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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Annotations, Expeditions, and Summer - The Month in Review

Good evening from Maine where a line of strong thunderstorms is a hopeful signal that our heatwave is about to break. June was the busiest month I've had in more than a year. Between end-of-school activities, hosting webinars, training for bike races, and trying to be the best dad I can be it felt like I never relaxed. This week, I'm doing that. I hope that you are also enjoying some rest after a long school year. 

In July I'm hosting the next section of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. There is still time to register to join me for ten hours of live webinars with me during the week of July 12th. Register here

These were the month's most popular posts:
1. Three Good Options for Annotating PDFs
2. 15 Updates Coming to Google Workspace for Education
3. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
4. Science Research Papers Annotated With Teaching Resources
5. Four Important Padlet Updates to Note
6. Five Sources of Summer Math Activities for Elementary School Students
7. Expeditions Pro - A Replacement for Google's VR Tour Creator
8. Icons8 - Easily Add Icons to Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets
9. Wick Editor - A Nice Tool for Creating Animations
10. How to Create Interactive Checklists in Google Docs

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.

What Was Watched in June - My Most Popular Tutorials

In June I published a new video every other day on my YouTube channel. There are now more than 36,000 people subscribed to get notified as soon as I publish a new video. My channel contains more than 1,000 tutorial videos covering everything from fundamental aspects of Google Workspaces to making your own Android apps to making videos and many other topics suggested by readers and viewers like you. Below are the ten videos on my YouTube channel that were watched the most in June. 

1. The Basics of Creating a Quiz in Google Forms


2. How to Add a Timer to Your PowerPoint Slides


3. Wheel of Names - A Random Name Picker and More


4. How to Draw on Your Screen in Google Meet


5. How to create shared Google Drive folders


6. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game


7. How to print a Google Form or save it as PDF


8. How to Use Adobe Spark to Create a Video


9. How to Share Videos Through Google Drive


10. How to Create Comic Strips in Google Slides


This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. Feature graphic created by Richard Byrne using Canva. 

Narakeet - Quickly Turn Slides into Narrated Video Lessons

A reader recently emailed me looking for advice on how to create narrated video based on slides made in Canva. She didn't want to record her own voiceover audio. My suggestion was to try using Narakeet to have the slides converted into a narrated video. 

Narakeet lets you upload slides and have them converted into a video that is automatically narrated for you. You can choose from about twenty voiceover options, adjust the speed of the voiceover, and choose to have captions automatically added into your video. 

To use Narakeet you must have your slides in PPTX format. Fortunately, all of the popular slideshow creation tools including Canva and Google Slides let you export your presentations as PPTX files. When you upload your PPTX file to Narakeet your speaker notes are used as the basis for the narration that is created for your video. When your video is completed you can download it as an MP4 file that can be used anywhere that you typically share videos. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to use Canva and Narakeet to create an automatically narrated video lesson. 



Applications for Education
Narakeet is a great tool for those who have a set of slides lead lessons, but don't want to use their own voices to narrate the slides. Narakeet provides a quick and easy way to turn those slides into a video lesson. 

Just like any audio slideshow video, when you make a video with Narakeet you'll want to make sure that you have a new visual every 5-10 seconds or else students will get bored and tune out.  

This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. Feature graphic created by Richard Byrne using Canva. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Two Cool New Presentation Creation Options in Canva

Last year Canva introduced a new feature that allows you to record a video of your Canva slideshow presentations. Since then a lot of people have asked if there is a way to record just audio to go along with a slideshow presentation. Yes is now the answer to that question. One of the new features recently added to Canva allows you to record audio without recording video. To do that simply disable access to your webcam when Canva requests it and you'll be able to record audio without video. 

Another new feature recently added to Canva lets you record a video with your webcam and insert that video into any Canva design including presentations and social media graphics. In my limited testing of these feature it seems that you can layer video over background images and adjust the transparency of your video itself. To record a video with your webcam in Canva just head to the "uploads" section in the Canva design editor then click on the "record yourself" button. See my screenshot below for details on where to find the video recorder in Canva. 


Applications for Education
The option to record audio without video could turn Canva into a good tool for students to use to make narrated slideshows without having to use a video editing tool like iMovie or WeVideo. The new option to record a webcam video in Canva could be useful in adding personal messages to graphics like digital greeting cards or to slides to provide an explanation of charts and graphs.

