Sunday, October 31, 2021

It's That Time Again...

Daylight Saving Time ends today for many of my friends in Europe and it ends next Sunday for those of us in North American states and provinces that observe Daylight Saving Time. As someone who gets up early and lives in a northern state, I welcome the change as I'll see the sun an hour earlier. And hopefully, my kids will take advantage of the "extra" hour of time for sleeping next Saturday night.  

Like I do almost every time Daylight Saving Time begins or ends, I have gathered together a handful of short video explanations about why we have Daylight Saving Time. Take a look and see if there is one that can help you explain Daylight Saving Time to your students. 

National Geographic has two videos titled Daylight Saving Time 101. The first one, published in 2015, is a bit more upbeat than the second one that was published in 2019. Both versions are embedded below. 

The Telegraph has a 90 second explanation of Daylight Saving Time. The video doesn't have any narration so it can be watched without sound.

CGP Grey's video explanation of Daylight Saving Time is still a good one even if it isn't as succinct as the videos above.

TED-Ed has two lessons that aren't specifically about Daylight Saving Time but are related to the topic. First, The History of Keeping Time explains sundials, hourglasses, and the development of timezones. Second, How Did Trains Standardize Time in the United States? explains the role of railroads in the development of the timezones used in the United States (and most of Canada) today.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

A Cute Series of Videos About Engineeering

SciShow Kids recently published series of three videos about engineering. You wouldn't normally associate engineering with cute, but in this case it's an appropriate match. Like all SciShow Kids videos these are designed for elementary school students. The presentation of the lesson is made by a person and some puppets with a few still photographs added for illustrative purposes. 

Think Like an Engineer is the first video in the series. It explains what an engineer is and what they do. The video provides a few examples of different types of engineers. 

The Great Button Solution is the second video in the series. In this video students see Webb (a puppet) and his friends try to design a solution to reach a button (switch) that is high off the ground. The video explains to students why it's okay and important to try many solutions to a problem and gives the example of the Wright Brothers multiple attempts to create a working airplane.

The third video in the series is titled The Amazing Flag Raiser. In this episode, clearly sponsored by LEGO, students see the construction of a small LEGO device that raises a flag and makes a sound when Squeeks (the puppet) wants to play.

Widgets, Videos, and Maps - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where my kids are eagerly anticipating Halloween! They had a little celebration at their preschool on Friday and now they can't wait to put on their costumes tomorrow. It's kind of a bleak and rainy day here so we just might let them wear their costumes for fun today as well. I hope that you have something you're looking forward to this weekend as much as my kids are looking forward to Halloween. 

This week I started a new Instagram account. My new account, Practical Ed Tech, features short videos of tips on using educational technology tools. Take a look

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. BookWidgets - Create Unique Online Activities for Your Students
2. A Video Project for the Week - Halloween Safety
3. Accessible Online Physics Simulations
4. How to Share Specific Google Earth Views and Turn Them Into Assignments
5. An Interactive Land Use Map
6. Samsung Solve for Tomorrow - A Great STEM Contest for Students!
7. Tips on Word Art, Fonts, and Special Characters in Google Docs and Slides

Thank you for your support!
Your registrations in Practical Ed Tech courses (listed below) help me keep Free Technology for Teachers going.

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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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  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fourteen years. 
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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.

Friday, October 29, 2021

How to Use Canva's Image Background Remover

It's not a secret that I really like the many ways that Canva can be used to create graphics, videos, presentations, and simple websites. Within any Canva template there are lots of neat editing tools including an image background remover. It's available to anyone who has a free Canva for Education account

Canva's image background remover is easy to use and works with almost any picture that you upload to your Canva account. To use it simply drag a picture from the uploads folder in your Canva account onto any template. Then click on the image to bring up the image editing tools and select "background remover." Canva will then automatically remove the background from your picture. Watch this short video to see how it works. 

Applications for Education
As I demonstrated in the video above, after removing the background from an image of yourself, you can then put a new background in its place. I put an image of Mount Everest in the background of my picture. One way to use this with students is to have them place themselves in front of landmarks of the world then write about their virtual visit to those landmarks.

A Short Lesson on the Long History of Electric Cars

The Surprisingly Long History of Electric Cars is a new TED-Ed lesson that should be of interest to anyone who is curious about electric vehicles. The video begins with an explanation of the first electric cars and why they were overtaken by gasoline-powered internal combustion engines. The second half of the video explains the technological, economic, and political factors that have contributed to the increase in electric vehicle manufacturing in the last decade. Finally, the video concludes with a prediction about the future of electric vehicles. 

Applications for Education
TED-Ed has a good list of suggested questions to ask your students after they watch the video. I'd also add some questions to prompt student to think about the challenges and brainstorm solutions to the challenges facing electric vehicle sales in rural areas that don't have the charging infrastructure of suburban and urban areas.