Tuesday, June 22, 2021

How to Create a Thumbnail for Your YouTube Videos

In the last week or so I've had a couple of people ask me how I create the thumbnail images for my YouTube videos. I make all of my thumbnail images, AKA cover images, from a simple template found in Canva. I use Canva templates because they are formatted for the exact dimensions that YouTube requires. I also use Canva templates because they're designed by people who actually have graphic design skills and I do not have those skills. 

To add a custom thumbnail to a YouTube video you do need to have a verified YouTube account. The verification process only takes a few minutes but it does require you to be able to receive text messages on your phone. The complete directions for verifying your YouTube account can be read here

Once you've created your YouTube thumbnail image in Canva you're ready to use it. To use it you need to first upload your video to your YouTube account. Then you'll select "custom thumbnail" on the same screen that you write the description of your video. All of the steps are outlined in this short video that I created earlier today. 



Applications for Education
The reason to create and add a custom thumbnail to your YouTube videos is to make it easy for your students to know what your video is about before they even click the play button. It's also helpful when you're trying to organize a series of videos that you're embedding into an LMS like Canvas that will display the full video and cover image without requiring students to click through to YouTube.

Monday, June 21, 2021

A Short Overview of Google Sites Publishing and Sharing Settings

During a webinar that I hosted earlier today the topic of Google Sites access settings came up. That topic usually does come up whenever I talk about using Google Sites with students. It comes up because just as there is a difference between publishing and sharing Google Documents there is a difference between publishing and sharing Google Sites. 

The difference between sharing and publishing Google Sites:

  • Publishing a Google Site means to make it available to view on the web. 
    • A published site can be restricted to a small audience. A published Google Site is essentially view-only. 
  • Sharing a Google Site means to invite other people to collaborate on editing the site with you. 
    • You can invite people to be collaborators via email or via a sharing link. 
In this short video I provide an overview of sharing and publishing settings in Google Sites. 

Summer Reading Suggestions

My school year ended last week and I'm looking forward to doing some things that I didn't have time for during the last crazy months of the school year. One of those things is reading some books at a leisurely pace. For those of you who are planning to do the same this summer, here are some of my recommended reads. 

  • Invent to Learn by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager. 
    • I've been recommending this book for years. It's now on its second edition. It's more than just a "nuts and bolts" approach to makerspaces. 
  • Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning by Scott McLeod and Julie Graber. 
    • This offers short and practical ways to update some "old, reliable" lesson plans through the use of engaging technologies. 
  • The Joy of Search by Daniel Russell.
    • Nobody knows search like Dan Russell. As Google's head of "search quality and user happiness" Dan offers great insight and strategies for conducting better searches. 
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport
    • This book changed the way that I think about my work. While I haven't implemented all of his suggestions, following some of them has made me a better manager of my time and energy. 
  • Arduino Workshop by John Boxall
    • This book is now on its second edition. I used the first edition as my playbook for teaching Arduino to my ninth grade students. 
  • Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure by Matthew Algeo
    • This is a fun read for anyone interested in U.S. History and a lighter side of Harry Truman. The author chronicles the road trip that Harry and Bess Truman took from Missouri to New York and back in 1953. You'll learn about the Truman's, the development of the U.S. highway system, and get lots of bits of "Americana" along the way. 

All About the Tour de France

The Tour de France begins at the end of this week. As an avid cyclist I enjoy watching it and I find that it provides some neat opportunities for science, health, and physical education lessons. Here are some of my go-to resources for teaching and learning about the Tour de France.

The Science of Bicycles and Bicycling
There is a lot of physics involved in casual bike riding and in racing. Here's a selection of videos that explain the physics of bicycling.

The first time that you ride in a pack of experienced cyclists you'll feel the power of drafting. Besides their incredible fitness and bike handling skills, drafting helps cyclists in the Tour de France move quickly. The following video explains how drafting works.


Minute Physics offers two videos about the physics of bicycles. In How Do Bikes Stay Up? we learn how bikes stay upright, how design and weight influences balance, and why bicycles are difficult to balance in reverse. The Counterintuitive Physics of Turning a Bike explains how we turn bicycles.




The Diet of a Tour de France Racer
I've done some long days on my bike over the years including a double-century ride and at the end I've always felt like I could eat anything in sight. That's because I burned thousands of calories. But even then I didn't burn the 6,000-8,000+ calories that a typical Tour de France racer burns every day of the race.

What does it look like and feel like to eat like a professional cyclist? That's what the Wall Street Journal's Joshua Robinson set out to discover in his 6,000 calorie challenge. Take a look at the video below to see how he did it. Pay attention to the professional cyclist at the 2:40 mark in the video for commentary about energy gels because it surprise you and make you rethink the whether or not the average weekend warrior needs the expensive "sports energy" products for a simple hour workout.


If you want to get into a bit more of the science of nutrition of cyclists, take a look at this video featuring the team nutritionist for EF Education First's professional cycling team.



How Much Do Professional Cyclists Make?
In his book Draft Animals, Phil Gaimon, a retired professional cyclist, detailed his struggles to makes end meet while racing. The take-away from reading that book is that unlike professional Major League Baseball or National Basketball Association teams in which even the last person on the bench is paid ten times what a teacher makes in a year, professional cycling teams have one or two highly-paid ($1 million+) athletes and most of the rest make salaries in the range of teachers and school district administrators. In this 2019 article Cycling Tips detailed how much riders can earn in the Tour de France and throughout the professional cycling season. 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Summer, Icons, and Animations - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we've just woken up from our first backyard camping adventure! Overall, it went about as well as could be hoped for with a three-year-old and a four-year-old in a tent. I think my three-year-old now wants to live in the tent with her stuffed animals and books. 

Happy Father's Day to all the dads reading my blog this weekend. I hope that it's a great day for you. 

This week I wrapped-up my school year. I took yesterday off and next week I'll host the first session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. The first webinar is at 10am ET on Monday. You can still register this weekend to join us

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Three Good Options for Annotating PDFs
2. Four Important Padlet Updates to Note
3. Five Sources of Summer Math Activities for Elementary School Students
4. Sharing vs. Publishing Google Documents
5. Icons8 - Easily Add Icons to Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets
6. Wick Editor - A Nice Tool for Creating Animations
7. Expeditions Pro - A Replacement for Google's VR Tour Creator


On-demand Professional Development
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 36,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fourteen 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.
This post originally appeared on FreeTech4Teachers.com. If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Sites that steal my (Richard Byrne's) work include CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.