Monday, September 26, 2022

My Updated Big List of Tools for a Variety of Classroom Video Projects

Around this time last fall I published a big list of my go-to tools for creating videos with students. Since then some of the tools in the list were rebranded and or had some notable updates. This is my updated list of recommended video creation tools for classroom projects. 

By the way, I created the list because other than questions about Google Workspace tools, I get asked more questions about making videos than any other three topics combined. 

Video Reflections/ One-take Videos
These are videos that require minimal, if any, editing before publication. In this type of video creation activity teachers will pose a prompt to their students and their students will response with a short video statement. 

Microsoft Flip (formerly known as Flipgrid) is the best known of all platforms designed for students to record video responses to a teacher's prompt. Teachers can create online classrooms in which their students post short video responses. Teachers can moderate submissions before the rest of the class can see the videos. And teachers can use Microsoft Flip to give feedback directly to their students. There are many other features of Microsoft Flip that are worth noting and are included below in the section about whiteboard videos. Watch this video to learn the basics of Microsoft Flip. 



Padlet is a tool that I've used for more than a decade for a wide variety of purposes including collecting short videos from students. Students can use the recording feature that is built into Padlet to record a short video and share it with the class. Here's a short overview of how to record videos in Padlet. 



Audio Slideshow Videos

Other than one-take videos, the audio slideshow style of video is probably the easiest of all video formats to create. It's also one of the most misunderstood when it comes to using it in classroom. For an audio slideshow project to be effective students first need to plan the sequence, find the best visuals, apply appropriate text (but not too much), and choose an appropriate soundtrack. If you want to take it a step further, you'll want students to create a script to narrate their videos. Here's an overview of attributes to look for when students create audio slideshow videos. 

Here are my top three choices for students to use to make audio slideshow videos. 

Adobe Express
Almost since its initial launch six years ago, Adobe Express (formerly known as Adobe Spark) has been my go-to recommendation for this style of video project. Adobe Express makes it easy for students to create succinct audio slideshow videos. Adobe Express limits the amount of narration that students can record on each slide within their videos. Adobe Express also includes a library of background music that students can have inserted into their videos. Finally, students can upload short audio clips to include in their audio slideshow video projects. In this short video I demonstrate how to create a video with Adobe Express.



Canva
Canva now 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 the following video I provide a demonstration of how to create a video with Microsoft Photos.



Google Photos
In Google Photos there is a section called "utilities." It is in the utilities section that you'll find the video creation tool. To use it all you need to do is select up to 50 pictures and or videos that you have stored in your Google Photos account. Google Photos will then automatically select display length for each image or video and automatically add background music to your video. If you don't like what was automatically selected for your video, you can manually adjust display length and choose different background music.

Watch this short video to learn how to make an audio slideshow video with Google Photos. 



Green Screen Videos

Making a green screen video can be a lot of fun for students and also a lot of fun for peers, parents, and teachers to watch. More than a decade after it was published I still occasionally refer to this video from Greg Kulowiec's middle school class as an example of a fun green screen project. Making a green screen video can seem intimidating at first, but once you've tried it a time or two you'll find that it's not as complicated as it might seem. Today there are lots of tools for making green screen videos. Here are the three I typically recommend and introduce to teachers. 

Make a Green Screen Video in iMovie
If you have access to a Mac or an iPad, this is the tool to use. It's free (provided you already have a modern Mac or iPad) and has just enough features to make a nice green screen video, but not so many features that it takes a long time to learn how to use it. Watch this video to learn how to make a green screen video in iMovie on a Mac. Watch this one to learn how to make a green screen video on an iPad.

WeVideo
For Chromebook users and Windows users, WeVideo is my go-to recommendation. Here's a demonstration of how it works.



Zoom + Adobe Spark
If you don't have a physical green screen to record in front of, you could use Zoom's built-in virtual green screen capability then import that video into Adobe Spark for final editing. Watch this video to learn how that is done.

Animated Videos

Making animations is a great way for students to bring their written stories to life on screen. Depending upon the story, the animation could be as short frame or two that plays for twenty seconds or it could be a five minute story.  

