Saturday, April 30, 2022

Badges, Takeout, and Dubbing - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and it might get above 60F for the first time in a long time. We're going to play outside with our Tinkergarten class, ride bikes, and probably do a bit of garden work as well. Our dogs will enjoy lounging in the sun. I hope that you also have something fun planned for your weekend. 

This week I held a webinar for a great group of teacher-librarians in British Columbia. If you'd like to have me host a webinar for your group, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. New Chrome Web Store Badges Might Help You Pick Better Extensions
2. More Adobe Spark Alternatives
3. Changing Schools After This Year? Use Google Takeout Before You Go
4. It's Patriots' Day! Resources for Learning About the Start of the American Revolution
5. Three Great Ways to Create Online Exit Ticket Activities
6. Pickles, Popcorn, and More Food Science
7. How I Dubbed My Video About Creating a Professional Development Series

Spring and Summer Webinars
I conduct professional development webinars throughout the year. I'll host a free one-hour webinar for any school or group that purchases ten or more copies of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips.

On-demand Professional Development
Thanks to This Month's Banner Advertisers!
  • Kikori App offers a huge library of SEL activities for all ages. 
  • WriteReader is a great tool for multimedia writing. 
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 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.

Mentimeter - Share Slides and Poll Your Class on One Screen

Mentimeter is an online polling and quiz tool that I've used since its launch over a decade ago. In that time it has evolved and added lots of helpful features for teachers. One of those features is the ability to broadcast your slides to your students' computers, tablets, and phones. Doing that makes it easy for students to follow along with your presentation and quickly access any polls or quiz questions that you've included in your slides. 

In this new, short video I demonstrate how you can use Mentimeter to share your slides with your students and conduct an open-ended poll. The video also shows you a student's view of a Mentimeter presentation and poll. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

50 Ideas for Summer Workshop Sessions

Are you a tech coach, tech integrator, or media specialist who has been asked to run some summer workshops for your staff? If so, I have a resource for you! I created 50 Tech Tuesday Tips with you in mind. 

50 Tech Tuesday Tips was curated from more than 400 editions of The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. In 50 Tech Tuesday Tips you will find 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!

DisplayNote - Broadcast Your Screen to Your Students' Computers

DisplayNote Broadcast is a free tool for broadcasting whatever is on your screen to the screens on your students' laptops, iPads, and phones. One of the best things about DisplayNote Broadcast is that it works on any computers and you don't have to install any software in order to use it. Additionally, your students don't need to be registered in order to view the broadcast from your computer on their devices. 

To use DisplayNote Broadcast you have to register for a free account. Once you've registered you can then just click the broadcast button to start broadcasting. A six digit code will be generated for you to share with your students. Students receive the broadcast by going to the DisplayNote Broadcast site and entering the six digit code generated by your broadcast. 

Watch this short video to see my demonstration of how DisplayNote Broadcast works on a teacher's computer and on a student's iPad.


Applications for Education
DisplayNote Broadcast is the type of tool that is great for getting all of your students to look at the same thing on your computer at the same time. I found this to be particularly useful when giving coding demonstrations to students as they could see things in more detail than just looking up at a projector screen. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Digital Empowerment Journals for Students

A few weeks ago I shared a collection of resources for fun physical education activities. That collection featured free resources for National Field Day organized by OPEN PhysEd. OPEN is a public service funded by Varsity Brands who also offers some excellent free resources for teachers and students. One of those resources is a program called the  Believe In You Empowerment Program

The Believe In You Empowerment Program is available in versions for elementary school, middle school, and high school settings. Each version of the program includes journals for students to keep. Those journals are organized around themes of grit and enthusiasm. The full program has contains activities for forty weeks of short lessons. A grid of the SEL concepts covered in the forty works can be seen in this PDF

In addition to the journals and thought-based activities, the Believe In You Empowerment Program has some physical activities for students to do. These include fun group activities like a leadership dance party and charades. 

Applications for Education
While the Believe In You Empowerment Program comes from an organization that is focused on phys ed, the program could be used by just about any teacher who is interested in using it.

