Sunday, January 2, 2022

All About American Buffalo

I read Steven Rinella's American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon last week. It's a fascinating book about the history of humans' relationship with American buffalo (bison) in North America. The telling of the history is intermixed with Rinella's own stories of finding a buffalo skull in Montana, visiting historic buffalo jumps, and hunting for buffalo in Alaska. 

Even as someone who has read a fair bit about buffalo in the past, I found some fun new facts in American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon. For example, George Washington once considered raising a herd of buffalo for their coats (shearing them like sheep would have been quite the challenge). 

Reading Rinella's book reminded me of some excellent videos about bison that I've shared in the past. Meet the American Bison does a fine job of showing younger students basic facts about bison. If you look carefully, you'll also notice that it does a great job of modeling how to cite the sources of images used in a video.


Older students who want to learn about bison should turn to the resources available on the Yellowstone National Park website. Those resources include the following video about the challenges of bison conservation.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Buffalo, Sledding, and The Best of 2021 - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we had a great week off. My daughters and I did some sledding and played with new toys. I read a great book titled American Buffalo and started reading a second one, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play. I also had some time to work on a couple of projects that I hope to unveil in January. All in all, it was a pretty good week. I hope that you had a great week as well. 

Before jumping to this week's list of the most popular posts I need to say thank you again to everyone who supported Free Technology for Teachers throughout 2021. I couldn't keep this going without you! Thank you. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Best of 2021 - Interactive Checklists in Google Docs
2. Best of 2021 - Three Good Options for Annotating PDFs
3. Best of 2021 - 27 Videos That Can Help Students Improve Their Writing
4. Best of 2021 - How to Make Chrome Run Faster
5. Best of 2021 - Five Helpful PowerPoint Features You Might Be Overlooking
6. Best of 2021 - Fling the Teacher!
7. How to Modify & Share Canva Templates

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.

On-demand Professional Development
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 FreeTech4Teachers.com. 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.

How to Blur Backgrounds in Flipgrid Videos

One of my favorite new things in 2021 was Flipgrid's addition of a background blurring tool. With this feature enabled everything behind you is heavily blurred when you're recording a video in Flipgrid. A related feature is the option to use virtual backgrounds in Flipgrid. The virtual background can be an image that you choose from Flipgrid's built-in image library or it can be an image that you upload from your computer. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to blur backgrounds in Flipgrid videos. 



Applications for Education
Blurring the background is a good way for students to protect the privacy of themselves and others when recording a video at home or in any other place away from your classroom.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Chrome, Canva, and Code - The Month in Review

Good evening from Maine where it is not only the end of the month, it's the end of the year! Here's to a better year in 2022! 

In December I released a new ebook titled 50 Tech Tuesday Tips. I created it with busy tech coaches and media specialists in mind. You can get a copy of it right here. In December I also hosted my annual Best of the Web webinar. The recording of that webinar can be seen here. I have ideas for more webinars and ebooks in 2022 so stay tuned for announcements about those. 

These were the month's most popular posts:
1. Google's Favorite Chrome Extensions of the Year
2. How to Modify & Share Canva Templates
3. Classroomscreen - Timers, Names, and Noise Meters
4. The Easiest Way to Add Narration to Google Slides
5. A New Way to Add Students to Flipgrid
6. Six Reasons to Try Tract for Remote & Hybrid Learning
7. Blackbird Code Offers Two New Self-paced Coding Lessons
8. How to Use Google Keep as a Comment Bank
9. A Platypus in My House! Fun and Learning Through Augmented Reality
10. 21 Activities and Lessons That Have a Winter Theme

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.

On-demand Professional Development
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 FreeTech4Teachers.com. 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.

The Science of Fireworks

Today is New Year's Eve and while there aren't any fireworks displays planned for my little town, the nearby ski resort will have a little display. Fortunately, the display is planned early in the evening so my kids and I can see it without staying up past our bedtime. 

This is the first year that my kids will see fireworks in the winter.
If your kids are old enough to watch a fireworks display, they might have questions about how fireworks work. I know that my oldest daughter will definitely be curious about how they work. To refresh my memory I'm rewatching the following videos from NPR's SkunkBear, National Geographic, and Reactions to learn about the science of fireworks.