Friday, February 3, 2023

How to Use Canva to Create Custom Valentine's Day Cards for Kids to Share

Now that Groundhog Day has come and gone, Valentine's Day is the next holiday that my daughters are looking forward to celebrating. Yesterday, both of them came home from school with letters from their teachers about Valentine's Day activities planned for their classrooms. The activities are mostly the exchange of little cards between classmates. I'm sure that some of you who teach pre-K and early elementary school grades have similar activities planned for your classroom. If you find that you need some templates for printing cards that your students can exchange, take a look at Canva

Canva has lots of templates that have a Valentine's Day theme. You can use one of those templates to create some printable cards. In this short video I demonstrate using a couple of different template formats to create Valentine's Day cards for kids. 



Take a look at this playlist for 58 more tutorials and ideas for using Canva in your classroom.

Two Lessons for a Wicked Cold Day

Over the next two days here in Maine we're expecting some of the coldest temperatures and windchills of the last 50 years. As we say in Maine, it's going to be wicked cold! It's going to be so cold that kids will stay inside for recess and we'll leave the water dripping in our faucets overnight to prevent pipes from freezing. If you're experiencing some wicked cold weather right now or you're just curious about it, I have a couple of short lessons to share with you. 

How windchill is calculated:
The windchill is expected to reach -35F tonight at my house. The following video explains how windchill is calculated. The video comes from Presh Talwalkar.

 

The psychology of extreme weather:
Television news reporters like to use the word "extreme" whenever we have a lot of rain or snow in a short amount of time. Is the weather really "extreme" or is that just our impression of it? The following Minute Earth video takes on the topic of how extreme weather affects our thinking about weather patterns in general. I found the video to be interesting from a psychology perspective. The video is embedded below.

 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

GPTZero - Another Tool to Detect Writing Created by AI

Yesterday, I shared a brief overview of AI Text Classifier which can be used to determine the likelihood that a article was written with ChatGPT. Today, I have a similar tool to share with you. GPTZero is a free tool that analyzes text to determine whether or not it was written by an artificial intelligence program. 

At first glance GPTZero works much like the other AI detection tools that I've tried in the last couple of weeks. To use it you paste a block of writing (at least 250 characters) into the text field and GPTZero tells you the likelihood of that text being written by AI. 

There are some features of GPTZero that make it a bit different from some of the other AI detection tools that I've tried. First, in addition to accepting text that you copy and paste into it, GPTZero lets you upload PDFs, Word docs, and TXT files to analyze them. Second, GPTZero will highlight for you the parts of an article that it determines to have a high likelihood of being written by an AI tool. Third, GPTZero provides a perplexity score and a burstiness score to illustrate how it was determined that a document was or was not written by an AI tool. 


Applications for Education
GPTZero was created with teachers in mind. That's evident in the fact that you can upload documents to have them evaluated instead of having to copy and paste the text of a document to have it evaluated. Uploading a copy of a student's document is much more efficient than trying to copy and paste it to evaluate it. The highlighting and perplexity score that GPTZero provides should help to facilitate conversations with students if you do find that they have used an AI tool to create a document that they've submitted for a grade.

As I wrote yesterday about AI Text Classifier, show your students how AI detection tools work and have discussions about responsible use of AI writing tools.

Focusable - Fitness Tracking for Your Mind

Focusable is a free app and website that I started using at the start of this school year. It's a tool that anyone can use to teach themselves to focus on completing difficult tasks, to ignore cheap social media distractions, and to recharge after completing a stressful task. Since September I've used Focusable as a progress journal and I've used Focusable as an aid to avoid procrastination

Throughout this school year Focusable has added new features and refined existing features to make the user experience better for everyone who uses it. One of those new features is the ability to use Focusable without registering for an account. Those who do register get access to even more free features like recording progress reflections and keeping track of focus streaks. In the last couple of months Focusable has also added more guided "recharge" activities. Recharge activities are breathing, stretching, and similar relaxation exercises you can do at your desk or anywhere else you like. 

In the new video that is embedded below I provide an overview of how you can use Focusable without an account and how you can use it with a free account. 