You can find a list of all of the recent updates to Canva right here.    

This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. Featured image created by Richard Byrne using Canva.

Create Your Own Chatbot for Surveys and Quiz Practice

Acquainted is a free polling tool that has been around for a few years. It recently reappeared on my radar when a reader sent me a question asking for help creating a chatbot for her website.

Acquainted is a conversational polling tool. What that means is that people who take your poll get an instant response from you regarding their selections of poll options. Your responses are written into Acquainted and programmed to appear to poll respondents as they make answer choices. Watch my short demonstration video below and then read on for my ideas about how you might use Acquainted in your practice.



Applications for Education
Acquainted was designed for polling visitors to a website and it would make a great addition to a classroom website. It could be used as a mini tutoring service when added to your classroom website. You could build a series of questions for your students to respond to and get feedback that is programmed by you. You could build responses that provide explanations of why an answer is correct or incorrect. Your responses might even include a link to further explanations.
 
This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. Featured image created by Richard Byrne using Canva.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Get a Free Chapter of My Favorite Book About Search Strategies

The Joy of Search is a book that I've been recommending for a couple of years now. It's all about search strategies and is a must-read for anyone who wants to develop better search strategies or teach search strategies. The book was written by Dan Russell whose title at Google is Senior Research Scientist for Search Quality and User Happiness. What he does that you, I, and students should care about is craft really interesting lessons on employing a wide variety of search strategies. You can find many of those lessons in his regular series of search challenges on his blog SearchReSearch. And if you get a chance to hear him speak at a conference, take it!

Back to the book, in The Joy of Search you'll find stories used to explain how to employ various search strategies. To get a sense of what the book is about, you can get a free chapter of the book right now from Dan's blog. The chapter that is available is titled Finding a Mysterious Location Somewhere in the World: How to Use Multiple Information Sources to Zero In on a Resource. In the chapter you'll learn about one of my favorite techniques for getting students to look at all of the information that is available to them in order to form a good search strategy and employ good search terms.

On a related note, over on Practical Ed Tech I have an on-demand webinar titled Ten Search Strategies Students Need to Know


This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. Featured image by Richard Byrne.

ChatterPix Kids - Create Talking Pictures for an Educational Purpose

ChatterPix Kids is one of my favorite digital storytelling apps for elementary school students. 

ChatterPix Kids is a free app that students can use to create talking pictures. To use the app students simply open it on their iPads or Android devices and then take a picture. Once they've taken a picture students draw a mouth on their pictures. With the mouth in place students then record themselves talking for up to thirty seconds. The recording is then added to the picture and saved as a video on the students' iPads or Android devices. Watch my tutorial videos below to learn how to use ChatterPix Kids on Android devices and on iPads.



Applications for Education
My all-time favorite example of students using ChatterPix Kids is found in this Next Vista for Learning video titled A Healthy Meal. To create the video students recording a series of ChatterPix Kids talking pictures and then the talking pictures were combined in a sequence in iMovie.

A couple of years ago I worked with a Kindergarten class in which the students used ChatterPix Kids to create talking pictures of characters from their favorite books including Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog.

The first time I ever saw ChatterPix Kids in use was five or six years ago when an elementary school teacher (I'm sorry, I don't remember her name) gave a poster presentation at ISTE in which she shared examples of her students recording short audio biographies of presidents. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

How to Create Interactive Checklists in Google Docs

This week Google announced more than a dozen updates to Google Workspace products. Included in those updates is a new text box feature in Google Documents. The new text box option can be used to create interactive checklists. Those checklists, just like any other Google Document, can be shared with colleagues and students who can then cross off items as they're completed. 

In this short video I demonstrate how you can create interactive checklists in Google Documents. One of the neat things that you'll see in the video is that you can adjust the size and style of the checkboxes by using the font menus in Google Docs.  



Applications for Education
My first thought when seeing the new checklist option in Google Docs was that it could be great for students to use when planning group projects. The group can have their to-do list and all of the details of their plans on the same document instead of having to use a separate task management tool or having to write/re-write comments when a task is completed.

This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. Feature image created by Richard Byrne using Canva. 

Bikes, Slides, and Summer Reading - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is rising on this summer morning. I'm inside instead of sitting on my porch because I'm eagerly anticipating watching the first stage of the Tour de France. After that we'll head outside to ride our own bikes. And tomorrow we're heading to Storyland! I hope that you also have some fun things scheduling for your weekend. 

