Monday, May 25, 2015

Old NYC & Old SF - Maps of Images of New York and San Francisco

Old NYC and Old SF are two great websites featuring thousands of historical photographs of New York City and San Francisco. The images are sourced from the New York Public Library and the San Francisco Public Library. Each image is geolocated on the map according to the latitude and longitude coordinates of where it was taken. In most cases those coordinates match street addresses, but not always.

Applications for Education
Old NYC and Old SF were featured on Maps Mania last week. I couldn't stop thinking about the maps (I'm a maps junky). As I thought about the maps over the weekend I realized that the images in the maps could be helpful to students who are reading about the history of either city or reading stories set in either city. For example, students reading The Great Gatsby or The Catcher in the Rye may be interested to see images of NYC from those decades.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Crash Course for Kids on Weathering & Erosion

A couple of months ago the producers of the popular Crash Course channel on YouTube started a Crash Course for Kids channel. Crash Course for Kids offers overviews of various topics (mostly science) through the use of greenscreen visuals and a lot of talking. Weathering and Erosion is the topic of one of the more recent releases on Crash Course for Kids. In the video students will see a comparison of Cape Cod's coastline in 1984 and 2014. That image combined with the commentary does a great job of showing students the effects of erosion.

Applications for Education
Like a lot of people this spring I've been spending time working on landscaping my yard. One of my projects has been to build terraces to slow erosion on my lot. After watching Weathering and Erosion: Crash Course Kids ask your students to find and take pictures of examples of erosion and erosion prevention measures in their neighborhoods.

You could also continue the lesson with Shape It Up. Shape It Up is one of many good educational games and activities on Kinetic CityShape It Up is an activity that would be good for use in an elementary school Earth Science lesson. The activity presents students with "before" and "after" images of a piece of Earth. Students then have to select the force nature and the span of time it took to create the "after" picture. If students choose incorrectly, Shape It Up will tell the student and they can choose again.

How to Quickly Create a Variety of Data Visualizations

On Friday afternoon I wrote about's updated tools for creating data visualizations. The first time that you use Silk the account dashboard can be a little confusing. A couple of folks emailed me about it last night and this morning so I decided to make a little screencast about That video is embedded below.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Mailbag - Answers to Questions from Readers

Every week I receive lots of messages from readers who have questions about things I've written. I also receive a lot of message from people who are in search of suggestions for tools that solve a problem for them. Some of these questions are very specific while others have a broader appeal. Those with a broader appeal make it into my periodic mailbag posts. If you have a question, you can always email me at richardbyrne (at)

My students will be starting a video project. They need to interview a teacher. They will be using Chromebooks for the assignment. Do you have any suggestions? I love tech but I'm a video novice?

My suggestion is to try WeVideo. WeVideo will allow students to edit raw video clips and splice-in transitions between segments of their interviews. WeVideo provides good tutorials for first time users. If you're just concerned with capturing the video and don't need a polished product, your students could record directly to YouTube. I have a video here that provides an overview of the basic YouTube setting teachers and students should know.

My current district ( I am leaving - moving away in two weeks) uses Google Drive for everything. Is there an easy way for me to "save" the things that I want to keep - take with me - when I go?

You can use the Google Takeout tool will to download everything from one account and then upload it to another. Otherwise, you can put everything in a folder (or two or three) then share that folder with yourself in your new account.

Which screencast software would you recommend and why please?

I use for creating screencasts. It works well on every laptop I use and is free for recordings under five minutes long. The yellow circle that you see appearing in all my screencast videos is built into Screencast-O-Matic and I find it helpful in identifying a cursor in a screencast. The pro version of costs $15/year and offers longer recording times along with removal of the Screencast-O-Matic watermark on videos.

I was wondering if you knew of any apps or online tools that students could use to create learning portfolios to take with them when they leave high school?

I generally recommend using Weebly or Google Sites for high school students to use to create digital portfolios. As long as they use personal email addresses rather than school email addresses, they will retain control over the portfolio for as long as they like.

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Woodstock, Maine where I started the weekend by walking my dogs in blustery 32F weather, brr... I'm hoping that it warms up a bit before I head out for a bike ride later this morning. Whether it's hot, cold, dry, or rainy where you are this weekend, I hope that you have something fun planned too.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Six Styles of Classroom Video Projects - A Handout
2. 5 Good Ways to Send Text & Push Notifications to Students & Parents - A Handout
3. ABCya Story Maker - Draw and Type Stories
4. Breaking News from
5. Free Online Music Theory Lessons
6. Five Good Resources for Teaching Digital Safety and Citizenship to Elementary School Students
7. Apricot - Create Writing Prompts for Students and Share Responses With Parents

PD Opportunities With Me
Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
MidWest Teachers Institute offers online graduate courses for teachers.
HelloTalk is a mobile community for learning a new language.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
SeeSaw is a great iPad app for creating digital portfolios.