Friday, December 7, 2018

Nominate Your Favorite Ed Tech Tools for a Readers' Choice Award

As the end of 2018 approaches I thought it would be fun to see what you think are the best educational technology apps, sites, and services. For the next week I'll leave this Google Form open for you to nominate your favorite educational technology app, site, or service. You can make nominations in one category or all of the categories. Please make only one nomination per category. At this time next week I'll tally all of the nominations and open up voting on the finalists (the top five in each category).

If you are a representative of a company (including compensated brand ambassadors) please do not nominate your company. I would like for this nomination process to be as genuine as possible.

Four Podcasting Tutorials - From Basic to Robust

Earlier this morning I shared news about NPR's Student Podcast Challenge that starts in January. While NPR does provide some good guides for students and teachers to use to plan podcasts, those guides don't include tutorials on specific podcast recording and editing tools. If you're thinking about having students create podcasts either for NPR's contest or for any other purpose, take a look at the podcasting tools tutorial videos that I have embedded below.

Two Simple Podcasting Tools
If you're new to podcasting and want to get started as quickly as possible, I recommend trying either Anchor.fm or GoSynth. Both are very easy to use and you could be recording in less than five minutes from the time that you register on their respective sites.

GoSynth Tutorial



Anchor.fm Tutorial



Two Robust Podcasting Tools
If you use Anchor or GoSynth for a while, you'll eventually want more editing features to make your podcasts sound a bit more polished. Or perhaps you're not afraid a little steeper learning curve at the start. In either case you can't go wrong with GarageBand or Audacity.

Audacity Tutorial


GarageBand Tips


Microphones for Podcasting
You could use the internal microphone on your computer, tablet, or phone. You'll get a better sound quality if you record with an external microphone. There are two microphones that I use and recommend. The first is the Snowball ICE Microphone from Blue Designs. For a much cheaper option I use and recommend this three pack of lapel microphones for $7.

NPR is Hosting a Student Podcast Challenge

Thanks to Ms. Meade on Twitter, last night I learned about NPR's Student Podcast Challenge. The challenge is open to students in fifth through twelfth grade. To enter the challenge students have to create a podcast that is three to twelve minutes long. Their podcasts can't include music so it really is a contest about spoken words and conversations. NPR does have a short list of prompts to get students started, but students aren't limited to the list of prompts.

NPR's Student Podcast Challenge will open for submissions in January and stay open until March 31st. The winning submissions will be played on the popular NPR broadcasts All Things Considered and Morning Edition.  Submissions to the contest have to be made by teachers on behalf of students. Submissions have to be uploaded to SoundCloud. Submissions have to be original work created specifically for the contest. All of the contest rules are available here.

Applications for Education
For this contest NPR has published two extensive podcasting guides. The guide for students walks them through the planning and recording processes. Although they don't provide tutorials on specific tools, they do offer this video about training your voice to sound more natural on a microphone.


NPR's guide for teachers includes detailed lesson plans on what makes a good podcast, how to plan an interview, how to brainstorm podcast topics, and how to practice recording a podcast.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Free Environment Data Fact Sheets and Posters from the UN

The United Nations Environment Program offers a series of free posters based on data from the UNEP's Geo Data Portal. These posters use charts, graphs, and maps to display information about environmental data. Some of the topics covered in these posters include electricity production and consumption, CO2 emissions, ecosystems management, and hazardous materials. Each fact sheet, poster, and infographic is available as a PDF that you can download and print.

Applications for Education 
Teachers of environmental science may want to print these posters for display in their classrooms. You could have students study the environmental problems represented in the posters and then develop potential responses to those problems.

Schedule a Professional Development Day With Me

Over the last ten years I've had the privilege to visit hundreds of schools and conferences to lead professional development workshops. During that time the topics of my workshops have evolved in response to the continuously evolving field of educational technology. What hasn't changed is that the goal of my workshops is to provide you with ideas and tools that you can use in your classroom right away.

Structure of a PD Day With Me
I'll work within the schedule that your school usually follows for PD days. Meaning that if teachers have to be at school from 7:45 to 3:15, that's the time constraint that we'll work in. And if you need to have time for administrative items at the beginning or end, we'll make sure that's scheduled too. Aside from those two constraints here's the structure I usually follow:

  • Opening talk to introduce big concepts and goals for the day (20-30 minutes)
  • Three or four blocks of time for hands-on learning activities. Each block has a focus and "product" that teachers will create. 
    • The length of these work blocks is variable depending on the group, topic, and available time. 
  • Sharing and debriefing. 
Beginner G Suite workshops have a slightly different structure to provide time to try all of the core aspects of G Suite for Education. 

Professional Development Workshop Topics
Below you'll see a list of my ten most popular workshop topics of the last year. Some schools will choose to have me go in-depth on one of these topics for the whole day while others will choose to spend time on three or four of these topics in one day. That's a decision that we can make together based on your faculty's needs. 
  • Teaching History With Technology
  • Getting Going With G Suite for Education
  • Introduction to AR & VR in Education
  • Video Projects for Every Classroom
  • Fast & Formative Assessment
  • DIY App Creation
  • Search Strategies Students Need to Know
  • Building Digital Portfolios
  • Google Maps & Earth, It's More Than Social Studies
  • Blending Technology Into Outdoor Lessons
How to Book Me
The easiest way to book a professional development day with me is to send me an email at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com or fill out the form that is embedded below. If you have a date or dates in mind, please include those in your note. I'll get back to you ASAP with my availability. 



What does it cost?
That's the big question that everyone has. In short, I strive to make it cost-effective for everyone. I'd rather help more teachers than haggle over fees. That said, the cost depends on two things. First, your location relative to my home in Maine. Second, length of engagement and topic (some workshops require the purchase of physical materials for participants). Send me a note at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to get a quote.

Finally, one of the best compliments that I ever got from a school after my time with them came in the form of this video