Friday, June 2, 2023

Three Tools for Making Short Audio Recordings - No Accounts Required

There are three tools that I typically recommend to those who are looking to just record short spoken audio tracks and don't require additional editing functions. Those three tools are Vocaroo, Online Voice Recorder, and Twisted Wave.

All three of these tools don't require students to have email addresses or create any kind of account in order to make a short audio recording then download it as an MP3.

I've been using Vocaroo for more than a decade. It's incredibly simple to use. Just head to the site, click the record button, and start talking. When you're finished recording hit the stop button. You can listen to your recording before downloading it as an MP3. If you don't like your recording you can create a new one by just refreshing the homepage and starting again. Here's my recent demo of how to use Vocaroo.

Online Voice Recorder offers the same simplicity of Vocaroo plus a couple of features that I've always wished Vocaroo had. One of those features is the ability to pause a recording in progress and resume it when I want to. The other feature is the option to trim the dead air at the beginning and end of a recording. Watch my video to see those features in action.

Twisted Wave
Twisted Wave offers many more features than either of the tools mentioned above. But at it's most basic level you can still just head to the site, launch the recorder, start talking, and then export your recording as an MP3 all without creating an account on the site. For those who are looking for a way to save audio directly into Google Drive, Twisted Wave offers that capability. Watch my short video below to see how you can use Twisted Wave to make an audio recording and save it directly to your Google Drive.

Searching for Images in Google Bard

Last month Google introduced a new Bard feature that makes it easy to copy the text of a chat to a Google Document. To start this month Google has added another new feature to Bard. That feature is the ability to conduct image searches. I gave it a try on Thursday. The results were interesting. 

Searching for images in Google Bard is easy to do. Simply type something like "images of a happy person with a dog" and you'll see a selection of about a half dozen images appear. But you can't necessarily use those images for your own projects because there isn't a filter in place for Creative Commons or Public Domain search. You have to click through each image to try to find the usage rights. 

You can refine a Google Bard search for images by writing something like "public domain images of a happy person with a dog." When you do that you will get another set of about a half dozen images from websites around the Web that claim to be hosting public domain images. In my testing I found that when I clicked through to the image source, I couldn't always verify the usage rights for the images. 

There is a third way to use Bard to find images that are free to use and re-use. You'll have to watch my short video that is embedded below to find out what that method is. 

Video - Another New Google Bard Feature

On a related note, take a look at my guide to finding classroom-friendly media

Thursday, June 1, 2023

EconEdLink's Most Popular Economics Games of the Year

Over the years I've referenced hundreds of EconEdLink's resources for teachers. That's because EconEdLink is a great resource for any teacher who needs ideas, lesson plans, games, and other resources for teaching economics lessons. On the site you'll find resources for everything from teaching basic personal finance lessons to elementary students through resources for teaching macro economic theory to high school students. 

This week EconEdLink published a list (via their newsletter) of their most popular economics games of the 2022-2023 school year. That list included a game for elementary school students, a game for middle school students, and a game for high school students. Those games are listed below.

Elementary School: Goods and Services Lightning Round

In this game students have to identify and sort items according to whether they represent a good or a service. 

Middle School: Taxes Tic Tac Toe

This game requires students to answer questions about types of taxes. When they answer correctly students can mark an X or an O on the Tic Tac Toe board. 

High School: The Money Multiplier and the Gigantic $100,000 Bill 

This is a game that teaches students how money supply is created and managed through the Federal Reserve system. 

Compound Interest Calculator

The Compound Interest Calculator is the most popular resource on EconEdLink. It does exactly what the name states. Students enter age, interest rate, initial investment, and monthly savings to see how much they'll save and earn over time. There are lots of tools like this one on the web. The nice thing about this one is that it's not surrounded by a zillion ads for mortgages and investment brokers.

On a related note, Common Craft has a great video that explains compound interest. If you have a subscription to Common Craft you can access the video for classroom use and access the accompanying lesson resources. 

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

Where Is That Summer Paycheck Going?

Summer is near and for many high school students that means it's time to start working at summer jobs. For many students the first real paycheck that they receive comes with a surprise in the form of tax withholding. PBS Learning Media has a free lesson plan through which students learn about reasons for taxes being withheld from paychecks, where the withholdings go, and why some people have more or less withheld than others.

