Showing posts with label how to. Show all posts
Showing posts with label how to. Show all posts

Monday, March 13, 2023

A New Answer to the Questions I'm Asked the Most

For many years now the question that I am asked more than any other is about the videos that appear on my YouTube channel. Specifically, people want to know how I'm highlighting my mouse pointer in my videos or how I'm creating the moving oval cut-out of my webcam. Sometimes they want to know the answer to both of those questions. Since at least 2014 the answer to has been Screencast-o-matic. Today, the question has a new answer. 

Screencast-o-matic has been rebranded as ScreenPal. I used it today to make a screencast video. It worked exactly the same way as Screencast-o-matic did. In fact, if I hadn't gotten an email about the name change, I wouldn't have even noticed that anything had changed. 

Screenpal offers all of the same features as it did when it was Screencast-o-matic. And as far as I can tell, there haven't been any changes to the free plan nor have there been any changes to the paid plans. Much like the rebranding of Anchor last week, the rebranding of Screencast-o-Matic to Screenpal appears to be purely cosmetic for now. And look for a new Screenpal tutorial on my YouTube channel in the near future. 

On a related note, Five Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom begins tomorrow. There is still time to register here

Friday, March 10, 2023

Anchor is Now Spotify for Podcasters

For the last five or so years I've been using and recommending Anchor for creating podcasts on your desktop and mobile devices. In fact, at the start of this year I released a new tutorial on how to use it to create a podcast on your Android phone. Today, Anchor was renamed Spotify for Podcasters

The new name is a reflection of the fact that Anchor has been owned by Spotify for the last few years. Other than the name, it doesn't appear that anything has changed in the mobile app or web app. I was able to log into Spotify for Podcasters using the same credentials that I've used for years to log into Anchor. 

Next week I'll publish some updated tutorials on how to use Spotify for Podcasters to create a podcast. 

Thursday, March 9, 2023

How to Create Your Own Online Connecto Game

Connecto is one of the many online game creation templates that Flippity offers. Flippity calls it Connecto, but the style of game is exactly like the classic Connect 4 board game (I'm sure that for trademark reasons Flippity can't use that name for their Connecto game template). 

In a Connecto game students see a question and have to answer it correctly in order to get marker on the board. The object of the game is to connect four markers in a row before your opponent does. Of course, there is also a bit of strategy involved in where you place your markers to connect your own while blocking your opponent from connecting theirs. Watch my new video that is embedded below to see how Connecto is played and how you can create your own with Flippity's free Google Sheets template. 

Video - How to Create Your Own Online Connecto Game

Applications for Education
You could create a Connecto game to have your students play in teams as a fun review exercise before a test or quiz. You might also consider having your students make the games themselves and challenge each other. 

How to Start Using Plickers in Your Classroom

Last week I led a workshop for a group of special education teachers, paraprofessionals, and consultants. One of the elements of the workshop was about creating and conducting fun formative assessments. To that end, I introduced the group to Plickers. It was a hit! 

Plickers has been around for almost a decade. It's still a great tool because of its simplicity combined with its effectiveness. The way that it works is students hold up QR codes (I have mine laminated) to respond to your prompts. You use your iOS or Android device to scan the students' cards and see their answers on your screen. This method allows you to have all students respond to your questions without their classmates knowing their answers because all they see are their classmates holding cards that look nearly identical. Watch my new video that is embedded below to see a demonstration of how Plickers works. 

Video - How to Start Using Plickers in Your Classroom.

There were a couple of things that I didn't include in the video above. First, when scanning a whole class you will see little dots appear on your screen to indicate that you've scanned a card. Second, in your online Plickers account you can view all of your students' responses to all of the questions you've asked that day and on prior days.

Applications for Education
1. Quickly taking the pulse of the class. Ask your students, "do you get this?" (or a similar question) and have them hold up their cards to indicate yes or no. You can do this with a saved class or a demo class in the app.

2. Hosting a review game. Create a series of questions in your saved Plickers class. To conduct the review have students hold up their cards to respond to each question. Every student gets to respond at the same time and you get to see how each student responded. This is an advantage over many review games in which only the first student to respond has his or her voice heard.

