Saturday, December 18, 2021

Voices, Keyboards, and Birds - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it is chilly and we're expecting our first real snowstorm of the year! That means that tomorrow I'll be shoveling snow and my kids will be making snowmen. We'll probably do a bit of sledding as well. I hope that you have some equally fun things planned for your weekend. 

Before jumping to this week's list of the most popular posts, I'd like to point two things that I announced yesterday. First, I have just published a new ebook titled 50 Tech Tuesday Tips. Second, this coming Tuesday at 3pm ET I'm hosting a free webinar titled Best of the Web 2021

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. The Easiest Way to Add Narration to Google Slides
2. How to Modify & Share Canva Templates
3. An Easy Way to Quickly Add Voice Notes to Google Docs
4. We're Counting Birds! - A Lesson in Citizen Science and Canva Template Creation
5. The Story Behind QWERTY - Why Keyboards Aren't in Alphabetical Order
6. How to Annotate Historical Images on Jamboard
7. Six Reasons to Try Tract for Remote & Hybrid Learning

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

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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 39,000 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. 
  • 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.

A New Way to Add Students to Flipgrid

This week Flipgrid released a bunch of helpful updates. My favorite of those updates is a new way to invite students to join your Flipgrid groups. Now you can invite them by simply sharing a link to your group. You can share that link in your LMS of choice, post it on your blog, or email it to your students. You could even share the invite link via a QR code. 

In this new video I demonstrate how to use the new invite via link option in Flipgrid. The video shows a teacher's perspective of inviting students to a Flipgrid group. The video also shows a student's perspective of joining a Flipgrid group through an invite link. 

This new option for inviting people to join Flipgrid groups should prove to be a lot easier than having to invite people via email or by manually adding their names to your group. It could be particularly useful when creating Flipgrid groups the will have members from multiple schools that use different email domains.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Best of the Web 2021 - Free Webinar Next Tuesday

Every year I review hundreds of new websites, apps, and other educational technology tools. And every year I give a "best of" presentation about my favorite new and updated tools of the year. This year I'm giving that presentation the form of a free, live webinar

Next Tuesday at 3pm ET (check here to convert to your time zone) I'm hosting Best of the Web 2021. Registration is free but it is limited to the first 100 people to sign up. 

During the webinar I'll share my favorite new and updated tools of the last year. I'll give live demonstrations of some of them and answer your questions about them. A copy of my slides will also be provided to those who attend. 

You can register for the webinar right here!

If you cannot attend the live webinar, a recording of it will be available on my YouTube channel the next day. 

50 Tech Tuesday Tips - A New eBook for Tech Coaches

Are you a tech coach, a tech integrator, a media specialist, or a teacher who gets asked to put on workshops after school or on staff development days? Do you need ideas for what to do during those workshops? If so, my new ebook is for you!

Curated from more than 400 editions of The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips provides you with ideas for lots of helpful things that you can teach to your colleagues and to students. Throughout the ebook you'll find tutorials and handouts that you can pass along in your school. 

Some of the many things you'll find in 50 Tech Tuesday Tips include:

  • What to do when a web app isn't working as you expect.
  • Building your own search engine.
  • How to create green screen videos.
  • Improving instructional videos. 
  • Streamlining email management.
  • Creating educational games. 
  • DIY app creation.
  • Podcasting tips for teachers and students. 

Get your copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips right here!

No, this ebook isn't free but the tools that feature within it is free to use. Creating something like this takes many, many hours but reading it can save you many, many hours. Purchases of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips make it possible for me to create other free resources like The Practical Ed Tech Handbook that I update and give away to thousands of teachers every year.

Nine Interactive Maps Depicting the History of the United States

American Panorama is a great resource from the University of Richmond that I first reviewed six years ago. Since then it has expanded from four interactive maps to nine interactive maps of United States history. 

American Panorama aims to be an atlas of United States History. Currently, American Panorama features nine interactive maps representing elements and eras of American history. The maps offered on American Panorama include:

  • Overland Trails 1840-1860
  • Forced Migration of Enslaved People 1810-1860
  • Canals 1820-1860
  • Foreign-Born Population 1850-2010
  • The Executive Abroad 1905-2016
  • Electing the House of Representatives 1840-2016
  • Renewing Inequality: Family Displacements Through Urban Renewal 1950-1966
  • Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America 1935-1940
  • Photogrammar 1935-1943

The Overland Trails map depicts the routes of the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails. Click along the trails on the map to reveal first person accounts of life on the trail.

The Canals map shows the working canals in the northeastern United States in the 19th Century. Click on a canal on the map to learn about the years that it operated, the points it connected, and the typical freight transported through the canal.

The Forced Migration of Enslaved People map is another map that includes first person accounts of life in the 19th Century. Select a decade on the timeline below the map to reveal a list of first person accounts of life as a slave forced to move in the 19th Century.

Mapping Inequality: Redlining in New Deal America is a map based on descriptions of neighborhoods written by the Home Owners' Loan Corporation between 1935 and 1940. The descriptions were used in determining the "desirability" of neighborhoods and the risk of lending money to purchase homes in those neighborhoods. Reading the, at times incredibily racist, descriptions of the neighborhoods makes it all too clear how some people were kept from buying homes. 

The Foreign-Born Population map shows depicts the origins of immigrants to the United States from 1850 through 2010. Select date from the timeline then click on the map to reveal where people in that area came from. Alternatively, you can enter the name of a county in the United States to jump directly to the immigration data for that county.

The Executive Abroad is a map of places that U.S. Presidents and Secretaries of State have visited since 1905. You can browse the map by location or by names of Presidents and Secretaries of State. 

Renewing Inequality: Family Displacements Through Urban Renewal is a map, cartogram, and chart depicting the cities in which urban renewal programs of the 1950's and 1960's forced people from their homes and neighborhoods. Clicking on the map reveals information about the impact of urban renewal programs within the neighborhoods of cities. 

Electing the House of Representatives is an interactive map and timeline of election results from 1840 through 2016. The map displays each Congressional district, who won it, and which party they represented. The map also indicates the "strength" of the victory and whether or not the representation switched from one political party to another. 

Photogrammar is a mapped collection of photographs taken by the Office of War Information and the Farm Security Administration between 1935 and 1944. The collection can be browsed according to theme, county, and city. Select an image on the map to learn more about where and when it was taken.