This week I hosted the first session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. Two dozen people joined me throughout the week for ten live webinars. A big thank you to those who attended and participated. For those who missed it, registration is still open for the July and August sessions of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp.

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.

Friday, June 25, 2021

15 Updates Coming to Google Workspace for Education

This week Google announced a bunch of updates that will be coming soon to Google Workspace for Education products. If you missed them, as I did earlier this week, here's a short summary of the key updates to note.

File / Video Security Updates
  • Some shared files in your Google Drive will require using a URL that contains a resource key. This change will impact users who haven't previously viewed a file that you're sharing. As an end-user, this shouldn't change anything for you other than the link that you initially share if you use the "anyone with the link" option to share a file. This change will be implement beginning in late July with full implementation in September. Google Workspace administrators may want to read more about this update on this Google Workspaces Admin Help page.
  • Videos in your YouTube account that were uploaded prior to January 1, 2017 and were marked as "unlisted" will be changed to "private" on July 23rd. You can revert them back to "unlisted" after the 23rd. Read more about this change here. This update doesn't affect videos uploaded after January 1, 2017.


Google Classroom Updates Coming Later This Summer/ Fall
  • Schedule assignments to multiple classes at once. 

  • Offline mode for the Google Classroom Android app. 

  • Student activity view. This will let you see when a student was last active in your Google Classroom. Activity can include accessing assignments and commenting on posts.
All three features listed above will be available in all versions of Google Workspace for Education. The following Google Classroom features will only be available to those using one of the various paid Google Workspace for Education plans. 
  • Roster import via Clever. This will let IT administrators create classes based on classroom rosters as written in Clever. (While great in theory, I wonder if this will impact how much control teachers get over their own Google Classroom rosters. I'd hate to see this turn into a situation where a teacher has to submit an IT help ticket whenever a student needs to be added or removed from a Google Classroom. That could be a nightmare during add/drop periods). 

  • Classroom add-ons. This will let IT administrators add third-party services into Google Classroom. Some of Google's preferred vendors for this include Adobe, Kahoot, and Nearpod. Students will use those tools inside of Google Classroom.  
Google Forms
  • Twenty new font choices are being added to Google Forms. 

  • The settings menu is going to be revamped to "simplify" the application of settings. (I'm not sure what there is to simplify in Google Forms settings, it's pretty simple now). 
Google Docs
  • Create interactive checklists in Google Docs. There's a new checkbox option that you can add in place of bullet points in Google Docs. This is available now. See my screenshot below for an example. 

Google Meet
Hopefully, we can all use Google Meet and Zoom a lot less next year. That said, Google is making some updates to Google Meet for those who are hosting virtual class meetings. 
  • When launching a meeting from Google Classroom teachers and co-teachers will automatically be assigned the roles of host. 

  • Students who are on the Google Classroom roster will automatically be admitted but will be placed in a waiting room until the teacher is ready to admit them. 

  • Anyone not on the Google Classroom roster will have to ask to join and can only be admitted by the teacher or co-teacher. 

  • Hosts can turn off all webcams at once with a "video lock" setting. 

  • New viewing options will let you control how much of a presentation you see compared to how much space is allotted for viewing your students' cameras or profile icons. 

How Seashells Are Made - A Lesson for Beachcombers

If your summer plans, like ours, include going to the ocean, you may be interested in this video from Reactions about how seashells are made. In How Seashells Are Made viewers learn that seashells are made of 95% calcium carbonate and 5% protein and sugar. The video doesn't stop with just listing the components of seashells. By watching the video viewers can learn how calcite and aragonite are layered in seashells to create a hard shell.



Applications for Education
I've never been a "lay on the beach" kind of person. I'm the person you'll find wandering and looking at neat things that get washed up on shore. My daughters are the same way. If you have students that like to wander and collect seashells, use that curiosity as a segue into a science lesson about how seashells are made. This video is a great candidate for inclusion in an EDpuzzle lesson in which you add questions and your own clarifying remarks for students. Watch my EDpuzzle tutorial to learn how to add questions to an existing video.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

How to Track Updates to Students' Google Sites

Google Sites can be a great platform for students to use to maintain digital portfolios. In fact, I did that last year with my computer science principles students. The challenge for a teacher when students use Google Sites for portfolios is keeping track of updates to those portfolios. 

