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Monday, February 28, 2022

Canva, Groundhogs, and Docs - The Month in Review

Good evening from the Free Technology for Teachers World Headquarters in Maine. The sun has set on last day of February, 2022. As I do at the end of every month I look in my Google Analytics account to find out which blog posts were the most popular during the month. As you'll see below, two of them were about Canva, one was about Groundhog Day, and two were about Google Docs. Take a look at the full list below. 

These were the most popular posts in February:
1. My Big Playlist of Canva Tutorials
2. Groundhog Day Explained
3. Ten Overlooked Google Docs Features for Students and Teachers
4. Math, Science, and Philosophy Lessons for Valentine's Day
5. How to Use Canva Designs in Google Slides
6. Map Puzzle - Test Your Knowledge of World Geography
7. Use TinyTap to Create Interactive Lessons and Games With Soundboards
8. New Lesson Plans from DocsTeach
9. How to Prevent Printing of Shared Google Documents
10. How to Add Watermarks to Google Docs

Thank you for your support!
Your registrations in Practical Ed Tech courses and purchases of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips help me keep Free Technology for Teachers going. Purchase ten or more copies of my ebook and I'll host a free one-hour webinar for your school or organization. 

On-demand Professional DevelopmentOther 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 40,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • 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 Icons Daily and Daily Dose. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Create Drag and Drop Activities With TeacherMade

Disclosure: TeacherMade is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

At the end of January TeacherMade added a bunch of new features to their popular platform for creating online activities for students. Last week they added perhaps the best feature yet, that is the ability to create  drag-and-drop activities with your existing PDFs and Word docs. Additionally, you can create an entire drag-and-drop activity from scratch in the TeacherMade activity editor. 

Creating drag-and-drop map activities was the first thing that I thought of when I saw TeacherMade's new activity creation option. So the first drag-and-drop activity that I made in TeacherMade was based on a map of New England. To make the activity I used a map and a list of states that I already had in a Google Document. I downloaded that Google Doc as a PDF then uploaded to TeacherMade where I then use the editing tools to create boxes around each state's name and a box (TeacherMade calls them landing zones) on each state to which the names should be dragged. A complete overview of this short process is available in this video



Like all TeacherMade activities, drag-and-drop activities can be automatically scored for you. To do that just set and answer key and point values for each "landing zone" in the drag-and-drop activities that you create. That process is outlined in the video above.

Finally, it's worth noting that you don't have to be a great graphic designer to make good-looking activities in TeacherMade. You can use something like Canva to find a great worksheet template and then import it into TeacherMade to create an online activity to share with your students. My demonstration of how to use Canva templates in TeacherMade can be watched right here.

New Spaces Digital Portfolio Features

Spaces is a digital portfolio tool that I first covered around this time last year. Since then it has steadily grown in popularity. As it has grown in popularity it has steadily responded to teachers' feedback and suggestions for improvement. The latest example of that is found in the latest batch of updates. 

In the latest batch of updates Spaces has increased the number of media files that you can attach to a post. The previous limit was three and now it is ten. Two other significant updates are the ability to add private comments to posts to in group Spaces (portfolios) and the ability to review and publish students' submissions to group Spaces. You can read more about all of the updates right here on the Spaces product roadmap site

Applications for Education
One of the features of Spaces that I have liked from the start is the "asynchronous breakout room" functionality. This allows your students to work together on collaborative projects and also participate in whole-class activities. Learn more about that aspect of Spaces in this blog post.

Learn how to get started with Spaces by watching the following videos.
How to create digital portfolios with Spaces - Part 1


How to create digital portfolios with Spaces - Part 2

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Try the Game Templates in Canva

Last week I was recording a demo of how to use existing slides to make video lessons when I came across a neat slide template in Canva. That template was for a game called This or That. The game is a simple icebreaker type of game that gets people talking to each other. The reason I mention it is that there's a whole category of similar game templates available in Canva. Watch my short video below for a little demo of the This or That game template. 


Applications for Education
If you're looking to make some simple trivia games or icebreaker games to play in your classroom or at your next staff meeting, take a look through the game presentation templates in Canva for a little inspiration.