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

How to Make Talking Pictures With ChatterPix Kids (Android Version)



How to Make Talking Pictures With ChatterPix Kids (iPad Version)


Slides + Screencasting
Google Slides, like PowerPoint and Keynote, provide users with lots of ways to animate elements within their slides. Use those animation tools to make clipart and simple drawings move on the screen. Then capture those movements with a screencasting tool like Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic. Of course, you'll want to include a voiceover while recording. This method can be used to create animated videos like those made popular by Common Craft. You can read about and then watch this whole process in this Practical Ed Tech article.

Canva
Canva has lots of animation options that you can add to almost any graphic that you create in it. You can animate text, make objects spin and move, and even add audio to play in the background when you make a graphic in Canva. Your finished designs can be downloaded as animated GIFs and as MP4 files. Canva's video editor can be used to create animated videos. That's a process that I demonstrate in this video

Whiteboard Videos

From creating a math lesson to explaining a workflow there are lots of purposes for creating whiteboard-style instructional videos. Last year I had students make simple whiteboard videos to explain network and wiring diagrams. Here's a handful of tools for making whiteboard instructional videos. 

In June Google added a built-in screencasting tool to the Chrome OS. If you're Chromebook is updated to the latest version of Chrome OS, you have access to this tool. With it you can you can record all of your screen or part of your screen. If you like to include your webcam in screencasts, you can do that with the built-in recorder in the latest version of Chrome OS. And you can draw on your screen while recording. When you create a screencast using the built-in recorder on your Chromebook the recording is automatically saved to your Google Drive account. Once the recording is saved you can share it much like you would share any other file in your Google Drive account. 

Watch my video that is embedded below to learn how you can record screencasts on your Chromebook without using any third-party extensions. 

Try using Screencastify to record over the free drawing space provided by Google's online version of Jamboard. One of the benefits of using Jamboard for this kind of video is that when you are done you can share the Jamboard images with your students. You could even share the Jamboard via Google Classroom so that students have a copy of the process that you demonstrated while making your video.




Loom is also an excellent and popular choice for making screencast videos right from your web browser. In the following video I demonstrate how I paired Loom and Google's Jamboard to make a whiteboard-style instructional video. One of the tips that I shared in the video is to use the sharing option in Jamboard to give your students a copy of the drawings or sketches that you use in your instructional video.



Microsoft Flip offers an integrated whiteboard function. You can use this feature to create whiteboard videos for your students to watch in Microsoft Flip. You can also have your students use the whiteboard tools to reply to a prompt that you have given to them. Watch this video to learn how to make a whiteboard video with Microsoft Flip.



Wakelet has integrated the Microsoft Flip camera into their service so that you can create whiteboard-style instructional videos directly within your Wakelet collections. Watch my video below to see how that process works.



Seesaw is my go-to tool for making digital portfolios. I like it because it's a versatile platform that can be used for more than just portfolio creation. You can use it as a blog, use it to share announcements with parents, use it to distribute assignments, and you can use it to create whiteboard videos. In fact, there are a couple of ways that you and your students can create whiteboard videos in Seesaw. Both of those methods are outlined in my new video that is embedded below.

Three More Ways Focusable Can Help You Focus

Disclosure: Focusable is an advertiser on my websites. 

Last week I wrote about how Focusable is helping me get things done more efficiently. That blog post featured how Focusable works once you start working. What that blog post left out was how Focusable can help you get started when you have a task to do but you'd really rather not do it. 

When you're having trouble getting started on a task that you need to do, try one of the pre-work exercises that Focusable offers. When you are signed into your Focusable account you'll find breathing exercises, visualization exercises, and stretching exercises that are designed to help you focus and get started on your work. In this brief video I provide a demonstration of where to find those exercises and how to complete them.



For a complete overview of what Focusable is, how you can use it, and how you can use it with student read this article or watch the overview video that is embedded below.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Writer's Workshop - 29 Videos That Can Help Students Improve Their Writing

The Writer's Workshop is a playlist of twenty-nine TED-Ed video lessons about writing. The The Writer's Workshop contains lessons on basic topics like how to use punctuation and point of view. It also offers videos about more difficult topics like how to make your writing humorous.