The method that I came up with to keep track of updates that students made to their Google Sites was to create a weekly update assignment in Google Classroom. Then every week students added a new page to their sites. They then had to respond to the assignment with a link to the new pages they made in their Google Sites. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to keep track of updates to students' Google Sites by using Google Classroom assignments. The video shows a teacher's perspective and it shows a student's perspective of this method. 


This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere it has been used without permission. 

Short Lessons on the Science of Fireworks

Independence Day here in the United States is ten days away. Nothing says, "Happy Fourth of July" like a fireworks display. Watching Fourth of July fireworks displays is a quintessential part of the American experience in the summer. This year my daughters are just about old enough to stay up late enough to watch the fireworks with me, we're at least going to try.

If your kids are old enough to watch a fireworks display, they might have questions about how fireworks work. I know that my oldest daughter will definitely be curious about how they work. To refresh my memory I'm rewatching the following videos from NPR's SkunkBear, National Geographic, and Reactions to learn about the science of fireworks.





Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Four Summer Science Lessons

Summer is here in the northern hemisphere. It's a great time to go outside and soak up some sunshine. A little vitamin D is good for everybody. This is also a time when many schools run summer enrichment programs that provide kids with some learning activities that might not otherwise happen during the school year. For example, taking kids outside for science lessons. To that end, SciShow Kids has four suggestions for outdoor science lessons. In Fun Summer Science adults and children can learn about the science of bubbles, kites, ice cream, and solar energy. Each segment includes an explanation of the science and brief suggestions and directions for a hands-on activity.

 

Earlier this year SciShow Kids released a video about building a solar oven. As you might expect, the video explains the science of using solar energy and explains the basics of how to build a solar oven. However, the video isn't quite detailed enough to be the only source that you or your students consult when building a solar oven. Fortunately, NASA, the US Department of Energy, and the Lawrence Hall of Science all offer detailed directions. 


NASA provides two sets of detailed, written directions for building solar ovens. This set of directions (link opens a PDF) was created for students in 7th through 9th grade. This set of directions (link opens a PDF) for building a solar oven was written for 6th through 8th grade students and culminates with students attempting to make s'mores with their ovens. 

Cooking With 'Sol (link opens a PDF) was published by the US Department of Energy. It was written for students in 5th through 8th grade to follow directions to create a solar oven. 

DIY Sun Science is a free iPad app from The Lawrence Hall of Science. The app features directions for hands-on lessons about the sun. The lessons are a mix of activities that students can do on their own and activities that they should do with adult supervision. All of the activities use common household goods. Some of the activities that you will find in DIY Sun Science are measuring the sun, making UV detectors, detecting solar storms, and cooking with a solar oven.

This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Feature image captured by Richard Byrne. 

How to Share Google Slides Without Sharing Speaker Notes

Earlier this week I answered an email from a reader who was looking for a way to share his Google Slides with his students without them being able to see his speaker notes. Unfortunately, there isn't an add-on or extension that will do that for you. Instead you have to make a copy of your original slides then remove your speaker notes from the copy before sharing or publishing it. How that is done is outlined in this short video



Applications for Education
I often give search challenges to students in the form of visual prompts and written prompts displayed on slides. I keep some notes for myself in the speaker notes section. The slides that I give to kids don't have my speaker notes so that they don't have any extra hints unless I choose to give them.

On a related note, take a look at my on-demand webinar titled Search Strategies Students Need to Know to learn more about teaching search strategies.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

What to Try When a Web App Isn't Working

Two weeks ago in my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter I outlined six things to try when a website or web app isn't working as you expected it to. Based on click-through, that was my most popular newsletter of the year! For those who haven't seen it, the handout from that edition of the newsletter is included below. Feel free to share it with your friends. (Click on the image to view it in full size).


These are the six things to try:

1. Is it you or is it the website? An easy way to find out is to visit downforeveryoneorjustme.com then enter the URL of the website you’re trying to use. If you’re familiar with the Windows command terminal you can also try pinging the address of the site you’re trying to use. Here’s a short video about both of those things.

2. Is your browser updated? This isn’t as common as it used to be, but in some instances of a site not working properly the cause can be traced to using an outdated version of a web browser. If you’re using an older version of a browser, not only will some sites not work correctly, you are also opening yourself up to more potential security threats.

