Sunday, September 3, 2017

Great Writing Prompts for Elementary School Students

Last month Night Zookeeper launched a fantastic creative writing platform called Writing Sparks. Writing Sparks offers timed writing prompts to share with your elementary school students. Students can respond to the prompts by writing on paper, in a word processing document like MS Word, or by writing on the Writing Sparks website. The Writing Sparks website provides students with templates to complete as they respond to each writing prompt.

In the video that is embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to use the free Writing Sparks service.

Just to clarify, Writing Sparks does not require you or your students to register in order to use the site. If your students use the Writing Sparks writing tool, they will have to download their work as PDFs in order to save it and share it.

Get to Know Free Technology for Teachers

On a fairly regular basis I get comments on the Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page and in my email that read something like this, "do you guys have anything about X?" or "can someone on your team help me with X?" My answer is usually, "yes, I can help you." You see, the Free Technology for Teachers "team" is just me and one college student who helps me out for a few hours a week (and she's a relatively recent addition to my team).

I started this blog ten years ago this November. It was started with one simple purpose. That purpose was and still is to help teachers find and use free technology tools. When I started this blog in 2007 I was focused mostly on open source software and emerging Web 2.0 tools. iPads, Android tablets, and Chromebooks were still a few years away. Netbooks running stripped-down versions of XP, Vista, or some custom Linux installation were everywhere! As new hardware and new operating systems emerged, I started to include blog posts about free apps that ran on those platforms. Many of those free apps and websites have come and gone, but there are some that have lasted all ten years that I have been blogging. I'll be featuring all of those in new series called Built to Last.

Somewhere along the way this little hobby blog became a part-time job and then a full-time job. That happened thanks to so many of you who shared my blog posts, subscribed to the blog in various ways, invited me to speak at your conferences, and invited me into your schools. Advertisements on the blog help to keep it running, (my costs just for email management are more than my car payment) but it is the workshops and webinars that make it possible for me bring quality resource to you every day of the year. So as you think about your professional development needs, please keep me in mind and I will be happy to help you. My speaking page has more details about my keynotes, workshops, and webinars.

SeeSaw 101 - How to Get Started Making SeeSaw Digital Portfolios

For the last couple of years SeeSaw has been my first choice for a digital portfolio tool. It works well on all platforms and it's equally easy to use on all platforms. But if you need a little help getting started on SeeSaw, SeeSaw 101 is there for you.

SeeSaw 101 is a set of self-guided tutorials on using the SeeSaw platform to create digital portfolios. SeeSaw 101 includes text, slides, and videos throughout each course.

SeeSaw can be used on all grade levels. However, a third grade teacher and a tenth grade teacher will use it in different ways. That's why SeeSaw 101 is divided into four sections. There's a section for pre-K through second grade, a section for third through fifth grade, a section for sixth through eighth grade, and a section for high school use.

Disclosure: SeeSaw is currently an advertiser on

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good afternoon from sunny Paris Hill, Maine. It was a busy week here and I'm sure it was for you too. As I mentioned earlier in the week, autumn is in the air around here. I found myself grabbing a knit hat and putting on a fleece earlier this week. That just serves as a physical reminder that school is in session. What's your favorite aspect of autumn? Send me an email and let me know.

This week I received a couple of requests to facilitate professional development days during the 2017-18 school year. My calendar for 2017 is almost full and 2018 is starting to fill in. I'd love to add your school to my schedule. Send me an email at richardbyrne (at) and let's talk about how we can work together.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Kahoot Launches a New Collection of Math Games
2. 9 Alternatives to Google Image Search - PDF Handout
3. Three Google Docs Features New Users Often Ask About
4. Create Random Seating Assignments With Mega Seating Plan
5. Email Etiquette Reminders for Students
6. 5 Tips for New Google Calendar Users
7. How to Collect Files Through Google Forms

Have you subscribed to the Practical Ed Tech Newsletter? It is sent on Sunday evening and contains my favorite ed tech tip of the week along with the list of the most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
SeeSaw is my favorite digital portfolio tool.
Metaverse enables anyone to create amazing things.
Kids Discover provides fantastic tools for helping kids discover new information. 
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
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.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
My Simpleshow provides a great way to create explanatory videos.

Where to Find and How to Use the New Kahoot Math Games

Earlier this week Kahoot launched a new featured called Kahoot Studio. Studio is a curated collection of math games made by Kahoot and aligned to Common Core standards. In the future Kahoot will be adding games for other subjects.

I received a couple of emails from readers looking for more information about Kahoot Studio. In particular, one person wanted to know if she could modify the math games in the Kahoot Studio. Yes, you can modify the games. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to find the new Kahoot math games and how to modify them.