a session, you'll be able to watch the recording. That said, I find that people get the most out of webinars when they can attend live broadcasts and ask questions in real-time. Therefore, I encourage you to pick the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp session that works best with your schedule.

Grackle - Check Slide and Document Accessibility

This spring we have some grackles nesting in our hanging plants and in the eve of our covered back porch. Every morning I take a quick look at them when I'm drinking my coffee and letting our dogs out. This morning, looking at one of the mother grackles reminded me of a Google Docs and Slides add-on of the same name. 

Grackle Slides is a Google Slides add-on that will evaluate the accessibility of your presentation and give you suggestions on how to improve the accessibility of your presentation. Watch the short video below to see how it works.




Grackle Slides is a companion to the Grackle Docs add-on for Google Documents that I featured last December. Watch my video about Grackle Docs as embedded below.



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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Running Free Rivers

River Runner is a neat website that shows you how a drop of water travels from anywhere in the United States to the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, or the Gulf of Mexico. To use River Runner simply go to the site and click on any location in the United States. As soon as you click on the map, River Runner will generate and play an animation of the path that a drop of water would travel from that location to get to the ocean. You can stop the animation, rewind it, and fast forward it if you like. The animation is based on data collected from the USGS. The code for the site can be found here on GitHub


Applications for Education
When I was in elementary school my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Gessay, had us draw the path that water would take from our school to Long Island Sound. I'm pretty sure that related to our field trip to Rocky Neck State Park later in the year. River Runner does essentially the same thing for students. Today, I'd have students do the same thing then use River Runner to check the accuracy of the paths they draw on their maps. 

Using the River Runner site reminded me of the World Wildlife Fund's Free Rivers appWWF Free Rivers is a free augmented reality app produced by the World Wildlife Foundation. The app uses augmented reality to present a story about rivers. WWF Free Rivers tells students stories about the implications of changes in weather patterns, damming rivers, and pollution on river ecosystems. Students interact with these stories by moving their iPads and or by pinching and zooming on elements in the stories. Unlike some other AR apps the animations within WWF Free Rivers can be experienced by students from a variety of angles. A great example of this is found early in the app when students can see what a dam does to a river. During that experience students can see the dam from above, from below, and from the sides.

H/T to Maps Mania for the River Runner site.

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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

ICYMI - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff - Episode 37

Earlier this week Rushton Hurley and I hosted the 37th episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff. It was our last episode of this school year. We'll be back at the start of the next school year. In the meantime, if you missed this week's episode or any other episode, you can watch it right here

Highlights of this week's episode: 

  • A cool tool for hosting online brainstorming sessions. 
  • A neat art project. 
  • Ideas for recording and adding audio to slides. 
  • Alternatives to Google Calendar. 
  • Unusual things that can be patented. 
The episode is embedded below. 



All of the episode recordings are also available on Rushton's YouTube channel.

Maps, Certificates, and Brainstorms - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it is going to be a warm and sunny day. Most importantly, the worst of the black fly (gnats) swarms have passed. And the most exciting news in our house is that we're going to see my mother for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic reached New England. I hope that you have something equally exciting planned for your weekend. 

This week I co-hosted the last episode of this year's Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff series. We'll return at the start of the next school year. We're going on hiatus as Rushton has a busy summer planned and I do as well. I'll be hosting the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp and working on some other projects. I also have this idea for a possible late-July/ early August PD experience. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Mult.dev - A New Way to Quickly Make an Animated Map
2. Two Ways to Automatically Generate Certificates for Students
3. Fling the Teacher! - A Fun Review Game
4. Brainstormer - A Collaborative Brainstorming and Voting Tool
5. Three Good Ways to Make Online Word Games
6. Combine Canva and TeacherMade to Create Online Activities
7. How to Find Public Google Docs, Slides, Forms, Sheets, and Drawings

On-demand Professional Development
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 35,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fourteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • And 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 CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Friday, May 21, 2021

I Have an Idea for a Different Summer PD Experience

As you probably know, I'm hosting the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp again this year. From 2013 through 2019 I held it as an in-person event here in Maine. The kind of long-range planning that it takes to host an in-person event just wasn't possible this year because of all of the variables related to COVID-19. For example, I typically have to reserve meeting space with a $2500 deposit in late January for a July event. As I looked at COVID-19 cases in Maine and beyond I couldn't make that gamble back in January. That said, it's now late May, COVID-19 cases are down, vaccination rates are up, and Maine has eased travel restrictions. That brought me to an idea for a very small, new format, in-person professional development experience. 

At this point it's just an idea!

I need to emphasize that at this point it's just an idea. I'm trying to gauge interest and gather feedback. 

Here's the idea...

I'm looking for about ten teachers, principals, or instructional coaches who are interested in coming together for three things. Those things are learning new together, sharing  with/ teaching each other, and getting outside for some fun in the sun. We'd spend part of day learning and sharing then spend part of the day doing small group activities like biking, hiking, or paddling. In my mind, the ideal length is three days. 

Limiting factors...

The obvious limiting factor is the status of COVID-19 cases, CDC guidelines, and the government of Maine's guidelines related to COVID-19. Those are all very fluid factors which could mean that at any given moment the state could put in place new travel restrictions or other restricts that stop this idea in its tracks. For that reason, I wouldn't want people to come from beyond comfortable driving distance. 

Are you vaccinated? I am, as is my family. That said, I still plan to wear a mask indoors and wherever social distancing isn't possible for quite a while. 