3. Take attendance. In a saved Plickers class each student has a card assigned to him or her. At the start of class just have them hold up their cards to check-in.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Changes are Coming to Your Favorite Google Workspace Tools

If you opened a new Google Document today you might have seen a new little clock icon appearing in the upper-right corner of the screen. But if you didn't see it, don't worry because you will start seeing it before too long. That clock icon is one of the updates coming to Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drive over the next few weeks. 

The updates coming to Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drive are not going to change any of the functionality of those Google Workspace tools. The changes are mostly cosmetic and designed to streamline some of the most frequently used menus and processes in those Google Workspace tools. For example, the new clock icon that I already mentioned was added to make it easier to find and view the version history of a document or slideshow. 

Applications for Education
None of these updates are going to change the way that you or your students create, share, and edit Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets. That said, you should take note of them for when a student says something like "hey, Google Docs looks different."

Three Activities All Teachers Can Create in TeacherMade

TeacherMade was one of my favorite new tools created to fill a need during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tens of thousands of teachers used it to create online, interactive activities for their students. Now that the worst of the pandemic days are behind us, TeacherMade is still a great tool to have in your digital toolbox.

Disclosure: TeacherMade is an advertiser on

TeacherMade recently went through a complete overhaul so that it runs smoother and faster than ever before. As a result, the free version of TeacherMade is now easier for teachers and students to use.

Three Activities All Teachers Can Make in TeacherMade
Before jumping into the activities that you can make in TeacherMade, let’s review the basics of what TeacherMade is and how it works. TeacherMade is a tool that you can use to turn your PDFs, Word docs, and Google Slides into interactive activities for your students to complete online. TeacherMade will automatically score those activities for you, if you choose to enable that option. Should you choose not to have activities scored for you, you can still view what your students do on each activity.

The free version of TeacherMade enables you to create three different activity types. Those activity types are fill-in-the-blank (also known as cloze activities), multiple choice, and open response. All three activity types can be combined in one assignment in TeacherMade. To do that you simply write your questions in your favorite word processing tool, save it as a PDF, then upload it to your free TeacherMade account to turn it into an online activity for your students to complete. Watch my video that is embedded below to see how you can take a Google Doc and make it into a TeacherMade activity in minutes.

Video - How to Use TeacherMade

Use TeacherMade for Fun Holiday Activities
Last week I talked with the founder of TeacherMade, Laura Bresko (a former teacher), about use cases for TeacherMade. One of the most common ways that she’s seeing teachers use TeacherMade is to quickly create activities to align with holidays commonly celebrated in classrooms. For example, Halloween, Groundhog Day, and Valentine’s Day are big deals in elementary schools.

Creating online activities for fun holidays is an example of using TeacherMade to address a short term need. On a similar note, TeacherMade is good for making activities to address other short term needs like developing practice activities to keep momentum going when the regular school schedule has been interrupted by events like snow days (we’ve had a lot of them in my part of the world this winter).

All Your Stuff is Still There
If you used TeacherMade at any point during the last few school years, all of your materials are still there in your account. You can sign-in today and use all of the free and premium features right away. Right now, all teachers have access to all of the premium features like drag-and-drop activities for the rest of the month. After that you can still use the core features for free including unlimited reporting on student progress.

Finally, for my friends who like to use Canva, take a look at this video I made about how to combine Canva and TeacherMade.

Physical Education Activities for Pi Day

Pi Day is just one week away (as is the start of my new course). In recent years I've shared some video lessons about Pi Day and some hands-on Pi Day lesson ideas. This year I'd like to highlight some physical education activities for Pi Day. 

OPEN Phys Ed offers five free physical education lesson plans centered around Pi Day. The lesson plans are designed to be used in elementary school and middle school. The five Pi Day lesson plans offered by OPEN are:

  • Pi Toss
  • Pi Day Races
  • Pi Day Dice Relay
  • Cake or Pi?
  • Who Wants Pi?

