Tuesday, July 31, 2018

GIFs, Forms, and Math - The Month in Review

Good evening from Maine where the sun has set on July. As I do at the end of every month I've put together a list of the ten most read posts of the previous 30 days. It's interesting to note that not all of the posts in the list were published in July. In fact, some of them were published last year, but for some reason saw a lot of visits in July.

These were the most popular posts in July:
1. The Periodic Table in Pictures and Words
2. A New Grammar Checker is Coming to Google Docs
3. PhET PowerPoint Add-in - Add Science & Math Simulations to Slides
4. Say Goodbye to Old Google Forms
5. MathsLinks - A Good Place to Find Resources for Math Lessons
6. 82 Math in Real Life Lessons
7. 10 Tools for Gathering Real-time Feedback From Students
8. 51 World Geography Games for Kids
9. 4-H STEM Lab - A Good Place to Find Hands-on STEM Activities for K-12
10. An Easy Way to Create a GIF from Google Slides

On-site Professional Development
My fall calendar has only three openings left! 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) freetech4teachers.com 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) freetech4teachers.com 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.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
Kami is a great tool for annotating and collaborating on PDFs. 
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.

Try Using Icebreaker Tags at New Staff Orientation

The new school year is almost here and that means there will be new staff orientation meetings are happening everywhere. Rather than using generic name tags or ID badges for that first meeting, try using Icebreaker Tags. IceBreaker Tags is a free tool for making your name tags that can help people break out of the typical "what do you do?" questions that are asked when meeting for the first time.

To use Icebreaker Tags just go to the site, enter your desired display name, upload an image to display on your name tag, and type your ice-breaker question or statement. When you hit the print button your customized name tags will be displayed in a sheet of eight name tags that you can download and print on sticker paper (here's the kind I use).


On a related note, while looking for the sticker paper link mentioned above, I found these cool super hero name tags on Amazon.

Monday, July 30, 2018

A Short Guide to Getting Started With Google Drive

Six years ago I published a short PDF that contained directions for getting started using Google Drive. I still get requests for that document even though it is outdated. This evening I'm happy to share that I have put together an updated guide to getting started with Google Drive.

This guide was developed for a total beginner who has never used Google Drive or any aspect of G Suite for Education before. You can view it as a set of Google Slides as embedded below. If you would like a PDF version, you can download that through the Box.com widget that I have embedded below the Google Slides.


Get the PDF version through the Box.com widget that is embedded below.

Join Me Tomorrow for 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons

Tomorrow afternoon at 4pm Eastern Time I'm hosting a Practical Ed Tech webinar titled 5 Ways to Blend Technology Into Outdoor Lessons. I hosted this webinar back in the spring to close out the school year. It was well received then so I'm offering it again. In the webinar I'll share activities, tools, and strategies for getting your kids outside and involved in lessons that incorporate technology.

In tomorrow's webinar you can learn about:
  • Augmented Reality 
  • Digital mapping 
  • Geocaching 
  • Activity tracking 
  • Observing and collecting scientific data


Your registration includes: 

  • Access to the live webinar on July 31st at 4pm Eastern Time. 
    • Please take advantage of the Q&A 
  • Unlimited access to the webinar recording. 
  • Digital handouts. 
  • PD certificate.

About this post: The sale of my professional development, webinars, online courses, and my on-site professional development services provides the funding to keep Free Technology for Teachers running. The resources that I feature in my online courses and webinars are free. However, there is a significant cost associated with creating, hosting, and managing the courses and webinars which is why I am not able to provide them for free.  

Sunday, July 29, 2018

7 Ways to Make Animated GIFs

Whiteboard-style videos and Common Craft-style videos can be a great for helping students understand big concepts in short, easy-to-follow videos. But for smaller concepts, an animated GIF can do the trick. In the last few months I've come across a lot of free tools for making animated GIFs. Here's a run down of some of the better ones.

Loopy is a free tool for creating your own animated simulations or illustrations of a concept. This free animation tool is designed to showing relationships between two or more parts of a system. It's perfect for showing cause and effect or for showing a workflow system. To create an animation on Loopy you simply have to click on the blank canvas to place a circle that represents the start of a system. Then click on the canvas again to add another element to your system animation. To connect the two (or more) pieces you use a drawing tool to connect them. Once you've drawn the connections you can add cause and effect commands by selecting them from the Loopy editor. 

Draw Island is a free online tool (tablet-friendly) for creating drawings and simple GIF animations. Draw Island offers you your choice of four canvas sizes on which you can draw. Draw Island offers two canvas sizes for creating simple GIF animations. To use Draw Island just head to the site and select a drawing tool. You can draw free hand (or should I say free mouse?) or select pre-defined shapes to use in your images. After you are done drawing, just click the save button to download your drawing or animation.

Flip Anim provides possibly an easy way to draw and create an animated GIF. In the following short video I demonstrate how to create animated GIFs by using Flip Anim.



Brush Ninja is a free tool for creating animated GIFs. Unlike some similar tools, Brush Ninja works equally well in the web browser on a Chromebook, Windows or Mac laptop, iPads, Android tablets, and iOS and Android phones. Watch my video that is embedded below to see the process of using Brush Ninja.



The Docs365 GIFmaker Google Slides add-on will turn a series of Google Slides into an animated GIF for you. In the video that is embedded below I demonstrate how to make an animated GIF from your Google Slides.


Parapara Animation is a free animation creation tool developed and hosted by Mozilla. The tool is easy to use and it does not require registration in order to use it. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to create an animation with ParaPara Animation.



Animatron is a nice tool for creating animated videos and images. To create an animated GIF you drag and drop characters and other scene elements into frames in the Animatron editor. Scenes created in Animatron can be downloaded as videos and or as GIFs. Animatron's free plan limits you to ten seconds of download time. The free plan will let you embed and or share longer scenes via social media. The other limitation of the free plan is that you can only create five projects before you'll have to delete one.