A few of the videos from The Writer's Workshop playlist are embedded below.

First, Second, and Third Person


When to Use Apostrophes


How to Make Your Writing Funnier




Applications for Education
TED-Ed's The Writer's Workshop is a good place for students to find some quick lessons on punctuation and grammar. Students who are ready to take their writing to a new level could benefit from the TED-Ed videos on irony, introductions, and building fictional worlds.

A Database of Solutions to Common Stains

Stain Solutions is a handy website developed by Susan Taylor at the University of Illinois Extension. The site is a database of dozens of common stains and the solutions to remove them. Click on a stain in the chart and you will be taken to a list of the ingredients needed to make a solution that will remove your chosen stain. Directions and warnings are provided along with the solutions.

Applications for Education
I don't know of any teacher who hasn't stained work clothes themselves or had them stained as the result of a student mishap. I've stained enough neckties to create a drop-cloth. Coffee, ink, and markers seem to be the leading causes of those stains. Solutions to remove all those stains can be found on Stain Solutions.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Social Studies, Soccer, and Search - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it's going to be a beautiful autumn weekend. As I write this I'm sipping my coffee while the sun is rising on what is going to be a fun and busy weekend for me and my little family. We have soccer practice, fishing, bike rides, and a trip to Storyland to see Daniel Tiger on our schedule for the next couple of days. I hope that you have an equally fun weekend planned for yourself. 

This week I hosted professional development webinars for two different groups and was a guest speaker for another group. Please click here or send me an email if you'd like to have me conduct a webinar, a workshop, or give a keynote at your next professional development.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. My Top Ten Tools for Social Studies Teachers and Students
2. A Great Alternative to Quizlet
3. The Physics of Soccer Kicks
4. How to Create PDFs in Google Classroom
5. A Great Place to Find Free Images for School Projects
6. Five Google Search Products Students Overlook
7. Three Ways Focusable is Helping Me Be More Productive

I'll Come You!
If you'd like me to come to your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or fill out the form on this page

50 Tech Tuesday Tips!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook that I created with busy tech coaches, tech integrators, and media specialists in mind. In it you'll find 50 ideas and tutorials that you can use as the basis of your own short PD sessions. Get a copy today!

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 43,000 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 Strava.
This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

43,000+ People Get Their Ed Tech Tips This Way

This morning when I logged into my YouTube account I noticed that my little channel now has more than 43,000 subscribers for the first time. I've never had a video go viral nor have I tried to make one for that purpose. Instead, all of my videos are just simple how-to videos about a wide range of educational technology topics like the basics of making Google Forms, how to see what's hidden behind a TinyURL, and how to create a video with Adobe Express

If you're interested in subscribing to my YouTube channel, you can do so here (here's a video about how to subscribe to a YouTube channel). And if you already have subscribed, thank you! 

Here's one of my favorite videos from my channel. 



And here's another favorite on a very different topic from the one above.
 

Is a Website Down or Is It You? Here's How to Find Out

Earlier this week a reader emailed me looking for a video that I made a couple of years ago. The video she was looking for was this video that shows two ways to check if a website is down of if it's just you.

The first method demonstrated in the video uses a website called Down for Everyone or Just Me. The second method shows you how to ping a website from the command prompt in Windows 10. The ping method will make you look super techy in front of your non-techy friends.
 

Google Workspace Status Dashboard
If you're having trouble accessing a Google Workspace tool like Classroom, Docs, or Calendar, check the Google Workspace Status Dashboard to see if Google is reporting any outages within the Workspace suite. 


Friday, September 23, 2022

The Descent of the Serpent - A New Google Arts and Culture Game

This week Google Arts and Culture released a new game for students. The game is called The Descent of the Serpent and it's available to play in your web browser or in the Google Arts and Culture apps for Android and iOS. 

The Descent of the Serpent is a game through which students can learn about civilizations of ancient Mesoamerica. Students play the game from the perspective of one of four characters representative of mythological figures in Mesoamerican culture. Students then navigate through four levels of the game in a quest to find and recover twenty lost objects and return them to Chichen Itza before the solar equinox. 