An eBook and a Webinar - 50 Tech Tuesday Tips

Back in January I hosted a webinar for those who had purchased a copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips. That webinar proved to be popular so I'm going to host it again on March 9th at 4pm ET. 

On March 9th at 4pm ET I'm hosting A Framework for Technology Integration. Anyone who purchases a copy of my ebook between now and March 9th will get a link to join the webinar. And if you previously purchased a copy and want to join this webinar, just send me a note and I'll register you. 

In A Framework for Technology Integration I'll share my framework for helping teachers use technology in meaningful ways in their classrooms. I'll also provide some examples of how I've done it in the past and how you can replicate them in your school. 

About the eBook:

50 Tech Tuesday Tips was curated from more than 400 editions of The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter 50 Tech Tuesday Tips provides you with ideas for lots of helpful things that you can teach to your colleagues and to students. Throughout the eBook you'll find tutorials and handouts that you can pass along in your school. 

Some of the many things you'll find in 50 Tech Tuesday Tips include:

  • What to do when a web app isn't working as you expect.
  • Building your own search engine.
  • How to create green screen videos.
  • Improving instructional videos. 
  • Streamlining email management.
  • Creating educational games. 
  • DIY app creation.
  • Podcasting tips for teachers and students. 


Get your copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips right here!

No, this ebook isn't free but the tools that feature within it is free to use. Creating something like this takes many, many hours but reading it can save you many, many hours. Purchases of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips make it possible for me to create other free resources like The Practical Ed Tech Handbook that I update and give away to thousands of teachers every year.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Slides, Houdini, and NASA - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where a fresh coating of seven inches of snow is covering the ground. The cold and snow is a stark contrast to earlier this week when it was sunny and relatively warm. In fact, it was warm enough that I was able to ride my bike outside for the first time in 2022. Fortunately, my kids and I like the snow so we're headed out to do a little skiing today. I hope that you also have something fun planned for your weekend. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How to Use Canva Designs in Google Slides
2. Create TinyTap Educational Games With Houdini Effects, Videos, and More
3. PhET Releases Ten Updated Simulations With Interactive Descriptions
4. NASA From Hidden to Modern Figures
5. How to Record Screencasts in Gmail
6. What is Sub-image Search? - And Why Would Your Students Would Use It?
7. Brush Ninja - Make Animated GIFs, Emoji Art, and More!

Thank you for your support!
Your registrations in Practical Ed Tech courses and purchases of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips help me keep Free Technology for Teachers going. Purchase ten or more copies of my ebook and I'll host a free one-hour webinar for your school or organization. 

On-demand Professional DevelopmentOther 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 40,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • 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 Icons Daily and Daily Dose. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

A Dozen Neat NASA Resources for Students and Teachers

On Thursday I wrote about NASA's From Hidden to Modern Figures collection of videos and lesson plans. Creating that blog post inspired me to look through my archives for some of the other neat NASA resources that I've found and shared over the years. Here they are in no particular order. 

The Langley Research Center Virtual Tour takes students through all of the buildings at the research center and explains what happens in each. Some stops on the tour include video segments, some have interactive displays, and some are just static pictures accompanied by explanations. 

How to Build Paper Rockets is a SciShow Kids video that is based on the directions that NASA provides for making straw rockets and the teacher guide for making stomp rockets

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. 

My NASA Data is much more than just a collection of datasets published by NASA. My NASA Data contains lesson plans, data visualizations, and story maps. Those lesson plans, visualizations, and story maps are divided into six sections. Those sections are titled Atmosphere, Biosphere, Cryosphere, Geosphere, Hydrosphere, and Earth as System. Select a section to start exploring all of the visualizations, lesson plans, and story maps within it. In many cases you'll find additional lesson plans included within the visualizations and story maps. 

Years ago Steve Dembo introduced me to a U.S. General Services Administration program that lets schools acquire artifacts from NASA's space program. The program has two parts. One part lets schools, museums, and similar organizations borrow artifacts. The other program lets schools acquire artifacts for no cost other than shipping fees. 

