Monday, July 26, 2021

Free Music for Classroom Projects

Creating multimedia projects like videos, podcasts, and audio slideshows is a great way for students to develop a variety of skills. Some of those skills are technical skills while others are soft skills that they can carry over into all aspects of academic life. Those soft skills include respecting the intellectual property of others. That's why when students create multimedia projects they should try to use media of their own creation, media in the public domain, or media that has a Creative Commons license. Finding images that meet that criteria is easy. Finding audio that fits that criteria is a bit of a challenge for some. That's why I've put together a new video that highlights my three go-to places to find free audio that students can use in their multimedia projects. 

In this short video I provide an overview of how to find and download free music from Pixabay, Dig CC Mixter, and Bensound. 

Pixabay's audio collection features instrumental recordings across a wide range of genres. You can listen to the tracks in their entirety before downloading them. Like all other media on Pixabay, you can download and reuse the sound tracks for free. And as they state in the terms of use, you don't have to cite them but it is appreciated.

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. When you click the download icon on a file you will be prompted to copy the attribution information that is required to include in your project.

Bensound offers a few hundred music tracks that you can download for free. Those tracks are arranged in eight categories. Those categories are acoustic/folk, cinematic, corporate/pop, electronica, urban/groove, jazz, rock, and world. You can listen to the tracks before you download them. When you click the download button you will see the clear rules about using the music. You can download and use the music in your video projects for free provided that you credit Bensound for the music. Alternatively, you can purchase a license to use the music wherever you want without crediting Bensound.

Join Me Next Monday!

The August session of the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp begins next Monday at 10am ET. If you haven't registered, you can do so up until an hour before it starts. 

In the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp I'll cover ten key topics over the course of ten live webinars (recordings will also be available). There's time for live Q&A as well. This is a great opportunity to get some new ideas to implement this fall. 

These are the topics for the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp:
  • Teaching Search Strategies & Digital Citizenship
  • Video Projects for Every Classroom
  • Classroom Podcasting 101
  • Building Digital Portfolios
  • Fun Formative Assessment Methods
  • Using AR & VR in Your Classroom
  • Making Virtual Tours
  • Easy Ways to Make Your Own Apps
  • Simple and Fun Makerspaces Projects
  • Blending Technology Into Outdoor Lessons

Register online or email me to register your group of five or more. 

Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a group discount?
Yes, there is a group discount available. You can save $50/person if you have five or more people registering from your school district. Email me for a discount code to apply to online group registrations or to initiate a PO registration.

Can I register with a purchase order or check?
Yes, you can certainly register with a purchase order. Send me an email or have your business office send me an email to initiate that process. Because of the additional paperwork and delay in receiving funds, the early registration discount doesn't apply to purchase order registrations.

Can I get CEUs/ contact hours?
You will receive a certificate from me indicating that you participated in ten hours of professional development time. Whether or not your school, state, or province will accept it for license/ certificate renewal is a determination that you will have to make. The rules about CEUs vary widely from state-to-state and I can't possibly keep track of them all.

What platform are you using for the webinars?
All of the webinars will be conducted through the GoToWebinar platform. I've tried many other webinar services, but I keep coming back to GoToWebinar because of it's reliability. I've used it for almost a decade for hundreds of webinars. You can access GoToWebinar on any computer or tablet.

Will the sessions be recorded?
Yes, all of the live webinars will be recorded. If you have to miss a session, you'll be able to watch the recording. That said, I find that people get the most out of webinars when they can attend live broadcasts and ask questions in real-time. Therefore, I encourage you to pick the Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp session that works best with your schedule.

How Excluding Words Helps Narrow the Scope of a Search

One of the options in Google's Advanced Search menu is to exclude specific words from search results. At first, excluding words from search results might seem counterintuitive to learning as much as possible about a chosen research topic. After all, reading extensively about a topic is the best way to learn about it. However, there comes a point in the research process that we realize there are certain terms or names that are no longer germane to our research but still frequently appear when researching our chosen topic.

