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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.

Blockchain - From the Basics to Advanced - A Free Course

Turn on CNBC or any business/ financial news channel today and you're likely to hear about Bitcoin. Blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin and all cryptocurrencies. If you're not familiar with how blockchain works or you're looking for a simple explanation to share with your students, Common Craft has you covered. Blockchain Explained by Common Craft makes a great analogy between keeping a ledger of tangible assets to keeping a ledger of digital assets. The presentation of that analogy makes it easy to understand how blockchain works. 

Once you understand the basics of blockchain you might want to learn more about cryptocurrencies. Blockchain and Money is an open course from MIT. The course was originally taught in the fall of 2018, but all of the materials and lectures are still available for free. All twenty-three lectures in the course can be viewed in this YouTube playlist. It is a graduate course so I don't expect that high school students would be able to understand all of it, but an interested high school student could still glean some good lessons from it. 

H/T to Open Culture

Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft. 

Code Your Own Retro View-Master

CodePen is one of my favorite sites for helping students learn how web apps are constructed. In fact, I like it so much that I'll be featuring it in one of next week's Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp webinars. 

The concept of CodePen is that people can share the web apps that they develop and others can copy and modify those projects. The neat thing about it from a teaching and learning perspective is that you can see the how the CSS, HTML, and JavaScript work together. Edits made to the code are almost instantly carried-out for you to see. 

Earlier this week I received an email from CodePen that highlighted a few projects from the public project gallery. One of those projects that jumped out to me was the Visualizer 3000 project. The Visualizer 3000 lets you create an image gallery that is displayed in the form of a View-Master. A new image from your gallery is displayed each time you click on the handle on the side of the View-Master. 


Applications for Education
As I mentioned above, CodePen's format provides a great way for students to see how CSS, HTML, and JavaScript work together to form a web application. The Visualizer 3000 project could be a fun one for students to tinker with to change the color scheme, add pictures of their own, or change the number of pictures that rotate through the gallery.

Here's a video overview of how CodePen works.



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.

A Few Short Lessons About the Longest Day of the Year

It is going to be warm and sunny here in Maine today. That temperature will make it feel like summer a few days before the summer solstice. Many refer to the summer solstice as the "longest day of the year" when they really mean "longest period of daylight in a day." But that's beside the point of this post which is to share a few resources that can help kids understand what the summer solstice is.

SciShow Kids offers a nice video that can help K-3 students understand why the length of daylight changes throughout the year.


Reasons for the Seasons is a TED-Ed lesson appropriate for upper elementary and middle school students. The lesson explains the relationship between the shape of the Earth's orbit around the Sun, the Earth's tilt on its axis, and how those affect the amount of sunlight on different areas of the Earth.


And for a little perspective on winter vs. summer solstice here's a great side-by-side time-lapse of the winter and summer solstices in Manchester, England.


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.

Roadside America in a Story Map

The Library of Congress houses the John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive. That archive contains nearly 12,000 photographs of interesting roadside attractions all over the United States and eastern Canada. The collection includes pictures of things like gas stations shaped like a dinosaur, windmills that serve as ice cream stands, funky miniature golf courses, and lots of neon signs for motels and restaurants. 

Recently, the Library of Congress published an ESRI Story Map of photographs in the John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive. The map is titled Roadside America. You can view the images on an interactive map or simply scroll through some curated collections of images from the collection. I found it fun to click on the markers on the map to discover some roadside attractions in my home state as well as others around the country. But before you head out on the road to look for them I should point out that many of the photographs are of things that are no longer out on the roadside. 


As you click through the Roadside America map you will be able to click-through to the LOC pages that host the images. There you can download the images in various sizes. The images are free for re-use. Image record and citation information is available on each page on which the images are hosted.

Applications for Education
Roadside America provides a nice way for students to discover some pieces of Americana past and present. I'd use the map as a way to spark students' curiosity to conduct a little research about some of these interesting roadside attractions. I might also use the map as a model for having students create their own roadside attractions maps of places in their home states that they may have seen and or taken pictures of.