How to Download and Reuse Google Drive Files

Yesterday I published a post about using Google Takeout to download the contents of your Google Workspace account before leaving a job. If you only want or need a handful of files, there is an easier option than using Google Takeout. That option is to simply download the individual files in your Google Drive account that you want to save. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to download documents and slides from your Google Drive, store them on a computer, and then reuse them in a different Google account. 


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

How I Dubbed My Video About Creating a Professional Development Series

If you're subscribed to my YouTube channel, you probably noticed that my latest video was dubbed into Spanish. No, I didn't suddenly become fluent in Spanish (Clinton was in office during my last attempts at speaking in Spanish). I was able to dub the video into Spanish by using a new service called Aloud. 

Aloud is a new Google service that is still in development. I was selected for early access to it. The video that you saw appear on my YouTube channel was the first of three that I'm going to dub. The video is embedded below for your review. 



The process of using Aloud was very easy. I simply uploaded a video for dubbing and within about 24 hours I got an email saying that a translated transcript was ready for my review. I reviewed it and made some adjustments then resubmitted for dubbing. The dubbed version of the video was delivered in about 48 hours. Along with the dubbed video I received a translated title and description to use when I published the video on my YouTube channel.

Applications for Education
Once it leaves the closed beta period, Aloud could be a great tool for teachers who are creating video lessons and need or want them to be available in other languages.



I realize that this post is light on details regarding how the transcription and dubbing take place. Unfortunately, while I know some of those details, I'm not able to share them publicly at this time.

Changing Schools After This Year? Use Google Takeout Before You Go

In the last week I've had a couple of people reach out to me for advice on what to do with their Google Drive files when they leave their current jobs at the end of the school year. My answer was to use Google Takeout to create zip files that they can re-use when they go to their new school districts. 

Through Google Takeout you can download the data and files that you have in your Google account. This information can include things in your Google Drive, Google Keep, Google Earth, and all of the other Google services you may have used with a school-issued Google account. In this new video I demonstrate how to use Google Takeout



It should be noted that when you use Google Takeout you should be mindful of what information you're downloading regarding students or other confidential information that isn't intended to leave your school district. Furthermore, depending on the settings within your Google Workspace domain, you may not be able to use all of the options that I showed in the video above.

How to Use Calendly and Zoom Together

A few days ago I published a blog post about how I was able to streamline my appointment scheduling process. In that post I wrote about using Calendly's free appointment booking tool and its integration with Zoom. A long-time reader of my blog asked if I could make a video about that process. I was happy to oblige. 

In this new video I demonstrate how to create a Calendly account, create a booking page, and how to connect Zoom to Calendly. In the video I also show you how someone can book a meeting through Calendly and what that reservation looks like in your Calendly account. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

A New PowerPoint Recording Option

For a couple of years now I've been using and recommending Canva's presentation recording tool because it has a built-in teleprompter. That feature lets you record your video while viewing your speaker notes, but the speaker notes don't appear in the final recording. The latest version of PowerPoint now includes that same capability. 

Mike Tholfsen recently published this new video in which he demonstrates how to use the updated built-in recording tool in PowerPoint. In the video you'll see him demonstrate how to use the teleprompter mode when recording a video in PowerPoint. In the video he also demonstrates how to blur backgrounds when recording. Finally, make sure you watch to the end of the video to learn how to export the video and how to make quick edits to your recording. 



The new features that Mike demonstrated in the video are currently available to Office 365 Insiders. If you're not an Insider, you'll have to join me in waiting for these features to appear in PowerPoint. In the meantime, you can use the current version of PowerPoint's recording tool as well as a handful of other helpful but often overlooked PowerPoint features.

Five Videos to Build a Google Forms Course

Yesterday I published a blog post about creating an online course with ConvertKit. A couple of weeks ago I published a blog post about building a professional development course and distributing it via Gmail. In those posts I gave the example of distributing a series of tutorial videos about topics like using Google Forms. If you want to try either of the methods mentioned in those blog posts to create a little PD series for your staff, here are five videos about Google Forms that you could use in that series. 

To build a course with these videos you'd just need to add some descriptions and a "do now" practice activity to follow each video. 




