Saturday, February 1, 2014

An Interactive Story About the Dust Bowl

One of the online complements to The Dust Bowl produced by Ken Burns is an interactive story about the dust bowl. The Interactive Dust Bowl is a series of video clips and scenarios for students to work through. After each video clip students have to make a decision to either keep farming or move onto something else. The point of the activity is to help students understand the causes of the dust bowl and the mistakes made that contributed to its continuation.

Applications for Education
Working through the Interactive Dust Bowl could be a good way for middle school students to understand the myriad of factors contributing to the dust bowl. The interactive activity is also good for helping students understand the effects of the dust bowl on farmers and their families.

The Story of Gasoline

As I sometimes do, yesterday I went down a rabbit hole of old National Archives films on YouTube. One of those short films was The Story of Gasoline which uses cartoon characters to begin to explain gasoline. The clip is only two minutes long. I then found a longer film from 1946 produced by Standard Oil in which the refinement process is explained using cartoon characters and a few charts. Both videos are embedded below.

Applications for Education
Besides the explanations offered in the second video I found it interesting how the plugs for Standard Oil were worked into the film. I might use the video as part of a study on the evolution of advertising in the U.S.

Come Relax and Learn at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp

Last summer I hosted the first Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp at Sunday River Resort and Conference Center in beautiful Newry, Maine. The response was great and many people have emailed me this winter asking if I was going to host it again. I am happy to announce that I will be hosting the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp on July 14th and 15th, 2014. Super Early Camper registration is now on sale.

Come to the beautiful Sunday River resort in Maine to spend two days learning with me, Richard Byrne. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp on July 14-15, 2014 is a hands-on exploration of how to use free technology tools in your classroom. This two day workshop is based on my framework for using technology to help students discover new information, discuss their ideas, and demonstrate their knowledge. Registration is limited to 25 participants to ensure that every participant gets the attention he or she deserves. Register today or read on for more information.

Highlights of the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp
  • Practical ideas for using technology in your classroom. 
  • A small, collaborative, hands-on learning environment. Bring your laptop because you'll be doing, not listening.
  • Twelve+ hours of learning in a relaxed and picturesque setting.
  • Develop a repertoire of new tools and ideas to effectively integrate technology into your lessons.
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This is an educational retreat!
Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is held at the Sunday River resort so that teachers can get away, relax, and learn in a comfortable environment that you won't find at typical summer conferences. Healthy breakfasts and hearty lunches will fuel your brain for learning and are included in your registration. And when we're done for the day you can relax in the pool, soak in a hot tub,  play the world-class Sunday River golf course, go on a sunset Moose tour, cast a line into the blue-ribbon Androscoggin fishery, or browse through the shops in historic downtown Bethel, Maine.

Want to turn your trip to the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp into a family vacation? Sunday River has extended special room rates for two room suites that are good for your whole stay even if you come early or stay late. So bring your family and go on a zipline through the mountains, paddle down the river, go geocaching, or hike a stretch of the world-renowned Appalachian Trail. Click here for more information about activities in the area.

What you will learn.
The two day workshop is based on my framework of Discovery, Discussion, and Demonstration. The first day is focused helping students use technology to discover and discuss. Day two is focused on demonstrating knowledge by creating new digital content including podcasts, videos, and other multimedia productions. Abbreviated outlines of each day are posted below. Day One:
  • Breakfast 7:30-8:30.
  • Teaching students how to search effectively.
  • Going beyond Google.
  • Collaborative research.
  • The role of social networks in education.
  • Backchannels and informal assessment tools.
  • Lunch 12:00-1:00
  • Collaborative writing and publishing with Google Drive and other collaborative tools.
  • Building blogs and websites.
  • Teaching digital citizenship.
Day Two:
  • Breakfast 7:30-8:30
  • Copyright, Creative Commons, and Fair Use
  • Podcasting and audio editing.
  • Video production with free web tools.
  • Lunch 12:00-1:00
  • Creating multimedia ebooks.
  • Maps as stories.
  • Sharing your work.

Register today!