Video - Try Focusable to Help You and Your Students Stay on Track



You can see how Focusable works from a student's perspective by watching this video.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The Makers of ChatGPT Have Launched a Tool to Detect Text Written With AI

In this week's Practical Ed Tech newsletter I included a video overview of a tool called AI Writing Check that detects whether or not an article has been written with the use of a tool like ChatGPT. Two days after publishing my newsletter, the makers of ChatGPT announced the launch of their own tool designed to detect whether or not an article has been written by ChatGPT. 

AI Text Classifier is a new tool from Open AI, the makers of ChatGPT, that will detect whether or not a passage of text has been written with ChatGPT and similar AI writing tools. To use AI Text Classifier you do need to have registered for a free account on Open AI. Once you have an account you can use AI Text Classifier. To use AI Text Classifier you simply have to paste a block of writing (at least 1,000 characters, roughly 175 words) into the text field and click the submit button. AI Text Classifier will then rank the writing as very unlikely, unlikely, unclear if it is, possibly, or likely written by AI. For the record, AI Text Classifier classified my article about detecting writing created by AI as very unlikely to have been written by AI. 


Applications for Education
If you're concerned that your students have submitted work created by AI, AI Text Classifier could be the tool you need to check it. But before you get to that point, show your students how tools like AI Text Classifier work and have discussions about responsible use of AI tools.

Three Things You Should Know How to Do With TinyURL

I'm not 100% certain of this, but I'd make a substantial wager that TinyURL was the first URL shortener I ever used. I know I was using it before I started this blog and that's going on 16 years this year. The point being that TinyURL has been around a long time. It's that longevity that contributes to it often being the first tool people think of when they need to shorten URLs. 

Like all web tools that have been around for a long time, there are features of TinyURL that people overlook or simply forget about. Two of those features are the ability to create custom URLs that people can actually spell and the ability to generate QR codes for your URLs. Both of those things are demonstrated in the short video that is embedded below. 

Video - How to Use TinyURL



Whether you use TinyURL to shorten links or you're just clicking a TinyURL link, you should know how to preview where it's directing you to without actually clicking on the link. Here's a video overview of how to see what's behind a TinyURL without actually clicking on the link.

Get Ready for Groundhog Day With These Short Lessons

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day! Those of you who teach pre-K or early elementary grades you may have some students who are as excited about it as my pre-K and Kindergarten daughters are. If that's the case, you may be interested in watching the following videos that provide brief explanations of the origins of Groundhog Day.

Homeschool Pop offers a good explanation of Groundhog Day for kids. The video explains the origins of the tradition, where it's celebrated, and a couple of fun facts about groundhogs.



Turn to SciShow Kids for more fun facts about groundhogs. The video teaches where groundhogs live, what they eat, and how they adapt to get through cold winters.



This video from Storm Shield explains a bit of meteorology that goes into whether or not the groundhog will see his or her shadow.


This video from CGP Grey deals mostly with the origin of the tradition. Like most CGP Grey videos there is a fair amount of snark included in the video so review it carefully before deciding if it's appropriate for your students.



While not exactly about Groundhog Day, Why Do Some Animals Hibernate? is a good lesson to accompany discussion about Groundhog Day. 




Finally, Larry Ferlazzo has a growing list of many more resources for teaching and learning about Groundhog Day. Larry's list is where I found this short math lesson about Groundhog Day.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Most Popular Posts of the Month on Free Technology for Teachers

Good evening from Maine where the sun has set on the month of January. It was a busy and fun month for me. I hope it was a good start to the year for you as well. 

This month I hosted a new Practical Ed Tech course called How to Create and Sell Your Digital Products in 2023. Dozens of people joined me in the course and many more have asked when I'll host it again. The answer is, soon. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter to find out when my next course is open for registration. When you subscribe you'll also get my tip of the week sent directly to your inbox at the start of every week. 

Thank you to everyone who supported my work this month by taking one of my courses, sharing a post with your colleagues, or simply sending a note to say hello. I appreciate it very much! I couldn't keep this going without you!