3. Do you have cookies enabled? Many websites require cookies in order to offer you the best possible experience.

4. Are you using a pop-up blocker? It is not uncommon for a website to use a pop-up window for account log-ins. If the pop-up is blocked, you won’t be able to log-in.

5. Have you allowed camera and or microphone access? If you’re trying to use a web-based video or audio editing tool, you’ll need to make sure your camera and microphone are accessible.

6. If none of the steps above have resolved the problem, restarting your computer just might be the thing that fixes your problem. In fact, you might be surprised how often that works. It’s the reason IT help desks ask you to do that when they answer the phone.

How to Create a Thumbnail for Your YouTube Videos

In the last week or so I've had a couple of people ask me how I create the thumbnail images for my YouTube videos. I make all of my thumbnail images, AKA cover images, from a simple template found in Canva. I use Canva templates because they are formatted for the exact dimensions that YouTube requires. I also use Canva templates because they're designed by people who actually have graphic design skills and I do not have those skills. 

To add a custom thumbnail to a YouTube video you do need to have a verified YouTube account. The verification process only takes a few minutes but it does require you to be able to receive text messages on your phone. The complete directions for verifying your YouTube account can be read here

Once you've created your YouTube thumbnail image in Canva you're ready to use it. To use it you need to first upload your video to your YouTube account. Then you'll select "custom thumbnail" on the same screen that you write the description of your video. All of the steps are outlined in this short video that I created earlier today. 



Applications for Education
The reason to create and add a custom thumbnail to your YouTube videos is to make it easy for your students to know what your video is about before they even click the play button. It's also helpful when you're trying to organize a series of videos that you're embedding into an LMS like Canvas that will display the full video and cover image without requiring students to click through to YouTube.

Monday, June 21, 2021

A Short Overview of Google Sites Publishing and Sharing Settings

During a webinar that I hosted earlier today the topic of Google Sites access settings came up. That topic usually does come up whenever I talk about using Google Sites with students. It comes up because just as there is a difference between publishing and sharing Google Documents there is a difference between publishing and sharing Google Sites. 

The difference between sharing and publishing Google Sites:

  • Publishing a Google Site means to make it available to view on the web. 
    • A published site can be restricted to a small audience. A published Google Site is essentially view-only. 
  • Sharing a Google Site means to invite other people to collaborate on editing the site with you. 
    • You can invite people to be collaborators via email or via a sharing link. 
In this short video I provide an overview of sharing and publishing settings in Google Sites. 

Summer Reading Suggestions

My school year ended last week and I'm looking forward to doing some things that I didn't have time for during the last crazy months of the school year. One of those things is reading some books at a leisurely pace. For those of you who are planning to do the same this summer, here are some of my recommended reads. 

  • Invent to Learn by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager. 
    • I've been recommending this book for years. It's now on its second edition. It's more than just a "nuts and bolts" approach to makerspaces. 
  • Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning by Scott McLeod and Julie Graber. 
    • This offers short and practical ways to update some "old, reliable" lesson plans through the use of engaging technologies. 
  • The Joy of Search by Daniel Russell.
    • Nobody knows search like Dan Russell. As Google's head of "search quality and user happiness" Dan offers great insight and strategies for conducting better searches. 
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport
    • This book changed the way that I think about my work. While I haven't implemented all of his suggestions, following some of them has made me a better manager of my time and energy. 
  • Arduino Workshop by John Boxall
    • This book is now on its second edition. I used the first edition as my playbook for teaching Arduino to my ninth grade students. 
  • Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure by Matthew Algeo
    • This is a fun read for anyone interested in U.S. History and a lighter side of Harry Truman. The author chronicles the road trip that Harry and Bess Truman took from Missouri to New York and back in 1953. You'll learn about the Truman's, the development of the U.S. highway system, and get lots of bits of "Americana" along the way. 

All About the Tour de France

The Tour de France begins at the end of this week. As an avid cyclist I enjoy watching it and I find that it provides some neat opportunities for science, health, and physical education lessons. Here are some of my go-to resources for teaching and learning about the Tour de France.

The Science of Bicycles and Bicycling
There is a lot of physics involved in casual bike riding and in racing. Here's a selection of videos that explain the physics of bicycling.

The first time that you ride in a pack of experienced cyclists you'll feel the power of drafting. Besides their incredible fitness and bike handling skills, drafting helps cyclists in the Tour de France move quickly. The following video explains how drafting works.