The game play of The Descent of the Serpent is a little reminiscent of Legend of Zelda (yes, I realize that's a reference point that dates me as a late Gen-Xer). Players navigate through scenes while trying to dodge obstacles and objects in their quest to find the missing artifacts. When players find an artifact they are shown a little bit of information about its history and significance. 

The Descent of the Serpent can be played in story mode or in challenge mode. The story mode allows players to keep playing regardless of how many times they hit a dead-end or get hit by an object. The challenge mode gives players just five "lives" before they lose the game and have to start over. 


Applications for Education

I played The Descent of the Serpent for about 15 minutes this morning then had to force myself to stop because I could have easily gone down a rabbit hole of playing it for much longer (note, I'm not skillful when it comes playing video games in general). I found the little pop-ups of information after finding each artifact interesting. That said, I look at the game as a fun way to introduce students to ancient Mesoamerican history and not as a replacement for complete lessons.


A Helpful Sheet of Google Search Modifiers

A few days ago I highlighted five Google search products that students often overlook. While it is important for students to know about those tools, they first need to know some basics like how to modify their search terms to get different results. 

Years ago Vicki Davis tipped me off to a search modifiers poster published by Google. Yesterday, I checked to see if it is still available online and found that anyone can still download it and print it. This Google Search Modifiers Poster (link opens a PDF) could be a great resource to print and hang in your classroom or library.

Applications for Education
This infographic that I published years ago and the search modifiers poster together make a good set of reminders for students. Print them out and post them in your library, computer lab, or classroom. It should be noted that many of the modifiers featured in the poster can also be found by opening the advanced search menu in Google.  

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Three Ways Focusable is Helping Me Be More Productive

Disclosure: Focusable is currently an advertiser on my websites.

In the past I’ve used browser extensions to block websites that distract me from getting work done during my day, but eventually I would still find a way to distract myself. Recently, I started using a different approach thanks to the help of Focusable. Focusable is not a browser extension. Focusable is a tool to train yourself to focus on the work that you need to do. So far, it has been quite helpful whenever there is something that I need to do, but just can’t seem to get started doing.

I’ve been using Focusable for almost two weeks now. Here are the ways that it has helped me use my time a bit better during my work day.

I can do anything for five minutes!
I can do anything for five minutes. I can use those five minutes to mindlessly scroll Instagram looking for a quick dopamine hit or I can start working on a task that you need to get done. Focusable has helped me use those five minutes to get things done.

In Focusable you create something called “progressions” which is another way of saying goals or tasks that you need to complete. Each progression begins with a five minute block of time. Often, the first step in getting something done is just starting to work on it. Whenever I’ve started a progression in the last two weeks, once I complete the first five minute block I’m ready to keep working on the task at hand. In other words, working for just five minutes is enough to get me in a flow to keep going.

No more “I’m just going to look for a minute” breaks.
Focusable progressions have time blocks of five, ten, and twenty minutes (you can adjust the times, but those are the default recommendations). The goal is to work on your task nonstop during those time blocks. Between each block Focusable prompts you to reflect and breathe. I’ve found it to be a fun exercise to not look away from what I’m working on until I hear the chime from Focusable telling me to stop. Previously, I would just stop and take a break whenever I felt like it, which could mean a break after writing one sentence or after two hours of picking my way through a difficult problem.

Resetting With a Focused Break
For the last month I’ve been working on a particularly vexing problem with one of my websites. I’ve had moments when I wanted to chuck my laptop like a frisbee! It’s in those moments that I need to walk away and reset, but not walk away for too long because then I’ll lose momentum. Focusable has been helpful in not only getting me started when I don’t want to work on the problem and it has also been helpful in reminding me to take a break after thirty-five minutes of working on the problem. At the end of every set of three time blocks, Focusable prompts you to take a break away from your screen for ten minutes.

These focused breaks have also been helpful when I feel like I’m getting annoyed or frustrated while working through my inbox or replying to social media posts. Rather than continuing down a frustrating path that leads to me venting, I have the reminder from Focusable to walk away from my screen.