Who should come to the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp?
K-12 teachers and curriculum directors who want to discover the best tools and strategies for teaching with technology in the new school year. You do not have to have any prior technology skills in order to learn a lot during the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. Just bring your laptop and you're ready to go. If you are a more experienced user of educational technology, there will be plenty of new tools and ideas for you too. Here's what some people have said about my previous workshops:
  • FYI...I learned several things tonight. Really looking forward to this series. When I go to teacher led classes at conferences I usually know more than they do. Tonight was not that way :)
  • @rmbyrne Thank you, Richard - truly inspiring - lots of fantastic information and tips! Can't wait to explore some more! Have a great day!
  • Great presentation from @rmbyrne New ideas to apply augmented reality w students with Autism & independence.
  • Thanks to @rmbyrne, I know how to make a choose your own adventure story using google forms. #edchat #edtech
  • And just to give you a little sense of my personality, here's a Tweet from one of my former students. It's always a fun history class when you're trying to roll your tongue with your teacher. #swag @rmbyrne

Register Today!

  • Super Early Camper registration (available through March 15) is $397/person.
  • Early Camper Registration (available through May 15)  is $447/person.
  • Standard Registration (after May 15) is $497/person.
Your registration includes breakfast and lunch both days. You are responsible for making your own room reservations through Sunday River. Mention "" to get special room rates. Standard rooms are $101/night, suites with kitchenettes are available for $141/night. Two ways to register.
  1. The easiest way to register is through the EventBrite form below.
  2. The other way to register is with a check or purchase order from your school. Contact me at richardbyrne (at) to pay with a check or purchase order.
To ensure that everyone gets the attention they need, the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp is limited to 25 participants. Register today!
What to bring to camp
  • This is a hands-on learning environment. Bring a laptop. Everything on the agenda can be done on a laptop, but not everything can be done on an iPad or Android tablet. You're welcome to bring your iPad or Android tablet, but make sure you also bring a laptop.
  • A smile and a willingness to learn.
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Friday, January 31, 2014

The Month In Review - The Most Popular Posts

When in London...
Good evening from Woodstock, Maine where it is a balmy 19F. It's hard to believe that the first month of the year is already at its end. This month started out slowly but quickly picked up as I conducted four webinars (three for, presented at Archbishop Williams High School in Braintree, Massachusetts, and attended TeachMeet BETT in London. Along the way I learned a bunch of new things that I've shared in this blog and or plan to incorporate in future workshops.

101 posts were published on Free Technology for Teachers this month. Here are the ten most popular posts.

1. Teachit Timer - A Slick Classroom Activity Timer
2. 7 Free iPad Apps for Science Lessons
3. Seven Free Online Whiteboard Tools for Teachers and Students
4. Nature Sound Map - Listen to the Sounds of Nature All Over the World
5. Thinking Blocks - Model Math Problems on iPads, Interactive Whiteboards, and in Your Browser
6. Click to Spin - A Fun and Free Random Name Picker
7. Three Good Tools for Building Flipped Lessons That Include Assessment Tools
8. 10 Tools to Help Students Keep Track of Tasks This Year
9. Wellcome Images Releases 100,000 Images Under Creative Commons Licensing
10. Seven Free Online Tools for Scheduling Appointments

Would you like to have me visit your school this year?
Click here to learn more about my professional development offerings.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is organizing two iPad summits this school year.
Classmint offers a nice multimedia flashcard service.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
Fresno Pacific University offers a wide variety of technology courses for teachers.

How to Subscribe to Free Technology for Teachers
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Learning Pod - Practice, Create, and Distribute Quizzes

Learning Pod is a free service through which students can review thousands of practice questions on a wide variety of topics. Teachers can use Learning Pod to create sets of questions to distribute to their students.

When a student visits Learning Pod he or she has the option to sign-in or to use the service without registering. Either way students can browse through thousands of sets of questions called Learning Pods. Students will find pods that are organizing according to test type (SAT, GRE, ACT) and pods that are organized according to subject matter. In both cases the questions that students select will be multiple choice questions for which instant feedback is given after each answer is submitted.

Applications for Education
Teachers can create questions on Learning Pod and arrange them into sets to distribute to students. Each Learning Pod has its own URL that you can send to students via email or simply post it on your classroom blog for students to find. Learning Pods can also be embedded into blog posts as I have done below.