Friday, April 14, 2017

Plum's Creaturizer - A Neat AR App to Get Kids Exploring Outdoors

Creaturizer from PBS Kids is a free iOS and Android app that lets students create fun cartoon creatures then place them into outdoor settings through the use of augmented reality. In the app students create cartoon creatures by swiping and tapping on the features they want their creatures to have (students can have multiple creature creations in the app). Then students go outside to take pictures that place their creatures in settings in which they utilize the features and traits of the fictional creatures. For example, I created a creature that had antlers, a long nose, and short arms. The app then challenged me to take a picture that illustrates how my creature would use its antlers in nature.

Applications for Education
Now that spring is here (in the northern hemisphere) I find myself thinking of fun ways get kids involved in outdoor learning activities. Creaturizer could be a fun app to have your students use to show what they know and or think about how animals use their bodies and adapt in nature.

Creaturizer doesn't require students to create accounts so it is convenient for elementary school students to use.

11 FAQs About the 2017 Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps

Early registration discounts for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps are available for sixteen more days. In the last couple of weeks I've answered a bunch of similar questions about the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp and the Practical Ed Tech Chromebook Camp. Here are those questions and their answers which includes a guest appearance by my daughter, Isla.

1. What's the difference between the BYOD Camp and the Chromebook Camp? 
In short, the Chromebook Camp is designed specifically for addressing the needs of teachers and students who will be using Chromebooks as their primary devices in their classrooms. The content of the BYOD Camp is designed to be adaptable to any platform. Here's a video explanation with Isla.

2. My school is transitioning to G Suite for Education (formerly Google Apps), will this help me?
In short, yes. The both of the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps will include the use of Google tools in each day. The Chromebook camp will have more G Suite items than the BYOD camp. We will share methods for incorporating Google tools into much of what we do. That said, this is not focused only on Google tools. Both of the the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps are based on my framework of Discovery, Discussion, and Demonstration.

The first day is focused helping students use technology to discover and discuss information. Day one of the Chromebook camp will also cover workflow on Chromebooks. Likewise the first day of the BYOD camp will cover workflow on iPads, laptops, and Android devices. The second day of both camps is focused on demonstrating knowledge by creating new digital content including podcasts, videos, and other multimedia productions.

3. How much time will I have to practice on my own/ with my colleague? 
I build in lots of time for hands-on practice. Circular tables are used so that you can face each other, meet new people, and learn and work together. I explain a bit more in this video.

4. I want to bring my principal, will she/he benefit from attending?
Absolutely! As I've heard my friend Scott McLeod say, "the leaders must get it." This is a great opportunity for your principal to gain a great understanding of what you and your colleagues want to do when school starts again in the fall. Equally importantly, they'll learn why you want to do it.

5. My school is going 1:1 with iPads, will the BYOD camp help me?
Yes. We will be looking at a bunch of apps and their applications for classrooms.

6. Will you be streaming this online?
No. The Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps are designed to be hands-on and a livestream wouldn't really capture the experience. However, for 2017 I have designed an online course that will closely mimic the BYOD camp. Check out the Practical Ed Tech Jumpstart.

7. How do I get to Portland, Maine? What can I do once I'm there? How do I get around in Portland?
Portland has an international airport (airport code PWM) serviced by American, United, Delta, SouthWest, and Jet Blue. Boston/ Logan Airport is about 90 miles away. The hotel is about a ten minute cab ride from the Portland airport. Uber is available in Portland. When we’re done for the day you can walk to dozens of restaurants along the Old Port’s cobblestone streets, walk to the ocean, or even hop a boat and take a sunset cruise to see the islands in Casco Bay. Beaches and lighthouses are just a few minutes drive from the hotel (my favorite lighthouse is this one).

8. Why aren't these events free?
There are two reasons why they aren't free. First, I incur a lot of expenses in organizing and hosting the events. Second, while all of the sites and apps we will use are free, my time for teaching about them isn't free.