NASA's Solar System Exploration website contains interactive displays of the planets, dwarf planets, and moons of our solar system. To launch an interactive display just choose one of the planets, dwarf planets, or moons from the menu in the site's header. Each display includes little markers in it. Click one of the markers to open a side panel that contains information about that particular feature of the planet, dwarf planet, or moon. Below each interactive display you'll find additional facts and figures.

Spacecraft AR is a free iPad app offered by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The app enables students to learn about various NASA spacecraft including the Curiosity rover, Voyager, Mars Exploration Rover, and a handful of other spacecraft. Spacecraft AR includes information about each spacecraft's development and use. With Spacecraft AR installed and open on their iPads or phones, students can select a spacecraft or mission then point their iPads or phones at a flat floor or wall see the spacecraft appear. Once the spacecraft appears on screen students can move to see other angles of the spacecraft and move the spacecraft. Students can also pinch and zoom to change the size of spacecraft they're looking at.

NASA Selfies is a fun and free app for "taking a selfie in space." What it really does is just put your face into the helmet of a space suit that is floating in space. You can pick the background for your space selfie. Backgrounds are provided from NASA's huge library of images. When you pick a background, you can tap on it to learn more about what is shown in the picture. For example, I chose the background of Pinwheel Galaxy then tapped on it to read about that infrared image captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Get NASA Selfies for iOS here and get the Android version here

NASA Kids' Club is a collection games, interactive activities, and images for students in Kindergarten through fourth grade. At the center of the NASA Kids' Club is a set of games and interactive activities arranged on five skill levels. The activities range from simple things like coloring pages and pattern recognition games to more difficult tasks like identifying planets based on clues provided in written and video form. 

NASA Space Place is a sizable collection of fun projects, games, animations, and lessons about Earth, space, and technology. Before playing the games or attempting one of the projects, students should explore the animations and facts sections to gain some background information. The projects section of NASA Space Place provides teachers, parents, and students with directions for hands-on projects like building a balloon-powered rover, building relief maps, and building a moon habitat. The games section offers thirty games covering all of the subjects in the animations and facts sections.

NASA's eClips videos are arranged by grade level; K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. There is also a section labeled for the general public. The videos are short clips designed to show students the work NASA is doing and how that work impacts space science as well as its potential impact on everyday life. All of the videos can be viewed online on the NASA eClips site, viewed on YouTube, or downloaded for use on your local computer.

If you're curious about what the Hubble telescope saw on a particular day, What Did Hubble See on Your Birthday? is the site for you. Just enter the month and day of your birthday and you'll see an image that Hubble captured that day. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Now You Can Schedule Exit Tickets in Ziplet

Ziplet is one of my favorite tools for hosting online exit ticket activities. There are two features of it that make it great in my book. The first is a large catalog of interesting, premade questions that you can select and use in your activities. Second, Ziplet lets you toggle between having students respond anonymously or with their real names. Furthermore, you can reply to individual students even when they are participating in a group activity. 

Ziplet recently added another helpful feature for teachers. That feature, as stated in the title of the post, is the ability to schedule your exit ticket questions to appear on a future date and time. Additionally, those who subscribe to Ziplet's paid plan (I don't) can schedule their exit tickets to appear on a repeating schedule. 


Applications for Education

Ziplet's new scheduling feature could prove to be helpful in making for a smooth closing activity for a class. Instead of having to scramble to get an exit ticket posted I can schedule it at the beginning of the day or even the beginning of the week and have it appear at the end of class.

Learn more about Ziplet by watching this short video overview of how it works.

Three Ways to Create Video Lessons With Your Existing Slides

Last week I hosted a webinar about creating videos for asynchronous instruction. One of the points that I made in the webinar was that you don't need to start from scratch every time you want to record a new lesson. In fact, one of the easiest ways to get started is to record over a few of your existing slides. In this new video I demonstrate three methods for doing that. 

In the following video you'll learn how to quickly create video lessons with Canva slides, Google Slides, and PowerPoint slides. 

It's important to remember that you're better off creating a few short videos than one long video. That's why I recommend starting with just a few slides. 

Webinars for Your School or Organization

If you're interested in having me host a webinar for your school or organization, send me an email at richard (at) byrne.media

Some of the topics I can cover in a webinar for you include:

  • Making and teaching with video.
  • Fun with formative assessment.
  • Google Earth & Maps for social studies and more.
  • Developing digital portfolios.
  • Copyright for the classroom (United States-based).