H/T to Maps Mania

Featured image credit: Margolies, John, photographer. Harold's Auto Center, horizontal view, Sinclair gas station, Route 19, Spring Hill, Florida. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/item/2017702118/

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Excitement of Augmented Reality - The Joy of a Four Year Old

This past weekend we took our daughters to Living Shores Aquarium in Glen, New Hampshire. We all enjoyed learning about marine life and watching the otters play. My youngest daughter especially loved the touch tank in which little fish nibbled on her hand. My oldest daughter didn't like the touch tank as much as her sister, but she did find something she really enjoyed. That thing was a coloring station where she could color sea animals then see her drawings come to life on screen through the use of augmented reality. She ended up making seven drawings which filled the screen with seahorses, turtles, and fish that she colored. Each time her drawing came to life on the screen she jumped for joy! 

The technology that was in use at the aquarium was very similar to that found in QuiverVision. The concept of QuiverVision is that kids complete coloring sheets that become augmented reality objects when they are scanned with the QuiverVision iOS or Android app. 

Applications for Education
QuiverVision has been around for five or six years at this point. In fact, I mentioned it in this 2019 article about five directions for augmented reality in education. I was never particularly enthusiastic about it because at the end of the day it is still just a fancy coloring activity. That changed when I saw how excited my four year old daughter got about seeing her coloring pages come to life. It got her excited to learn more about marine animals. That excitement to learn more about something new is perhaps the best reason to try something like QuiverVision with students. 

Thanks to my awesome partner, Jess, for the pictures in this post.

There, Their, They're - Reminders for Myself and My Students

On Sunday morning I was writing in a bit of a hurry and failed to notice a mistake in the title of my post about using the netstat command to see the connections a computer is making to external sites and devices. The mistake I made (I've since corrected it) was to use "they're" when I should have used "their." I know the difference and have taught the difference to students for as long as I can remember. That said, my mistake presented a good opportunity to dig up some short video lessons about the differences between "there," "their," and "they're" and when to use each one. 

Free School offers this short, to-the-point explanation of homophones. The video isn't going to win any awards for creativity, but it is effective in its delivery of the rules for using their, they're, and there. 



GCF Learn Free offers this 90 second video explanation of when to use there, they're, and their. The video uses little GI Joe characters to explain the correct use of each word. Judging by the YouTube comments below the video most people like the approach of the video but some don't like the use a military theme for the video.

Making videos about homophones can be a good way for students to learn and remember how to use them. On Next Vista for Learning you'll find this student-produced video explanation of the differences between their, there, and they're.



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.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

A Neat Way for Students to See What Their Computers Are Connecting To

Knowing just a few commands to use in the command terminal can be quite helpful in diagnosing problems with your computer and or the network that your computer is using. (Bonus, it's an easy way to make yourself look "super techy" in front of non-techy friends). One of those helpful commands is the Netstat command. 

The Netstat command will show you all of the connections that your computer is making to the Internet and to other devices on your local network. To run the Netstat command simply open your command terminal (on a Windows computer just type CMD into the search bar) then type "netstat" (without quotation marks) and hit enter. Give it time to run and you'll see all of the IP addresses to which your computer is connecting. 

This new video from PowerCert explains the Netstat command and variants that you can add to the command to learn even more about what your computer is connecting to. 



Applications for Education
The netstat command along with many other commands is one that my PC repair students and my Intro to Networking students learn early in the year as it is helpful in diagnosing problems. 

Using the netstat command can be helpful in showing all students how many connections their computers are making even when they don't realize it. Knowing what your computer is connecting to is an important part of building good cyber safety habits. So even if you don't make your students learn the command, knowing the command and showing it to students can be an eye-opener for them.

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. 