Cost and dates: as this is a new approach I'm only planning to cover costs. I have leads on two excellent facilities for small meeting spaces during the week in late July and early August. Both are in Bethel, Maine. 

Are you interested?

Again, I must emphasize that this is just an idea at this point. If you're interested in more information about this idea, please fill out the short form on this page. Or send me an email at richard (at) byrne.media with a subject line of Summer PD Idea. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Catchy Words - A Fun Augmented Reality App for Spelling Practice

My daughters recently became very interested in a PBS Kids show called Word World. In each episode of the show the characters build a new word. As I was watching Word World with them this morning I was reminded of a fun augmented reality app called Catchy Words AR.

Catchy Words AR is an augmented reality app that provides a fun and active way for students to practice their spelling skills. The app is available for iPad/ iPhone and it is available in an Android version. The app works the same way in both versions. 

In Catchy Words AR students will see letters "floating" on the screen. Students have to catch the letters by moving their tablets or phones. The movement often requires students to get up and move out of their seats. When they catch a letter students then have to bring it back to place it into one of a sequence of floating boxes. The object is to spell a word by catching the letters and putting them into the boxes. Take a look at my screenshot below to see how a completed word appears on a phone or tablet screen (please excuse my messy desk in the background). 


Applications for Education

Catchy Words AR can be a fun way for some students to practice their spelling skills while getting up and out of their seats. The app doesn't require any kind of registration or login which makes it good for classrooms in which students share iPads. The shortcoming of Catchy Words AR is that you can't assign a word list to your students nor can you see which words they've spelled unless you look at their tablets or phones while they're using the app.

More augmented reality and virtual reality apps and their classroom applications will be featured as part of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. Get an early bird discount when you register in the next ten days.

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 CloudComputin and TodayHeadline. Feature screenshot captured by Richard Byrne.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

A Math and Map Challenge

This evening while recording Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff I was reminded of a neat math and map challenge activity from Mathigon. Here's what I wrote about it last year. 

Mathigon's map coloring challenge is to use as few colors as possible to color in all 50 U.S. states without the same color touching two states at the same time. For example, if I color New Hampshire purple, I can't use purple on Vermont, Maine, New York, or Massachusetts but I could use purple on Pennsylvania.

Mathigon's map coloring challenge can be completed online where they offer the same challenge for coloring maps of South America, England, and Germany. But if you send your students to that page they'll be able to quickly click to see the solution to the challenge. So what I'd do instead is print a blank map from a site like Printable World Map then have students try the challenge. Another option would be to upload an outline map to a service like Google's Jamboard to color the map online. Watch my video below to learn how that process works.




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 CloudComputin and TodayHeadline.

Three Short Lessons About Algorithms That I Used This Week

This week in my Computer Science Principles course we're talking about algorithms. We started the week with an introduction answering the question, "what is an algorithm?" Then we looked at examples of algorithms that students encounter on a daily basis (YouTube suggestions being the one they related to the most). Today, my students wrote their own algorithms for automating processes of their choosing. 

As long-time followers of my blog know, I'm a proponent of using short videos and or sections of videos to provide students with an alternative to my explanations of concepts. This week I used three short videos to help my students understand what algorithms are and how they're used. 

What is an algorithm?

There were two videos about that question that I shared with my students. First, I shared a TED-Ed lesson titled What's an Algorithm? in my course's Google Classroom. Second, in class I played GCF Learn Free's two minute video Computer Science Basics: Algorithms.






How to Write a Trading Algorithm
This morning I played part of this video for my students. My point in doing so was to show them how algorithms can be written for all kinds of purposes including attempts at "outsmarting" the stock market. The other point was to show them that algorithms can be written in any language.



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 CloudComputin and TodayHeadline. Feature graphic created by Richard Byrne using Canva.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

How to Make a Backup Copy of Your Blog

Last Friday evening a portion of the blogging community got a bit nervous when Blogger (Google's blogging platform) started throwing up lots of error messages. In some cases people reported having blog posts completely disappear. Fortunately, everything was corrected fairly quickly, but it was a nervous hour or so for some bloggers. 

Blogger's hiccup last Friday was a good reminder that you should be in the habit of making regular backup copies of work that is important to you. In the case of blogging, creating backup copies of Blogger, Edublogs, and WordPress blogs is pretty easy to do. You just need to remember to do it on a regular basis (I run my backup when I write my week-in-review posts). 

You can create a backup copy of a Blogger blog from the settings menu in your dashboard. You'll find "Back up content" under the "Manage blog" section of the settings. 

To create a backup copy of a WordPress or Edublogs blog, go to the tools menu in your dashboard and then choose "export." 

In all three platforms the backup copy will be in the form of an XML file. XML files can be imported into WordPress, Edublogs, and Blogger if you need to restore any content that was lost. It can also be used to move between blogging services. 

In the following short video I demonstrate how to make backup copies of your WordPress, Edublogs, or Blogger blog


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 CloudComputin and TodayHeadline.

Twelve Good Tools for End-of-Year Review and Practice

The end of the school year is quickly approaching. At this time of the year I start to get a lot of requests for suggestions for tools to create review activities. I shared some ideas in this week's Practical Ed Tech Newsletter including what I'm doing in my classes. If you're looking for some more ideas for review activities, take a look at the small slideshow I've embedded below. You'll notice that the slideshow includes a handful of tutorial videos.



Here's a link to the slideshow for those who may not be able to see the embedded version above.

How to create your own games and apps is one of the things I'll cover during the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. There's still time to register at the early bird rate!