Five Frequently Forgotten Google Docs Features

Perhaps it's just me, but do you ever feel like you've been using Google Docs for so long that you forget about the basics until you need them? For example, the other day when a friend asked me about options for sharing a Google Doc with someone who didn't use Google Docs I completely blanked for a minute before suggesting a couple of options. The incident inspired me to create this short video highlighting five frequently forgotten Google Docs features



In the video embedded above I highlight the following five features and why they're helpful in classroom settings.
  • Revision history.
    • This is great for keeping track of which students made changes to documents. This is handy for reverting back to a previous version of a document if a student accidentally deletes something that shouldn't have been removed. 

  • Page Set-up.
    • This is where you can change the page orientation, set custom margins, change the page background color, and even create a "pageless" document. 

  • View full screen. 
    • Like the name says, you can use this to view your document without any of the editing tools being displayed. This is helpful for showing a distraction-free version of your document in your classroom. 

  • Download as...
    • This lets you save your Google Document as a PDF, a Word document, a RTF,  an ePub, and a few other common document formats. 

  • Publish to the Web.
    • Use this option to publish your document as a simple stand-alone web page. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

NASA From Hidden to Modern Figures

NASA's From Hidden to Modern Figures is an excellent resource for teaching about the women who made significant contributions to the development of NASA's space program. The site features written and video biographies of Katherine Johnson, Mary W. Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan who were instrumental in many of NASA's missions including the first orbit of Earth. Here's a short video introduction to the series. 

In addition to the profiles of the Johnson, Jackson, and Vaughan there are nearly a dozen other women featured in the Modern Figures video library.

Applications for Education
As a dad to two little girls who often reminds them that they can do anything that boys can do, these are the stories that I want them to hear when they're in school.

To support the use of the Modern Figures resources in classrooms, NASA offers a Modern Figures Toolkit for teachers. The toolkit includes eight lesson plans for elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. The lesson plans cover things like the effect of gravity on orbit, calculating launch windows, moon phases, and designing landing equipment. The toolkit also includes some nice handouts like this collection of bookmarks that contain short biographies of the women featured in Hidden Figures.

Brush Ninja - Make Animated GIFs, Emoji Art, and More!

Brush Ninja is a tool that I've been using and recommending for a few years now. Brush Ninja makes it incredibly easy to draw a series of images and quickly turn them into animated GIFs. In the fall of 2018 I used Brush Ninja with some middle school students to create animations to illustrate their understanding of forms of energy. You can read more about that activity right here

Brush Ninja is still a great tool for making animated GIFs. In fact, it has gotten better since I first started using it. You can now use custom backgrounds including background pictures that you take with your webcam. The animated GIF creator also now lets you change the size of the canvas you're drawing on. And there are now twice as many stickers available in the GIF creator than when I started using it. 

In addition to making animated GIFs, Brush Ninja now has three other tools. Those are an emoji art creator, a collage maker, and a comic book creator. The emoji art creator lets you click on a canvas to place any of hundreds of emojis into a pattern to create digital artwork. The collage maker is exactly what it sounds like, a tool for making photo collages. The comic book creator simply lets you upload a series of images to a comic book template that you can print and fold. 

An overview of all of the Brush Ninja tools is provided in this new video that I recorded on Wednesday. 


Applications for Education
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I've had students use Brush Ninja to make animations to illustrate their understanding of forms of energy. I longer explanation of that instance can be read here. An explanation of my initial introduction to the concepts behind sketching in the classroom is available here

One of the reasons that Brush Ninja continues to by one of my go-to tools is that it doesn't require students to register or sign-up for anything in order to use all of the available features. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

How to Record Screencasts in Gmail

Nimbus Screenshot is a Chrome extension that I've featured in the past as a good tool for creating annotated, scrolling screenshots and for creating screencast videos on Chromebooks. The latest update to Nimbus Screenshot added the ability to record screencast videos directly from your Gmail inbox. 