How to Require Complete Sentences in Google Forms


Monday, April 25, 2022

Three Great Ways to Create Online Exit Ticket Activities

This morning I received a question from a reader of my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. She wanted to know what I would suggest as an alternative to Google Forms and Google Classroom for conducting exit ticket activities in her biology class. I quickly replied with three options that I really like. 

The first option that came to my mind was Ziplet. Formative was the second option that I thought of. And the third option was a PowerPoint add-in called ClassPoint. All three of those free tools are demonstrated in this new video


Learn more about Ziplet, Formative, and ClassPoint in the following blog posts:

How to Create an Online Course With ConvertKit

A couple of weeks ago I published a video and blog post about how to create a professional development series in Gmail. The method that I outlined in that post works well if you use Gmail, use Google Forms, and aren't particularly interested in the aesthetics of what you publish. But if you don't use Gmail and or you want to create an email-based course that looks nicer than the standard options in Google Workspace, then ConvertKit could be a good option for you. 

ConvertKit is an email management tool that you can use for free (up to 1,000 contacts in your database) to create and distribute an email-based course. As you'll see in my video that is embedded below, ConvertKit provides great sign-up page templates and tools for sending automatically personalized emails to participants in your course.

Watch this short video to see a demonstration of how to create an online course by using ConvertKit's free plan.



Applications for Education
Using ConvertKit could be a great way to create a series of emails that contain directions on how to use features of new software that your school is implementing over the summer for the next school year. The series might start with the basics and then each subsequent email would build upon that. Each email could contain a written overview, a video overview, and a "do now" practice activity. One of the nice things about ConvertKit is that you can see which recipients have opened your emails and which ones haven't. You can then resend the messages to those who have not opened the messages the first time you sent them.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

More Adobe Spark Alternatives

The Best Adobe Spark Alternative was one of last week's most popular posts here on Free Technology for Teachers. The alternative that I recommended in that post was Adobe Creative Cloud Express which is the new name for Adobe Spark. If you're looking for other alternatives to Adobe Spark for creating audio slideshow videos, here are a few options to consider. 

Before you jump to the list of alternatives, here are some things to consider when you have students create audio slideshow videos. 

Canva
Canva offers two ways for students to create audio slideshow videos. The first way is to simply put together a series of slides and then select a soundtrack to play in the background. That process is demonstrated here. The other method is to use Canva's full video editor to add narration an custom timings to an audio slideshow video. That process is demonstrated in this video.

Microsoft Photos

Microsoft Photos includes a video creation tool for making short audio slideshow-style videos. You'll find this by just opening the native photos app in Windows 10. Within the editor there are tools for adding animated effects to still images, insert your existing video clips into a video project, and tools for adding audio to your video. There's also a great option to search for Creative Commons licensed images and insert them directly into your video project. The best part of that feature is that attribution information is automatically added onto the images you choose through the built-in search tool. In this video I provide a demonstration of how to create a video in Microsoft Photos in Windows 10.

Phideo

Phideo is a relatively new online tool for creating audio slideshow videos. Registration is not required in order to use Phideo. Simply go to the site and upload the images that you want to use in your video. You can rearrange the image sequence after uploading your images. Phideo provides a library of audio tracks that you can use as background music in your videos. Alternatively, you can upload your own audio files (just remember to be mindful of copyright restrictions). All of the Phideo video creation options are demonstrated in my tutorial video about it.


One Simple Tool Streamlined My Appointment Scheduling Process

For as long as it has been available I've used appointment slots in Google Calendar when scheduling meetings with colleagues and or students. That works very well when everyone is in the same Google Workspace domain, but it gets a little quirky when you try to use it with people who are outside of your domain. 

Earlier this month I started to experience the shortcomings of Google Calendar appointment slots when I was scheduling a bunch of meetings with companies who will be announcing new things during the ISTE conference in June. The solution to my problems was to start using Calendly

In Calendly I was able to create a calendar of my meeting availability and let people click on it to book meetings with me. People can book meetings with any email account they want to use. I connected my Zoom account to my Calendly account so that a Zoom meeting is automatically created and scheduled when someone books a meeting. Additionally, I linked Calendly to Google Calendar so that all meetings appear on my Google Calendar as well as in my Calendly calendar. (Calendly can also be used with Outlook and Teams). 

