Wednesday, March 2, 2022

eStory - A New Multimedia Timeline Creation Tool

Whenever I see a new timeline creation tool appear on the Internet, I can't resist giving it a try. So when eStory appeared on Product Hunt a few days ago, I had to sign-up and test it out. 

eStory is a free tool that you can use to quickly create multimedia timelines. There are some great aspects of it and a few that I'd like to see improved. eStory timelines are image and text based. At this time there doesn't appear to be a way to include videos in the timeline. That's a limiting aspect of eStory, but it also makes the creation process quicker. eStory includes an integrated image search tool which makes it quick and easy to find images to use in your timelines. However, it doesn't appear to give image attribution or even a link to the image source. That's a problem that needs to be addressed. 

To create a timeline on eStory you'll have to create an account using your email address or by connecting your Google account. After that step you'll give your timeline a title and choose a cover image for your timeline. Then you can add some recommended readings to your timeline before starting to create events on your timeline. Each event on your timeline is created by adding a date, an event title, an event description, and an event cover image. Event descriptions are limited to 280 characters. When you've added all of your events you can publish your timeline publicly or keep it private. Publishing options include sharing a direct URL for your timeline or using the provided embed code to post your timeline in a web page. 

Applications for Education
eStory has a couple of issues that I'd like to see addressed before I'll fully recommend it for classroom use. Those are the lack of image attribution and the lack of support for video. If those items are addressed, eStory could be a good tool for students to use to make multimedia timelines.

Winter Scavenger Hunts and Bingo

The sun is shining longer in the northern hemisphere these days. We're really starting to notice here in Maine where the sun is still shining when we're having supper. That means it's slightly warmer in the afternoon and we have more time to play outside after school. In other words, it's perfect for going on winter scavenger hunts!

Let's Go on a Winter Scavenger Hunt is the title of a new SciShow Kids video about the neat things we can find outside in the winter. It also gives a short explanation of why we don't see some animals and plants during the winter. Watch the video here or as embedded below. 

After watching the video your students might want to go on a winter scavenger hunt. Give them things to look and a way to keep track of them by using winter bingo boards. In this video I demonstrate how you can use Google Sheets to create outdoor bingo boards.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

MHDL Lantern - Media History and Lesson Plans

The Media History Digital Library is a huge archive of books and magazines about the history film, television, and radio. The Lantern is the name of the search engine that lets you search through more than 2,000,000 pages of scanned copies of the books and magazines in the MHDL. In those books and magazines you will find reviews and critiques of movies, radio programs, and television shows. You will also discover many periodicals about the movie, television, and radio industries in general. Your search can be refined according to date, language, and publication type. You can also browse through collections curated by MHDL.

Applications for Education
MHDL's Lantern can be an excellent resource for students studying the history and development of media. 

MHDL has a set of model lesson plans that can incorporate artifacts located through MHDL Lantern. The lesson plans were written for college courses so you'll need to modify them for high school use. 

Through MHDL's Lantern you could find some good examples of how to write a critique to share with your students. Your students could use those as models for writing their own critiques of movies or even of books. 

Use TinyTap to Create Online Courses Featuring Your Favorite Games

Disclosure: TinyTap is currently an advertiser on

For the last couple of months I’ve highlighted all of the ways that you can create online games and activities for your students to play on TinyTap. All of those games and activities can be shared individually in a variety of ways including embedding them into your classroom website and sharing them in your learning management system. Another way to use TinyTap games is to include them in a course created and hosted entirely on TinyTap. Students can complete it in their web browsers or in theTinyTap app. In this post I’ll show you how you can easily build an online course in your TinyTap account.

TinyTap courses can be shared directly with your students. There’s also an option to sell your courses in a personalized TinyTap shop. I’ll share more about the selling option in next week’s post about TinyTap.  

Build an Online Course in 5 Minutes!
I’ve tried a lot of online course building tools over the years. TinyTap's course builder is perhaps the easiest to use of them all. In fact, you could build an online course in TinyTap in five minutes or less!