In addition to helping students understand taxes withheld from paychecks Taxes - Where Does Your Money Go? introduces students to concepts related to saving for retirements. To that end, the lesson plan includes a video about how a self-employed person handles budgeting for taxes and retirement.

Applications for Education
I've had taxes deducted from my paychecks for 30 years and sometimes I'm still surprised by how much is withheld. So I have no doubt that many students are surprised by the same. This free lesson plan could help you help your students be a little less surprised when they look at their paychecks from their part-time jobs. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Most Popular Posts in May

Good evening from Maine where the sun is setting on the month of May. I know that many of you are now on summer vacation. I hope you're enjoying it! The rest of us have another few weeks to go. We'll make it!

A big thank you to the 25 people completed one of my Practical Ed Tech courses in May. Your support helps me keep Free Technology for Teachers going. In a couple of weeks I'll be announcing two new courses that you can complete this summer. Until then, these three courses are available right now. 

As I always do at the end of the month, I've made a list of the most popular posts of the month. Take a look and see if there's something interesting that you missed in May. 

These were the most popular posts in May:
1. The Effects of Talking to Yourself
2. 71 Google Slides Tutorials for Teachers and Students
3. 57 Google Earth & Maps Tutorials for Teachers and Students
4. New Microsoft Word Features to Note
5. How to Use Google Takeout 2023
6. The Science of Gardening
7. 225 NASA Infographics
8. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
9. Ten Ways to Use Adobe Express in School
10. A New Google Bard Feature

Self-paced Courses You Can Start Today

On Practical Ed Tech I have self-paced courses that you can start today and finish at your own pace. 
Workshops and Keynotes
If you'd like to have me speak at your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) or fill out the form on this page.  

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 46,000 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 If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

How to Enable Collaboration on a YouTube Channel

This is the time of year of end-of-year celebrations captured on video. If you have multiple people in your school recording videos to share with a wider audience, you could have everyone send those videos to one person to post to YouTube. Another option, perhaps a bit easier option, is to have those people collaborate on one YouTube channel. 

You can enable collaboration on a YouTube channel through the permissions settings in YouTube Studio. In the permissions you'll find options for inviting channel editors and managers. Simply enter the email address of the person you want to invite and he/she will get a notification with a link to join the channel with their assigned role. 

Video - How to Enable Collaboration on a YouTube Channel

It's important to note that if you are doing this in a Google Workspace for Education domain, the people that you invite as co-managers or editors on your YouTube channel should have email addresses within the same domain.

On a related note, when you are posting long videos like recordings of awards ceremonies it can be helpful to include timestamps in your video. Here's how to do that.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Five Good Resources for Teaching and Learning About Copyright

In no particular order, here are some of my go-to resources for helping students and teachers understand the importance and the key concepts of copyright as it relates to school projects.

Stanford University Libraries
Stanford University Libraries offers the most comprehensive collection of resources about copyright and fair use that I know of. You could spend hours looking through all of the resources offered on the site. A few pages that teachers will find particularly useful are Charts and ToolsAcademic and Educational Permissions, and Copyright FAQs.

Library of Congress - Copyright and Primary Sources
This page published by the Library of Congress addresses frequently asked questions related to the use of primary sources found the LOC's sites and other places around the web. Classroom examples are included in the explanations found on the page.

Copyright & Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens
Copyright & Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens, hosted by the Internet Education Foundation, offers lesson plans and videos for teaching copyright in elementary school, middle school, and high school settings. Slides, lesson plans (as PDFs), and videos are available to use for free in your classroom. A sample video from the elementary school series of lessons is embedded below.

Copyright and Creative Commons Explained by Common Craft
This short video explains the big concepts of copyright and Creative Commons through the story of a photographer publishing a picture and a magazine editor who wants to use that picture for an article.

Copyright, Exceptions, and Fair Use: Crash Course Intellectual Property #3
This video is the third installment in Crash Course's series on intellectual property. In typical Crash Course style, the video is a fast-paced overview of exceptions to Copyright and examples of Fair Use in action. The video is appropriate for high school students. Students younger than high school age may not understand a lot of the nuances used in the video.

How to Add Timestamps to Your YouTube Videos

When you're publishing videos that are longer than five or six minutes on your YouTube channel it can be helpful to viewers to add some timestamps to the video's description. Including timestamps in the description lets your viewers click to jump to an exact mark in the video. There are a couple of ways that you can do this and they're both easy to do. In the video that is embedded below I demonstrate how add timestamps to the videos that you post on YouTube.