I'm using Calendly's free plan (shocker, I know). There are paid plans that give you more features like the ability to create multiple meeting types, but that would probably just add confusion back into my scheduling process. 

Applications for Education
Appointment slots in Google Calendar is great if you only need to schedule appointments with colleagues and students who are within your Google Workspace domain. But if you need an appointment scheduling tool to use with people who aren't a part of your domain, Calendly is a great tool for that.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Snow, Turtles, and Maps - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining, the grass is starting to turn green, and spring feels like it's here to stay. It didn't feel that way a few days ago when we had snow the day after a beautiful Patriots' Day Monday during which I saw turtles sunning themselves for the first time this year. We hope to see some more turtles today when we go for a little hike. I hope that you have something fun to do this weekend too. 

This week I didn't host any new webinars, but I did work on developing some new materials that I'll be sharing as part of professional development workshops and webinars this summer. If you'd like to have me run a workshop or webinar for your school this summer, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Ten Fun Things for Students to Map
2. It's Patriots' Day! Resources for Learning About the Start of the American Revolution
3. Three Good Tools for Creating Infographics
4. The Best Adobe Spark Alternative
5. Expeditions Pro - Guide Students on Virtual Reality Tours
6. How to Mirror an Android Phone to a PC or Mac
7. How to Record a Google Earth Tour in Your Web Browser

Summer Workshops for Your School!
I'm going back on the road this summer to host professional development workshops in-person! If you'd like to have me come to your school, please get in touch with me soon.

Spring and Summer Webinars
I conduct professional development webinars throughout the year. I'll host a free one-hour webinar for any school or group that purchases ten or more copies of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips.

On-demand Professional Development
Thanks to This Month's Banner Advertisers!
  • Kikori App offers a huge library of SEL activities for all ages. 
  • WriteReader is a great tool for multimedia writing. 
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 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.

New Chrome Web Store Badges Might Help You Pick Better Extensions

Earlier this week Google announced a new badge program for developers who make Chrome extensions. The program is supposed to make it easier for end-users like you and me to identify extensions that have been created by developers who adhere to Google's standards of best practices and whose identities have been verified. 

There are actually two different badges that Google is giving to developers of Chrome extensions. The first is the featured badge. That badge seems to be reserved for developers who adhere to all best practice guidelines including privacy, user experience, and clarity of listing page. The second badge is the established publisher badge. That badge is for developers who have gone through Google's identity verification process. 

It appears that the purpose of these new badges is to make it easier to identify the more or less trustworthy Chrome extensions. That said, the cynic in me now wonders why Google hasn't required identity verification for developers all along.  

Friday, April 22, 2022

Pickles, Popcorn, and More Food Science

Like many four-year-old children, one of my daughters is a picky eater. Cucumbers are one of the only vegetables that she'll eat these days. She'll also eat pickles. In fact, she loves pickles! That's why I was happy to see SciShow Kids release a new video all about pickles.  

What Are Pickles? is the latest food science video produced by SciShow Kids. They've previously released others about the science of popcorn, the science of cake, and where bananas come from. They also have a compilation video called You Are What You Eat.

What Are Pickles? explains the process of creating pickles with cucumbers and what happens to the cucumber as a result of the pickling process. 



Like all SciShow Kids videos, the videos about food science are great for introducing a new topic to elementary school students in a way that they can understand. I like to read the transcript of the video and ask students some of the questions before playing the video for them. If you're not sure how to get a transcript of a YouTube video, here's a short demonstration of the process.

An Update to Unraveling an Email Scam

About a month ago I published a video and blog post in which I explained the process that I used to unravel an email scam in which someone claimed to be an intellectual property attorney pursuing a case against me. That blog post turned out to be one the most popular things that I've published this year so I thought that I would provide an update on what has happened since then. 

I replied to the email with an explanation of why the claim was bogus and that they could get lost. I never heard back after that. But since the website was still saved my Chrome profile and predicted whenever I entered URLs beginning with the letter A, I kept an eye on the site. Yesterday morning the site went dead. 

