Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Week in Review - Back to School Fun

A great sign in a school cafeteria.
Good morning from the world headquarters in Woodstock, Maine where the weather is perfect for a long weekend. This week I had the privilege of speaking at the first day of school for staff in Tamworth, New Hampshire. The opportunity to meet and work with teachers all over the world is the best thing that comes from writing this blog. Thank you to those teachers who joined me in Tamworth this week to learn about Google Apps and making videos. If you would like to have me visit your school, click here for more information.

One of my favorite things about visiting schools is taking pictures of fun things that I find on the walls. This week I found the sign you see to the left. I thought it was a nice cafeteria reminder for kids.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Six Tools for Creating Online Timelines - A Comparison Chart
2. Share to Classroom - Get Your Students on the Same Webpage With Ease
3. Formative - Quickly Gather Responses Sketched by Students
4. About Downloading YouTube Videos...
5. 5 Good Google Tools for Social Studies Teachers - And How to Use Them
6. My Two Ground Rules for Collaboratively Taking Notes
7. Eight Alternatives to Google Image Search

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference?
Click here to learn about my professional development services. 

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.
HelloTalk is a mobile community for learning a new language.
MasteryConnect offers a series of apps for identifying standards. 
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.
Lesley University offers online education programs for teachers.
HelpTeaching offers online tests and printable resources for teachers.  
King University offers online M.Ed programs.

Have You Tried Voice Typing In Google Docs? - It's Easy to Use

A bunch of new features were added to Google Apps this week. The latest one that I have tried is voice typing in Google Docs. In the past there were some Chrome extensions that could enable you to do that, but now voice typing is a native feature of Google Docs. To use voice typing in Google Docs simply open the "tools" drop-down menu and select "voice typing." When you make that selection a microphone icon will appear in the margin of your document. Once the icon appears, click it, allow Google to access your microphone, and start talking. Your spoken words will almost instantly appear on in the document.

I tested voice typing in Google Docs and was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy. I was also pleased with how it responded to my prompts to insert punctuation. A complete set of voice typing functions is available here.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Find and Create Graphing Problems in the Desmos Teacher Resources

Desmos is a free graphing calculator that is available to use in your web browser and as an Android and iPad app. The Desmos calculator performs all of the functions you would expect to see in a graphing calculator with a couple of extras that you don't find in typical graphing calculators. Desmos allows you to share your equations and graphs. Desmos graphs your equations as you type them and redraws them as you alter your equations.

Applications for Education
Desmos offers a good collection of resources for teachers. The teacher resources page features a dozen pre-made activities that you can distribute to students. The activities take advantage of the functions in Desmos while helping your students learn about graphing, problem modeling, algebra, and geometry. Once you've reviewed some of the pre-made activities in Desmos you can use the Desmos activity builder to create your own lessons and distribute them to your students.

New Video Series Coming Soon - #askRichardByrne

One of the things that I've been doing since joining MindRocket Media Group in late June is getting things in order for a video series that will be appearing on EdCircuit. Every week I'll be answering some of the questions that I get asked on Twitter, Facebook, and in my email. While the series will mostly be focused on technology, I'll take on some other questions too. If you have a question for me Tweet it with the hashtag #askRichardByrne or send it to me on the EdCircuit Facebook page.

I attempted to do a series like this on my own a couple of years ago and found that I didn't have the time to do all of the video editing that was necessary. By working with MindRocket Media Group I don't have to worry about that and I can just focus on answering your questions. So if you have an ed tech question for me use the hashtag #askRichardByrne or send it through the EdCircuit Facebook page.

And, of course, you're still welcome to email me anytime at richardbyrne (at)

How to Use the Google Drive Templates Gallery

The Google Drive templates gallery is a good place to find designs for slides, documents, and spreadsheets. As someone who gets frustrated by manipulating spreadsheets, I find the Sheets templates to be particularly useful. The Docs and Slides templates are also helpful when I need inspiration for layouts and color schemes. In the short video embedded below I provide an overview of how to access and use the Google Sheets, Docs, and Slides templates.