Video - How to Timestamp Your YouTube Videos

Applications for Education
I generally don't recommend making instructional videos for kids longer than about ten minutes at the most. But if you do or if you've recorded something like a livestream of a review session, adding timestamps can be beneficial to students. For example, let's say that you hosted a YouTube Live session in which you reviewed the American Revolution and answered questions from students. When you go to post the recording of that session, add some timestamps so that students can then jump to sections that address their questions.

Monday, May 29, 2023

The Effects of Talking to Yourself

I spend a good deal of time talking to myself. I often do this while riding my bike. Sometimes I do it to motivate myself to get over a hill. Other times I do it because I'm puzzling through a problem and talking aloud to myself helps with that, I think. All that to say, TED-Ed has a new lesson all about the topic of talking to yourself. 

Is It Normal to Talk to Yourself? is a lesson about why we talk to ourselves and the effects of talking to ourselves. The big take-aways from the lesson are the positive self-talk can be good for you and negative self-talk is bad for you. That might seem obvious to many of us, but it's a good reminder none-the-less. Watch the lesson here or as embedded below. 

As I was watching the lesson, I couldn't help but think of Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich which I read about a decade ago. The book emphasizes positive self-talk. Before you run out to buy a copy of it, I should note that in recent years some of the book has been exposed as fabrication of events.

A Class for Teachers Who Want to Make More Money

My most popular Practical Ed Tech course this year is How to Create and Sell Your Digital Products in 2023. Now that summer is here (in the northern hemisphere) this is a great time to take the course if you haven't already done so. 

The format of this course is email-based. Starting with day you register, every week for four weeks you'll get a new lesson delivered to your inbox. The lessons include written material, digital handouts, and video tutorials. You can work through the lessons on your pace and reply to each lesson to get feedback and or ask questions. 

In the course you'll learn:

  • The types of digital products you can create. 
  • How to make the a variety of digital products. 
  • The pros and cons of using platforms like TPT.
  • How to market and sell your products. 
  • My $100 email strategy. 

Register here to join me in this course!

Sunday, May 28, 2023

57 Google Earth & Maps Tutorials for Teachers and Students

Upon the publication of my latest video about how to add Google Drive videos to Google Earth Pro my playlist of tutorials on using Google Earth and Google Maps grew to 57

In my playlist of 57 Google Earth and Maps tutorials you'll find directions for everything from the basics of navigation to creating historic map overlays to mapping datasets and more. Some highlights from the playlist are embedded below. 

How to Record a Narrated Google Earth Tour in Your Web Browser

How to Create Narrated Tours of Mars & the Moon in Google Earth

How to Measure Distances in Google Earth

5 Things Students Can Do in Google Earth Without Google Accounts

How to Add Videos to Your Google Earth Projects

New Microsoft Word Features to Note

Good, old Microsoft Word has come a long way since the days that I used it on a computer lab desktop as an undergrad. Now it has AI features, collaboration tools, and much more. Heck, these days you don't even have to install it on a computer in order to use it.

Mike Tholfsen recently published a video in which he outlined and demonstrated seven new features of Microsoft Word. Five of the seven work in the web version of Word while the other two work in the desktop version of Word. Some of the new features highlighted in Mike's video include making lists in Word comments, table sorting in Word, and using the updated designer tool in Word. Watch the video on Mike's YouTube channel or as embedded below. 

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Fishing, Takeout, and PD - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining. It's going to be a great weekend for fishing and riding bikes. My daughters are quite excited about using their new fishing poles. That's what we're going to do this weekend. I hope that you have something equally fun planned for your weekend.

As I do every week, I've put together a list of the most popular posts of the week. Take a look and see if there's anything interesting that you missed earlier this week.

These were the week's most popular posts: 

Self-paced Courses You Can Start Today

On Practical Ed Tech I have self-paced courses that you can start today and finish at your own pace. 
Workshops and Keynotes
If you'd like to have me speak at your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) or fill out the form on this page.  

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 46,000 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 If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

All About Mars

Earlier this week SciShow Kids published a new video titled Meet the Mars Rovers! The short video explains to elementary school students what a Mars rover is, what they're used for, and some basic background information about Mars. The notes below the video on the YouTube page for it include links to lots of helpful additional resources. 