With Nimbus Screenshot installed in Chrome you will see its icon appear in the composition window whenever you're composing a new message or replying to a message. Simply click on the Nimbus icon and you can start recording a screencast of your browser tab, a specific window, or your entire desktop. When your recording is finished it will be automatically inserted into the body of your message. 

Watch this short video to see how you can record a screencast in Gmail by using Nimbus Screenshot.



Applications for Education
Nimbus Screenshot in Gmail provides an easy way to reply to requests for tech help. Creating a quick screencast video to answer a student's or a colleague's question about how to do something on his or her computer can be a lot more efficient than trying to write step-by-step directions.

How to Link Within Google Earth Projects

Google Earth in all its forms has been one of my favorite educational technology tools for well over a decade. The web version of Google Earth has improved significantly since its launch five years ago. One of the relatively new features of the web version of Google Earth is the ability to link to places within your projects (AKA tours). 

Linking within your Google Earth tours allows you have guide viewers of your tours to specific places without them having to click through every stop of the tour. In other words, it allows them to skip around without having to navigate sequentially. Watch my new video to see how this works. 



Applications for Education
One of my favorite ways to use Google Earth is to have students develop tours based on a series of events. They add a markers for each event on the places the events happened. Within each marker they write descriptions of the event including its connection to other events. By including links in the place markers students can more accurately connect the series of events in their Google Earth projects.

Learn more about Google Earth in A Crash Course in Google Earth & Maps for Social Studies.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

PhET Releases Ten Updated Simulations With Interactive Descriptions

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have already seen this news but it's worth sharing here as well. PhET now has ten simulations that include interactive descriptions. This makes the simulations accessible to students who rely on screen readers to access the web. 

Read PhET's announcement here



This brings the total of PhET simulations that have some type of accessibility feature to 33. That's fourteen more than when I wrote about PhET's accessible simulations last fall.

For those who aren't familiar with PhET, it is a service that provides free interactive math and science simulations covering topics in physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and mathematics. Many of the simulations can be included in PowerPoint presentations and embedded into Google Sites. Additionally, PhET offers lesson plans that incorporate their simulations into remote math and science lessons. 

An Often Overlooked Flipgrid Option for Starting Conversations

In this week's Practical Ed Tech Newsletter I shared some tools and ideas to use to try to make sure that students actually watch the instructional videos that you create for them. One of my suggestions was to try an option in Flipgrid that is hiding in plain sight. 

When you post a new topic in Flipgrid you can record a video for your students to respond to. But you can also upload a video that you've recorded outside of Flipgrid and have your students respond to it. When using that option I'd include some questions throughout the video that students have to address when they record their responses in Flipgrid. 

Watch this short video to learn how to upload videos to start conversations in Flipgrid. 



Check out this playlist for more than a dozen other Flipgrid tutorials that I've produced.

What is Sub-image Search? - And Why Would Your Students Would Use It?

Sub-image search is one of the search strategies that I use a lot when trying to find out what an unfamiliar object is. I've used it to identify some old farm equipment, to find the origins of some flea market pottery, and to identify types of plants whose names I don't know. It's that last example that I share in my course on Search Strategies Students Need to Know

What is sub-image search?
Simply put, sub-image search is the process of cropping an image to focus on just the most important part and then conducting a reverse image search for that cropped image. Cropping the image removes any extraneous information that isn't helpful in the reverse image process. For example an example of sub-image search, watch this new video that I made. In the video below I provide a demonstration of what happens when I conduct a reverse image search of mushroom surrounded by brown leaves and what happens when I conduct a reverse image search of the cropped version of that same image.



Applications for Education
Sub-image search isn't a magic pill that instantly give students answers to "what is that?" when they conduct a reverse image search. Sub-image search will, however, give them a better direction for refining their searches. They still need to read the contents of the web pages that host the visually similar images that are revealed through the reverse image search. Sub-image search will, however, give them a better direction for refining their searches.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Create TinyTap Educational Games With Houdini Effects, Videos, and More

Disclosure: TinyTap is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com 

TinyTap is an educational game creation tool that I've been using and writing about since its launch as a free iPad app many years ago. In my recent series about creating games with TinyTap I’ve focused on using the web-based game creation tools. Today, I’m going to highlight some of the cool features available when you create games with TinyTap’s free iPad app along with a neat feature available in the web-based version of TinyTap.