Minute Physics offers two videos about the physics of bicycles. In How Do Bikes Stay Up? we learn how bikes stay upright, how design and weight influences balance, and why bicycles are difficult to balance in reverse. The Counterintuitive Physics of Turning a Bike explains how we turn bicycles.




The Diet of a Tour de France Racer
I've done some long days on my bike over the years including a double-century ride and at the end I've always felt like I could eat anything in sight. That's because I burned thousands of calories. But even then I didn't burn the 6,000-8,000+ calories that a typical Tour de France racer burns every day of the race.

What does it look like and feel like to eat like a professional cyclist? That's what the Wall Street Journal's Joshua Robinson set out to discover in his 6,000 calorie challenge. Take a look at the video below to see how he did it. Pay attention to the professional cyclist at the 2:40 mark in the video for commentary about energy gels because it surprise you and make you rethink the whether or not the average weekend warrior needs the expensive "sports energy" products for a simple hour workout.


If you want to get into a bit more of the science of nutrition of cyclists, take a look at this video featuring the team nutritionist for EF Education First's professional cycling team.



How Much Do Professional Cyclists Make?
In his book Draft Animals, Phil Gaimon, a retired professional cyclist, detailed his struggles to makes end meet while racing. The take-away from reading that book is that unlike professional Major League Baseball or National Basketball Association teams in which even the last person on the bench is paid ten times what a teacher makes in a year, professional cycling teams have one or two highly-paid ($1 million+) athletes and most of the rest make salaries in the range of teachers and school district administrators. In this 2019 article Cycling Tips detailed how much riders can earn in the Tour de France and throughout the professional cycling season. 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Summer, Icons, and Animations - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we've just woken up from our first backyard camping adventure! Overall, it went about as well as could be hoped for with a three-year-old and a four-year-old in a tent. I think my three-year-old now wants to live in the tent with her stuffed animals and books. 

Happy Father's Day to all the dads reading my blog this weekend. I hope that it's a great day for you. 

This week I wrapped-up my school year. I took yesterday off and next week I'll host the first session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. The first webinar is at 10am ET on Monday. You can still register this weekend to join us

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Three Good Options for Annotating PDFs
2. Four Important Padlet Updates to Note
3. Five Sources of Summer Math Activities for Elementary School Students
4. Sharing vs. Publishing Google Documents
5. Icons8 - Easily Add Icons to Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets
6. Wick Editor - A Nice Tool for Creating Animations
7. Expeditions Pro - A Replacement for Google's VR Tour Creator


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.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Wick Editor - A Nice Tool for Creating Animations

Wick Editor is a free tool for creating animations in your web browser. It was recently mentioned in Rushton Hurley's Next Vista for Learning newsletter and I immediately bookmarked it when I read about it. This morning I finally got a chance to give it a try. 

Wick Editor doesn't require you to register or sign into any kind of account in order to use it. Simply head to the website and click "launch web editor" to get started. The editor itself doesn't have a lot of text or menus to tell you what exactly the features are or where they're found. You kind of have to just click and try things. That said, watching this tutorial video found on the Wick Editor homepage will show you everything you need to get started. I highly recommend taking five minutes to watch that tutorial video before using Wick Editor.  



Once I watched the Wick Editor tutorial video Wick Editor was easy to use. I made a simple animation of a stick figure running across the screen. To make the animation I used the pencil tool and the onion-skinning tool in the editor. The pencil tool is exactly what you think it is, a pencil for drawing on the screen. The onion-skinning tool allows you to a slightly faded version of your previous frame while drawing on your new frame. That allows you to properly place your drawings in sequence so that they don't overlap unless you want them to. In short, onion-skinning in Wick Editor is like having a sketch pad open so that you can see your previous sketch on your left while creating your new sketch on the right.

When you're happy with your animation drawings you can tinker with the speed at which the frames are played back. After you've set the playback speed you can add audio if you want to include it. Finished animations can be saved as MP4 files or as GIF files.

Applications for Education
Wick Editor reminds me of a slightly more advanced version of Brush Ninja which I've used and recommended for years. Wick Editor, like Brush Ninja, could be used by students to create animations to illustrate science concepts. Here's an article that I published a few years ago describing the process that I used with eighth grade students to have them create animations illustrating forms of energy.

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 created by Richard Byrne using Wick Editor.