A few years ago SciShow Kids produced a related video titled What Would We Eat on Mars? That video explains why plants don't grow on Mars and what it would take to try to grow plants and support life on Mars. The video ends with a series of questions for kids to answer with their thoughts about how we might grow plants on Mars and what to grow and eat on Mars. I think it's a fun video and a fun set of questions to use to get kids thinking about science.

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

Friday, May 26, 2023

How to Create Around the World With Google Earth Tours

The Amazing Race is the only reality game show that I've watched with interest for as long as it has been on television. Years ago I created a classroom game based on the same premise of the show. This spring I updated that game with some new graphics and new challenges and then published it as a PDF on

Recording a Google Earth tour is the capstone activity in Around the World With Google Earth. There are a couple of ways that students can do that. Students who are using the desktop version of Google Earth can use the built-in recorder. Students who are using the web version of Google Earth can use a screencasting tool like Screencastify to record a tour

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

4,000+ Pages of Walt Whitman's Papers

This week the Library of Congress announced the addition of more than 4,000 new primary source documents to the By the People website. Those primary sources are all letters, notes, and manuscripts written by Walt Whitman. 

The purpose of the By the People 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. 

Anyone can participate in the LOC's By the People project to transcribe documents in the Walt Whitman 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 LOC's By the People project is a good opportunity for high school students and some middle school students to learn about Walt Whitman while contributing to a national project. All of the collections in Crowd 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.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

An eBook for History Teachers and Their Students

Earlier this spring I listed the educational technology topics that I'm still passionate about after all these years. One of those topics is search strategies and discovery tools for students. To that end, I've recently updated my e-book on Teaching Search Strategies to History Students.

In my updated e-book Teaching Search Strategies to History Students I outline activities that you can use in middle school and high school classrooms (grades 5-12). When you purchase a copy of the e-book you can use the activities exactly as written (you have permission to use the images I've included) or modify them to meet your students' needs.

I wrote Teaching Search Strategies to History Students to help you help your students go beyond the first page of search results. To that end, I provide guidance on using search tools and databases that students often overlook. These include tools like Google Scholar's patent and court search, Get The Research, and myriad of online archives and databases.

Teaching Search Strategies to History Students was written for middle school and high school social studies teachers who have heard students say, "I can't find anything on this."

How to Add Google Drive Videos to Google Earth Pro Placemarks

Last week a reader emailed me to ask for help inserting videos into placemarks in Google Earth Pro. His students had recorded videos and saved them in Google Drive. They wanted to use them in their Google Earth Pro placemarks. I was happy to help. 

Before giving you the directions for how to add Google Drive videos into Google Earth placemarks, I should remind you that Google Earth Pro is the free, desktop version of Google Earth that you can install on Mac and Windows computers. (Don't the let the "pro" fool you, Google Earth Pro is free). 

I should also point out that the process of adding videos into placemarks in Google Earth Pro is different from the process of doing the same thing in the web browser version of Google Earth. 

To add a video stored in your Google Drive into a placemark in Google Earth Pro you first need to make sure that the video sharing permissions are set to "anyone with the link can view." Then you need to copy that link. Paste the link into "URL" field in the placemark that you are editing in Google Earth Pro. A video of the process is embedded below. 

Applications for Education
This topic came up because the reader who emailed me was having his students complete an Around the World With Google Earth activity. That activity was based on using the web version of Google Earth which is why they needed directions for adding videos into placemarks in Google Earth Pro.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Ten Ways to Use Adobe Express in School

I've made a handful of videos about using Adobe Express in your classroom. Those videos include making videos with Adobe Express and making custom QR codes with it. Those are just a couple of the many ways to use Adobe Express in your classroom. Let's take a look at some of the many ways that you and your students can use Adobe Express.

Graphic Design
Create graphics like posters, announcements, and Internet memes.

    • Students and teachers can create simple posters to print and post in their schools to announce club meetings, campaigns for class elections, or to post encouraging messages to students.

    • To help students understand and show that they understand what propaganda messages look like, I have had them create simple early 20th Century-style propaganda posters of their own. Adobe Spark has built-in image search that can help students find pictures to use for those posters. Students can also upload pictures they've found in the public domain.
    • Create a meme-style graphic to share on your classroom, library, or school website. The graphic could be intended to encourage students and parents to remind each other of an upcoming school event. You could also create a meme to encourage students to continue reading over the summer. 

    Videos are created by adding text and images to slides. You can record yourself talking over each slide. A library of free music is available to layer under your narration or you can use that music in lieu of narration.