To create an online course in TinyTap’s web editor simply sign into your free account then click the create tab followed by “Create Course” which will launch you into the course builder. The first steps in the course builder are to name your course, write a short summary of it, and list some course goals. If you’re creating a course for pre-K and early elementary school grades, I’d recommend writing the course description and goals with parents in mind.
After you’ve written your course description and goals the last steps before adding course content are to specify the target age for the course, the course language, and course categories (you can pick up to three topic categories for your course). Finally, choose whether you want your course to be viewed in a structured format or a more free-form playlist format. The difference between the two formats is that a structured course requires students to complete the games and activities in the sequence in which you arrange them while the playlist format allows students to complete the course in any order of their choosing. For example, this course is in a structured format and this course is in a playlist format.

At this point I should point out that your course can be public or private. The default setting is to make the course public. You can change that by simply removing the checkmark next to the “public” setting just before publishing your course (don’t worry if you forget to make that change at first because you can always change it later). As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, there’s also an option to sell your courses. To use that option select the “premium” button when publishing your course. Whether you make your course public or private you’ll want to add a cover image to it. Just like adding a cover image to any presentation, it’s best to pick one that matches your course’s theme. Adding a cover image to your TinyTap course is just a simple matter of uploading any picture that you have the rights to use.

On many services, one of the challenges of uploading images to fit a template is making sure you have the right size image. Fortunately, that's not a challenge when adding cover images to TinyTap courses because you can quickly resize images in the preview window before publishing them. And if you don't want to select a cover image or thumbnail for your course, TinyTap will select a default image for you.
All of the steps outlined above are summarized in the animated GIF below.
Now that the purpose and structure of the course has been set it is time to add content to the course. Doing that is just a matter of browsing through your own TinyTap games and those that are publicly available and picking the ones you want to include in your course. To do that you enter a keyword (or a full game name or a game creator's name) in the search box on the course page and then pick the corresponding games or activities you want to include in your course. Once you’ve selected a few games or activities you can sort them into any order you like by simply clicking and dragging them up or down on the course builder page.

The last step in creating your TinyTap course is to share it with your students. To do that you’ll just click on the share button and copy the unique URL generated for your course. You can share that URL anywhere that you would normally share URLs including your learning management system, email, or social media.

Take a look at the GIF below to see a summary of finding materials to add to your TinyTap course, arranging them into order, and sharing your course.
Student Perspective
When students take courses in TinyTap a little progress indicator appears at the top of the page just above the list of units. Additionally, if the games and activities you’ve included in the course are scored, those scores are shown to students at the completion of each unit within the course.

Students’ course work is saved in progress so that they can pick up where they left off whenever they log into the course.

More Features for Teachers!
As you might have noticed in the GIFs above, there are some additional TinyTap course creation features for teachers. I’ll dive into how those work next week. But to give you a preview of what’s coming up we’ll be looking at how you can earn money from your course by sharing it beyond your classroom, how to create and share course trailers, and building a course shop page.

Build Your First Course Today!
As I mentioned at the start, you can build a TinyTap course in five minutes or less. Head to, sign into your free account, and start building your course by following the steps outlined above or by watching my short tutorial video.

Learn How to do More in TinyTap
For the last two months I’ve written about all the ways that you can use TinyTap to create games and online activities for your students. Those posts are listed below.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Canva, Groundhogs, and Docs - The Month in Review

Good evening from the Free Technology for Teachers World Headquarters in Maine. The sun has set on last day of February, 2022. As I do at the end of every month I look in my Google Analytics account to find out which blog posts were the most popular during the month. As you'll see below, two of them were about Canva, one was about Groundhog Day, and two were about Google Docs. Take a look at the full list below. 

These were the most popular posts in February:
1. My Big Playlist of Canva Tutorials
2. Groundhog Day Explained
3. Ten Overlooked Google Docs Features for Students and Teachers
4. Math, Science, and Philosophy Lessons for Valentine's Day
5. How to Use Canva Designs in Google Slides
6. Map Puzzle - Test Your Knowledge of World Geography
7. Use TinyTap to Create Interactive Lessons and Games With Soundboards
8. New Lesson Plans from DocsTeach
9. How to Prevent Printing of Shared Google Documents
10. How to Add Watermarks to Google Docs

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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 Icons Daily and Daily Dose. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.