Monday, February 28, 2022

New Spaces Digital Portfolio Features

Spaces is a digital portfolio tool that I first covered around this time last year. Since then it has steadily grown in popularity. As it has grown in popularity it has steadily responded to teachers' feedback and suggestions for improvement. The latest example of that is found in the latest batch of updates. 

In the latest batch of updates Spaces has increased the number of media files that you can attach to a post. The previous limit was three and now it is ten. Two other significant updates are the ability to add private comments to posts to in group Spaces (portfolios) and the ability to review and publish students' submissions to group Spaces. You can read more about all of the updates right here on the Spaces product roadmap site

Applications for Education
One of the features of Spaces that I have liked from the start is the "asynchronous breakout room" functionality. This allows your students to work together on collaborative projects and also participate in whole-class activities. Learn more about that aspect of Spaces in this blog post.

Learn how to get started with Spaces by watching the following videos.
How to create digital portfolios with Spaces - Part 1


How to create digital portfolios with Spaces - Part 2

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Try the Game Templates in Canva

Last week I was recording a demo of how to use existing slides to make video lessons when I came across a neat slide template in Canva. That template was for a game called This or That. The game is a simple icebreaker type of game that gets people talking to each other. The reason I mention it is that there's a whole category of similar game templates available in Canva. Watch my short video below for a little demo of the This or That game template. 


Applications for Education
If you're looking to make some simple trivia games or icebreaker games to play in your classroom or at your next staff meeting, take a look through the game presentation templates in Canva for a little inspiration.

An eBook and a Webinar - 50 Tech Tuesday Tips

Back in January I hosted a webinar for those who had purchased a copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips. That webinar proved to be popular so I'm going to host it again on March 9th at 4pm ET. 

On March 9th at 4pm ET I'm hosting A Framework for Technology Integration. Anyone who purchases a copy of my ebook between now and March 9th will get a link to join the webinar. And if you previously purchased a copy and want to join this webinar, just send me a note and I'll register you. 

In 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, February 26, 2022

Slides, Houdini, and NASA - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where a fresh coating of seven inches of snow is covering the ground. The cold and snow is a stark contrast to earlier this week when it was sunny and relatively warm. In fact, it was warm enough that I was able to ride my bike outside for the first time in 2022. Fortunately, my kids and I like the snow so we're headed out to do a little skiing today. I hope that you also have something fun planned for your weekend. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. How to Use Canva Designs in Google Slides
2. Create TinyTap Educational Games With Houdini Effects, Videos, and More
3. PhET Releases Ten Updated Simulations With Interactive Descriptions
4. NASA From Hidden to Modern Figures
5. How to Record Screencasts in Gmail
6. What is Sub-image Search? - And Why Would Your Students Would Use It?
7. Brush Ninja - Make Animated GIFs, Emoji Art, and More!

Thank you for your support!
Your registrations in Practical Ed Tech courses and purchases of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips help me keep Free Technology for Teachers going. Purchase ten or more copies of my ebook and I'll host a free one-hour webinar for your school or organization. 

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 40,000 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 Icons Daily and Daily Dose. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

A Dozen Neat NASA Resources for Students and Teachers

On Thursday I wrote about NASA's From Hidden to Modern Figures collection of videos and lesson plans. Creating that blog post inspired me to look through my archives for some of the other neat NASA resources that I've found and shared over the years. Here they are in no particular order. 

The Langley Research Center Virtual Tour takes students through all of the buildings at the research center and explains what happens in each. Some stops on the tour include video segments, some have interactive displays, and some are just static pictures accompanied by explanations. 

How to Build Paper Rockets is a SciShow Kids video that is based on the directions that NASA provides for making straw rockets and the teacher guide for making stomp rockets

NASA provides two sets of detailed, written directions for building solar ovens. This set of directions (link opens a PDF) was created for students in 7th through 9th grade. This set of directions (link opens a PDF) for building a solar oven was written for 6th through 8th grade students and culminates with students attempting to make s'mores with their ovens. 

My NASA Data is much more than just a collection of datasets published by NASA. My NASA Data contains lesson plans, data visualizations, and story maps. Those lesson plans, visualizations, and story maps are divided into six sections. Those sections are titled Atmosphere, Biosphere, Cryosphere, Geosphere, Hydrosphere, and Earth as System. Select a section to start exploring all of the visualizations, lesson plans, and story maps within it. In many cases you'll find additional lesson plans included within the visualizations and story maps. 

Years ago Steve Dembo introduced me to a U.S. General Services Administration program that lets schools acquire artifacts from NASA's space program. The program has two parts. One part lets schools, museums, and similar organizations borrow artifacts. The other program lets schools acquire artifacts for no cost other than shipping fees. 

NASA's Solar System Exploration website contains interactive displays of the planets, dwarf planets, and moons of our solar system. To launch an interactive display just choose one of the planets, dwarf planets, or moons from the menu in the site's header. Each display includes little markers in it. Click one of the markers to open a side panel that contains information about that particular feature of the planet, dwarf planet, or moon. Below each interactive display you'll find additional facts and figures.

Spacecraft AR is a free iPad app offered by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The app enables students to learn about various NASA spacecraft including the Curiosity rover, Voyager, Mars Exploration Rover, and a handful of other spacecraft. Spacecraft AR includes information about each spacecraft's development and use. With Spacecraft AR installed and open on their iPads or phones, students can select a spacecraft or mission then point their iPads or phones at a flat floor or wall see the spacecraft appear. Once the spacecraft appears on screen students can move to see other angles of the spacecraft and move the spacecraft. Students can also pinch and zoom to change the size of spacecraft they're looking at.

NASA Selfies is a fun and free app for "taking a selfie in space." What it really does is just put your face into the helmet of a space suit that is floating in space. You can pick the background for your space selfie. Backgrounds are provided from NASA's huge library of images. When you pick a background, you can tap on it to learn more about what is shown in the picture. For example, I chose the background of Pinwheel Galaxy then tapped on it to read about that infrared image captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Get NASA Selfies for iOS here and get the Android version here

NASA Kids' Club is a collection games, interactive activities, and images for students in Kindergarten through fourth grade. At the center of the NASA Kids' Club is a set of games and interactive activities arranged on five skill levels. The activities range from simple things like coloring pages and pattern recognition games to more difficult tasks like identifying planets based on clues provided in written and video form. 

NASA Space Place is a sizable collection of fun projects, games, animations, and lessons about Earth, space, and technology. Before playing the games or attempting one of the projects, students should explore the animations and facts sections to gain some background information. The projects section of NASA Space Place provides teachers, parents, and students with directions for hands-on projects like building a balloon-powered rover, building relief maps, and building a moon habitat. The games section offers thirty games covering all of the subjects in the animations and facts sections.

NASA's eClips videos are arranged by grade level; K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. There is also a section labeled for the general public. The videos are short clips designed to show students the work NASA is doing and how that work impacts space science as well as its potential impact on everyday life. All of the videos can be viewed online on the NASA eClips site, viewed on YouTube, or downloaded for use on your local computer.

If you're curious about what the Hubble telescope saw on a particular day, What Did Hubble See on Your Birthday? is the site for you. Just enter the month and day of your birthday and you'll see an image that Hubble captured that day.