Monday, January 31, 2022

Three Ways to Use Lumio for Collaborative Learning Right Now

Disclosure: Lumio is currently an advertiser on

Now more than ever many students are suffering from “device-o-lation.” “What is that?” you ask. It’s what happens when students are given an activity to do on a computer, phone, or tablet and while they may be physically in a room with other people, they’re actually isolated because they’re not interacting with others. This becomes even more prevalent when students are in remote learning or hybrid learning environments. One way to combat the problem of device-o-lation is to create collaborative online learning activities for your students. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can do this in 2022.

Lumio Learning Activities
Lumio was one of my favorite new edtech tools in 2021. I published a detailed overview of it back in November. You can read that overview here or watch one here.

One of my favorite features of Lumio is that you can turn any of your pages into collaborative learning activities for your students to complete together. You might be asking, “what kind of collaborative activities can I create in Lumio?” Here’s a few of the many collaborative activities you can create from scratch or find premade in Lumio.
  • Interactive activities like sorting and classifying.
  • Group brainstorming.
  • Game shows and Monster/Team Quizzes
Lumio offers twenty-one templates for creating graphic organizer activities and fifteen templates for creating activities with virtual manipulatives - with more being added all the time. You can use the graphic organizer templates to create activities in which students work together to do things like classify animals based on their characteristics, map a story (here’s a template for mapping The Giver), or develop Venn diagrams. Here’s a short video I made to demonstrate how you can use the graphic organizer templates in Lumio. 

I’ve always enjoyed hosting brainstorming sessions in my classroom because it’s a great way to get students thinking about a topic and interacting with their classmates’ ideas about a topic. And as a teacher it’s also a lot of fun to see and hear how my students think about a topic. Lumio has an activity template called Shout It Out that is perfect for hosting online brainstorming sessions with your students.

Lumio offers a dozen templates for teacher-led and student-paced games. One of those templates is for a fun game called Monster Quiz. In Monster Quiz students compete in teams to “hatch” monsters by answering questions correctly. It might sound like an elementary school activity, but if I’ve learned anything from teaching high school students it’s that sometimes they really enjoy academic games that remind them of their elementary school days. (And in case your students don’t care for the monsters, Team Quiz has the exact same mechanics but with different graphics).

Breakout Rooms + Lumio Learning Activities
Last year breakout rooms became a go-to tool for me whenever I felt like my online classes were becoming a bit too teacher-centric. I’d put my students into breakout rooms and give them a prompt to discuss or an activity to complete with a couple of classmates. After a bit of time in the breakout rooms I’d bring the class back together for sharing of what went on in the breakout rooms.

One of my favorite activities to give to students in breakout rooms was something called a Three Color Quiz. A full explanation of the concepts behind a Three Color Quiz can be found here. The short version is that students have time to respond to prompts alone, in consultation with classmates, and in consultation with classmates and external resources (notes, books, the Internet). The three column notes and tables templates in Lumio are perfect for hosting a Three Color Quiz. The same template I used in this Branches of Government activity could also be used for a Three Color Quiz.

Collaborative Game Design With Slides + Lumio
A great feature of Lumio is the ability to import Google Slides and PowerPoint files to turn them into online, interactive activities. And while students can’t directly create activities in Lumio, they can create activities in Google Slides and PowerPoint and then share those files with you to make into interactive activities in Lumio. Through that process you could have students collaborate on a set of slides that they design as a page their classmates can interact and respond to. When they’re done designing their pages you can convert them to a handout or workspace that everyone can participate in. Here’s a little video demonstration of how to import Google Slides and PowerPoint slides into your Lumio account.

Get Started!
It’s quick, easy and free to start using Lumio. Your students don’t even need to create accounts to complete activities that you share with them.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Groundhog Day Explained

On Friday my youngest daughter came home from preschool and informed me that Wednesday is Groundhog Day and tell me all about it. It's the day, according to legend, that a groundhog will predict how much longer winter will last in the northern hemisphere. Your students might be wondering where this tradition originated. The following videos provide brief explanations of Groundhog Day's origins.

Homeschool Pop offers a good explanation of Groundhog Day for kids. The video explains the origins of the tradition, where it's celebrated, and a couple of fun facts about groundhogs.

Turn to SciShow Kids for more fun facts about groundhogs. The video teaches where groundhogs live, what they eat, and how they adapt to get through cold winters.

This video from Storm Shield explains a bit of meteorology that goes into whether or not the groundhog will see his or her shadow.

This video from CGP Grey deals mostly with the origin of the tradition. Like most CGP Grey videos there is a fair amount of snark included in the video so review it carefully before deciding if it's appropriate for your students.

Last Call! - 50 Tech Tuesday Tips and a Webinar

Tomorrow (January 31st) at 4pm ET I'm going to host a webinar just for those who have purchased a copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips. If you've already purchased a copy, thank you! You'll be getting an email with webinar information soon if you haven't already gotten it. If you haven't yet purchased a copy, get one by midnight tonight (January 30th) and you'll be able to join us. 

In the webinar, A Framework for Technology Integration, I'll share my framework for helping teachers use technology in meaningful ways in their classrooms. I'll also provide some examples of how I've done it in the past and how you can replicate them in your school. 

About the eBook:

50 Tech Tuesday Tips was 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.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Wordle, Puzzles, and Snow - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we're looking forward to a big snowstorm today. Depending on which forecast you believe we're going to get anywhere from ten inches to ten feet of snow today! I'll be happy either amount as will my daughters who want to make snowmen, sled, and ski this weekend. So that's what I'm doing this weekend. I hope that you're also doing something fun this weekend.  

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Five Tools for Making Wordle Word Clouds
2. Ten Cool Things You (And Your Students) Can Do With Lumio
3. Create a Teacher Report Card With Google Forms
4. Roles in Group Video Projects
5. Create an Educational Puzzle Game With TinyTap
6. 50 Tech Tech Tuesday Tips and a Webinar
7. Good Resources for Remote Math & Science Lessons

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 DevelopmentOther 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 fifteen 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.

How to Create QR Codes for Audio Files in Google Drive

Earlier this week a reader reached out to me for advice about creating QR codes for audio recordings made by her students. Her students had made recordings using Vocaroo and then used Vocaroo's built-in QR code generator to share the recordings. The problem they ran into is that Vocaroo deletes the recordings after a few weeks thereby rendering the QR codes useless. They needed a solution that would allow the recordings and QR codes to be useful for much longer periods of time. 

My suggestion to the problem was to still use Vocaroo to record but then download the recordings as MP3 files instead of relying on Vocaroo for hosting. Then after downloading the MP3 upload it to Google Drive and set the permissions to "anyone with the link can view." Then use that link to create a QR code in a QR code generator like QRCode Monkey. The whole process is demonstrated this short video

I shared a bunch of other ideas for using QR codes in classrooms in this post on Practical Ed Tech