    • Create a short flipped-lesson. The recording tool makes it easy to precisely record your narration over the slides in your lesson. 
    • Have your students create video lessons. The slide aspect of the video tool lends itself to students creating short Ken Burns-style documentary videos. Have them use Spark's search tool to find images to use in their videos or have them use a place Flickr's The Commons to find historical images. I've had students make this style of video to tell the stories of people moving west across the United States in the 19th Century. 
    • This is the time of year for end-of-school assemblies and celebrations. Use the video creation tool to make a video of highlights of the school year. Rather than narrating the video you can use music from Adobe's library. 
    Create simple web pages to showcase pictures, posters, videos, text, and links. 
    • Create an event invitation page. Create a page that outlines the highlights of an upcoming school event like a fundraiser or open house night. Include images of past events, images of prizes, or include a video about the event. Should you need people to register for your event, include a link to a Google Form. (Learn how to use Google Forms).
    • Create a digital portfolio. Students can organize their pages into sections to showcase videos they've made, documents they've written, and their reflections on what they've learned. 
    • Make a multimedia timeline. There are two ways to make timelines in Adobe Express. Ask your students to research a series of events, find media representative of those events, caption the events and media with dates, and then place them into the proper order.
    • Write an image-based story. Students can write a story about themselves by using pictures they've taken placed into a webpage. Another way to think about image-based stories is to have students search for images and use them as writing prompts. Ask them to choose five pictures and write a story that connects the images. 

    Short Video Lessons About Memorial Day

    Next Monday is Memorial Day. Students often confuse the origin and purpose of Memorial Day with those of Veterans Day. The following videos can help students understand the origins and meanings of Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

    The Meaning of Memorial Day is a two minute video covering the origins of the holiday in the United States. The video is embedded below.

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers the following video overview of the history of Memorial Day.

    Jocko Willink isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoy his podcast and found this video that he released a few years ago to be quite moving.

    To find more resources for teaching about Memorial Day, visit Larry Ferlazzo's list of resources.

    Try using EDpuzzle to add questions into these videos and distribute them to your students.

    Tuesday, May 23, 2023

    A Good Way for Students to Visually Compare the Sizes of Countries and States

    My students here in Maine always think of our state as being a big place and it is big in relation to the rest of New England. Compared to our friends in the west, Maine is a small place. Similarly, they sometimes have trouble understanding the size of the lower 48 states compared to Canada. The following tool can help students understand the size of their countries and states in relation to others.

    The True Size Of... is a free web tool that lets you quickly compare the size of two countries or two states within the United States. To compare two countries simply enter one into the search box then enter a second one into the search box. Both countries will be highlighted for you. You can then drag and drop one onto the other. The same can be done with states of the United States as is demonstrated in my screenshot below.

    Search Options When Your District Blocks Google Search

    Late last week I got the following email from a reader:
    Recently our district blocked Google Search. My teachers are frantic as to what to use for kid research etc....What are some of your go to search/research websites that do not link to Google?

    My first sarcastic thought was to Google some suggestions :) But I didn't need to do that because alternatives to Google search is a topic that I've covered in many posts over the years. If you find yourself looking for alternatives to Google search, here are some options to try. 

    Bing is probably the most obvious alternative to Google search. In a side-by-side comparison you'll probably notice a lot of similarities in the ranking of websites by Bing and Google.

    The latest version of Bing includes a chat function that is powered by ChatGPT. With this function enabled you can search and get results in the traditional manner or you can view results in a manner that is conversational. As you can see in my demo that is embedded below, using the chat-enabled search function in Bing might get you the information you want a little faster than just clicking through links on a search results page. Watch this video for a demonstration of how to use Bing with ChatGPT.

    Duck Duck Go is an alternative to Google search and Bing search. The company claims to not track search activity. Again, in a side-by-side comparison with Google you'd probably find a lot of similarities in the ranking of websites. There are some search refinement tools in Duck Duck Go. An overview of Duck Duck Go search refinement tools is included in this video.

    Wolfram Alpha
    Wolfram Alpha is a computational search engine. That means it is not a search engine designed to rank websites like Bing, Google, and DuckDuckGo. It's probably best known for helping students solve math problems. There's much more to it than solving math problems. Wolfram Alpha can be used to generate fact sheets, make comparisons, and much more. My brief overview of using Wolfram Alpha for social studies lessons is included in this video.