To access the lesson plans you do need to register for a free OPEN Phys Ed account. Once you have an account you can download the lesson plans for free as PDFs and Word documents. One of the things that I've always appreciated about OPEN Phys Ed's lesson plans is that they can be easily modified to make sure that all students can participate. Additionally, these are activities that encourage participation from students who might not be inclined to participate in "traditional" physical education games. 

Sunday, March 5, 2023

A Lesson in Writing Myths

The Hero's Journey is a free writing template from Read Write Think that I originally reviewed ten years ago. Like all of the RWT templates it was Flash-based. It has since been relaunched to run on HTML5 in any web browser. 

The Hero's Journey is an online writing activity produced by Read Write Think. The Hero's Journey is an interactive resource that teaches students about the key elements required in developing a myth about a heroic character. The lessons are rooted in stories like The Odyssey. After reading about the elements required in a good hero story students can create their own stories by using the template provided by Read Write Think. Completed stories must printed in order to be saved.

Applications for Education
Read Write Think recommends The Hero's Journey for students in grades 9 through 12 and provides lessons plans for those grades. I looked at the lesson plans and I think that they could be used with middle school students too.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Another Tool for Detecting Writing Created by AI

Artificial Intelligence was the theme of February in the educational technology world. That theme is continuing as we begin the month of March. On that note, I've found another new tool designed to try to detect writing generated with AI tools like ChatGPT. 

Crossplag AI Content Detector is a free tool that you can use to try to determine whether or not an AI tool was used to generate a passage of text. Like other AI detection tools, Crossplag AI Content Detector is easy to use. To use it you simply paste a block of text into the content detector and it will give a rating of likelihood that AI was used to create that text. Watch my short video below to see how it works. 

Video - Another Tool for Detecting Writing Created by AI

Applications for Education
Just like all of the other AI content detection tools that have popped-up over the last six weeks, this one isn't perfect. That said, it's worth noting that these tools exist. Use these tools to start conversations with your students about responsible use of AI tools like ChatGPT, Moon Beam, and other AI writing tools.

Friday, March 3, 2023

How to Measure in 2D and 3D in Google Earth

More than a decade ago Tom Barrett's Maths Maps inspired me to start thinking about how Google Maps and Google Earth can be used in mathematics lessons. Since then I've developed some of my own math activities that incorporate measuring in Google Earth. If you'd like to create your own math lessons that incorporate measuring in Google Earth, watch my new video about how to measure in 2D and 3D in Google Earth. 

Video - How to Measure in 2D and 3D in Google Earth  

There are more than 45 digital mapping tutorials available in this playlist.

On a related note, take a look at Around the World With Google Earth.

How to Create Custom Google Slides Guidelines

One of the many "hidden" features of Google Slides is found in the view menu. It's there that you'll find the option to turn on and turn off gridlines (Google calls them guides). Not only can you turn on or turn off the guidelines, you can also add additional lines and create custom spacing for the guidelines that you add to your slides. Watch my video that is embedded below to learn how to add custom guidelines to your Google Slides and why you might want to do that. 

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Three Tips for Math Teachers & Students Using Google Docs

Last weekend a reader reached out to me for advice on helping her students write equations in Google Docs. The add-ons she had tried were either too confusing or too expensive to use with all of her pre-Algebra and Algebra I students. My suggestion was to try having students just use the special characters menu found under the "Insert" menu in Google Docs.

Using the special characters menu to write equations is one of the three tips that I share in the short video that is embedded below. 

Three Tips for Math Teachers & Students Using Google Docs

How to Use Street View Imagery in Canva Presentations

Earlier this week I published a tutorial for making your first presentation in Canva. After you and or your students feel comfortable with the basics, you may want to start exploring some of the advanced features available within Canva. One of those is the ability to embed interactive Google Maps and Google Street View imagery into your Canva presentations. 

Adding Google Maps into Canva is relatively straight-forward. Simply choose Google Maps from the "Apps" menu in the Canva presentation editor and then search for a location in the search box that appears. Adding Street View imagery into your Canva presentation requires using the "embed" option from the "Apps" menu in the Canva presentation editor. You then need to insert a link from Google Maps to display the Street View imagery in your presentation. Watch the video that I've embedded below to learn how to use Street View imagery in your Canva presentations. 

