Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Future Me - A Good End of 2020 Activity

The end of the year is near and, if my scrolls through social media are an indicator, many of people are ready to put 2020 in the rearview mirror. Before kissing 2020 goodbye consider taking a few moments to write out what you want to accomplish in 2021. Of course, you could have your students do the same. FutureMe is a service designed to get people to write down what they want to do and where they see themselves in a year, three years, or five years from now. 

FutureMe is a free service that anyone who has an email address can use to write a letter to their future selves. When you write the letter you can pick a delivery date in the future. Then on that date you’ll get an email on that date with the letter you wrote to your future self. 

Letters that you write in FutureMe can be completely private or you can choose to have them added to a gallery of public, but anonymous letters. My choice is to keep them private. 

Applications for Education
Generally speaking, 80% of New Year’s Resolutions are abandoned by the end of January. Using FutureMe could be one way to help yourself and your students stick to a New Year’s resolution goal. Since most students change teachers between spring and fall, I’d have students in my classroom now write letters to be delivered at the end of the spring.

FutureMe could easily be replicated by using the scheduled send feature that is built into Gmail/ G Suite email. That feature is demonstrated in the video below.

Monday, December 21, 2020

My Two Go-to Places for Free Sound Effects and Music

Some of my students are currently using the MIT App Inventor to create their own Android apps. It's a great way for students learn some programming concepts and have a working app at the end. I figured that some other teachers would like to know how it works so I published this tutorial last week. In that tutorial I demonstrated using Sound Bible to find free sound effects to use app projects and other multimedia projects. 

Sound Bible is one of my two go-to resources for free audio files. The other is Dig CC Mixter. My students use both of these resources to find music and sound effects to use in their projects. 

Sound Bible is a good place for students to find all kinds of free sound effects recordings. Students can download files as MP3 or WAV files. And best of all, students don't need to register on the site in order to download the files. But they do need to remember to cite the source of the sound effects as most are labeled with a Creative Commons license. Learn more about Sound Bible in my short video embedded below.



Dig CC Mixter offers thousands of songs that are Creative Commons licensed. The site is divided into three main categories. Those categories are Instrumental Music for Film & Video, Free Music for Commercial Projects, and Music for Video Games. Within each category you can search according to genre, instrument, and style. Here's a little video overview of Dig CC Mixter


Vintage Travel Posters and Google Earth

The Library of Congress offers thousands of historical images and maps that students can download and reuse for free. Most of the images and maps are found in these digital collections. Some of those images are arranged in collections on the LOC site in a section appropriately titled Free to Use and Reuse Sets. It's in that section that I found this collection of vintage travel posters

The vintage travel posters set on the LOC's website features twenty-one posters for destinations including national parks, New York City, Chicago, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico amongst other popular destinations. Most of the posters were produced in the 1930's and 40's. Clicking on a poster in the collection will reveal information about when it was produced and who created it. When you click on a poster you can download it in a variety of sizes and formats including JPEG and GIF. 

Applications for Education
When I first came across these vintage travel posters I immediately thought of using them in placemarks in Google Earth tours. I'd have students choose a few posters they liked then research a few activities that people liked to do in the areas featured in the posters. Then I'd have students put those posters into placemarks in Google Earth along with their writing about the popular activities in the area at the time the posters were produced.

Here's a video about how to put images like those in the vintage travel posters set into placemarks in Google Earth. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Breakouts, Outages, and Cool Jobs - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it is nice and chilly. Okay, chilly is an exaggeration. It's downright cold! It was another interesting week of conducting hybrid and online classes. More COVID-19 cases in my community meant fewer students in class and more online. If nothing else, this school year has made me more flexible than ever. I hope that you're also finding something positive in this unusual school year.

Before I head outside to play in the snow with my kids and my dogs, I have just enough time to write this week's list of the most popular posts of the week. Not surprisingly, a couple of the most popular posts dealt with issues related to the outage of Google Classroom and Drive on Monday morning.

These were the most popular posts of the week:
1. My Current Hybrid Classroom Arrangement and Equipment
2. How to Create Freehand Drawings in Google Slides
3. How to Find "Lost" Items in Google Drive
4. Five Ideas for Online Breakout Room Activities
5. What is a DDos Attack? - A Simple Explanation
6. Best Job Ever - National Geographic Stories About Interesting Jobs
7. How to Create Breakout Rooms in Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet


Professional Development Opportunities 
Through Practical Ed Tech I'm currently offering two on-demand learning opportunities:
Thank you for your support! 
  • More than 300 of you have participated in a Practical Ed Tech course or webinar this year. Those registrations help keep Free Technology for Teachers and Practical Ed Tech going. I couldn't do it without you!
  • Pixton EDU is a great tool for creating comics and storyboards. 
  • Wakelet is a great tool for making collections of resources, recording video, and more!
  • GAT Labs offers a great, free guide to using Google Workspaces in online classrooms.  
Other Places to Follow Me:
  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.
  • My YouTube channel has more than 32,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of edtech tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for thirteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • And if you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Instagram or Strava.

Five Interesting Lessons About Winter Weather

There is no doubt that winter has arrived here in Maine. The temperature was in the single digits (Fahrenheit) most mornings this week and we had our second significant snow fall this week. The chill in the air and the snow on the ground prompted me to look back at some of my favorite videos for learning about winter weather. Here they are...

How windchill is calculated:
The windchill was -20F last night at my house. The following video explains how windchill is calculated. The video comes from Presh Talwalkar.

 

The psychology of extreme weather:
Television news reporters like to use the word "extreme" whenever we have a lot of rain or snow in a short amount of time. Is the weather really "extreme" or is that just our impression of it? The following Minute Earth video takes on the topic of how extreme weather affects our thinking about weather patterns in general. I found the video to be interesting from a psychology perspective. The video is embedded below.

 

How snowflakes are created:
The following episode of Bytesize Science embedded below explains how snowflakes are created.

 

Thundersnow!
Thundersnow is a video from UNC-TV that explains how thunder sometimes, though rarely, coincides with snowstorms. PBS Learning Media has a set of corresponding lesson materials that you can use with this video.

Winter Moon
Why the Full Moon is Better in Winter explains how the combination of the position of the moon relative to Earth and snow on the ground make the moon appear brighter in the winter than in the summer. Take a look at the video as embedded below.