These were the most popular posts in January:
1. 27 Google Drive Tips and Tricks
2. Dozens of Tutorials for Getting Started With Google Forms
3. Dozens of PowerPoint Tips & Tricks
4. Dozens of Google Slides Tutorials
5. AI Writing Check
6. A Cool Tool for Uncluttering and Saving Online Articles
7. How to Sort Google Sheets and Forms Entries in Reverse Chronological Order
8. Students Can Create Their Own Video Games With Construct 3
9. BookWidgets Adds a New Video Quiz Option to Use in Google Classroom and Beyond
10. Three Ways to Create Your Own Mobile App

Workshops and eBooks
If you'd like to have me speak at your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or fill out the form on this page. Book me for this school year and I'll include copies of my eBook for all of the teachers in your school. 

50 Tech Tuesday Tips!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook that I created with busy tech coaches, tech integration specialists, 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 44,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • I update my LinkedIn profile a time or two every week.
  • 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.

How to Remove Apps and Files from Your Android Phone

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about why you should remove unused apps from your Google account and from your Android phone. One reader correctly pointed out that while I explained why you should do that, I didn't explain how to remove unused apps from your Android phone. To remedy that, I created a short screencast video. If you want to know how to clean-up your Android phone, watch the video that is embedded below. 

Video - How to Remove Apps and Files from Your Android Phone



On a related note, if it has been a while since you last did an audit of the add-ons connected to your Google Workspace products, now's a good time to do that. When you find something that you no longer need, remove it. This short video shows you how to remove add-ons from Google Forms. The process is almost identical for Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets. 

Video - How to Remove Google Forms Add-ons



And if you have Chrome extensions installed that you no longer need, watch this video to learn how to remove them.

Video - How to Manage Your Chrome Extensions


75 Google Documents Tutorials

Last week I published a new tutorial about how to add footnotes to Google Documents. After publishing it I decided that it was time to continue on my quest to bring some better organization to my YouTube channel. The next step in that quest was to create a playlist of my Google Documents tutorials. 

I didn't add every video that I've ever made about Google Docs to my new playlist. I only included the ones that are relevant today (the ones that were 14 years old got left out). That still left 75 Google Docs tutorial videos. You can binge watch all of them right here or take a look at the highlights that I've embedded below. 

Ten Google Docs Editing Features You Should Know How to Use



How to Add Shapes and Drawings into Google Docs



Two Ways to Add Watermarks to Google Docs



How to Convert PDFs to Google Docs and More!



How to Use Inline Emojis in Google Docs



How to Download Google Docs

Terry Freedman's Article Planner and Writing Prompts

Last week I published a video about creating writing prompts with Spinner Wheel. Terry Freedman took that idea and ran with it to start the week on his Eclecticism Substack. In Terry's latest article he shared the Spinner Wheel of writing prompts that he created. Additionally, he shared his article planner. 

Terry Freedman's article planner is available to use in Google Sheets and in Excel format. The planner has two purposes. The first purpose is keeping track of the progress you're making toward publishing a finished version of any article that you're writing. The second purpose is to generate writing prompts. 

As you can see in the screenshot below, you can use Terry's article planner to assign writing prompts to students. In one column you can have names, in another writing prompts, and genres in a third column. Use the drop-down menus to assign the prompts to students. 

For more information on how to use Terry Freedman's article planner, read his directions and download a copy of the planner here

Sunday, January 29, 2023

How to Map Spreadsheet Data on Felt

Felt is a multimedia mapping tool that I started using late last year and it has quickly become one of my favorite mapping tools. With Felt you can create everything some simple directions maps to maps that have historic overlays to maps of animal migrations and much more. The latest update to Felt makes it easy to quickly create a map from a spreadsheet. 

In your Felt account you can upload a CSV or Excel file and have the data within the spreadsheet distributed as placemarks and or polygons on a map. After the data is initially loaded you can then customize the design of your map by altering the color, size, and shape of the placemarks and polygons. You can also customize the size and color of the labels on your map after the spreadsheet data has been imported onto your map. Watch my video below to learn how to display your spreadsheet data on a Felt map

Video - How to Map Spreadsheet Data on Felt


Applications for Education
Mapping spreadsheet data is a great way for students to see the distribution of people, animals, and plants in a state, province, country, or region. A tool like Google's Dataset Search is a good place to find spreadsheets that students can then import into Felt to create a map. 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Skeletons, Slides, and Snow - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where there is a lot snow covering the ground. We had two big snow storms this week that cumulatively brought about 22" of new snow to my neighborhood. So as you might have already guessed, we're going skiing today! I spent last night sharpening the edges and putting fresh wax on all of skis my family owns. We're ready to go! I hope that you have something equally exciting in store for your weekend. 


