Friday, April 1, 2022

Five Random Name Pickers to Use in Your Classroom

From creating groups to choosing a line leader to establishing the order of presenters there are plenty of times that a random name picker can be helpful in your classroom. I've tried dozens of them over the years. In this new video I highlight my five favorite name pickers, how they work, and what I like about each of them. 

In the video you will see me demonstrate the following random name picker tools:

  • Wheel of Names
  • SpinnerWheel
  • Flippity
  • Name Picker Ninja
  • Classroom Screen

Wheel of Names is a free random name picker website that not only lets you enter names, it lets you upload images to be chosen at random. Wheel of Names also lets you create a free account that you can use to save a series of wheels. That option could be helpful if you have multiple classes and don't want to enter names whenever you need to pick a name at random.

SpinnerWheel lets you place multiple spinners on the same screen and spin them at the same time. By doing that you can create a random group picker, generate randomized writing prompts, randomly generate math problems, and even create random quiz game questions. You can use SpinnerWheel without creating an account on the site. However, if you do create a free account on SpinnerWheel you will be able to save your spinners to use whenever you like an as often as you like. offers a random name picker that can be used to select one student's name at random. It can also be used to random create small groups of students. You can even use it to create a randomized seating chart! 

Name Picker Ninja is free tool for quickly randomly selecting a name from a list. Using Name Picker Ninja is a simple matter of pasting or typing a list of names into the "add names" field in Name Picker Ninja and then clicking "go!" The names in your list will scroll and stop on a randomly selected name. Once a name has been selected you can remove it from the list or keep it in the rotation.

Classroomscreen is a service that lets you create a homescreen on which you can place reusable countdown timers, stopwatches, noise meters, random name selectors, and more helpful classroom management tools. The noise meter lets you set a sensitivity level and have an alarm sound when the room gets too noisy. The random name selector lets you enter a list of names and save it for unlimited reuse. The countdown timers are easy to adjust for time allotment and appearance. Learn more about Classroomscreen in this blog post

My Three Favorite Tools for Creating QR Codes

There are lots of practical and clever uses for QR codes in schools. Over the years I've used them to make sign-in/sign-out sheets easily accessible, to distribute contact information to parents, and to create digital scavenger hunts. And on a fairly regular basis I get questions from teachers who want to know how to make QR codes for lots of other purposes like sharing podcasts and picture galleries. 

There is no shortage of tools available on the web for creating QR codes. I have three that are my favorite go-to options. For simplicity, I like the QR code generator built into Google Chrome. For adding a fun aspect to QR codes, I like to use QR Toon. And for the ultimate in design flexibility, I like QR Code Monkey. In the following video I demonstrate how to use all three of those tools. 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Reading and Games - The Month in Review

Good evening from Maine where the sun has set on the last day of March, 2022. The old saying of "March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb" does not really apply to life in Maine. In our case March came in like a lion, briefly acted like a lamb, and now ends like a lion with drizzly and cold weather. I hope that regardless of the weather you had a great month of March. 

A big thank you to everyone who participated in one of my webinars or purchased a copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips in March. Your support helps me keep this blog going. I couldn't do it without you. Thank you!

These were the most popular posts in March:
1. Readlee - Know How Your Students Read Online Assignments
2. Five Chrome Settings You Need to Know
3. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
4. - Educational Games Your Students Will Love to Play
5. Stop Printing the Internet
6. Five Ways to Create Online Drag-and-Drop Activities
7. How to Make Your Own Wordle-style Game
8. New Whiteboard Features in Microsoft Teams and New Excel Formulas
9. My Five Favorite Canva Features
10. Take Your Students on the American Ideals Virtual Field Trip Hosted by Discovery Education

Summer Workshops for Your School!
I'm going back on the road this summer to host professional development workshops in-person! If you'd like to have me come to your school, please get in touch with me soon.

Spring and Summer Webinars
I conduct professional development webinars throughout the year. I'll host a free one-hour webinar for any school or group that purchases ten or more copies of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips.

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 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.

This Could be a Great Opportunity for a History Teacher

The Library of Congress has a program called Innovator in Residence that provides funding for one person to develop innovative tools that incorporate artifacts housed by the Library of Congress. Over the last few years I've featured a couple of tools that were developed through the Innovator in Residence program. Those are Citizen DJ and Newspaper Navigator

Applications are now open for the next Library of Congress Innovator in Residence. Applications are due by May 2, 2022. Before the deadline the Library of Congress is hosting a couple of Zoom meetings to provide more information to potential applicants. You can find the application, links to the Zoom sessions, and more information about the program right here

This could be a great opportunity for a history teacher who is looking to take a year or two out of the classroom to work on a project of their own design. The Innovator in Residence program provides up to $80,000 per year for the innovator to develop and promote their proposed tool. 

How to Create B-roll Media Galleries to Share With Students

In last Sunday's Practical Ed Tech newsletter I wrote about the idea of creating a b-roll media gallery to share with your students. The idea of creating a b-roll media gallery is to compile a collection of image, video, and audio files that your students can use in their multimedia projects. By doing this your students will have a place that they can find media that you've already screened for content and for copyright compliance. 

In this short video I demonstrate two ways to create a b-roll media gallery to share with your students. The first method utilizes Google Drive. The second method utilizes OneDrive. 

Applications for Education
If you're an elementary school teacher, creating a b-roll media gallery is a good way to make sure that your students are able to quickly find appropriate images to use in their projects. At the middle school and high school levels, having a b-roll media gallery can be a good back-up option to have when students say that they "can't find anything" that's appropriate for their project.