Monday, July 9, 2018

Elementary School Rocks

K-5 GeoSource is a great resource produced by the American Geosciences Institute. On K-5 GeoSource you will find free lesson plans, science fair project ideas, links to virtual activities, and resources for professional development. The first time I looked at the site back in 2009 it had a distinct Web 1.0 feel. The site has improved of late to make it easier to find the materials you want. A few of the resources that I looked at were this free chart about types of rocks, a science fair project guide, and a short Geoscientist career guide.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned above, K-5 GeoSource isn't the fanciest site you'll find on the web, if you need to find some ideas to use in your classroom, K-5 GeoSource is definitely worth bookmarking. The most useful aspect of the site might be the science fair project guide that you and your students could work through to plan a hands-on Earth science project.

Create Your Own Search Engine

Last week I saw some folks on Twitter sharing a link to a site called Kidy that advertised itself as an "intellegent, safe search engine for kids." I checked out the site and found that it was just an implementation of a Google Custom Search Engine that anyone can create. The implementation on Kidy was also lacking in the amount of sources it indexed. I tried five varied searches and in each case all of the results appeared to come from a small selection of sources like PBS, National Geographic, Encyclopedia Britannica (no better than using Wikipedia), NASA, and Anyone could replicate that search engine and or improve upon it by using Google's Custom Search Engine tool.

Take a look at my video and slides below to learn how you can create your own custom search engine.

Slides of the process are embedded below.

Applications for Education
Creating your own search engine can be a good way to help students limit the scope of their searches. For example, when you're teaching younger students about search strategies you might want to have them use a search engine that only indexes a few dozen websites so that you can have some assurance that they won't be landing on pages of questionable content.

Socrative Has a New Owner - Not Much Changes

Before there was Kahoot or Quizizz there was Socrative. Socrative was a pioneer in the area of quiz-style student response systems that incorporated responses from students' phones, tablets, and computers. Socrative has offered individual and team games from the start. And the aspect of Socrative that I appreciate the most from a classroom management standpoint is that all activities happen under the same classroom ID. So rather than giving students a different game ID for every activity, you just have them use the same classroom ID for every activity and then select the activity to complete.

A few years ago Socrative was acquired by MasteryConnect. This morning I went to my Socrative account and noticed a banner announcing that it was acquired by Showbie. I read the full announcement here. From reading the announcement it seems that nothing is changing for current Socrative users.

TypingClub's Typing Jungle Offers Hundreds of Typing Lessons

Disclosure: Typing Club is an advertiser on

TypingClub has been providing excellent typing instruction for many years. I've watched as the service grew from a simple practice site to a complete system that teaches students proper typing technique. The latest version of TypingClub features a program called Typing Jungle that provides more than 600 progressive lessons and activities.

TypingClub's Typing Jungle is designed to give students instruction and practice on using proper technique. TypingClub does this by providing direct instruction through short videos followed by guided practice activities. As you might expect, the lessons start with the basics using just a couple of keys then progresses through to complete use of the keyboard. TypingClub will track and keep students' progress so they don't have to start at the beginning every time they sign-in. Similarly, not every student needs to start at the beginning. Students can take a placement test to determine where they should start in the Typing Jungle series.

TypingClub's Typing Jungle has some customization options that students can apply. Those customization options include changing the font size, style, and color scheme. Students can also choose to have the letters of the keys read aloud while they type.

Typing Jungle isn't the only offering from TypingClub. TypingClub also offers Jungle Junior, Typing Basics, Left Hand-only, Right Hand-only, and story-based typing practice. Jungle Junior is designed specifically for Kindergarten and first grade students. Typing Basics is the classic version of Typing Club and is a little faster paced and slightly more traditional typing practice environment. Story-based typing practice is a novel approach to typing practice.

TypingClub's story-based typing practice presents typing practice as a story for students to write. The story will unfold as students type. They type the letters of that appear on the page. When they type correctly more of the story is revealed. Students are provided with feedback on their typing in the form of letters changing color when they type incorrectly. The story also pauses until they type the correct letters.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Math, Forms, and Images - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the steamy weather has finally cooled off a bit. While it's still cool we're going on one of our favorite outings. We're going to the Maine Wildlife Park to feed the ducks and see the baby moose including this one that was befriended by a German Shepherd. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you get outside for some fun in the sun too.

Before my kids wake up and we head out the door, I have a run-down of this week's most popular posts to share. Take a look and see if your favorite made the list.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. MathsLinks - A Good Place to Find Resources for Math Lessons
2. 82 Math in Real Life Lessons
3. PhET PowerPoint Add-in - Add Science & Math Simulations to Slides
4. NRICH - Another Good Place to Find Math Activities
5. 4-H STEM Lab - A Good Place to Find Hands-on STEM Activities for K-12
6. How to Use the New Google Forms Customization Options
7. How to Find Free Images to Use in Multimedia Projects

Please Say Hello to New Blog Sponsors
Advertising is one of the means through which this site is supported. This week I welcomed two new site sponsors, Typing Club and Kami. Typing Club offers a novel approach to typing instruction. Kami is a great tool for annotating PDFs and more.

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.