Video - How to Use Street View Imagery in Canva Presentations

Applications for Education
Adding Street View imagery into a Canva presentation can be a great addition to a student's presentation about a place or places they've researched. Students can put together a few slides with different Street Views embedded into them and then move the imagery as they talk about those places during a presentation. 

45,000 People Get Their Educational Technology Tips This Way

Yesterday morning when I checked my YouTube Studio account I noticed that my little channel had passed the 45,000 subscriber mark. Despite publishing videos on YouTube since at least 2009, I've never had a viral hit and probably never will. Instead of worrying about that I just try to make as many helpful videos as I can. To get a sense of the type of videos that I publish, take a look at the five most-watched videos of the last month. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

New Month, New Course - Five Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom

Creating videos with students is one of my favorite things to do with students. Over the years I’ve helped students and their teachers create animated videos, green screen videos, mini documentaries, and instructional videos. In my new Practical Ed Tech course, Five Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom I will teach you how to do those video projects and more.

In Five Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom I’ll share all of my favorite planning, production, publishing, and assessment tips. And as the title implies, I show you how to carry out five video projects that you can do in your classroom.

The projects in this course can be done in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. Whether you have iPads, Chromebooks, Macs, or Windows computers you will be able to do these projects.

Course Dates and Logistics
This course will be delivered to your inbox in a series of weekly emails beginning on March 14th at 6am ET. Every week for five weeks you’ll receive a new lesson that contains written guidance, downloadable handouts, and video tutorials. And because the course is email based, I’m just an email away to answer any and all of your questions. Sign-up by March 7th to save $10.

Three Ways to Share Google Maps Views in Google Classroom

Google Maps is one of the tools that I always list as a must-have for history and geography teachers. It provides an easy way to show students multiple, detailed views of the significant natural and human-made landmarks they're learning about in your classroom. 

Projecting them on a big screen in the front of your classroom is one to show your students specific Google Maps views. That works when all of your students are present and all of them can see the screen. That doesn't work when you need students to explore a specific location on their own. In that case you may want to use one of the following three methods to share Google Maps views in Google Classroom. 

Option 1: Share a link to a 2D map view. 

Option 2: Share a link to a specific Street View image. 

Option 3: Share latitude and longitude coordinates to direct students to an exact location. 

All three methods are demonstrated in the video that is embedded below. 

Video - Three Ways to Share Google Maps Locations in Google Classroom

On a related note, check out Around the World With Google Earth

Monday, February 27, 2023

How to Create Your First Canva Presentation

Over the years I've published a lot of Canva tutorials. But until last week I had never created one specifically for students and teachers making their first presentations in Canva. That's what this new video is all about. 

In How to Create Your First Canva Presentation I demonstrate how to sign into your account, how to find projects that have been shared with you, and how to create a new project from scratch. In the video I also cover how to add and customize pictures, drawings, and videos in your slides. The video concludes with a demonstration of how to share a finished presentation made with Canva. 

Watch the videos below to learn how to do even more with your Canva slides after you've created them.

How to Record a Video Presentation in Canva

How to Create an Audio Slideshow Video in Canva

Saturday, February 25, 2023

AI, Brainstorming, and Authentication - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the wind is howling and the wind chill makes it feel as though it's -15F right now. It's no wonder our cat has camped himself in front of the stove this morning. I much prefer he do that than rub his head on my laptop as I type this week's week-in-review post. 

This week was school vacation week here in Maine. I took most of the week off to teach skiing lessons, take my own kids skiing, and enjoy a little time away from my computer screen. Somehow I still managed to publish a bunch of new posts throughout the week. Take a look at the list below and see if there is anything that piques your interest. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Free Course on ChatGPT and AI in Education
2. Three Good Tools for Recording Brainstorming Sessions
3. 10 Tools for Gathering Real-time Feedback From Students
4. Warm-up Activities for Group Brainstorming Sessions
5. How to Blur Objects and Faces In Your Videos
6. How to Use the Google Authenticator App With Twitter
7. How to Make a Mini Course

Make More Money This Year!
If you're looking for a way to put a little more money in your pocket this year, my self-paced course How to Create and Sell Digital Products in 2023 is for you! It's one of three on-demand courses that I currently offer.