These were the week's most popular posts:
1. 27 Google Drive Tips and Tricks
2. Dozens of PowerPoint Tips & Tricks
3. eSkeletons - Digital Comparisons of Mammal Skeletons
4. 45 Digital Mapping Tutorials
5. Using Google Slides to Organize Research
6. A Classic Search Lesson from My Archives
7. How to Find the Source for Images in Google Slides

Workshops and eBooks
If you'd like to have me speak at your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or fill out the form on this page. Book me for this school year and I'll include copies of my eBook for all of the teachers in your school. 

50 Tech Tuesday Tips!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook that I created with busy tech coaches, tech integration specialists, 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 44,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • I update my LinkedIn profile a time or two every week.
  • 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.

How to Add Footnotes to Your Google Documents

When it comes answering tech support questions it is often easier to show the solution with a screencast video than it is to write directions. That's why I made this screencast video when earlier this week I was asked "how can I add footnotes into my Google Documents?" In the video I show where to access the footnote tools and a handy little feature of the footnotes tool in Google Docs. 

Video - How to Add Footnotes to Google Docs

Friday, January 27, 2023

How to Create a YouTube Channel

If you're looking for a little weekend project, starting a YouTube channel could be a good one for you. Whether you make a YouTube channel simply to share instructional videos with your students or you make a YouTube channel with the hopes of becoming rich and famous, the process of getting started is the same. In the short video that is embedded below I demonstrate how you can start your YouTube channel in five minutes or less. 

Video - How to Create a YouTube Channel



After you've started your YouTube channel you'll probably want to take advantage of some of the editing tools available to you in your YouTube Studio. Here are three YouTube Studio settings you should know how to use.

Video - Three YouTube Studio Settings You Should Know How to Use



To grab the attention of potential viewers you will want to create custom thumbnails for your videos. Here's a tutorial on how to do that.

Video - How to Create a Custom YouTube Thumbnail

Create Writing Prompts With Spinner Wheel

In reviewing my Google Analytics earlier this week I noticed that "writing prompts" was one of the most frequently searched terms on FreeTech4Teachers.com in the last month. That was the inspiration for a new video about how to create a random writing prompt generator. 

In this new video I demonstrate how to use Spinner Wheel to create random writing prompts. In the first part of the video I use Spinner Wheel to simply select a writing prompt from a list that I've given it. In the second part of the video I use Spinner Wheel to randomly select a noun, a verb, and an adjective to use in the creation of a writing prompt. 

Video - Create Writing Prompts With Spinner Wheel


Applications for Education
When it comes to creative writing assignments, the hardest step for many students is coming up with things to write about. Using a Spinner Wheel to randomly select a noun, a verb, and an adjective could give students some fun combinations of words to get them started on a creative story.

How to Add Checkboxes to Tables in Google Docs

Earlier this week when I was looking back at The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators I noticed that Google Docs was still a beta product back when that book was written. Google Docs has come a long way since then. Today, Google Docs is packed with some many handy little features that it's hard to keep track of them all. One way that you could try to keep of them is to make a table with checkboxes inside it. That's what I demonstrate in this new video

Video - How to Add Checkboxes to Tables in Google Docs



Applications for Education
I recently used this combination of checkboxes in a table to create a document in which I keep track of who is present for the ski lessons that I teach and the skills each student is working on developing.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

How to Find the Source for Images in Google Slides

A couple of weeks ago I published a video about using the explore function in Google Slides to find images to use in presentations. Since then I've had a few people ask for clarification about how to use the image source when using the other image search option in Google Slides. The process of finding the image source is the same whether you use the Explore function or you use the Insert Image option in Google Slides. Watch this video to see how that process works. 

Video - How to Find the Image Source in Google Slides

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

AI Writing Check

AI Writing Check is a free tool created by the collaborative efforts of the non-profits Quill.org and CommonLit. AI Writing Check is a tool that was created to help teachers try to recognize writing created through the use of artificial intelligence. 

