Sunday, November 14, 2021

Three Random Name Pickers

From picking a line leader, to calling on a student during a discussion, to drawing a prize-winner there are plenty of times when we all need an unbiased random name selector. Over the years I've tried a lot of random name selector tools. I keep coming back to the following three options. offers a random name picker that can be used to select one student's name at random. It can also be used to random create small groups of students. You can even use it to create a randomized seating chart! Try the demo here and watch the video below for my demonstration. 

Wheel of Names is a free random name picker website that not only lets you enter names, it lets you upload images to be chosen at random. Wheel of Names also lets you create a free account that you can use to save a series of wheels. That option could be helpful if you have multiple classes and don't want to enter names whenever you need to pick a name at random. Watch this video to see Wheel of Names in action. has been in my toolbox of go-to resources for a decade or more. It is developed and maintained by a history teacher named Russel Tarr. Russel is always adding new things to ClassTools. The random name picker on ClassTools is one thing that has been there for a long time and is still handy. I've used it many times in my own classes and in conference settings.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

How to Overlay Historical Maps on Current Maps

Next week is Geography Awareness Week. Google Earth is my favorite educational technology tool to use to teach history and geography lessons. And one of my favorite things to do with Google Earth is to overlay historic maps onto current maps. It's a great way for students to see how borders have changed over time, how landscapes have changed over time, and how our understanding of the world has changed throughout history. 

There are a couple of ways to overlay historical maps on current maps in Google Earth. The first is to simply use the Rumsey Historical Maps collection layer in Google Earth. That method is demonstrated here. The other method is to find a historic map, download it, then use it as an image overlay in Google Earth. That method is demonstrated here

If you're interested in learning more about using Google Earth and Google Maps in your classroom, my self-paced Crash Course in Google Eath & Maps for Social Studies is 50% off!

PowerPoint, PBL, and Mountain Lions - The Week in Review

Good morning from Nebraska where I'm visiting my good friends Kris and Beth Still. Long-time readers of my blog will remember that Beth filled in for me when my daughters were born and before that was responsible for the NECC Newbie Project that sent me to my first NECC (now ISTE) conference way back in 2009. Beth probably had more impact on the course of my career than anyone else. 

Earlier this week I took Veterans Day off and took my daughters to the Maine Wildlife Park. It's one of our favorite places to visit and this time the mountain lions were even kind enough to pose for pictures (not really, we were just in the right place at the right time). I hope that you had a great week and have a great weekend as well. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. ClassPoint - Turn PowerPoint Into an Interactive Teaching Tool
2. How to Create a Random Name and Group Picker
3. Solving Problems With Simple Machines
4. Try Tract for PBL and Win Prizes
5. Lumio - Connect With Your Class
6. How to Hyperlink PowerPoint Slides for Choose-Your-Own Adventure Stories
7. How to Create Live, Subtitled Translations of Presentations

Thank you for your support!
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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, November 12, 2021

How to Use ClassPoint - Teacher and Student Views

Disclosure: ClassPoint is an advertiser on

Earlier this week I published a written overview of a new-to-me PowerPoint tool called ClassPoint. It's a great little tool that you can use to build interactive quizzes and polls into your PowerPoint presentations. You can also use it to annotate slides, create whiteboards on the fly, and share your annotations with students. But my favorite feature might be the random name selector that is built into ClassPoint

In this short video I provide a demonstration of how ClassPoint works. The video shows a teacher's perspective and a student's perspective of how ClassPoint can be used in your classroom. 

Everything that I demonstrated in the video can be done with the free version of ClassPoint. There is also a paid version that offers even more features. If you're interested in trying the paid features, you can head here and use method #3 with the trial code EWW1IHIPSM to get one month of free access to the premium features. 

A Geography Awareness Week Special

Next week is my favorite academic week of the year. It's Geography Awareness Week! On Sunday I'll be publishing a big list of resources for teaching and learning about geography. In that list you'll see me mention some uses Google Earth and Google Maps. If you want to really dive into Google Earth and Google Maps, I offer an online, self-paced course that shows you everything you need to know to use Google Earth and Maps in social studies. And for the next seven days I'm offering the course at 50% off. 

A Crash Course in Google Earth & Maps for Social Studies is a self-paced course in which I outline five social studies lesson activities that utilize Google Maps and Google Earth to help students make discoveries and to demonstrate what they’ve learned. These projects can be adapted for use in elementary school (grades 3-5), middle school, and high school settings. 

In the course you can learn:
  • How to create multimedia maps.
  • The distinctions between versions of Google Earth and Google Maps
  • How to map datasets.
  • How to create custom image overlays in Google Earth.
  • How to build and record virtual tours.
  • How students can collaborate remotely on Google Earth projects.
  • How to measure and draw in Google Earth.
  • Multimedia mapping options for students who don’t have Google Accounts.
  • The nuts and bolts of Google Earth and Maps.
Register during the next seven days for just $14.50. Register today and you'll have access to the course for the next year.

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