Thursday, May 20, 2021

A Math and Map Challenge

This evening while recording Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions & Share Cool Stuff I was reminded of a neat math and map challenge activity from Mathigon. Here's what I wrote about it last year. 

Mathigon's map coloring challenge is to use as few colors as possible to color in all 50 U.S. states without the same color touching two states at the same time. For example, if I color New Hampshire purple, I can't use purple on Vermont, Maine, New York, or Massachusetts but I could use purple on Pennsylvania.

Mathigon's map coloring challenge can be completed online where they offer the same challenge for coloring maps of South America, England, and Germany. But if you send your students to that page they'll be able to quickly click to see the solution to the challenge. So what I'd do instead is print a blank map from a site like Printable World Map then have students try the challenge. Another option would be to upload an outline map to a service like Google's Jamboard to color the map online. Watch my video below to learn how that process works.

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 and TodayHeadline.

Three Short Lessons About Algorithms That I Used This Week

This week in my Computer Science Principles course we're talking about algorithms. We started the week with an introduction answering the question, "what is an algorithm?" Then we looked at examples of algorithms that students encounter on a daily basis (YouTube suggestions being the one they related to the most). Today, my students wrote their own algorithms for automating processes of their choosing. 

As long-time followers of my blog know, I'm a proponent of using short videos and or sections of videos to provide students with an alternative to my explanations of concepts. This week I used three short videos to help my students understand what algorithms are and how they're used. 

What is an algorithm?

There were two videos about that question that I shared with my students. First, I shared a TED-Ed lesson titled What's an Algorithm? in my course's Google Classroom. Second, in class I played GCF Learn Free's two minute video Computer Science Basics: Algorithms.

How to Write a Trading Algorithm
This morning I played part of this video for my students. My point in doing so was to show them how algorithms can be written for all kinds of purposes including attempts at "outsmarting" the stock market. The other point was to show them that algorithms can be written in any language.

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 and TodayHeadline. Feature graphic created by Richard Byrne using Canva.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

How to Make a Backup Copy of Your Blog

Last Friday evening a portion of the blogging community got a bit nervous when Blogger (Google's blogging platform) started throwing up lots of error messages. In some cases people reported having blog posts completely disappear. Fortunately, everything was corrected fairly quickly, but it was a nervous hour or so for some bloggers. 

Blogger's hiccup last Friday was a good reminder that you should be in the habit of making regular backup copies of work that is important to you. In the case of blogging, creating backup copies of Blogger, Edublogs, and WordPress blogs is pretty easy to do. You just need to remember to do it on a regular basis (I run my backup when I write my week-in-review posts). 

You can create a backup copy of a Blogger blog from the settings menu in your dashboard. You'll find "Back up content" under the "Manage blog" section of the settings. 

To create a backup copy of a WordPress or Edublogs blog, go to the tools menu in your dashboard and then choose "export." 

In all three platforms the backup copy will be in the form of an XML file. XML files can be imported into WordPress, Edublogs, and Blogger if you need to restore any content that was lost. It can also be used to move between blogging services. 

In the following short video I demonstrate how to make backup copies of your WordPress, Edublogs, or Blogger blog

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 and TodayHeadline.

Twelve Good Tools for End-of-Year Review and Practice

The end of the school year is quickly approaching. At this time of the year I start to get a lot of requests for suggestions for tools to create review activities. I shared some ideas in this week's Practical Ed Tech Newsletter including what I'm doing in my classes. If you're looking for some more ideas for review activities, take a look at the small slideshow I've embedded below. You'll notice that the slideshow includes a handful of tutorial videos.

Here's a link to the slideshow for those who may not be able to see the embedded version above.

How to create your own games and apps is one of the things I'll cover during the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. There's still time to register at the early bird rate! 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Dotstorming Now Supports Video and PDF Uploads

Dotstorming is a collaborative brainstorming tool that I've used and written about for half of a decade or more. One of its key features is the option to have participants in a brainstorming session vote for their favorite ideas submitted during the session. (An idea that Brainstormer which I reviewed yesterday has now implemented). 

Back in January Dotstorming launched an updated user interface while retaining all of the core functions of the service. This week Dotstorming added some new functionality. 

You can now upload videos and PDFs to Dotstorming brainstorming boards. Previously you could link to those items but now you can actually upload them to the notes on your boards. This means that participants in your brainstorming sessions can view the videos and PDFs without having to open a new browser tab or window. 

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.

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. 

This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that frequently steal my work include CloudComputin, WayBetterSite, and TeachersFly.