    Sunday, May 21, 2023

    225 NASA Infographics

    NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory website contains a large library of infographics that you can download and print for free. The library contains infographics about spacecraft, exploration missions, planets, moons, the solar system, and comets. I downloaded the What is a Comet Made Of? infographic that you see pictured below.

    Applications for Education
    If printed in color, these infographics could make a nice addition to your classroom walls. More importantly these infographics could provide a model for your students to follow as they create their own infographics about topics in space science. Canva is a great tool for making infographics. A set of 66 Canva tutorials can be found here

    Digital Collections of 20th Century World History Declassified

    The Wilson Center Digital Archive offers many collections of declassified historical documents. The documents contain memos and transcripts of communications between diplomats and country leaders. The collections are arranged into topics and themes. You'll find collections of documents related to the construction of the Berlin Wall, the origins of the Cold War, Sino-Soviet relations, and diplomatic efforts related to nuclear weapons.

    Applications for Education
    My first thought when looking at these collections of documents was to have students use these documents to fill-in the gaps in their history textbooks.

    You could also give students some of the communications without the names of countries or diplomats showing. Then ask them to use their knowledge of the situation to determine which country or diplomat would have sent that communication.

    Saturday, May 20, 2023

    Play Your Dates Right - A History Timeline Game has many great online game templates for history teachers to use. Play Your Dates Right is one of the templates that I like to use to create a game that is focused on helping students recall the sequence of historical events. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create a simple timeline-based game with the Play Your Dates Right template from

    Applications for Education
    I've always stressed to my history students the importance of sequence. Play Your Dates Right could be a fun way for students to review the sequence of events in a unit of study. An obvious case use is in reviewing the causes of the outbreak of a war.

    Bard, Search, and Gardens - The Week in Review

    Good morning from Maine where the sun is rising as I sip my coffee and listen to the birds begin to chirp. The benefit of having a puppy that wakes up just before sunrise is getting to hear the birds as they wake up for the day. It's a nice way to start the day if you have to get up early on a Saturday morning. 

    The highlight of my work week was getting to catch up with Dr. Scott McLeod on his visit to Maine. Scott has been a great source of advice and inspiration to me over the last fifteen+ years. So when he said he was coming to town I jumped at the chance catch up over dinner. 

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

    These were the week's most popular posts:
    1. A New Google Bard Feature
    2. 71 Google Slides Tutorials for Teachers and Students
    3. The Science of Gardening
    4. Create Animated Simulations With Loopy
    5. Scholar, Books, Datasets, and More - Google Search Tools Students Overlook
    6. How to Add Excel to Your Mac
    7. Breaking News With ClassTools

    Self-paced Courses You Can Start Today

    On Practical Ed Tech I have four self-paced courses that you can start today and finish at your own pace. 
    Workshops and Keynotes
    If you'd like to have me speak at your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) or fill out the form on this page.  

    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 45,000 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 If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

    Friday, May 19, 2023

    Moving Google Drive Files and Chrome Bookmarks

    In an earlier post I explained and demonstrated how to use Google Takeout to save all of the data from your Google account.

    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.

    On a related note, last summer I was contacted by a teacher who was leaving her current school district and wanted to know what would happen to all of the bookmarks she had stored in her Chrome profile. Her Chrome profile was tied to her school-issued Google account which was going to be closed when she left the school.

    The solution to this problem is to use Google Takeout to download all of the data in your Chrome profile. When you do that you are given an HTML file that includes all of your Chrome bookmarks. You can then take that file and import it into another Chrome profile. All of those steps are demonstrated in the short video that is embedded below.

    A Better Way to do Summer PD

    Picture this: the sun is shining, you're wearing your favorite summer casual clothes (an old Phish t-shirt in my case), but you're going to miss a great day of outdoor play because you have to go to school for a summer PD day. What if there was a better way to do summer PD? There is! 

    With the courses that I offer on you can complete the lessons when it's convenient for you. Do them on a rainy day this summer or do them while sitting on your porch and drinking coffee from your favorite mug instead of that beat-up travel mug you hauled to school for the last 187 days. 

    Animated Explanations!
    This five-part course teaches you everything you need to know to create and teach with your own animated explanations. In the course you’ll learn why the process of creating animated explanations is valuable to your students and to you. You’ll learn how to make everything from a simple one-frame animation to a complete animated video. Click here to learn more and get started today!