Today, I’m going to use TinyTap to create a little game that answers some of the questions that my preschool-age daughters have asked me over the last year (I keep a list in my phone) then asks them to answer questions that I ask. To do this I’m going to use TinyTap’s free iPad app and incorporate videos, audio, voice input, and a neat feature called Houdini mode. The game that I’m building is based on the model used in this TinyTap activity about learning sign language.

Creating a Game With TinyTap’s Free iPad App
Starting the process of building a game is the same on the iPad app as it is in the web-based game creation tool (click here for details on using the web-based version). The first step after signing into my account is to tap “Create” and design a cover slide.

The cover slide design tools include creation packs in which you’ll find styles, layouts, and thematic artwork to apply to your cover slide and subsequent slides in your game. After choosing the style and layout I added some text. In this case, “Questions from my Daughters” and then used the drawing tools available in the app to draw some stick figures representing me and my daughters. By the way, those drawing tools are currently only available in the iPad app.
After adding my cover slide I recorded a short video to introduce what the game was all about and how it would work. That was really easy to do in TinyTap’s iPad app. All I had to do was add a new slide then tap “Set Activity” and pick “Play Video.” When “Play Video” is chosen you can then tap “Add Video” followed by “Capture” to record a video with your iPad’s camera and instantly insert it into your TinyTap activity. You can even trim the video if you need to (I did). The GIF below shows all of the steps to record and insert a video into a TinyTap game.

After adding my video the next step was to create a slide that taught a little lesson. To that slide I added a picture of a snowflake because the lesson is about why snow is white. Adding a picture can be done by uploading an image or by using the integrated image search. I used the integrated image search to find a royalty-free image of a snowflake. Then with the image added to the slide I set a new activity type of “Say Something” to record a short audio lesson about snowflakes. A GIF of that process is included below.
With my video introduction and my audio lesson completed it was time to add a game element. To do this I created a new slide and with another picture of a snowflake. Then I chose the activity type of “Talk or Type.” By using that activity type I could then block out the snowflake itself and ask the question “how many points does a snowflake have?” Players have to answer the question by typing the answer or by speaking the answer.
Another question that my daughters have asked me is “why do the leaves turn red in the fall?” To add that question into my game I repeated the step of adding a picture and recording a little audio lesson by using the “Say Something” activity type.

Then to add a game element to my lesson about leaves I decided to use something called Houdini mode for the pictures on my slide. By using Houdini mode I could set pictures to disappear when they were tapped on. I then just recorded myself saying “tap the pictures of leaves seen in summer.” The pictures for which I had activated Houdini mode then disappeared when tapped. The setting for Houdini mode is found when you insert a picture and tap on it for additional options. See my GIF below for details. Another example of Houdini mode in use is found in this TinyTap activity about forms of transportation.
Creating my game addressing questions from my daughters incorporated one other feature that is only available when using TinyTap’s iPad app. That feature is adding background music to the whole game. Doing that was a simple matter of opening the game editor then tapping on the music icon. TinyTap offers a selection of royalty free music that you can choose to play in the background. I chose a track titled Sun and No Clouds.
One last difference between a game created with the iPad version of TinyTap and the web version is that on the iPad you can have seamless transitions so that the game automatically advances without needing to tap on a “next” button. In fact, it’s so seamless that TinyTap refers to it as not having a transition. When implemented correctly it could even be used to create a stop-motion animation as is the case when this game is viewed on an iPad and as is demonstrated in the video clip below.


More Video Options in TinyTap 
In my game I used the built-in option to record a video with the camera on my iPad and insert it into the game. It is also possible to search for a YouTube video and insert it into your game. You can also simply add the URL of a YouTube video into your TinyTap activity by using the “Play Video” activity type. It should be noted that the search function is only available in the iPad version of TinyTap but the URL option is available in the web and in the iPad versions of TinyTap.
More Ways to Use Videos and Houdini in TinyTap
Thanks to Lior at TinyTap I learned about some other good implementations of the video and Houdini tools.
Getting Started!
To summarize, TinyTap offers a free iPad app and a free web-based game creation tool. Both are easy to use. The iPad version currently has a few more features than the web version. Those additional features are recording a video, drawing tools, and Houdini mode.