Workshops and eBooks
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. 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 nearly 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.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

My Updated Guide to Media for Classroom Projects

Over the last year some of my old favorite sources of media for classroom projects changed or completely disappeared. They’ve been replaced by some new and updated sources for free sound effects, music, videos, pictures, and drawings to use in classroom projects. That's why I created an updated guide to finding media for classroom projects. 

People who are subscribed to my Practical Ed Tech Tip-of-the-Week Newsletter had a copy of the guide emailed to them on Sunday evening. If you'd like a copy emailed to you, sign-up for my newsletter and I'll be happy to send it to you. A few highlights from the guide are included below.

The Library of Congress can be a good place to find images to use in classroom projects, if you know where to look on the site. I recommend looking in the Free to Use and Reuse collections. Those are collections of images that are thematically arranged. Here’s a brief overview of how to find images on the LOC’s website.

Pixabay is one of my go-to sites for public domain images. Pixabay also offers public domain video clips that you can download for free. To find video clips on Pixabay simply choose "video" from the drop-down menu that appears in the right edge of Pixabay's search box.

Dig CC Mixter offers thousands of songs that are Creative Commons licensed. The site is divided into three main categories. Those categories are Instrumental Music for Film & Video, Free Music for Commercial Projects, and Music for Video Games. Within each category you can search according to genre, instrument, and style. When you click the download icon on a file you will be prompted to copy the attribution information that is required to include in your project. Here's a little video overview of Dig CC Mixter

The Google Docs Features Starter Pack

I recently published a playlist of 76 Google Docs tutorials. But you certainly don't need to use all of the features of Google Docs demonstrated in that playlist let alone watch all of the videos. In fact, I'm often asked for a list of the "must-know" features instead of all of the "could use" features. Here are ten features that new users can benefit from learning early on.

1. Font options
Besides the default options in the font drop-down menu there are hundreds of other options available when you choose "more fonts" at the top of that menu. And while we're on the topic of fonts, it is possible to change the default font.

2. Page orientation
In the "File" drop-down menu you'll find a "page setup" option that allows you to change page orientation, set margins, and even change the page background color.

3. Find and Replace (Ctrl + H)
The next time you find yourself sitting down to start writing summative reports before parent-teacher conferences, create a template that you can quickly modify for each student. Then you can use the find and replace function to quickly change names, adjectives, and even entire sentences without having to create each report from scratch.

4. Personal dictionary 
In the "tools" menu select "personal dictionary" to teach the spell check to ignore the spelling of names or other words that are often marked incorrect by spell check despite being spelled correctly. For example, the last name of a friend of mine is Wankowicz, that name is never recognized by spell check unless the spell check is customized through the "personal dictionary" function.

5. Custom spacing
The default line spacing in Google Docs is 1.15. You can change that to anything you like, if you know where the line spacing settings are found. You can find the settings in the "format" menu. You can also find it in the toolbar. See the screenshot below for direction on finding the line spacing settings in the toolbar.
Click image to enlarge.

6. Version history
This feature was formerly called "revision history." Select "version history" to find the various iterations of your document. You can set different names for each version. This is a great feature for seeing the evolution of a student's document.

7. Adding collaborators
Click the "share" button in the upper, right corner of your document to invite people to become collaborators on your document. You can give people full access to edit your document or you can restrict them to only being able to make suggestions and comments on your document.

8. Lock shared documents
Google Docs includes the option to make your document available for anyone to view even if they don't have Google accounts. But just because people can view your document it doesn't mean that they have to be able to make copies of or print your document. Use the "advanced" option on the sharing menu to disable the option to print or copy your public documents.
Click image to enlarge.

9. Insert drawings
Need to insert a signature? Want to quickly add a flow chart to a document? Use Google Drawings within your document. You'll find that option in the "insert" drop-down menu.

10. Export your document.
Prefer to print a PDF? Have someone who insists that you send him or her a Word file attached to an email instead of using Google Docs? You can do both of those things by selecting "download as" in the File menu.

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