    How to Create & Sell Your Own Digital Products
    In this four-part course you’ll learn how to create and sell eBooks, webinars, video courses, lesson plans, and more! And I’ll help you promote your new products! All of the course material is delivered in a series of four weekly emails. Each lesson includes written materials, templates, and video tutorials. You can email me all of your questions as you go through the course. And at the end you can book a one-on-one Zoom call with me! Learn more here and get started here!

    Five Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom
    In this five-part course you’ll learn how to create and conduct video projects in almost any K-12 classroom! You can do these projects on Chromebooks, iPads, Mac, and Windows computers. Highlights of this course include making green screen videos, creating animated videos, and a variety of ways to create instructional videos. Learn more here and get started here.

    If you’ve already taken one of these courses, thank you! Your support makes it possible for me to keep creating resources for teachers.

    How to Use Google Takeout 2023

    It's that time of year when I start to get lots of questions from readers about what to do with files in their Google Workspace accounts before they leave one school for another.  In fact, just yesterday I answered that question three times. 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.

    Thursday, May 18, 2023

    Breaking News With ClassTools

    Breaking News is one of the many great tools available on Russel Tarr's Breaking News is a template for creating fake breaking news screens like those that you might see on CNN or BBC News.  Through the template you can add a news headline, a ticker, a location, and custom background image. After completing the template you can download your news screen as an image or host it online at Imgur.

    Applications for Education
    Russel Tarr has a bunch of examples of Breaking News screens created about historical events like the assassination of President Lincoln. You could also have students create Breaking News screens about major turning points in the plots of their favorite fiction works.

    Create Animated Timelines in Google Slides

    One of my most popular Google Slides tutorials is a video about how to use Google Slides to create a timeline. A follow-up to that video demonstrates how to use the animation tools in Google Slides to add animations to a timeline. In the following video I demonstrate how to create an animated timeline in Google Slides.

    If you like this video, please take a look at my YouTube channel for hundreds of other tips on using educational technology tools.

    For a deep dive into making and teaching with animations, enroll in my Animated Explanations course on

    Wednesday, May 17, 2023

    Create Animated Simulations With Loopy

    Loopy is a free tool for creating your own animated simulations or illustrations of a concept. This free animation tool is designed to showing relationships between two or more parts of a system. It's perfect for showing cause and effect or for showing a workflow system.

    To create an animation on Loopy you simply have to click on the blank canvas to place a circle that represents the start of a system. Then click on the canvas again to add another element to your system animation. To connect the two (or more) pieces you use a drawing tool to connect them. Once you've drawn the connections you can add cause and effect commands by selecting them from the Loopy editor.

    Applications for Education
    It took me a few minutes of playing around and remixing existing simulations to get the hang of how Loopy worked. Once I had it figured out, I quickly saw the potential for Loopy animations to help students understand how systems work. Give your students some time to use Loopy and they could create animations to illustrate their understanding of cause and effect relationships in science and engineering.

    Chrome Tip - Quickly Hide or Show Bookmarks

    In a webinar I recently hosted I incidentally showed a quick way to show or hide the bookmarks bar in Chrome. The webinar was not about Chrome or anything Google-related so I was surprised when someone asked me to show the trick again. There is not a trick, just hit CTRL+Shift+B to show or hide the bookmarks bar. Watch my video below to see the tip in action.

    Tuesday, May 16, 2023

    A World of Musical Explorers

    I wrote about this neat resource a couple of years ago. A recent post on the Maps Mania blog prompted me to revisit it. 

    Carnegie Hall hosts some excellent online instructional resources for music teachers. One of those resources is called Musical Explorers Around the World. Musical Explorers Around the World is an interactive map designed to introduce students to musicians, instruments, and music from around the world. 

    To use Musical Explorers Around the World students simply have to click on one of the large placemarks on the map. When clicked, each placemark reveals a musician or two from that place, the music they make, and the instruments they use. Each placemark contains a video featuring the musicians explaining a little bit about themselves and their music. Each of the placemarks on the map also contains audio files to listen to full songs performed by the musicians on the map. 

    Applications for Education
    Musical Explorers Around the World is part of a larger collection of instructional resources hosted by Carnegie Hall for music teachers. Each of the placemarks in the map contains links to lesson plans that are appropriate for introducing elementary school students to terminology and concepts like rhythm, harmony, and melody.

    I think that Musical Explorers Around the World could be a great resource to have students explore on their own or as part of a group activity in which they investigate questions about why instruments and music develop and are different based on geography. 

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