Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where it's cold and dark at the moment. Fortunately, sunshine is in the forecast and we're going to play outside in some fresh air after a day of being stuck inside because of sleet and rain. There's nothing worse than a sleeting, raining day during school vacation week. But I probably shouldn't complain as we did have a beautiful day for Christmas. Overall, it has been a good vacation week. If you're on school vacation this week, I hope that you're having a good one too.

This week I announced that I'm offering a new section of Teaching History With Technology starting in January. I've updated the course for 2020 to include a section on making your own history apps. The course starts on January 8th. You can get more information about it here.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. My Favorite New & Updated Tools in 2019
2. Burning Vocabulary - A Chrome Extension for Expanding Your Vocabulary
3. How to Add Alt Text to Images in Google Documents
4. How to Add & Edit Google Sites Image Carousels
5. Word Game - A Simple Game Vocabulary Game
6. Boclips - Millions of Ad-free Educational Videos
7. Two Easy Ways to Share Google Forms Without Google Classroom

I'll come to your school in 2020! 
2020 will be my tenth year of speaking at schools and conferences. Send me an email at richardbyrne (at) to learn more about how we can work together.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides and the daily email digest, there are other ways to keep up with what I'm publishing. 
  • Practical Ed Tech Newsletter - This comes out once per week (Sunday night/ Monday morning) and includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 16,000 are subscribed to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 300 Google tools tutorials. 
  • The Practical Ed Tech Podcast is where I answer questions from readers, share news and notes, and occasionally talk to interesting people in education. 
  • Facebook - The Facebook page has nearly 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last twelve years at
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Practical Ed Tech Podcast Episode 25 - The Last Podcast of the Decade!

This afternoon I recorded my last podcast of the decade! I resisted the urge to use REM's End of the World as bumper music for the episode. Instead, I just went with the usual bumper music then jumped into some news and notes from the week followed by answers to questions from readers and listeners. I also threw in a little rant about someone getting upset with me for not answering his help request on Christmas Eve. (Note to self, don't check email on holidays).

Listen to episode 25 of the Practical Ed Tech Podcast right here or on your favorite podcasting network.

Listen to all episodes of the podcast here or find them on the following podcast networks:

Teaching History With Technology 2020

The primary means through which I'm able to keep this site running is through revenue from speaking engagements and sales of my Practical Ed Tech professional development courses like Teaching History With Technology. For 2020 I've updated the course to include new things like making your own history apps, creating green screen videos, and using the latest features of Google Earth in your history lessons.

The next session of Teaching History With Technology will begin on January 8th at 4pm ET. You can save $30 on the registration when you fill out the form on this page then register by midnight (ET) on January 6th.

A Few Course Highlights
  • Search strategies history students need to know.
  • How to make your own history review apps!
  • Creating virtual reality history activities.
Dates & Times for Teaching History With Technology
  • This course is comprised of five live webinars. The webinars will be held at 4pm Eastern Time on January 8, 15, 22, 29, and February 5th. The sessions will be recorded for those who cannot attend the live broadcasts.
  • You can receive a certificate for five professional development hours for completing the course. 

Register Here!

How to Find, View, and Download Thousands of Historical Maps

There are some good historical map collections available in Google Earth. But you can also import your own historical maps into Google Earth. topoView is a good place to find historical maps that you can import into Google Earth. topoView is a USGS website that provides historical maps dating back to 1880. You can download the maps in variety of file formats including JPG and KMZ. In the following video I demonstrate how to find and download historical maps on the topoView website.

Applications for Education
One of my favorite uses of Google Earth in history classes is overlaying historical maps on current map views. Doing that can provide students with context for places they read about in history lessons. Doing that also provides a good way to see how places change over time.

You can learn more about using Google Earth in history lessons in my upcoming course, Teaching History With Technology. Register by January 6th!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

My Favorite New & Updated Tools in 2019

The end of the year is just five days away so I've put together a short list of my favorite new and updated tools in 2019. You can watch my video overview of these tools, take a look at the slides, or read more about them below. This is a highly subjective list not subject to any scientific or editorial review process and no company mentioned on this list paid to appear on it.

You can learn more about all of these tools and find tutorials on how to use them on my YouTube channel. is the platform that I'm using to produce the Practical Ed Tech Podcast. It makes it super easy to distribute my podcast to all of the major podcasting networks including Google Play and Apple Podcasts.

Slido is a new service that makes it easy to insert interactive quiz and poll questions into your Google Slides presentations.

VidReader will create a transcript of any YouTube video that contains spoken English. Transcripts are both printable and hyperlinked with timestamps.

Canva released a slew of updates to close out 2019. Included in those updates is a new video editor and a new tool for removing the background from any image. Best of all, teachers can get all of the pro features of Canva for free at

Padlet has been a staple in my menu of tools throughout the decade! This year Padlet added a new multimedia mapping tool.

The web version of Google Earth received from much-needed updates this year including the addition of new geography games. The best update though was the addition of a tool for making multimedia placemarks and tours. The web version of Google Earth still lags behind the desktop version, but it's improving.

In 2019 Google Slides finally got a native audio feature! Now you can add audio to your slides without having to use any third-party add-ons or weird workarounds.

Canned responses was one of the new features that was added to all Gmail / G Suite email accounts this year. I use this feature a lot when answering questions from students and parents.

Glide Apps just might be my favorite new tool of 2019! With Glide Apps anyone who can make a Google Sheet can make a working mobile app. It has been a hit everywhere that I've demonstrated it this year. Glide Apps is one of the tools that I'm featuring in my updated Teaching History With Technology course starting in January.

ClassTools has been on my go-to list of resources throughout the last decade. In 2019 ClassTools added some new game templates and an interactive image generator template.

Educandy is a new game creation service that appeared on my radar this year. My blog post about it proved to be one of the most popular of the year.

BoClips is an educational video service that I discovered back in January. It offers millions of educational videos without all of the distractions typically associated with YouTube yet contains content licensed from some of the most popular educational channels on YouTube.

Last, but not least, Microsoft's Immersive Reader tool is making more tools and resources accessible to more students than ever before. Immersive Reader has been integrated into dozens of tools from Microsoft and third-party services. Immersive Reader provides read-aloud functions as well as other reading supports like font spacing and enlargement, line focus, and syllable highlighting.