To use AI Writing Check you simply have to copy a passage of text of 100 or more words and paste it into AI Writing Check. The tool will then tell you the likelihood that the writing has or has not been created by artificial intelligence. That's all there is to it. 

AI Writing Check isn't foolproof and as is pointed out on the site, students can still develop ways to get around tools designed to detect AI-generated writing. It's also worth noting that it can't handle more than 400 words at a time. 

Applications for Education
A couple of weeks ago my Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week was to get to know AI writing tools before your students use them to turn in an essay. In that newsletter I explained and demonstrated two AI writing tools. The first was ChatGPT and the second was Canva's Magic Write tool. In response to that newsletter I got at least two dozen notes from teachers who were concerned about students using those tools to "cheat." If that's one of your concerns about AI, you may want to take a look at AI Writing Check

How to Clean-up Image Backgrounds in Canva Designs

Last week someone reached out to me after watching my original video about using Canva's image background removal tool. She was having a little trouble because the automatic background remover was leaving a few patches of the original image intact. To help, I recorded a new video that demonstrates how to clean-up the parts of the image that Canva doesn't automatically remove. 

Video - How to Clean-up Image Backgrounds in Canva  



Applications for Education
One of my favorite ways to use Canva's background remover is to remove the background from an image of yourself and then put a new background in its place. I put an image of Mount Everest in the background of my picture. One way to use this with students is to have them place themselves in front of landmarks of the world then write about their virtual visit to those landmarks.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

45 Digital Mapping Tutorials

This month I've been spending some time organizing the tutorial videos on my YouTube channel. To that end I'm creating playlists that are organized thematically. The latest playlist that I've created is titled Digital Mapping. The playlist currently contains 45 tutorial videos covering more than just Google Maps. In the playlist you'll find tutorials on things like NatGeo Mapmaker, Felt Maps, USGS map tools, making animated maps, and much more. Some highlights from the playlist are embedded below. 

The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter

Between social media and email it can be hard to keep up with everything going on in the world of ed tech throughout the week. That's why nine years ago I started the Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. Every Sunday evening/ Monday morning I send out my favorite tip of the week and summary of my most popular posts of the previous week. 

Weekly Newsletter

In my Practical Ed Tech Newsletter I also usually include a personal note like the fun I had in my 171 year old attic or I make fun pop culture reference like "were Ross and Rachel really on a break?" The Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week newsletter is also where I usually publish handouts like my guide to finding classroom-friendly media before I publish it anywhere else. 

Click here to subscribe to the Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week

Monday, January 23, 2023

Issuu is Making Big Changes to Free Plans

Thirteen years ago I used Issuu to publish The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators. It was an eBook written in collaboration with some great folks including Larry Ferlazzo, Adam Bellow, Kelly Tenkely, Beth Still, George Couros, Steven Anderson, Lee Kolbert, Patrick Larkin, Cory Plough, and Sylvia Rosenthal Tolisano. I had kind of forgotten about it until last night when Issuu sent me an email notifying me that my file was soon to be too large for their free plan. 

Issuu is a service for hosting PDFs and displaying them with page turning effects. As you can tell, I've used it for a long time. The free plan was quite generous. That's going to change in February. The new free plan will limit files to 50mb. But if your file is less than 50mb while having more than 50 pages, it won't be supported on the free plan. The other significant change is that you can no longer have unlisted files on Issuu's free plan. 

The changes to Issuu's free plan just about spells the end of The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators in its current format. I still have the original document so if you want to read what we were thinking about 13 years ago, email me and I'll send you a copy of it. 

A Classic Search Lesson from My Archives

The "memories" feature is just about the only thing I like about Facebook these days. This morning Facebook reminded me of a memory from my first time attending the BETT Show in London back in 2014. That memory included a first-hand reminder of why you should consider other words and phrases when conducting research. Here's what I wrote about the experience nine years ago...

I’m currently in London, England for the BETT Show and TeachMeet BETT 2014. As is the case with most flights going to Europe from the east coast of the U.S. my flight left in the evening and arrived in London in the middle of the morning. This meant that I was too early to check into my hotel. I knew this ahead of time and figured that I could probably check my luggage at the ExCel Conference Center where the BETT Show is being held. I wanted to confirm this ahead of time so I spent some time searching on the BETT and ExCel websites for “coat check,” “bag check,” “coat room,” and “bag storage” in the hopes of confirming my assumption. My searches were fruitless.