Researching Harry Lyon’s car provides an instructive example of the benefit of excluding words from Google search results. The prompt for that challenge is,
Everyone knows that Hannibal Hamlin (Abraham Lincoln’s first Vice President) lived on Paris Hill in Maine. What you might not know is that Paris Hill was the home of another person who participated in a notable first.
The prompt itself tells us that we can probably eliminate mentions of Hannibal Hamlin from our search results. However, we don’t know that for sure until we’ve established that it was Harry Lyon we were looking for. Once we’ve done that, removing Hannibal Hamlin from our search results can narrow our search. However, the words that will turn out to be the most useful to eliminate are “Founders Day” and “Bob Bahre.”

Bob Bahre was a wealthy businessman who purchased the Hannibal Hamlin estate on Paris Hill in the early 1970s. Bahre was also a collector of expensive antique cars, many of which are pre-World War II vintage. Every year for the last 42 years Bahre’s family opened the collection to public viewing as part of a fundraiser for the local library. That fundraiser is known as Founders Day.

Google searches that mention “cars” and “Paris Hill” return plenty of articles about Founders Day, Bob Bahre, and his car collection. So when trying to determine what kind of car Harry Lyon was sitting in in this picture, “Bob Bahre” and “Founders Day” may seem relevant at first, but you’ll quickly find that it’s actually not helpful to find articles about Bahre, his car collection, or Founders Day.

By the way, this is a good article if you are interested in learning about Bahre and his car collection.  

Saturday, July 24, 2021

What Car Did Harry Lyon Drive? - The Answer to Tuesday's Search Challenge

On Tuesday I shared a search challenge and wrote that you could email me if you wanted the answers to the questions in the challenge. I got a lot more emails than I thought I would. And some people I emailed the answers to wrote back asking for more details about the process of finding the answers. So yesterday morning I spent time writing out the process of finding the answers to Tuesday's search challenge. If you missed the challenge, you can find it here. The solution is detailed below. 

There are a few ways to arrive at the answers. What I’ve outlined below is the most direct way to get to the answers. (Thanks again to Daniel Russell’s Joy of Search for inspiring the development of search challenges like this one).

Step 1: Identify the airplane and its historical significance.
The image itself gives us a big hint. Do a quick Google search for “southern cross airplane” and the top result will be a Wikipedia page about the airplane. It’s important to include “airplane” in the search because searching Google for just “southern cross” will put a music video of the Crosby, Stills, and Nash song Southern Cross at the top of the results. Further down the search results page for “southern cross” you’ll find links to articles about the constellation of the same name, links to an energy company, and links to a Brazilian award for chivalry. In fact, you won’t see any reference to an airplane in the first ten pages of Google search results when searching “southern cross.” Furthermore, “southern cross airplane” isn’t even a term that Google suggests when you enter “southern cross.”

As mentioned above, the top Google search result for “southern cross airplane” is the Wikipedia page about the airplane. Read through that page and you’ll learn that it was the first aircraft to be flown from the United States to Australia.

Step 2: Identify who flew on the airplane.
Also on that same Wikipedia page you’ll learn that the four members of the flight crew were Charles Kingsford Smith, Charles Ulm, Harry Lyon, and James Warner.

Once you’ve identified who the members of the flight crew were, the next step is to figure out which one had a connection to Maine. To do this, open the Wikipedia page for each member of the flight crew then use keyboard commands of CTRL+F (Windows computers) or COMMAND+F (Mac computers) to search each page for the word “Maine.” Only the pages for Charles Kingsford Smith and Harry Lyon include a match for “Maine” and the match on Smith’s page is only found in the context of the word “remained.” Lyon’s page includes “Maine” as part of a link to the Maine Memory Network’s website which is mentioned in the hints for this challenge.

Step 3: Find the reference to Paris Hill.
If you follow the link to the Maine Memory Network from the Wikipedia page about Harry Lyon, you’ll find a fairly long article about Lyon and his life including that his parents bought a house on Paris Hill and Lyon later lived there.

Alternatively, you could have followed the hint about using the Maine Memory Network’s website then headed there to do a search within the site for references to Harry Lyon.

Step 4: Find the reference to a car.
At the very bottom of this Maine Memory Network page about Harry Lyon you’ll see a picture of Lyon sitting in a car in his driveway in 1927. (The image is copyrighted so you'll have to view it there). 