Learn More About Focusable
Focusable was featured in this week’s Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. In that newsletter I also included this video that provides an overview of how Focusable works from a teacher’s perspective and from a student’s perspective.



By the way, I used Focusable to help me focus on writing this blog post.

Two Ways to Add an Image Search Tool to Your Website

In yesterday's blog post about finding free images for school projects I mentioned that Photos for Class offers a free tool for adding their image search tool to your website. You can do a similar thing if you use Google's Programmable Search tool to create your own image search engine. Both options enable you to add an image search box directly into any page on your Google Site or any other website builder that allows you to embed third-party content. 

In this new video I demonstrate how to add an image search tool to your Google Site by using Photos for Class and Google Programmable Search


Applications for Education
Adding an image search tool into your classroom or library website can be a helpful time-saver to your students. Rather than having to keep track of websites that offer free images or going to Google Images and using the search filters there, students can just go to your website to start their search for free images for their projects. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Expedition Insects - An Interactive Book from the Smithsonian

Expedition Insects is a neat interactive book from the Smithsonian Science Education Center. The book was written to helps students in third through fifth grade learn about insects from all over the world. The book is full of pictures and videos to complement the text. Throughout the book students can click or tap on underlined words to quickly access their definitions.

Expedition Insects was created for the Apple Books (formerly known as iBooks) platform. It is interactive if you read it on a Mac or on an iPad. A non-interactive version of the book is available to read as a PDF.

Applications for Education
By reading and watching the content in Expedition Insects elementary school students can learn about how the insects survive in their respective environments. Students can also learn about the role that insects play in ecosystems.

50 Ideas for Your Next Tech Tuesday

Are you a new tech coach, tech integrator, or media specialist who has been asked to run a little tech workshop? Do you need some ideas for it? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is for you! 

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!

A Great Place to Find Free Images for School Projects

Photos for Class is one of my favorite sites for students to use to find free images to use their projects. The best feature of Photos for Class is that it automatically adds attribution information to the footer of the images that students download. Recently, Photos for Class was updated to provide stricter image filtering. I thought this would be a good time to create an updated video about how to use Photos for Class. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to find free images on Photos for Class. In the second half of the video I demonstrate how you can add the Photos for Class search tool to your own website. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Free Webinar - Believe In You Student Leadership Program

Last spring I wrote about OPEN's Believe In You Empowerment Program and its accompanying digital journals for students. Building upon the success of that program, OPEN and Varsity Brands has launched a new initiative called the Believe In You Student Leadership Program

The Believe In You Student Leadership Program is a twenty week program designed to help you help your students develop leadership skills that they can use in school and beyond. The program includes weekly activities for students to complete on their own, with classmates, and with your guidance. 

Tomorrow (September 21st) at 2pm ET the creator of the Believe In You Student Leadership Program, Aaron Hart, is hosting a free webinar in which you can learn more about this free SEL program and how you can implement it in your classroom. You can register for the free webinar right here. If you can't make it to the live webinar, a recording will be available to those who register. 

Five Google Search Products Students Overlook

The advanced search menu on Google.com offers some great search results refinement tools that students should know how to use. Once students have become familiar with those tools, they should start exploring some of the other search products that Google offers that aren't found by just searching on Google.com. In this new compilation video I provide an overview of five Google search products that can be helpful to students (mostly high school and college level). 

In Five Google Search Products Students Overlook I demonstrate how to use the following tools:

  • Google Books
  • Google Scholar
  • Google Public Data Explorer
  • Google Dataset Search
  • Google Fact Check Explorer



Learn more about Google Scholar in the following videos:

Monday, September 19, 2022

Lessons to Answer Common Questions About Fall

Yesterday morning my youngest daughter and I were walking one of our dogs when she asked a question that her older sister asked a couple of years ago. That question was, "why do we have fall?" I did my best to explain it to her (she's four, five next month) in terms that she could understand. I think she got it the gist of it. 

Why Do We Have Fall?
If you have elementary school students who are wondering "why do we have fall?" here are a couple of good little videos on the topic. 