9. Are there things for my kids/ my spouse/ my partner to do during the day?
The great thing about the location of the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps is that it puts you in walking and or driving distance to lots of things. The Portland Museum of Art and the Children's Museum of Maine are within walking distance. Beaches are within 10-15 minutes of driving (if you just want to see the ocean, that's a 7 minute walk). There are many public and private golf courses within 10-20 minutes of driving.

10. We would love to attend but the dates don't work for us, will you be offering this at another time?
At this time I don't have plans to offer the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps on other dates. I am more than happy to come to your school district to offer a workshop. Please click here for information about my on-location professional development services.

11. Can I register with a purchase order / check from my school?
Yes, you can. To register with a purchase order or a check from your school email me or have your business administrator email at richardbyrne (at) and I will register you on receipt of the purchase order. Please note that the early registration discount is only available if you register through the online form.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Dogs and Humans - A Long History of Friendship

Anyone who has followed this blog for more than a week or two has probably picked up on my love for my dogs (#adoptdontshop). I'm certainly not the first person and I won't be the last person to have a strong bond with dogs. Who were the first people to bond with dogs? Or did dogs bond with us? Those questions and more are answered in a new video from It's Okay To Be Smart titled Dogs and Humans: A 30,000 Year Friendship.

If you want to use this video as part of a flipped lesson, give Vizia a try. The responses that you gather through Vizia appear in either a Google Sheet or a CSV file to download. If you use the Google Sheet option you can then use Flubaroo to grade your students' responses to the quiz.

See California's Redwoods in Google Street View

In an earlier post I shared the Google Expeditions virtual tours of national parks. Shortly after publishing that post I discovered Google's latest additions to their Street View collections. The latest addition features Big Basin Redwoods State Park in California. This imagery lets viewers virtually experience some of the size and scale of California's redwood forests.

Applications for Education
One good way to use Street View imagery like that in this new collection, is to organize a "Street View treasure hunt" in which students have to find examples of natural features in the landscape.

For as long as I can remember forests have always fascinated me. I'll bet that you have students who feel the same way. This new Street View imagery will not fully satisfy their fascination, but it can give them a glimpse of a majestic forest in a way that pictures in a book cannot.

Explore National Parks for Free In Person or Online

Entry to national parks in the United States is free each of the next two weekends. If there is a national park near you, go out and explore. Bring your phone to take some pictures. Otherwise put it down and take in the experience. Better yet, skip the phone all together and use a good old camera to take some pictures. 

If there aren't any national parks near you, you can still explore them through some nice online resources. National Parks virtual tours are available in the Google Arts & Culture apps for Android and iOS. If you have VR headsets available to you, take a look at Google Expeditions virtual tours of the "hidden treasures" of National Parks. 

Over the years PBS has produced many videos about the National Parks. You can view some of those videos in their entirety on the PBS video website. Search on the site for "national parks" and you'll have a big list of videos to view. Here's a list to get you started.

Web Rangers offers seven categories of games about different subjects related to the National Parks. The game categories are people, animals, parks, science, history, nature, and puzzles. Each category contains games of varying difficulty rated from easy to difficult. Some of the game topics include dendrochronology, animal tracking, animal identification, fire fighting, and map reading. Students can play Web Rangers games as visitors or as registered users. Registered users can track their progress and earn virtual rewards. Registered users can also create their own customized virtual ranger stations

The National Parks Service's Digital Image Archive is an excellent place to find images of U.S. National Parks. You can search the archive by park and or subject. All of the images are free to download as they are in the public domain. The National Parks Service also offers a b-roll video gallery. The videos in the galleries are in the public domain. The b-roll video gallery can be searched by park, monument, building, or person. All of the videos can be downloaded. Some files are quite large so keep that in mind if your school has bandwidth limits and you have all of your students searching for videos at the same time.

Google Earth offers a great way for students to view national parks in the United States and beyond. Your students can explore imagery in Google Earth to learn about the topography of a national park. In a lot of cases there is Street View imagery available within national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Your students might also benefit from viewing tours within Google Earth.To locate a tour you can refine a Google search by file type to .KMZ and then launch the tours that appear in your search results.

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