Other People Who Exposed the Scam

After seeing that the site had gone offline my curiosity got the best of me and I went down a rabbit hole of looking to see if there are other people like me who got the same scam email and decided to eviscerate the scammers. I did a search on Twitter and quickly found a few others who came to the same conclusion that I did. 

Shawna Newman was the recipient of the same scam email back in February. Apparently, when she called them out on it they changed the address on their website from New York to Boston. Here's her Tweet about it

Ray Alexander got the same scam email and took the approach that I did. He wrote a lengthy blog post detailing how he unraveled the scam. Here's his Tweet and here's his blog post

Ben Dickson also received the email and decided to publish an unraveling of the scam. Here's his Twitter thread on the topic

Lessons for Everyone

1. Don't be a lame SEO backlink scammer.
 
2. If you do get an email from someone claiming to be an attorney (or similarly tries to appear authoritative) and it doesn't seem right, look at all of the context clues. In this case there were a lot of context clues that made it fairly obvious that there was a scam at play. The first of those clues being that the email was addressed to "owner of website" and not to any particular person.
 
3. Don't click on links in emails that you weren't expecting.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

How to Create an Online Yearbook

Earlier this week a reader sent me an email asking for suggestions for free tools that she can use to create an online yearbook. I had two suggestions for her. The first was to use Book Creator. The second was to use one of Canva's yearbook templates then export the finished product to Heyzine to add page turning effects. 

In this short video I demonstrate how you can use Canva to create a yearbook and then import it into Heyzine to add page turning effects to the online display of your yearbook. 

Reasonable Colors - Get Help Picking Accessible Color Schemes

Reasonable Colors is a new open-source project developed by Matthew Howell. The purpose of the project is to help developers and others choose high-contrast, accessible color schemes for their projects. 

Reasonable Colors is easy to use to find an accessible color scheme. To use Reasonable Colors all you need to do is select the main color (red, blue, green, etc.) for your project and then a list of complementary and contrasting colors is provided. The hex codes for those colors is provided by Reasonable Colors. 

If you're not sure what hex codes are or why you should care about them, here's what you should know. Hex codes are hexadecimal codes that indicate the specific color that should appear on a page. Entering a hex code into color selector tool like that in Canva's design tools is a more accurate way to choose a color than clicking on a sliding color selector. See my screenshot below to see where the hex code appears in Canva's color selection tool. 


Applications for Education
Reasonable Colors could be a good resource to keep bookmarked for reference whenever you're trying to select a color scheme for any resources that you plan to share with your students. Using Reasonable Colors could help you find the best color scheme to ensure that all of your students can access the resources that you create.

H/T to Product Hunt

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The Best Adobe Spark Alternative

In the last two weeks I've had a handful of people email me to ask for alternatives to Adobe Spark for creating videos. I'm taking that as a sign that Adobe didn't go a great job communicating that they simply rebranded Adobe Spark as Adobe Creative Cloud Express. It has all of the same tools that you used for creating videos in Adobe Spark. You can even use the same log-in credentials for it. 

If you haven't tried Adobe Creative Cloud Express to create a video, watch this tutorial video to see how easy it is to use it. 



Applications for Education
Some of the things that make Adobe Creative Cloud Express a good video creation tool for students are the built-in image search tools, the ease with which you can change color schemes, and the ability for students to remotely collaborate on the creation of a video.

How to Mirror an Android Phone to a PC or Mac

In this week's Practical Ed Tech Newsletter I included a video in which I simultaneously displayed my Android phone's screen and iPad's screen on my Windows desktop. A few folks have emailed me to ask how I did that. If you're curious about the process I used, here it is. 

The Problem
My usual method of mirroring my phone screen to my computer is to use Airserver. However, I can only mirror one device at a time through Airserver. To make a video in which the screens of two devices were shown simultaneously, I needed to either do some laborious editing or figure out a way to mirror two devices that the same time. 

The Solution
In order to show the screens of two devices at the same time, I had to install a second screen mirroring program that could run at the same time as Airserver without causing a conflict. The solution was to use Vysor. 

Vysor is a program that I've used in the past to use an Android phone as a document camera. With Vysor lets you mirror a phone to a PC or Mac via USB cable. That means that it can run at the same time as Airserver and it doesn't conflict with it. 