Step 5: Identify the car.
This is the hardest part of the whole challenge. To do this you’ll want to enlarge the picture found on the Maine Memory Network’s article about Lyon. Fortunately, they provide a zoomable version of the image. By zooming in on the image you can look at some important details including the shape of the front door on the car, the shape of the front of the car, and a little badge on the front of the car.

At this point the process becomes a little bit of guesswork followed by a process of comparison and elimination. There are some points to consider before guessing at what kind of car is in the picture. Here’s a list of those points to consider: First, the picture was taken in 1927, a year before the flight of the Southern Cross. From reading about him, we know that Lyon was not a man of exceptional wealth, but probably middle to upper-middle class. Based on Lyon’s financial standing as well as looking at the details of the car we can probably remove luxury brands from our guesswork.

When we zoom-in on the car we can see that it has some imperfections as the result of driving and or post-manufacturing modification. Notable, there are what appears to be two wooden bench seats behind the driver’s seat. The back half of the body appears to be wooden as well.

Now that we’ve considered the points above we can start guessing at the manufacturer of the car and the production year. Noting that cars didn’t significantly change from one model year to the next at this time, if they did at all, we’re guessing the year according to decade or half-decade is a viable approach to this challenge. At this point, turning to Google Image search is our next step. A search for “1920s cars” or “1910s cars” is a starting place. However, those results generally feature examples of luxury cars of the time. We’re looking for cars that could have been owned by middle to upper-middle class people of the time. At this point in the process it’s helpful to have a list of American car manufacturers of the 1910s and 1920s. Again, we may turn to Wikipedia for such a list or to any number of antique car websites for such a list.

Based on the lists of American car manufacturers and what we know about Lyon, Ford is the most common guess as it was the most popular brand in the United States at the time and is still in the forefront of Americans’ minds today when they think of automobile manufacturers. Some adults will still think of Studebaker as an American car manufacturer. Dodge is also a common guess as it satisfies both the price and popularity components of our quest. So now it’s a matter of comparing pictures of cars produced by those manufacturers during the 1910s and early 1920s.

Use Google Images to find images of Ford, Studebaker, and Dodge cars produced in those decades. Compare the pictures closely to those of the picture of Lyon sitting in his car and you’ll start to notice that the shape of the door in his car doesn’t match those of Ford and Studebaker (they’re not as rounded at the bottom). The front of Lyon’s vehicle is also more rounded than that of the Fords and Studebakers made at the same time. A final detail is on the hood of the car when we look at the radiator caps of the vehicles. In all three cases, the Dodge examples are consistent with what we see in the picture of Lyon in his car. The final answer is a Dodge Touring car produced around 1919 (give or take a year) that was modified in the back.

Disclosure: I spent at least ten hours comparing images of cars to the one of Lyon sitting in his car. To verify my information about the car I enlisted the help of one the top antique car preservationists in the country, Jeff Orwig. Jeff is a friend of mine and the curator of Bob Bahre’s exquisite car collection housed on Paris Hill in Paris, Maine. You can read more about the collection here

Chat, Search, and Puffins - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is rising and I'm about to head out on an early morning bike ride. Before I do that I have this quick week in review to share with you. 

This week I didn't host any webinars as I spent four days working on developing new materials about search strategies including developing a new search challenge for students. I also took a day off this week to go to the ocean with my family. We went looking for puffins and found hundreds of them! Unfortunately, I forgot to take my good camera with me so I don't have any good pictures. Oh well, that's a good excuse to go looking for puffins again later this summer. If you'd like to learn more about puffins in Maine, visit the Audubon Society's Project Puffin website

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Collect Chat - Turn a Google Form Into a Chatbot
2. Getting Started With Google Forms - The Basics and More
3. See the Elements Present in Common Products - The Periodic Table in Pictures and Words
4. Three Places to Find Fun and Interesting Math Problems
5. Add PhET Simulations to Your PowerPoint Slides
6. Challenge - Introduce Students to Academic Search Engines and Databases
7. GitMind - A Collaborative Mind Mapping and Outlining Tool

On-demand Professional Development
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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 and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.