Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Short List of Physical Tech Products That I Recommend

From time to time I am asked for recommendations on the purchase of physical tech products. I generally don't make recommendations for school-wide or other large scale purchases, but I will make recommendations for small purchases. Here's the short list of physical tech products that I recommend today.

Elegoo UNO Super Starter Kit for Arduino
If you're thinking about trying your hand at Arduino programming, this kit has everything that you need to get started. It even includes a comprehensive tutorial and suggested first projects. It's a good deal at $34.99 (less if you have Amazon Prime). I've purchased more than a dozen of these kits for use in some of my workshops.

Blu Snowball Microphone
I have been recommending this microphone for years. It's an affordable, high-quality microphone for recording on your Windows, Mac, or Chromebook computer. I own two of them. One of which has seen on four continents, been dropped countless times, and triggered more TSA "enhanced security screenings" than I care to count. At $49.99 it is affordable and durable. These have been around for so long that you can actually get refurbished ones now.

Acer R11 Touchscreen Chromebook
Today, I do most of my daily work on a Lenovo T470s Windows 10 laptop. But for a while I was using my Chromebook for the bulk of my work and the Acer R11 is the Chromebook that I still use whenever I host workshops geared toward Chromebook-using teachers. The Acer R11 is an affordable and durable touchscreen Chromebook. If I was buying a Chromebook for one of my kids today, the Acer R11 is the one that I'd go for. You can buy this new for $299 or refurbished for $219.

Essential Android Phone
I have been using and abusing Android phones since 2011. The Essential Phone is the one I am using today. The only one that I liked better was my custom Motorola Pure Droid X. The Essential Phone is one of the only truly unlocked smartphones on the market today. It doesn't come with any pre-installed apps other than what is absolutely essential to make the phone and camera run. You can buy it today for $443 and use it on any network. I published a detailed review of this phone on Practical Ed Tech.

Adobe Spark Post Now Available on Android

Adobe Spark Post is a free graphic design tool that has been available online and as an iPad app for a few years. Last week it finally became available for use as an Android app too. You can use Adobe Spark Post to create photo collages, to edit your images for sharing on social media, to make announcement graphics, or even to design great-looking slides.

Adobe Spark Post provides a huge gallery of design templates that you can use or you can go on your own to design from scratch. One of the thing that I like about Adobe Spark Post is that even if you don't work with a template it will make suggestions for color schemes and font choices when you import your own images.

Get the Adobe Spark Post Android app here.

Applications for Education
  • Students and teachers can create simple posters to print and post in their schools to announce club meetings, campaigns for class elections, or to post encouraging messages to students.
  • To help students understand and show that they understand what propaganda messages look like, I have had them create simple early 20th Century-style propaganda posters of their own. Adobe Spark has built-in Creative Commons search that can help students find pictures to use for those posters. Students can also upload pictures they've found in the public domain.
  • Create a meme-style graphic to share on your classroom, library, or school website. The graphic could be intended to encourage students and parents to remind each other of an upcoming school event. You could also create a meme to encourage students to continue reading over the summer. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Flipgrid, Forms, and Accessibility - The Week in Review

Good evening from Maine where the sun has set on a nice summer day. The week was full of great summer weather and none better than the actual first day of summer on Thursday when my daughters and I played outside all day except for nap time. I hope those of you in the northern hemisphere are also enjoying summer like we are here in South Paris, Maine.

I'm not going to be at the ISTE conference this year. But I've already had virtual meetings with many vendors who are announcing new products and product features during the conference. I'll be publishing about those new features throughout the next week. And you can also follow ISTE happenings through a variety of online channels outlined in this article by Kathleen Morris.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Huge Flipgrid News! - All Features Now Free
2. New Google Forms Customization Options
3. Identifying Cities from Historic Maps - A Geography Game
4. Five Ways to Create Mind Maps and Flowcharts Online
5. Grackle - Assess the Accessibility of Your Google Docs & Slides
6. Vynchronize - Watch Videos and Discuss Them in the Same Window
7. Add Voice Recordings to Maps

Bring Me to Your School
My fall calendar is almost full! If you would like to bring me to your school for a professional development day, please get in touch. I offer professional development workshops on G Suite for Education, Teaching History With Technology, and many other topicsClick here to learn more or send an email to richardbyrne (at) to book me today.

Book Me for Your Conference
I’ve given keynotes at conferences from Australia to Alaska for groups of all sizes from 50 to 2,000+. My keynotes focus on providing teachers and school administrators with practical ways to use technology to create better learning experiences for all students. I like to shine the light on others and so I often share examples of great work done by others as well as my own. Send an email to richardbyrne (at) book me today.

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.
MySimpleShow offers a great way to create animated videos for free.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
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.

A Lesson for Beachcombers - How Seashells Are Made

If your summer plans include going to the beach, you may be interested in a new video from Reactions about how seashells are made. In How Seashells Are Made viewers learn that seashells are made of 95% calcium carbonate and 5% protein and sugar. The video doesn't stop with just listing the components of seashells. By watching the video viewers can learn how calcite and aragonite are layered in seashells to create a hard shell.

Applications for Education
I've never been a "lay on the beach" kind of person. I'm the person you'll find wandering and looking at neat things that get washed up on shore. If you have students that like to wander and collect seashells, use that curiosity as a segue into a science lesson about how seashells are made. This video is a great candidate for inclusion in an EDpuzzle lesson in which you add questions and your own clarifying remarks for students. Watch my EDpuzzle tutorial to learn how to add questions to an existing video.

Use Scheduling to Blog Consistently

Earlier this week I hosted a webinar about creating and maintaining classroom blogs. One of the topics that I addressed during the webinar was the importance of publishing blog posts on a consistent schedule. Publishing consistently helps your students and their parents know when they should expect to see new entries appearing on your blog.

You might not always have time to write on the same day(s) every week, but you can publish on the same day(s) if you use blog scheduling. When you have the time to write more than one blog entry, don't post them at the same time. Instead schedule one to appear at a later time so that you can maintain your consistent publishing schedule.

In the following video I demonstrate how you can schedule blog posts in Blogger, Edublogs, and WordPress blogs.

By the way, this post appears thanks to the scheduling tool. I wrote it on Tuesday night and it's appearing now on Saturday morning.