Icons8 - Easily Add Icons to Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets

Icons8 is a new Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets add-on that offers a large gallery of free icons that you can easily insert into your documents, slides, and spreadsheets. Within the Icons8 gallery you'll find thirty-five categories of icons. All of the icons are available in a variety of sizes from as small as 50x50 pixels to as large as 500x500 pixels. And once you've added an icon to your document or slide you can still use Google's built-in image editing tools to further alter the size and transparency of the icon. 

To use Icons8 simply install the add-on from the Google Workspace Marketplace. Once it is installed you'll find it listed in the add-ons drop-down menu in Docs, Slides, and Sheets. Open it from the drop-down menu and the gallery of icons will appear on the righthand side of your document, slide, or spreadsheet. From there you just need to click on an icon for it to appear in your document, slide, or spreadsheet. It should be noted that the icon will appear wherever your cursor is in your document at the time that you select an icon. Of course, you can always move the icon by just clicking and dragging it to a new part of your document. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to use Icons8 in Google Documents. 



Applications for Education
Icons8 provides an easy way for teachers to add icons to documents. Those icons can be useful in creating activities that utilize visual prompts for students to respond to. For example, I might use the house icon in a document in which I want students to spell the words "house" and "home." Icons8 could also be handy for students who are looking to add some "hand-drawn" images to Google Slides presentations.

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 created by Richard Byrne using Canva.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Sharing vs. Publishing Google Documents

A couple of days ago I Tweeted my video about how to find public Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms. That Tweet prompted a couple of people to ask me about publishing Google Docs compared to sharing Google Docs and why you'd use one option versus another. To answer those questions I made this short video




The Difference
  • The key difference is that publishing a document creates a simple webpage that is devoid of any of the Google Docs editing or sharing menus while a shared Google Document displays those menus.
Which one should you use?
  • I'll use the option to share Google Document when I have a document like a syllabus or permission slip that I want students and or parents to be able to easily print and or save in their Google accounts.

  • I'll use the "publish to the web option" when I have a document that is a newsletter or similar that I don't need or want students and or parents to make copies or save in their Google accounts. 

It's Sea Turtle Week - Five Short Lessons

Earlier this week when I was checking the weather forecast on NOAA.gov I noticed a banner announcing that this week is Sea Turtle Week. Prior to that I didn't know that there is a Sea Turtle Week. None-the-less it reminded me of the time that I witnessed sea turtles nesting in Costa Rica and it prompted me to look at some resources for teaching and learning about sea turtles. Here's what I found.

Sea Turtles 101
Sea Turtles 101 is a video from National Geographic's 101 series. As you might expect, the video covers the basics of the life and evolution of sea turtles, the number and kind of sea turtles, reproduction of sea turtles, and the environmental challenges facing sea turtles today. While not terribly engaging, the video is short and informative.



Turtle Travel Tips
Turtle Travel Tips is a cute SciShow Kids video about how leatherback sea turtles navigate thousands of miles of ocean to return to nesting sites.



Google Arts and Culture Turtle Stories
Google Arts and Culture offers this collection of imagery and videos about five different types of sea turtles found off the coast of Brazil. The imagery is nice but the collection is a little light on information.

7 Sea Turtle Facts
7 Sea Turtle Facts is an informative page published by NOAA. The page includes a couple of videos about sea turtle habitat, life, and environmental challenges facing sea turtles.

Traveling Turtles
Traveling Turtles is an ESRI Story Map, produced by NOAA, about three types of sea turtles found in the waters around Cape Cod and how people work to rescue cold-stunned sea turtles on the beaches of Cape Cod.



Two More Padlet Updates to Note

Last week Padlet implemented four important updates. This week two more updates have been rolled out. Both of this week's updates address previously common concerns about multimedia notes added to Padlet walls. 

The first update to note is the implementation of link scanning. This is being done to prevent malicious links from being added to Padlet notes and walls. 


The second update is a tweak to the attachment picker for adding materials to Padlet notes. You now have the option to drag and drop files into notes rather than just using the standard file select and upload option. In some cases this should make adding attachments to notes a little quicker than before. 



To learn more about Padlet and how it can be used in your classroom, please take a look at this playlist of tutorial videos.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Just Five Days Until...

It is just five days until the first session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp begins. If you haven't registered for the session of your choice, you can do so up until the day before it starts. While the early-bird discount has passed, you can still get group discounts. 

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 or email me to register your group of five or more. 


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.