Why Are There Seasons? from SciShow Kids is a good video lesson about seasons. The video is appropriate for students in primary grades. 

 

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.

What is the Harvest Moon?
While looking for the videos above, I came across a related video that I featured in a blog post a couple of years ago. That video is ScienceCasts: The Harvest Moon. In the video the team at NASA ScienceCasts explains why the full moon that is closest to the northern autumnal equinox is called The Harvest Moon and why other moons have names too (have you heard of the snow moon or the wolf moon?). I found the video interesting, and I hope that you and your students do too.

Why Do Leaves Change Color?
Science Film Making Tips offers a good, partially animated, explanation of why leaves change colors, what produces the colors, and why bright and sunny days are best for viewing red leaves. The video is embedded below.



Reactions, a great YouTube channel from the American Chemical Society, offers a nice video about the chemistry involved in the process of leaves changing color. The videos explains how chlorophyll and the glucose stored inside trees help reveal the reds, yellows and, browns of fall foliage.



SciShow Kids offers this short video lesson to answer the question, "why do leaves change color in the fall?" following video about the science of changing leaves.

My Top Ten Tools for Social Studies Teachers and Students

A few years ago I published a list of my favorite tools for social studies teachers and students. Since then a few things have changed, namely Google has shuttered a couple of cool tools, so I think it's time to update the list. In no particular order, here are my top ten tools for social studies teachers and students. 

Timeline JS
Timeline projects as as old as history classes themselves. It used to be that timelines were only made on paper. Today, students can build timelines that include videos, audio recordings, pictures, and interactive maps. Timeline JS is the best tool for making multimedia timelines today.

Readlee
One of the challenges of giving students primary or secondary source articles to read on their own is knowing how long it actually takes them to read the articles and how well read them. Readlee is a service that solves that problem. With a free Readlee account you can assign articles to students and they have to read them aloud to their computers. Readlee tracks the speed at which students read along with information about total words read and unique words read. Here's a video overview of Readlee.  

StoryMap JS
StoryMap JS is produced by the same people that make Timeline JS. StoryMap JS enables students to tell stories through the combination of maps and timelines. On StoryMap JS you create slides that are matched to locations on your map. Each slide in your story can include images or videos along with text.

Google Earth
Google Earth is available in two versions. The Pro version is the version that you can install on your desktop. That's the version that I prefer if given a choice because it includes more features that the web browser version. Google Earth Pro can be used by students and teachers to record narrated tours and to layer historical imagery on top of current map views. Here's one of my favorite Google Earth activities for middle school and high school. And here's my online course all about Google Earth and Maps. 

Google Books
This is an often overlooked search tool. Google Books provides students with access to millions of free books and periodicals. Google Books really shines when you start looking for work that was published in the 19th Century and early 20th Century. One of the best features of Google Books is the ability to search within a book for a phrase or keyword.

DocsTeach
DocsTeach is a free service provided by the U.S. National Archives. Through DocsTeach you can create online activities based upon primary source artifacts from the National Archives. Your students can complete the activities online. Don't let the fact that the service is provided by the National Archives fool you into thinking that it can only be used for U.S. History lessons. You can upload any primary source artifact that you like to your DocsTeach account to develop an online history activity. DocsTeach offers more than a dozen activity templates that you can follow to develop your primary source-based lessons. Watch this video to learn more about DocsTeach.

EDpuzzle
When I taught social studies I liked to use video clips as part of current events lessons. I also liked to use excerpts from documentary videos. If you use videos in the same way, EDpuzzle is a tool that you need to try. EDpuzzle lets you add questions directly into the timeline of the video. Here's my video overview of how to use EDpuzzle

WeVideo
If you want your students to make short documentary-style videos, WeVideo is hard to beat. It works on Chromebooks, Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac (though if you have a Mac, iMovie is just as good). Those who have upgraded WeVideo accounts can even use it to make green screen videos.