How to Make a Connecto Game - Great for Review Activities

Connecto is the latest game template published by Flippity. The template lets you use Google Sheets to create a digital version of Connect Four in which students shave to correctly answer a series of questions to connect a line of grid spaces. I wrote about the game and how it's played last week. Since then I've had a few people ask for clarification on how the template and game work. That's what I explain in this new video

In Create a Connecto Game With Google Sheets I demonstrate how make a copy of Flippity's Connecto template, how to change the questions and answers in the game, and how to add your own custom markers to the game. I also explain a bit about how the game could be played as a team game in a classroom setting. 



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.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

A Great Series About Redwoods

The Redwood National park is one of the natural wonders that I hope to share with my daughters in a few years. While the tall trees are the "stars of the show" there is much more to the redwood forest than just the trees. SciShow Kids recently released a series of videos that explain the redwood forest to kids. The first part of the series introduces kids to the redwood trees and what makes them grow so tall, the second part shows students the layers of the forest, and the third part highlights the animals of the redwood forest. 

Meet the Redwoods 



From the Ground to the Sky: The Layers of the Redwood Forest



Life in the Redwoods: Surprising Animals of the Redwood Forest



Applications for Education
All three of these videos could be useful as introductions to forest ecology. Before showing the videos to students I'd probably have them list the characteristics of the trees and forests with which they are familiar. Then after showing the videos I'd have students compare the characteristics of the redwood forest with those of the forests with which they're familiar. Finally, I'd ask them to think about the environmental conditions that affect the growth of plant life in both forests.

On a related note, the National Parks Service hosts a series of virtual tours of the redwoods forest. There is also some nice Google Street View imagery from within the park. 




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 courtesy of Pixabay.

PDFs, Science, and Gravel - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is rising on what should be a nice summer Saturday. At this time last week I was riding my bike across the gravel roads of Emporia, Kansas for the Unbound Gravel 200. Today, will be a little less physically demanding. We're going to the Living Shores Aquarium to feed stingrays and learn all about marine life. It should be fun. I hope that you also have something fun planned for the weekend. 
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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 11, 2021

Ziplet - A Great Way to Gather Feedback from Students

This morning I saw an interesting Tweet from a company called Ziplet. The Tweet is what prompted me to write this blog post. Ziplet's Tweet this morning was an interesting exit ticket prompt. Here's the prompt:

"Imagine a classmate is absent from class today. How would you explain the lesson to him/her in 25 words or less?"

Ziplet is an online tool that lets you create an online classroom to post questions for your students to respond to with emojis, with words, or by selecting an answer choice. You can let your students respond anonymously or require them to identify themselves. Those features alone don't make Ziplet different from lots of similar services. What Ziplet offers that is somewhat unique is the option to respond directly to individual students even when they are responding to a group survey. The purpose of that feature is to make it easy to ask follow-up questions or to give encouragement to students based on their responses to a question posed to the whole group.

Applications for Education
Ziplet fits in a gap between tools like Kahoot and Google Classroom. For that reason it could be a good tool for engaging students in discussions about assignments, course topics, or the general feeling of the class. Ziplet does offer a Google Classroom integration as well as an Office 365 integration. Students can respond to Ziplet prompts in the web browser on their computers or by using the free Ziplet mobile apps. 

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. 

More Virtual Background Options in Google Meet

Last fall Google added options for blurring your background in Google Meet and using your own pictures as backgrounds in Google Meet. This week another background option was added to Google Meet. 

You can now use videos as virtual backgrounds in Google Meet. Right now the options are limited to just videos provided by Google. Hopefully, more options including uploading your own videos will be added in the future. The current video background options provided by Google are "classroom," "party," and "forest."

Applications for Education
This update isn't going to change the way that any of us use Google Meet for online instruction. That said, it is nice to have an option to break-up the routine of Google Meet meetings with a fun background choice. In the future, if Google allows us to upload our own videos to use as backgrounds we could us those videos in a virtual green screen environment in which the video plays behind us while we talk about what's displayed. I'm picturing that working much like the animated green screen backgrounds used by television meteorologists on morning news shows.

For those who haven't tried virtual backgrounds or blurred backgrounds in Google Meet, in the video below I demonstrate how to use both of those features.


