Monday, May 17, 2021

Three Good Ways to Make Online Word Games

As we get toward the end of the school year many of us will be looking for some fun activities for our students to do to review key terms and concepts of the last year or semester. I shared a handful of ideas for doing that in this week's Practical Ed Tech newsletter. Another idea is to create some simple online word games for your students to play. This might sound difficult, but it's not. Thanks to Flippity and EduCandy everyone can create their own online word games. 

Flippity's Snowman word game is a game in which students have to correctly guess the letters of a word in order to prevent their snowmen from melting. The template lets you make your own variation on the game with words and hints of your choosing. Your game can be shared with students via its assigned URL. Students don't need accounts in order to play the games that you create. Here's an overview of how to create your own online word games by using Flippity's Snowman template

Educandy is a neat service for creating simple vocabulary games and multiple choice trivia games. A convenient aspect of the service is that once you've created a list of vocabulary words it will automatically be applied to multiple game formats for you. In other words, write one word list and you'll get a few games that your students can play. Your students can play the games without needing to create an account on the Educandy site. In the following video I provide an overview of how you can create games on Educandy and how your students can access your games.

Flippity's Spelling Words is a free Google Sheets template that you can use to create individualized spelling games for your students. To do this you simply have to make a list of words that you want each of your students to practice. You'll then put those lists under your students' names in a Google Sheets template that is provided by Flippity. The following tutorial video walks you through the process of creating individualized spelling games in with Flippity's Spelling Words template. 

This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Slides, Moving, and Fun - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it is going to be a gorgeous spring weekend! Last weekend we spent a lot of time outdoors and this weekend we'll spend even more time outside. I hope that wherever you are this weekend that you also get some time for outdoor fun. 

This week I didn't publish as many blog posts as I usually do. That was partly because of my commitments to host webinars and partly due to the end-of-the-year crunch that every teacher feels right now. Speaking of end-of-the-year activities, the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp will happen after the school year ends. But if you register in May you can get the early registration discount. 

These were my most popular posts of the week:
1. Ten Tips for Using Audio and Video in Google Slides
2. How to Find Public Google Docs, Slides, Forms, Sheets, and Drawings
3. Fun Doesn’t Depend on Equipment or Clothing
4. Ten Good Tools for Telling Stories With Pictures
5. How to Embed Word Documents Into Blog Posts and Web Pages
6. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
7. Moving Files Between Google Workspaces Accounts

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  • 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.
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This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

All About Plants - Three SciShow Kids Lessons

Spring has finally, fully arrived here in Maine. Our flowers are in full bloom and this weekend we're putting together garden boxes for growing vegetables. Planting flowers and vegetables is a great way to spark kids' curiosity and to develop some hands-on learning experiences. If you can't plant flowers or vegetables with kids, but want to share the science behind what makes plants grow, take a look at the following video lessons from SciShow Kids. 

How Plant Seed Travel the World explains how plants grow in the wild and spread naturally. 

Flowers and Their Pollinators is a good video that covers a topic that has come up a lot in my house recently, thanks in part to a Nat Geo Kids book about bees. That topic is the role of insects and birds in helping plants grow.

Why Daffodils Grow in the Same Place Every Year covers another topic that comes up in our house. That topic being, "why do we have so many daffodils?"

Applications for Education
I like these kind of videos for two reasons. First, they're short enough to be turned into video lessons with a tool like EDpuzzle. Second, they provide kids with a little bit of information that they can then take with them as they explore the natural world around them. For example, I love taking my kids on walks in the woods and parks around us where they can make connections between what they've learned or been told and what they actually see outside.   

This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Friday, May 14, 2021 - A New Way to Quickly Make an Animated Map is a new mapping tool that I recently learned about through Maps Mania. does just one thing but does it very well. That thing is create animated maps illustrating the connections and travel distance between two or more places. 

To create an animated map on you do not need an account. You can simply head to the site and start creating your map. To create your map just delete the placeholder cities and replace them with your own. You add cities to your map by using the search box then clicking on the name of the city that you want to have appear on the map. Your animation updates instantly when you add a new city to the map.

There are some limited customization options available on You can choose from a list of nine icons to represent the mode of travel between the cities on your map. You can also choose from a handful of base map colors. 

All animated maps that you create on can be downloaded as MP4 videos. Alternatively, you can share your maps by linking to them or by using the embed codes provided by Here's the demonstration map that I made. 

Applications for Education
As Keir Clarke pointed out on Maps Mania, probably isn't a great option for mapping short journeys or connections between cities that are relatively close together. Rather, it's a good tool for showing students distances between cities that are far apart like Boston and San Francisco or San Francisco and Sydney.

A feature of that I'd like to see in the future is an option to adjust the speed of animation based on the distances between cities. For example, I'd like to have the animation slow down when showing the distance between Sydney and San Francisco then speed up when showing the distance between San Francisco and Boston.

This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web.

Combine Canva and TeacherMade to Create Online Activities

Canva offers nearly two thousand worksheet templates for teachers to copy and modify. All of the templates can be downloaded as PDFs. You could print them and give them to your students to complete. But who wants another thing to have to print and keep track of? So instead of printing worksheets made with Canva's templates, download the PDF and then upload it to TeacherMade where you can quickly turn that PDF into an online activity. 

With TeacherMade you can upload a PDF then add to it fillable text boxes, lines for matching activities, multiple choice questions, and interactive hotspots to highlight specific points in the PDF. You can also use TeacherMade to add audio to an uploaded PDF. Depending upon the type of questions that you select, TeacherMade will automatically score assignments for you. 

Watch my latest video to see how you can use Canva and TeacherMade together to create online worksheets for your students. The video also shows how a student can access the online activities that you create with TeacherMade. 

You can learn more about using TeacherMade in this video and in this video. I also have nearly two dozen Canva tutorials listed here

Applications for Education
I'm always apprehensive to write about worksheets because a lot of people hear or read "worksheet" and think that it's just a time-filler for rote practice. Canva offers worksheet templates that aren't just rote practice activities. For example, in the video above I used a worksheet template for evaluating writing. When you browse through Canva's worksheet templates gallery you'll find lots of templates that have a similar goal of providing guidance for an activity rather than rote practice of skills or facts.

The thing that I've always appreciated about Canva is that it enables people like me who don't have a natural knack for graphic design to create good-looking graphics, presentations, and PDFs. Looking through Canva's worksheet templates I found plenty of templates that I would snap-up if I was teaching social studies or language arts today. Unfortunately, I didn't see any good templates for computer science so I guess I'll have to make my own.

Developing online formative assessments is one of the topics covered in the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. Early bird discounts are still available. Register here 

This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin, TodayHeadline, and 711Web. Featured graphic created by Richard Byrne.