To get started creating a game with either version of TinyTap just sign-up for a free account and hit the Create button. You can follow my tutorial in this blog post or use some of the tutorials built into TinyTap to create an educational game customized for your students.



Other posts in this series:

Sunday, February 20, 2022

How to Use Canva Designs in Google Slides

Last week a reader sent me a question asking if it was possible to use Canva design templates in Google Slides. The short answer is yes, you can use Canva designs in Google Slides. The longer answer involves taking a couple of steps to get there. 

To use a Canva design template in Google Slides you'll, obviously, need a Canva account. Select a template from Canva's massive gallery of cool presentation template then download it as a PPTX file. The last step is to then import that PPTX file into your Google Slides presentation. The whole process is demonstrated in this short video



Applications for Education
The impetus for the question about using Canva designs in Google Slides was that the reader has a Canva account, but she wanted to be able to put her presentation in a shared Google Drive folder for her department.

To learn more about using Canva, check out this playlist of more than three dozen Canva tutorials.

To learn more about all things Google Slides and Google Workspace, take a look at this ever-growing playlist of more than 600 tutorials.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Cupcakes, Canva, and Docs - The Week in Review

Good morning from Connecticut where I'm visiting family for the first time in two years! My daughters had a blast having a slumber party with two of their cousins. Besides visiting family I'm looking forward to getting some good bagels this weekend. That's something we just don't have anywhere near my home in Maine. I hope that you also have something you're looking forward to this weekend. 

This week I hosted a webinar about teaching search strategies to history students. If you missed it, a recorded version will be available soon. This week I also hosted a webinar for a group that had purchased a bunch of copies of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips. I'd be happy to host a webinar for your group. Send me an email at richard (at) byrne.media to learn more. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. My Big Playlist of Canva Tutorials
2. Ten Overlooked Google Docs Features for Students and Teachers
3. Use TinyTap to Create Interactive Lessons and Games With Soundboards
4. Take Flight With This Library of Congress Image Collection
5. Take a Virtual Tour of the National Museum of Computing
6. Map Puzzle - Test Your Knowledge of World Geography
7. How Graphs Can Be Misleading

Thank you for your support!
Your registrations in Practical Ed Tech courses (listed below) and purchases of my ebook help me keep Free Technology for Teachers going.

On-demand Professional DevelopmentOther 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 39,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • 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 Icons Daily and Daily Dose. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

I'll Host Your Next Professional Development Session

Yesterday afternoon I hosted a webinar for an organization that had purchased a bunch of copies of my 50 Tech Tuesday Tips ebook. I would be happy to do the same for your school, department, or organization. 

If you purchase ten or more copies of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips I'll host a custom, one hour webinar for your school or department within your school. The webinar can be about any of the topics within the book or I can cover some other topics of interest to you and your colleagues. To get started arranging a custom webinar for your school just send me a note at richard (at) byrne.media and we'll get the ball rolling. 

About the eBook:

50 Tech Tuesday Tips was curated from more than 400 editions of The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter 50 Tech Tuesday Tips provides you with ideas for lots of helpful things that you can teach to your colleagues and to students. Throughout the eBook you'll find tutorials and handouts that you can pass along in your school. 

Some of the many things you'll find in 50 Tech Tuesday Tips include:

  • What to do when a web app isn't working as you expect.
  • Building your own search engine.
  • How to create green screen videos.
  • Improving instructional videos. 
  • Streamlining email management.
  • Creating educational games. 
  • DIY app creation.
  • Podcasting tips for teachers and students. 


Get your copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips right here!

No, this ebook isn't free but the tools that feature within it is free to use. Creating something like this takes many, many hours but reading it can save you many, many hours. Purchases of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips make it possible for me to create other free resources like The Practical Ed Tech Handbook that I update and give away to thousands of teachers every year.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Watch Out for These Common Google Slides Audio Errors

Last year I wrote quite a few blog posts about a Chrome extension called Mote that lets you record and add audio to almost anything in Google Workspace. As great as that extension is, it's not for everyone. In fact, earlier this week I got an email from a reader who was looking for some help adding audio to Google Slides without the use of a Chrome extension (her school won't allow them to use Mote). 