Eventually I confirmed my assumption about a baggage check when I stumbled upon a map of the conference center. In browsing around the map I discovered a “cloakroom.” When I hear “cloak” I instantly think of the Count Chocula character from the cereal boxes of the 1980’s (my mother never let us eat that kind of cereal despite our pleas). I never thought to use the word “cloak” in any of my searches for information about storing my jacket and small bag for the afternoon. Cloak is just not a regular part of my American vernacular.

I have no doubt that students sometimes run into roadblocks in their searches for the same reason that I didn’t find anything in my searches; we’re stuck in our own vernacular. Had I used a thesaurus when I got stuck, I probably would have found the word cloak and confirmed my assumptions about checking my luggage for the day. The lesson here is when your search has hit a roadblock, try a thesaurus to find words that might lead you to better search results.

P.S. that trip to the BETT Show also lead me to meeting Sophie Ellis-Bextor without knowing that she was famous. That's a story for another time. 

Using Google Slides to Organize Research

Like many of you, when I was in middle school and high school I was taught to create index cards to organize our research. After creating the cards we sorted them into an order to support writing our research papers. That same concept can be applied to organizing research with Google Slides. In the video below I demonstrate how this is done.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

What Are Carbohydrates and How Do They Impact Your Health?

One of my goals for early part of 2023 is to set a new personal best time at a bike race that I'm entered in for the third year in a row. To do that I'm watching my diet much more carefully than I typically do at this time of year. Like many people, foods that contain lots of cheap carbohydrates are my Achilles heal when it comes to sticking to my nutrition plan. Why is that? And what impact does that have on my body? Those questions and more are answered in a TED-Ed lesson titled How Do Carbohydrates Impact Your Health? 

How Do Carbohydrates Impact Your Health? explains what carbohydrates are, common food sources of carbohydrates, and how are bodies use carbohydrates. The lesson also explains what can happen to our bodies when we consume too many carbohydrates.

eSkeletons - Digital Comparisons of Mammal Skeletons

eSkeletons is a great website produced by the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. eSkeletons features interactive models of mammal skeletons. Select a model from the menu on the home page then click on any bone in the model to view it in detail. After select a bone to view you can choose from a menu of viewing angles. In many cases eSkeletons offers a short video display of the bone you've selected from the menu.

eSkeletons gives students the option to compare bones across models. Select two or more animals from the menu then select a bone and a small gallery of comparative images will be generated. eSkeletons offers a glossary of terms and a legend to help students understand what they are viewing. Even without the models, the glossary is a good resource for anatomy students.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Slides, Apps, and Adventure - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where yesterday's snow storm has coating the ground with about eight inches of fluffy snow. Everyone in my house is excited to go play in it! We're going skiing! 

Earlier this week my older daughter's school was closed for the day so we had a little daddy-daughter day in which we explored the beach. If you've never taken a winter day to explore the beach, do it. We found all kinds of neat seashells and driftwood. 

I hope that you had a great week and that you have a great weekend!

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. 27 Google Drive Tips and Tricks
2. Dozens of PowerPoint Tips & Tricks
3. Dozens of Google Slides Tutorials
4. Three Ways to Create Your Own Mobile App
5. Why You Should Clean Your Phone
6. Tools for Teaching Adventure - A New OPEN Phys Ed Resource
7. Students Can Create Their Own Video Games With Construct 3

Workshops and eBooks
If you'd like to have me speak at your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or fill out the form on this page. Book me for this school year and I'll include copies of my eBook for all of the teachers in your school. 

50 Tech Tuesday Tips!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook that I created with busy tech coaches, tech integration specialists, 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 44,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • I update my LinkedIn profile a time or two every week.
  • 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.

Short Lessons on Stocks and Bonds

A few nights ago I had a long zone 2 ride on my indoor bike trainer. Whenever I have one of those workouts scheduled, I queue up a favorite movie to watch. Last night I watched The Big Short starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, and Brad Pitt. For those who aren't familiar with The Big Short, it is a movie about how the housing and stock markets crashed in 2008 and how a few shrewd investors benefited from the crash. Watching the movie again this week prompted me to dig up some information about stocks, bonds, ETFs, and related investing basics.

