Monday, June 8, 2020

How to Create an Online Game of Connect Four

Twice this weekend I had readers email me to ask about creating an online Connect Four game for students to play to review key vocabulary and concepts. There are a couple of tools that I recommend for creating that type of review activity. First, Flippity.net offers a virtual manipulatives template that will let students drag and drop to sort vocabulary words. The shortcoming of the template is that students don't get any kind of immediate feedback. The other tool I recommend is the Connect Fours template from ClassTools.net.

The Connect Fours template on ClassTools.net lets you create a Connect Four game that provides students with instant feedback. To create your own Connect Fours game head to the game page and select "create new game." On the next screen enter the terms that you want displayed on your game along with the title for the groupings of terms. Your game will be assigned its own URL that you can distribute however you see fit. Watch my video below to see how it works.

A Few Basic Settings to Know When Uploading to YouTube

This past semester I created and uploaded to YouTube more videos for students than I ever have before. Based on the number of questions that I answered on that topic, I know I'm not the only one. And depending on how school starts in the fall, there may be many more teachers tan ever before uploading their own lessons to YouTube for the first time.

If you are creating video lessons to upload to YouTube this summer or helping others do the same, here are few basic settings to keep in mind.

  • You can make your videos unlisted and still share them in Google Classroom or any other learning management system that you choose to use. 
  • You can and probably should disable comments on the video lessons that you upload. By doing this you avoid the hassle of dealing with YouTube spam comments. I post my videos in Google Classroom and let kids can ask questions there.
  • Add a cover image to your video to let students know what the video is about. Doing that also avoids using the still frame that YouTube selects at random for your cover image. 
All of these settings are demonstrated in the following video

Create Virtual Class Pictures With Pixton EDU

Disclosure: Pixton EDU is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com

As the school year winds down those of us who still have classes in June may be looking for some ways to replicate our typical end-of-year activities. One of those activities could be a class photograph. While you probably can't get your students together for a photograph, you can create a class picture in Pixton EDU.

Current Pixton EDU users probably know that each of the students in your classroom account can create his or her own avatar. Students can customize those avatars to look like themselves or any other way that they want to represent themselves. You can then arrange those avatars into a class picture.

To create a class picture in Pixton EDU you simply need to sign into your teacher account then pick the class for which you want to create a group picture. Once you've selected your class you can then choose "class photo" from the top menu. As soon as you do that a class picture that includes all of your students' avatars will be automatically generated for you. You can download the picture directly from your Pixton EDU account.

The other way to create a class picture in Pixton EDU is to go into your account and create a new comic. In your new comic you can add the avatars of yourself and your students to one comic frame in front of any of the backgrounds that you want to use. Once you have positioned all of the avatars you can save the comic and download your comic frame as an image.

Either of these methods can be used to create a nice virtual class picture featuring the avatars of all of your students. Consider saving the picture and using it in an end-of-year newsletter to parents and students.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Acoustic Atlas - Sounds of the Wild West

Acoustic Atlas is a Montana State University Library project that features an ArcGIS Storymap. The Acoustic Atlas storymap is an audio and visual tour of Montana's four ecosystems.

As you scroll through Acoustic Atlas you will see read text and see pictures of the four ecosystems. While scrolling you will also hear the sounds of birds, mammals, and insects that are native to each ecosystem. Those ecosystems are Greater Yellowstone, Crown of the Continent, High Plains, and Upper Missouri. In a few parts of the atlas you will find additional recordings that you can play on demand.

Applications for Education
I enjoyed scrolling through Acoustic Atlas and I'm sure that many students would enjoy it as well. It provides a great overview of the animals and plants of Montana and some neighboring areas. If you have a large monitor, the experience is better than on an iPad or Chromebook. It is also possible to print the Acoustic Atlas text and imagery with one click, but obviously you won't get the benefit of audio.

H/T to Maps Mania

Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and my lawn is taller than it should it be. Before I head out to deal with that and about a dozen other home maintenance tasks I have this week's list of the most popular posts to share with you. I hope that you have a great weekend!


These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How to Create Whiteboard Videos With Zoom
2. A Comparison of Multimedia Timeline Creation Tools - Updated
3. 5 Ways to Edit Images in Google Slides
4. Two New Google Docs Features in G Suite for Education
5. How to Make Whiteboard Videos on Your Chromebook - Updated
6. How to Create Whiteboard Videos in Seesaw
7. Three Ways to Make Short Audio Recordings - No Accounts Required

Online Summer PD Opportunities
This summer I'm hosting two online professional development courses. I'm hosting the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp three times. The June session is sold out! The July sessions have more seats available.

In July I'll be hosting Teaching History With Technology. This is a five part course designed to help you develop new ways to create engaging history lessons and projects. Register now and use the discount code THWT2020.

This summer I'm working with a handful of schools and organizations to develop online professional development for teachers. If you'd like to work with me, please send me a note at richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers.com to learn more about how we can work together.

Thank You for Your Support!
Other Places to Follow My Work
Besides FreeTech4Teachers.com 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 it includes my tip of the week and a summary of the week's most popular posts from FreeTech4Teachers.com.
  • My YouTube Channel - More than 23,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 350 Google tools tutorials.  
  • Facebook - The FreeTech4Teachers.com Facebook page has more than 450,000 followers. 
  • Twitter - I've been Tweeting away for the last thirteen years at twitter.com/rmbyrne
  • Instagram - this is mostly pictures of my kids, my dogs, my bikes, my skis, and fly fishing.