Scribble Maps
Scribble Maps is the multimedia mapping tool that I recommend whenever someone asks for an alternative to Google Earth or Google Maps for students. Scribble Maps is a free tool for creating custom, multimedia maps online. Scribble Maps provides a variety of base layer maps on which you can draw freehand, add placemarks, add image overlays, and type across the map. Scribble Maps will work in the web browser on your laptop, Chromebook, iPad, or Android tablet. In the video embedded below I provide an overview of how to use Scribble Maps.



Canva
Canva can be used for making everything from an infographic to a presentation to a website to a video and a whole lot of things in between. In the context of social studies I've used Canva to create multimedia timelines and to create vintage travel posters based on public domain imagery found in these collections.


Sunday, September 18, 2022

The Physics of Soccer Kicks

My daughters have started playing soccer this fall. For the first time in my life I have a real interest in watching the game. Before yesterday's practice there were some high school students on the field who were making some long kicks which amazed my youngest daughter who wanted to know how they did it. While a bit too complex for a five-year-old, TED-Ed does have a nice physics lesson about soccer kicks. 

Football Physics: The "Impossible" Free Kick is a TED-Ed lesson that illustrates and explains how soccer players make the ball curve when they kick it on a free kick or a corner kick. The video also explains how the forces that make a soccer ball curve can also make a thrown baseball curve. The video also answers the question of whether or not it would be possible to make a ball boomerang back to you. The video is embedded below. The full lesson can be seen here.


How to Create PDFs in Google Classroom

Last weekend a reader reached out to me to ask if I could create a video about the relatively new option to create PDFs in Google Classroom. I was happy to oblige

In this new video I demonstrate how to use the Google Classroom mobile apps to create PDFs from scratch. As I demonstrate in the video, you can use the app to draw on a PDF or type on a PDF. The drawing option could be a great one for students to use in a mathematics class as they can easily sketch to show their work on solving a math problem.



On a related note you may be interested in How to Create Virtual Math Manipulatives in Google Classroom and How to Add Audio to Google Forms, Docs, Classroom, Slides, and Gmail.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Branchiness, Videos, and Archives - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where I am not racing my bike this weekend and instead will be enjoying a nice early fall day by helping out at my daughters' soccer practices. By the way, I finished last week's race much better than I predicted and ended up fourth in my division despite a flat tire around the midway point of the race. I hope that you have something fun and exciting planned for your weekend. And if you don't, I hope you just enjoy a relaxing weekend doing whatever rejuvenates you. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. A Great Alternative to Quizlet
2. Two Tips to Make Chrome Run a Little Faster
3. A Short Overview of the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine - And How I Use It
4. 5 Little Things You Can Do To Improve Your Videos
5. Display Note Broadcast Adds Helpful Features to Improve Screen Sharing
6. Try Using Vocabulary Lists to Help Your Students Conduct Better Searches
7. Synth is Shutting Down to Focus on Focusable - Other Audio Recording Tools to Try

I'll Come You!
If you'd like me to come to your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or fill out the form on this page

50 Tech Tuesday Tips!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook that I created with busy tech coaches, tech integrators, and media specialists in mind. In it you'll find 50 ideas and tutorials that you can use as the basis of your own short PD sessions. Get a copy today!

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

Friday, September 16, 2022

The WWII Rumor Project - An Activity in Learning Through Primary Sources

A handful of years ago the Library of Congress launched a crowd sourcing project called By the People. The purpose of the project is to enlist the help of the public to transcribe thousands of primary source documents that are housed by and have been scanned by the Library of Congress. Over the years there have been collections of documents from the American Civil War, papers from the American Revolution, presidential papers, documents about suffrage, and documents about the integration of Major League Baseball. The latest By the People campaign is seeking help transcribing a collection of documents from the WWII Rumor Project carried out by the Office of War Information

Anyone can participate in the LOC's Crowd project to transcribe documents in the WWII Rumor Project collection of notes and diaries. To get started simply go to the collection and choose a document. Your chosen document will appear on the left side of the screen and a field for writing your transcription appears on the right side of the screen. After you have completed your transcription it is submitted for peer review. A demonstration of the process is included in the video below.

Applications for Education
The By the People project is a good opportunity for high school students and some middle school students to learn about the role of information control in the United States during World War II while contributing to a national project. All of the collections in By the People do have timelines and some other resources that help to provide context for the documents that are in need of transcription.