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 taken by Richard Byrne at Norway Lake in Norway, Maine. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Five Sources of Summer Math Activities for Elementary School Students

If you're like me and you still have another week or two until summer break, you might be looking for some resources to share with students and their parents to help prevent summer slide. In fact, a few readers emailed me this week looking for suggestions for math activities to share with parents of elementary school students. Here are five good places to find summer math activities for elementary school students.

MathGames.com
Don't let the name fool you, MathGames.com offers more than just a series of math practice games. You can find hundreds of worksheets to print for free on MathGames.com. Those are organized according to grade level.

There are plenty of games for students to play on the site too. You can find those by clicking on the "games" header in the site. If you do that, scroll down the page a few times to find the MathGames.com digital textbook which organizes the games according to topic.


CK-12 Elementary Math Resources
CK-12 offers a good collection of resources for elementary school math practice. The collection is organized by grade level (grades 1 through 5) and skill set. The resources include a mix of videos and online practice exercises. Students can review a video and then attempt the practice activities.

MathQuiz.io
MathQuiz.io is a math game developed by a student. It's a relatively simple site that presents you with a series of math problems to solve in your head then enter an answer. The problems are presented in sets of ten consecutive questions. You can play in an "easy" mode which is mostly simple addition, subtraction, and multiplication or you can plan in the "medium" mode which incorporates problems with fractions, division, and negative numbers. 

A Maths Dictionary for Kids
Jenny Eather's A Maths Dictionary for Kids has been one of my go-to math resources for many years. It students provides simple and clear definitions of math terms. Each definition includes a small diagram or simple activity to illustrate the term's definition.

A Maths Dictionary for Kids has more than 270 free worksheets arranged according to topic. All of the worksheets can be found here.

ABCya
ABCya offers hundreds of educational games for K-8 students. The site is arranged according to grade level and Common Core standard. The trouble with that arrangement is that you can't search for a skill without knowing the corresponding Common Core standard. If you use keyword search on the site, it will yield results to everything on the site, not just the games.

Free Summer Reading Packets from ReadWorks

Summer is here in the northern hemisphere. If you find yourself looking for some summer reading that you can give to elementary and middle school students, ReadWorks has you covered. 

Once again this summer ReadWorks is offering free summer reading packets that you can send home with your students. The free summer reading packets are available with fiction and nonfiction articles for students entering first grade through high school. Click on either the fiction or nonfiction packet for a grade and it will open a PDF that you can print and distribute to your students. There is an option to download a packet with reading comprehension questions for each grade level.

To preview, download, and print the ReadWorks summer reading packets you will need to create a free ReadWorks account.


If this is your first time reading about ReadWorks, there is much more to it than just PDF packets. ReadWorks offers a complete online environment for finding grade-level appropriate fiction and nonfiction assignments then distributing those to your students. Here's a video overview of how ReadWorks works.

Four Important Padlet Updates to Note

For more than a decade I've been using Padlet to facilitate online brainstorming sessions, create KWL charts, to make multimedia timelines, and to host many more online activities for more my students. Just like any well-loved tool, Padlet has gone through some changes over the year. In the last week or so Padlet has announced some upcoming changes that should be noted before the next school year begins. 

Scanned Uploads
Now when you upload files to include in Padlet notes, the files will be scanned for viruses before they are actually added to the note and visible on the wall. This process just takes a second so it shouldn't impact your user experience other than a momentary delay when adding a note. Think of it like the same process as when you attach a file to an email in Gmail or Outlook.



More Languages
Padlet recently added support for four more languages. Those are Traditional Chinese, Latvian, Estonian, and Croation. This brings the total of supported languages to 42.

Map Localization
Maps will now display the languages and borders of countries as they appear in your local area.

The End of Backchannel Format
The backchannel template that Padlet has offered for a few years is going to be sunsetted at the end of June. While I liked, apparently it wasn't popular enough for Padlet to keep supporting it.



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