Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from Maine where the temperature only reached 62F yesterday, but today is supposed to reach 90! These wild fluctuations in summer weather is something I'm just putting into a mental category labeled, "well...that's 2020 for you!"

I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend and I hope that you are too. Next week I have another busy week of hosting webinars as I'll be running the third section of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. There is still time to sign up to join me.

These were the most popular posts of the week:
1. 5 Ways to Make Whiteboard Instructional Videos in Your Web Browser
2. 500+ Icebreaker Questions
3. Doozy - Create and Play Fun and Educational Quiz Games
4. Canva Introduces Real-time Collaboration Options
5. How to Collaborate on Word Documents Online
6. Updated and Easier Way to Schedule Events in Google Calendar
7. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game

The Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp!
The Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp will be held one more time this summer. Register here for the session starting on Monday!

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 26,000 people subscribe to my YouTube channel for my regular series of tutorial videos including more than 400 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.

Got Toddlers? Bookmark This Website

If you have toddlers at home like I do, Stain Solutions is a website that need to bookmark today. Stain Solutions is a handy website developed by Susan Taylor at the University of Illinois Extension. The site is a database of solutions for removing more than 200 common stains like coffee, bird poop, and white glue (commonly called Elmer's glue). Click on a stain in the chart and you will be taken to a list of the ingredients needed to make a solution that will remove your chosen stain. Directions and warnings are provided along with the solutions.

Applications for Education
I don't know of any teacher who hasn't stained work clothes themselves or had them stained as the result of a student mishap. I've stained enough neckties to create a drop-cloth. Coffee, ink, and dry-erase markers seem to be the leading causes of those stains. Solutions to remove all those stains can be found on Stain Solutions.

Friday, July 17, 2020

An Update to an Old Web Quest Assignment

I've been doing a lot of reading this summer. Some of the books that I've been reading this summer are books that I've read in the past but am revisiting because I've always found that I pick up new things the second or third time through. Two of those books that I've revisited this summer are Invent to Learn by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager and Empowering Online Learning by Curtis Bonk and Ke Zhang. The combination has sparked some new ideas (perhaps re-ignited) for me about how to structure prompts for students.

Early in Empowering Online Learning Bonk and Zhang write about conducting a web quest or online scavenger hunt activity. They were writing in 2007/2008 when web quests were still a relatively new activity to many teachers who were trying to help students develop search skills. The example that Bonk and Zhang gave was essentially a list of questions for students to answer with the help of a search engine.

As I re-read the web quest activity outlined by Bonk and Zhang I remembered Stager's refrain of "a good prompt is worth a thousand words." Combining those two elements I came up with an update to an old search lesson activity that I used to do with some of my high school students.

The old search activity that I used to do with students was to have them pick a popular stock from the NYSE or NASDAQ and then find and evaluate buy/ sell/ hold articles they found about those stocks. The updated version of that lesson is to have students look up ten data points (for example: volume, short interest, cash flow, EPS) about a stock like AAPL (Apple) and then research ten ways that a professional analyst would use those data points to create a buy/ sell/ hold rating.

Three Lessons on the Chemistry of Coffee

One of the things that I've missed the most over the last few months is going to my local coffee shop (Cafe Nomad) and having some of the excellent coffee that they brew. Try as I might, the coffee I brew at home just isn't the same quality of what they make at the cafe. (I also miss the community aspect of sitting in the cafe with friends). So what is it that goes into a perfect cup of coffee? A big part of that answer is found in the science of coffee. Reactions, one of my favorite YouTube channels, has a great video that explains the chemistry of coffee. I particularly like that the video explains chemical differences between light, medium, and dark roast coffees.



What's Actually Inside an Average Cup of Coffee? is a video that was produced by Wired. The video provides a short run-down of the chemical contents of brewed coffee.



I can count on one hand the number of times I've had decaffeinated coffee, but I still find How Do You Decaffeinate Coffee? published by Brain Stuff to be interesting. In How Do You Decaffeinate Coffee? viewers again learn about the chemicals in coffee and how how to remove the caffeine from coffee.



All three of these videos are good candidates for use in an online science lessons created with EDpuzzle. Here's an overview of how to use EDpuzzle.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

500+ Icebreaker Questions

Believe it or not we're closer to the start of the new school year than we are to the end of the last one. Whether we're going back into our physical classrooms or staying in an online environment, we're going to need to get to know our new students and they need to get to know each other. One way to do this is through asking fun icebreaker questions. If you've run through all of your common icebreaker questions and want some new ones to try, take a look at Icebreakers.io.

Icebreakers.io offers lists of icebreaker questions. The questions are arranged in categories for small groups, for introverts, for adults, for work, and for fun. Coming soon they'll have lists specifically for school settings. All of the questions can be viewed individually and copied. You can also download the lists of questions in convenient PDFs.

Applications for Education
I looked through the lists on Icebreakers.io and found plenty that I would feel comfortable posing to students in my classroom, in a Zoom meeting, or in Google Classroom to start a discussion. I'm looking forward to seeing the school questions list that Icebreakers.io is building.