Investing for Beginners is a playlist of videos produced by Fidelity Investments. Granted, the videos are from a financial services company, but they do offer a good introduction to the basics about stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.



Investopedia offers a playlist of short videos that define things like ETFs, dividends, and compound interest. That playlist is embedded below.


Friday, January 20, 2023

A Webinar and an eBook for Your School

When I published the first edition of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips I made the offer of hosting a free webinar for any school or group that purchases ten or more copies. I've had more than a handful of people take me up on that offer. That offer is still good and I'd be happy to host a webinar for your school. And I've extended the offer a bit further for the rest of this school year. 

For the rest of this school year (through May 31, 2023) any school, conference, or library that hires me for an in-person workshop or in-person keynote will given copies of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips for all attendees. 

About the eBook

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 Virtual Owl Pellet Dissection Activity

For the last couple of weeks my oldest daughter has been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to dissect owl pellets at school. She was supposed to do that today. But we have a snow day today. None-the-less, her excitement this week has reminded me of a couple of helpful owl-themed resources from my archive. 

An old SciShow Kids video (embedded below) explains what an owl pellet is and what can be learned by dissecting an owl pellet.



Unfortunately, most students don't get the experience of walking in the woods and finding owl pellets. You can order owl pellets from a science lab supply company or you could have your students virtually dissect an owl pellet. Kid Wings is a website all about birds. The site includes a virtual owl pellet dissection activity called Sherlock Bones. In the virtual owl pellet dissection students pick apart an owl pellet, examine the bones inside it, then match those bones to the skeleton outline they've been provided. 

Physical Phonics Games

I have been a fan of the online learning game called Teach Your Monster to Read for many years. The game is designed to help students improve the speed and accuracy with which they recognize letters and sounds. The game gets its name from the friendly monster avatars that students use in the game. Teach Your Monster to Read also offers three fun phonics games to be played offline.

The Teach Your Monster to Read physical phonics games are designed to help students increase the speed with which they recognize sounds and letters while at the same time getting them moving about your classroom, gymnasium, or playground. Currently, three phonics games are available through the Teach Your Monster to Read website. In all three games students use large grapheme flashcards that students have to properly identify and place in proper sequences.

In Pirates and Sailors students have to match the grapheme cards to objects whose name begins with the grapheme on their cards. In the Pass the Sound game students participate in a relay race of sharing corresponding grapheme cards. And in the Find My Family Sound game students have to find classmates who have drawn the same grapheme card without showing anyone what is written on their cards.

Applications for Education
Playing the Teach Your Monster to Read phonics games could be a fun way to review what your students may have learned while playing the online version of Teach Your Monster to Read.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

A New Felt Mapping Tool

A few days ago I shared a neat map of gray whale migration patterns. That map was created on the Felt mapping platform. Felt was one of my favorite new tools of 2022 and is only getting better at the start of 2023. 

The most recent update to Felt introduced an easier way to access the most frequently used features of Felt. Now you can simply right-click on your map to add notes, lines, labels, and more. Additionally, you can now right-click to view any location in Google Maps or Open Street Map. Watch my new tutorial that is embedded below to learn how to use the latest feature in Felt. 

Video - A New and Handy Feature of Felt for Multimedia Mapping  



Video - Felt Offers a Great Way to Create Custom Maps



Video - Two Cool Mapping Tools on Felt.com

Design a Mobile App With Google Slides

Yesterday I published a post featuring three tools for creating mobile apps. I should point out that while those tools are helpful, students still need to take time to plan what they want their apps to do and how they will look. To that end, in the past I've had my students use Google Slides to design their apps before they start to put their apps together. 

In an effort to make my students think about all of the menus, items, and media that their apps will need, I have my students use Google Slides to outline the design of their apps. They're doing this by having each slide in their slideshows represent a screen in their apps. Then they use the hyperlinking function in Google Slides to link between the slides in their slideshows. Again, that's done to simulate tapping screens in the apps they're designing. In the following video I explain this process a bit more.