Saturday, July 31, 2021

Music, Forms, and Elements - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is rising on what is going to a great day for outdoor play. We'll be riding bikes, going on a little hike, and playing in the water today. I hope that you also have some fun things planned for your weekend. 

This week I did a lot of writing about search tools and strategies. Part of that work was a result of preparation for a couple of upcoming webinars including one during next week's Practical Ed Tech Virtual Summer Camp. I hope you'll join me!

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Free Music for Classroom Projects
2. How Excluding Words Helps Narrow the Scope of a Search
3. What Car Did Harry Lyon Drive? - The Answer to Tuesday's Search Challenge
4. Five Google Scholar Features Students Should Know How to Use
5. How to Give Partial Credit in Google Forms
6. See the Elements Present in Common Products - The Periodic Table in Pictures and Words
7. An Itchy Science Lesson

On-demand Professional Development
On the Road Again!
  • I'm accepting a limited number of invitations to speak at events during the 2021-2022 school year. If you're interested, please send me an email at richard (at) for more information. 
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 37,000 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 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.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Using Google Books in History Classes

As the name implies, Google Books is a search engine for locating books. Through Google Books you’ll find books that you can read in their entirety for free and books that you can preview for free. Most importantly, Google Books lets you search for keywords within books. Searches on Google Books can be refined according to date of publication, access level (full view vs. preview-only), and publication type (book vs. periodical).

A typical example of using Google Books in a history setting is found in a search for information about the Battle of New Orleans in The War of 1812. Head to Google Books and enter a search for “War of 1812.” Then refine the search to books with a full view published in the 20th Century and you’ll quickly locate The Naval War of 1812, volume 2 authored by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. You can then use the “search inside” function to find every page that makes a reference to New Orleans. You can then quickly jump to each page that references New Orleans because each page in the search result is hyperlinked. You can read those pages online or print them for reading offline.

It should also be noted that you can search within books that are marked as preview-only. The utility in that is identifying how much content there is related to your search term within a chosen book. If that search reveals that there is a substantial amount of useful content, you can then use the “get the book” function in Google Books to locate libraries in your area that have a copy of the book. The “get the book” function will also provide links to places to purchase copies.

A video overview of how to use Google Books is available here and is embedded below.

This blog post was written by Richard Byrne and originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere it has been used without permission. 

My Most Popular Tutorials in July

In July my YouTube my YouTube channel passed the 37,000 subscriber mark. In July I published twenty-three new tutorials including some in-depth guides to getting started with Google Workspace for Education. On my YouTube you'll also find tutorials on a wide variety of topics including making your own Android apps, video creation tips, Microsoft Forms tutorials, podcasting tips, and many other topics suggested by readers and viewers like you. Below are the ten videos on my YouTube channel that were watched the most in July. 

How to Create a Video With Canva

The Basics of Creating a Quiz in Google Forms

How to Add a Timer to Your PowerPoint Slides

Wheel of Names - A Random Name Picker and More

How to Draw on Your Screen in Google Meet

How to Create Your Own Online Board Game

How to print a Google Form or save it as PDF

How to Find and Use the Embed Code for YouTube Videos

How to Import and Copy Questions One Google Form to Another

How to Annotate PDFs in OneNote

Why You Should Try Refining Searches According to File Type

Much like refining Google search results according to site or domain, refining search results according to file type is a good way to discover information that is helpful but doesn’t rank well in Google search results. For example, Google Earth files often contain interesting historical and geological facts placed in a geographic context. A classic example of that is found when looking for maps of American Civil War battles. Using the search term “American Civil War Battles” combined with filtering results to show only .KML files (the file format for Google Earth) will lead you directly to lots of publicly available Google Earth maps about the American Civil War.

Refining search results to PDF or Word files will often lead to academic papers that have been published online and included in a website. A good example of this that I recently came across is found on the website, The Daily Papert a website run by Dr. Gary Stager for the purpose of sharing some of the wisdom of Dr. Seymour Papert. On the website Stager often publishes excerpts from and or entire academic papers written by Papert in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Those papers are almost entirely published as PDFs that don’t rank well in a Google search that isn’t refined according to file type. Not ranking well in Google’s algorithm is a reflection of how Google search works, not a reflection of the brilliance of Papert’s work.

It should be noted that you can refine searches according to file type without opening Google’s Advanced Search menu. You can simply add filetype: .pdf (or another filetype) to the end of your search term. However, I’ve found that it’s easier for students to remember to open the advanced search menu and select “narrow your results by file type” than it is to remember to add filetype: pdf to the end of a query.

This blog post was written by Richard Byrne and originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere it has been used without permission. 

Join Me On 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. 

During 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.

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