Making the Video
To make the video I then mirrored my iPad's screen to my PC via Airserver and mirrored my Android phone's screen to my PC via Vysor. Then I recorded both screens in the same frame by using Screencast-o-matic on my desktop. 


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

How to Create a Custom Map on an iPad

Yesterday morning I answered an email from a reader who wanted to know if it was possible to create Google Earth projects on an iPad. Unfortunately, the iPad version of Google Earth allows you to view existing projects, but doesn't allow you to create new projects. Fortunately, there are other ways to create custom maps on an iPad. One of those ways to is to use Google's My Maps tool in the Chrome web browser on an iPad. 

In this new video I demonstrate how you can create a custom map on an iPad by using Google's My Maps. 



Applications for Education
There are lots of possible uses for Google's My Maps in geography, history, and literature classes. In fact, I recently published ten fun things for students to map. You could also use My Maps in place of Google Earth to complete an Around the World With Google Earth activity.

A Handful of Resources for Teaching and Learning About Earth Day

This Friday is Earth Day. Here's a handful of resources to consider using if you find yourself looking for some resources to help your students understand the origins of Earth Day, its significance, or celebrating Earth Day.

CBC Kids News offers a good, concise overview of Earth Day. What I like about CBC Kids News is that the information is presented by students for students. 

Storyboard That offers four Earth Day lesson plans. All of the lesson plans have students creating comics or cartoon-style graphics to celebrate Earth Day and or to create Earth Day PSAs. 

SciShow Kids has an Earth Day compilation video through which students can learn about animal habitats, composting, recycling, and building bird feeders. 



Discovery Education has some new resources for Earth Day 2022. These include lessons about sustainable living, renewable vs. non-renewable resources, and engineering for Earth Day. 

C-SPAN Classroom offers some Earth Day themed Bell Ringer activities. These include The Creation of the EPA and The Role of the EPA

Monday, April 18, 2022

Ten Fun Things for Students to Map

Last week I published a video about how to record a Google Earth tour in your web browser. That’s just one of many tools that students can use to create multimedia maps. A few other options include using Scribble Maps, Padlet maps, and Google’s My Maps tool.

Creating a map with one of these tools can help students develop a better contextual understanding of where places are in the world. Rather than just hearing Friday Night Lights was loosely based on Odessa, Texas they can actually see where in the world Odessa, Texas is in relation to other places they may know or have heard of. Continuing from that example, here are ten fun things for students to map.
  • Settings of television shows.
  • Movie locations.
  • The locations of favorite sports teams and their rivals.
  • Settings of favorite books.
  • Birthplaces of celebrities.
  • Origins of dog breeds.
  • Locations of city names in songs.
  • Locations in geography jokes (check here and here for some fun, clean geography jokes).
  • All the places visited in one season of The Amazing Race.
  • List of dream vacation destinations.
For more ideas about using Google Earth in your classroom, take a look at my Around the World With Google Earth activity or enroll in A Crash Course in Google Earth & Maps for Social Studies

It's Patriots' Day! Resources for Learning About the Start of the American Revolution

Today is Patriots' Day here in Maine, in Massachusetts, and in a handful of other states. It's a day to mark the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. As a good New Englander and a former U.S. History teacher, every year at this time I like to share a handful of resources for teaching and learning about the American Revolution. 

Pictures of the Revolutionary War is a compilation of images about the Revolutionary War. The images in the collection chronicle the stirrings of rebellion in the pre-revolution years, the war from both American and British perspectives, and events following the Revolutionary War.

The Massachusetts Historical Society offers fourteen lesson plans that are aligned to the theme of The Coming of the American Revolution. The lesson plans include a mix of document analysis activities and group discussion activities. 

Creating Google Earth tours of Revolutionary War battle sites is an activity that I did for many years with my U.S. History students. Students would create multimedia placemarks for each battle in sequence. The placemarks contained information about the outcome and significance of each battle. Here's a video on how to make a tour with with the browser-based version of Google Earth.



Video Lessons
Keith Hughes has a popular video in which he explains the American Revolution for middle school and high school students.



