Saturday, January 30, 2021

Games, DJs, and Exercise - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it's a brisk 4F outside. My dogs wasted no time coming back to the house when I let them out this morning. The good news is that the forecast calls for warmer (relatively) temperatures and snow. I'm looking forward to helping my daughters learn to ski this weekend. I hope that you have something fun planned for the weekend, too.  

This week my school went back to 100% online instruction for the fourth or fifth time this year. We've also had a few periods of hybrid instruction and a couple of 100% in-person periods. The frequent transitions are hard on teachers and students. We're all doing the best we can for our students, but we could all use a snow day at this point. I hope that things are a little better at your school. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
2. Tips to Help Busy Teachers Get and Stay Fit
3. Book Creator Now Offers More Templates and Themes
4. How to Save Your Zoom Meeting Annotations
5. Citizen DJ - A Free Tool for Remixing Music and Spoken Audio
6. Muted Notifications During Google Meet Calls
7. How to Edit Your Videos by Typing in Type Studio

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 in 2020. Those registrations help keep Free Technology for Teachers and Practical Ed Tech going. I couldn't do it without you!
  • BoomWriter is hosting a unique creative writing contest for kids. Check it out!
  • Pixton EDU is a great tool for creating comics and storyboards. 
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 33,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology 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.

Snoopy in Space - Lesson Plans About Space and More

From a very young age I've enjoyed Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and all of the characters in Peanuts. Watching Charlie Brown specials and reading the Peanuts comic strip is something my uncles did, my sister and I do, and now my daughters do. That's why I was excited to discover that the Peanuts website now offers some comprehensive lesson plans about space

Peanuts lesson plans are designed for elementary school students between the ages of four and eleven. In addition to the lesson plans about space there are sets of lesson plans titled Dream Big, Never Give Up, and Take Care With Peanuts. All of the lesson plans are available to download as PDFs. Within those PDFs you'll find links to additional resources including videos and printable activity sheets for students to complete. 

The Snoopy in Space lesson plans include plans for hands-on activities that are intended to help students learn about the solar system. There is also a lesson about the space station and a lesson about space exploration including missions to Mars and the moon. 

The Take Care With Peanuts lesson plans have three components to them. Those components are taking care of yourself, taking care of others, and taking care of Earth. 

The Dream Big and Never Give Up lesson plans are, as you might guess, designed to help students build confidence in themselves and their abilities. 

Applications for Education
All of these lesson plans were originally written as activities for parents and their children to do together. The lessons can easily be modified to be teacher-facilitated in-person or online lessons.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Dotstorming Gets an Updated Look and Easier Navigation

Dotstorming is a multimedia collage tool that has some neat voting and discussion features built into as well. I used it for a few years but haven't written about it since 2018. This morning I got an email from the developer of Dotstorming. The email announced a brand new look which includes an improved user interface.

Functionally, Dotstorming is the same as it ever was in terms of functionality. You can still create a collaborative board where you and your students can add notes and pictures. Dotstorming still lets you have chats on shared boards and still lets you vote for your favorite note or image added to your collaborative board. What's changed is that it's now much more obvious where to click to create boards, to create notes, to vote, and to chat. Previously, most of those features were "hidden" in drop-down menus. 

Dotstorming still provides teachers with tools to disable chat and or voting. It's possible to disable chat while still having the voting function turned on. 

Applications for Education
The value of Dotstorming in an online or in-person classroom is that it allows you to gather ideas or answers to a problem from your students and then have your students vote for the favorite idea or answer. Those vote totals can then be the basis for discussions with the whole class or in small groups.

ICYMI - Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions - Episode 30

Last week Rushton Hurley and I hosted the first 2021 episode of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff (we're seeking suggestions for a better name). In case you missed it, the recording and slides are now available to view here or as embedded below. 

Some of the highlights from episode 30 of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions and Share Cool Stuff include:

  • How to help students find "lost" items in Google Classroom. 
  • The answer to the "what's the most common question you get?"
  • Adding voice comments to Google Classroom and Google Docs. 
  • A DIY document camera.  
We're hosting the next episode on February 18th at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT. You can register here to join us

A Good Video Series for Introducing Arduino

Earlier this week I shared how I used Tinkercad to introduce my students to key concepts in Arduino design and programming. One of the supplementary materials that I posted in Google Classroom for that course is a series of introductory videos produced by Bob at I Like to Make Stuff

In a three-part series he covers the big, basic concepts of programming in general before moving into the specifics of Arduino programming. The final video in the series puts everything together for viewers. And if you're wondering what an Arduino is, Bob has that covered too.

Part I



Part II



Part III