Monday, February 14, 2022

How Graphs Can Be Misleading

Tools like Canva and even good ol' PowerPoint make it incredibly easy to quickly create good looking graphs. But as Randy Krum points out in his book, Cool Infographics, a graphic that looks good isn't necessarily a good graphic. In fact, many times a graphic is made to look good in order to distract from the reality of the information presented within it. That's a point that is made in a few ways in a TED-Ed lesson titled How to Spot a Misleading Graph

By watching How to Spot a Misleading Graph students can learn about three ways in which graphs can be misleading. Those ways are distorting the scale of the graph, manipulating the X or Y axis of a graph, and cherry-picking or not providing context for data in a graph. The whole lesson can be found here and the video is embedded below.



Applications for Education
This video could make a great addition to your list of resources for teaching students how to be savvy media consumers. After watching the video I'd have students do two things. First, I'd have them look through a few newspapers or journals (online or physical) to try to find some graphs that use one of the misleading techniques taught in the TED-Ed lesson. Second, I'd provide students with some datasets to try their hands at creating accurate graphs as well as slightly misleading graphs.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Lessons About the Instruments in Symphony Orchestras

Last week I was chatting with a friend and he told me about one of his daughters learning to play some music from Phantom of the Opera. That took me back to my own middle school days when I played tuba in the band and we played some music from Phantom of the Opera. All of that, of course, got me thinking about some resources I've previously shared about symphonies. Here they are along with a couple of updated resources. 

How Brass Instruments Work is a TED-Ed lesson that provides an overview of how sound is produced and changed through trumpets, trombones, and tubas. The lesson within the video is rather basic but it does do a nice job of clearly conveying how a musician makes music on a brass instrument.


The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra offers quite a few resources for helping students learn about symphony orchestras. Here you'll find PDFs and videos about the instruments of the symphony. The videos feature members of the orchestra playing their instruments. Here you'll find a collection of downloadable lesson plans for teaching about symphonies. 

The Secrets of the World's Most Famous Symphony is a TED-Ed lesson all about Beethoven's Symphony Number Five and what it made it unique and captivating. It also touches on what made Beethoven different from other composers of his time. 

Join Me on Tuesday for Search Strategies for History Students and Teachers

This Tuesday at 4pm ET I'm hosting a Practical Ed Tech webinar titled Search Strategies for History Students and Teachers. If a student has ever said to you, “I can’t find anything about this,” this webinar is for you!

In this one hour webinar I’ll share the strategies and techniques that I’ve used with my own students to help them get beyond the first few pages of Google search results and dive deep into the research process. Learn more about it in the following video.



Key points of the webinar include:
  • How to craft interesting search lessons.
  • Getting students beyond the first page of search results.
  • Alternative search engines for history students.
  • Accessing and utilizing local, state, provincial and national archives.
  • Guiding students through source evaluation.
Free eBook!
Everyone who registers for the webinar will get a copy of my eBook, Search Strategies for History Students and Teachers.

Live and recorded access!
This will be hosted live at 4pm ET on February 15th! It will also be recorded for everyone who registers in advance.


No, this webinar isn't free but the tools featured and techniques within it are free to use. Purchases of this webinar 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, February 12, 2022

Puzzles, Hearts, and Sounds - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it is going to a relatively warm (35f) and sunny day. In fact, it's going to be almost spring-like today before the cold returns tomorrow. We're looking forward to a fun weekend of skiing and playing outside. I hope that you also have some fun things that you're looking forward to this weekend. 

This week I co-hosted another edition of Two Ed Tech Guys Take Questions. If you missed it, you can watch the recording here. Next week I'm hosting a webinar all about search strategies for history students and teachers. You can register for that one right here

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Map Puzzle - Test Your Knowledge of World Geography
2. Math, Science, and Philosophy Lessons for Valentine's Day
3. Use TinyTap to Create Interactive Lessons and Games With Soundboards
4. New Lesson Plans from DocsTeach
5. How to Create VR Tours of Local Landmarks
6. Ten Overlooked Google Docs Features for Students and Teachers
7. Try Tract to Find Inspiration for Fun 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 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.

A Neat Site for Comparisons of Economic Information Between Countries

Seven years ago I wrote about a neat site called If It Were My Home. I came across it again while looking for something else in my archives earlier this week. It still works and still does the same interesting thing that it did when I first tried it.  

If It Were My Home will show you a comparison of economics and demographic data of your country with that of another of your choosing. The purpose is to show give visitors a sense of the health and economics differences of living in different countries. The data shown on the site is drawn from the CIA World Factbook and the World Health Organization. In this short video I demonstrate how the site works. 


Applications for Education
The data that is provided on If It Were My Home could be found by visiting the sources that it lists. Using If It Were My Home just makes those comparisons a little quicker. After students use the site I'd ask them to choose what they think would be good indicators of differences between where they live and another country. I'd then have them research that information and prepare it in an infographic using one of the templates that Canva offers.