Crash Course has an extensive series on U.S. History. Included in that series is Taxes & Smuggling - Prelude to Revolution.



Mr. Betts has a YouTube channel on which he posts cartoons and song parodies to teach U.S. History lessons. Here's one he did about the Battles of Lexington and Concord.



For Red Sox Fans!
This is usually the day that the Boston Marathon is held and the Red Sox play a morning game. That tradition has returned this year! For my fellow Red Sox fans here's a famous clip from the 2007 Patriots' Day game.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Expeditions Pro - Guide Students on Virtual Reality Tours

Last year many of us were disappointed when Google announced the closure of their Expeditions program. Shortly after that announcement a new company popped-up to offer an alternative to Google Expeditions. That alternative is called Expeditions Pro. It launched in beta last June and is now available for anyone to install on iOS and Android devices. 

Expeditions Pro has many of the same features that teachers liked about Google Expeditions. Not the least of those is the ability to guide your students on virtual reality tours. As long as you and your students are on the same Wi-Fi network, you can lead them through a tour. When you're leading a tour your students will see arrows on the screens of the their device to point them to what they should be looking at. Additionally, when you pause a tour your students' screens are blurred out until you resume the tour. 

To lead students on guided VR tours in Expeditions Pro, you have to download the tours to your phone or tablet. Your students don't need to download the tours in order to follow along with you. Expeditions Pro offers a growing gallery of virtual reality tours. It is also possible to create and use your own VR tours in Expeditions Pro. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to use Expeditions on an Android phone and on an iPad. In the video I also show you the teacher and student perspectives of guiding and following virtual reality tours in Expeditions Pro. 

How to Record a Google Earth Tour in Your Web Browser

The online version of Google Earth has improved a lot since it was first launched back in 2017. Unfortunately, it still doesn't have a built-in recording tool like the one found in the desktop version of Google Earth. The solution to that problem is to create a project in the web version of Google Earth and then use a screencasting tool like Screencastify to record while you navigate to each placemarker in your Google Earth project. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to record a Google Earth tour in your web browser by using Screencastify. 



Applications for Education
At the end of my Around the World With Google Earth activity I ask students to record a short tour of all of the places that they add to their Google Earth projects. The directions that I provide in the video above show students exactly how to do that.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Poetry, Design, and SEL - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where overcast April weather has returned after a beautiful Friday afternoon of riding bikes with my kids. Despite the weather we're still going to play outside for a little while with our Tinkergarten group. I think some cookie decorating and other fun indoor activities are also on the agenda for the day. I hope that you also have something fun planned for your weekend. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Seven Activities for National Poetry Month
2. Three Good Tools for Creating Infographics
3. A Calendar of Social Emotional Learning Activities
4. Three Ways to Create Simple Portfolio Websites
5. Thank Your School Librarians! And Ask Them for Help!
6. Tract Offers Fun Ways to Wrap-up the School Year
7. A Free Design Skills Course for Students

Summer Workshops for Your School!
I'm going back on the road this summer to host professional development workshops in-person! If you'd like to have me come to your school, please get in touch with me soon.

Spring and Summer Webinars
I conduct professional development webinars throughout the year. I'll host a free one-hour webinar for any school or group that purchases ten or more copies of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips.

On-demand Professional Development
Thanks to This Month's Banner Advertisers!
  • Kikori App offers a huge library of SEL activities for all ages. 
  • WriteReader is a great tool for multimedia writing. 
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 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.

Eight Good Tools for Hosting Online Brainstorming Sessions

Earlier this week I shared a new video that I made about hosting online brainstorming sessions on Padlet. Of course, there are other good tools for hosting collaborative brainstorming sessions including physical sticky notes. Here are some other tools that I've used to facilitate and record group brainstorming sessions over the years. 

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


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



Google's Jamboard can be used to host group brainstorming sessions. In larger classes I break students into smaller groups and have each group work on a specific page within the Jamboard session. At the end of the session we review the ideas from each page and put the most popular ones on a final page. Here's an overview of how to use Jamboard in Google Classroom

 

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




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



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

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


Lumio has an activity template called Shout It Out that is perfect for hosting online brainstorming sessions with your students. You can learn more about that and other Lumio features in this video.