Helping that person earlier this week inspired me to create a new video that addresses the three mistakes that I most often see when people are adding audio to Google Slides. Watch the video to see what they are and how to avoid them. 



In the video above I explain the following mistakes and how to avoid them:
  • Trying to find a direct record or upload option in Slides. 
  • Not changing the default settings.
  • Not sharing the audio file with collaborators or viewers. 

Three Great Google Maps Features for Teachers

Google Maps is one of my favorite tools to use in history and geography lessons. I've been using it for at least as long as I've been writing this blog (15 years). Like all Google products it has evolved over time and some features have gone away while others have been added. And there are some features that are "hidden" in plain sight that can be helpful when creating lessons that incorporate the use of Google Maps. 

In this new video I demonstrate three great features of Google Maps that are helpful when creating and conducting history and geography lessons. 



In the video I demonstrate:
  • How to create and share lists of places with your students. 
  • How to share specific Street View imagery. 
  • How to use different base layers in Google Maps. 
To learn even more about how to use Google Maps and Google Earth in your classroom, enroll in A Crash Course in Google Earth & Maps for Social Studies

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Take a Virtual Tour of the National Museum of Computing

98% of the press releases that are sent to me are completely worthless. Then every once in a while I get one that's actually kind of helpful. That was the case when earlier this week I got a press release about The National Museum of Computing.

The National Museum of Computing documents and celebrates the development of computers and computing. There is a physical museum that you can visit (if you're near Bletchley, England). There is also a great virtual tour of the National Museum of Computing. Throughout the virtual tour you'll find dozens of clickable hotspots to learn about the artifacts housed within the museum.

In addition to the virtual tour, museum's website hosts some picture-based challenges about computers. Students have to spot the differences between the images of artifacts from the museum.

Applications for Education
Some of us will remember using some of the computers related products that are featured in the virtual tour of the museum. For our students, it's an interesting history lesson about the development of technology. One of the things that some of my former students found fun to do was to try to find the original prices for old computers and convert that into inflation-adjusted prices.

By the way, the featured image in this blog post is of a Compaq laptop manufactured in 1993 that was in the repair closet in my classroom last year.

Squirrels!

In my family we have a bit of a love/hate relationship with squirrels. We hate that they take so much food from our bird feeders. But we do like to watch them and my daughters do enjoy reading Those Darn Squirrels! That's why I was intrigued when SciShow Kids released a new video all about squirrels

Stupendous Squirrel Storage is a SciShow Kids video all about how squirrels find food, store food, and the role of that process in the ecosystem. Take a few minutes to watch it and you might find yourself with a new appreciation for those pesky squirrels. 


Applications for Education
Before watching the video I'd ask students to think about how animals like squirrels find and store food. After watching the video I'd ask them if they can think of other animals that find and store food in a manner similar to that of squirrels. 

Watching the video also reminded me of a global nature observation project called Project Squirrel that is still open to contributions from classrooms. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Take Flight With This Library of Congress Image Collection

The Library of Congress is a great place to find historical pictures, drawings, and maps to use in lesson plans and classroom projects. Finding things on the Library of Congress' website isn't always easy if you only use the search function. But the LOC's Free to Use and Reuse Sets make it much easier to find thematically arranged collections of image and drawings that you can download and use for free.

Recently, the Library of Congress' blog featured the Free to Use and Reuse collection all about aircraft. After reading that post I lost a good twenty of minutes of my day scrolling through the collection and stopping to read a bit about some of the more interesting pictures and drawings. A few that stood out to me were the Farman Flying Machine (the featured image in this post), the Berliner Helicopter, and Professor Lowe in His Balloon. All three of them made me think, "I'd have never gotten in that thing!"

Applications for Education
The images in this collection could be great for bringing an element of history into a physics lesson about aircraft. Some of the images of wing-walkers may spark questions like, "how fast were they flying?" and "what's the slowest the plane could go while still flying forward without losing altitude?"

A similar set of LOC Free to Use and Reuse images sparked my imagination last summer and prompted me to make some vintage travel posters with Canva. You can read about that right here.