The Smithsonian has a similar crowdsourcing project called Smithsonian Digital Volunteers.


Seven Good Resources for Teaching and Learning About the Value of Money

My daughters have recently started receiving a little weekly allowance. One of them is very interested in saving as many of her dollars as possible for as long as possible. The other sees the money and immediately thinks of the things she'd like to buy. This has led to some conversations around our dinner table about the value of money. The most recent conversation prompted me to compile the following list of resources for teaching and learning about the value of money. 

 Peter Pig’s Money Counter is a fun little game designed to help kids learn to recognize U.S. coins, to recognize the values of U.S. coins, and to add the values of U.S. coins. The game is available as a free iPad app and as a free Android app. There are three levels in Peter Pig’s Money Counter and three games within each level. The first game asks students to sort coins into jars. The second game requires students to count coins and select the matching total value. The third game has students look at two piles of coins and determine which one has the greater value. The difference between the levels is the quantity and variety of coins displayed.

What Gives a Dollar Bill Its Value? is a nice TED-Ed lesson on the influence of the United States Federal Reserve banks on the value of currency. The lesson includes a short piece about the correlation between inflation and the overall health of the U.S. economy. The lesson is probably best suited to high school students who already have a basic understanding of how the value of currency is determined.

How to Spot a Counterfeit Bill is a fun TED-Ed lesson about money. In the lesson students learn about the chemistry of counterfeit detection. In other words, they learn why and how those highlighter pens work on when a store clerk runs one over a twenty dollar bill.

Why Can't Governments Print an Unlimited Amount of Money? is another TED-Ed lesson about the value of money. The purpose of the video is to explain how governments, particularly the United States federal government, were able to spend trillions of dollars on COVID-19 economic relief programs in the last year. The video explains the role of central banks in controlling the money supply and the concepts of inflation and quantitative easing. There is also an explanation of government bonds, why they're sold, and who buys them. Overall, it's a solid video for middle school or high school students. 

Compound interest can be a wonderful thing if you're saving money. How compound interest works is a concept that every middle school or high school student should learn as it helps them see the value of saving money in a bank account.  This Common Craft video does a nice job of explaining the concept in a way that middle school and high school students can understand. This Investopedia video offers a slightly different, but equally helpful explanation of compound interest vs. simple interest.

The Inflation Calculator created by Involve.me lets you enter a dollar amount then select two years to see the change in the value of the original dollar amount over time. Watch this short video to see how it works.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Display Note Broadcast Adds Helpful Features to Improve Screen Sharing

Display Note Broadcast is a tool that I started using last spring as a means for broadcasting my screen to the screens of other people in the room. It provides a simple system in which you click a sharing button, display a join code for your audience, and then they enter it on their computers to see your screen. Display Note Broadcast also has a Google Classroom integration that makes screen sharing as simple asking your students to click a link in Google Classroom to see your screen. Here's my video overview of how it works

This week Display Note Broadcast announced the launch of some new features that will improve your experience and your students' experiences when you share your screen with them. Those new features include microphone and camera sharing, reduction of the "infinite mirroring" effect, and improved annotation tools. 

Display Note Broadcast now lets you share your camera and microphone. This means that students who can't see you well or aren't even in the room with you can now see you on their screens when you have your camera turned on (think of it like Zoom on-demand). This also means that students who have difficulty hearing you, can listen to you on their computers at a volume that works for them. Watch this video for a brief overview of these new settings in action. 

Live Draw is Display Note Broadcast's annotation feature. With this feature enabled you can draw on your screen and students see your drawings and annotations on their screens. This could be great for giving quick visual instructions to your students. Here's a brief video overview of the Live Draw feature

Finally, if you have ever started a screen sharing session and seen your screen mirrored 1,000 times, you've experienced "infinite mirroring." This happens with lots of screen sharing tools and not just with Display Note Broadcast. Display Note Broadcast has taken a step to cure this problem by adding an overlay effect to remove the appearance of infinite mirroring when you look at your shared screen on your own computer.