Sunday, April 3, 2022

What's Onomatopoeia Mean? - Another Question from My Daughters

Every night my daughters (ages 4 and 5) ask us all kinds of interesting questions. Some of them are about things that I haven't thought about in a long time. Some of them aren't easy to answer in a way that they can understand. And some of them are a bit of both. That was case one night last week when my five-year-old asked, "what's onomatopoeia mean?" I did my best to explain that it is a word like "moo" that is created from the sound that it makes. 

After dinner and my somewhat unsuccessful explanation of onomatopoeia, I turned to YouTube to try to find a video that might help my daughters better understand what onomatopoeia is. That's where I found this cute and short music video about onomatopoeia. I'll warn you, the song is kind of catchy (if you're a five-year-old). 

On a related note, Next Vista for Learning hosts a great video explanation of onomatopoeia. The video was produced by a high school student for one of Next Vista's many student video creation contests.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Paper, Programming, and Games - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it feels like spring this morning. The wind is blowing away the clouds of yesterday and it should be a sunny day to play outside. We're going to put on our boots and go for a little hike this today. I hope that you do something fun outside today too. 

This week I held a follow-up Zoom meeting for folks who participated in my webinar about how to create and sell digital products. I also held a webinar for a fun little group of librarians. If you'd like to have me host a webinar for your group, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at)

Next week Rushton Hurley and I will resume our Two EdTech Guys Take Questions series, register here to join us for that free event. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Try This New Google Chrome Feature
2. Seven Sites and Apps to Help Students Learn Coding and Programming
3. - Educational Games Your Students Will Love to Play
4. A Huge Collection of Resources for Fun Phys Ed Activities
5. Spaghetti Trees and the History of April Fools' Day
6. Stop Printing the Internet
7. Chronicling America - A Great Place to Find Historic Newspapers

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.

Eclecticism - Some Good Weekend Reading

It's the weekend, it's spring (in the northern hemisphere), and that means some of you will be looking through job listings in hopes of finding a new position for the next school year. Others of you may just be looking for something fun to read this weekend. In either case, head over to Terry Freedman's new Substack project titled Eclecticism

On Eclecticism Terry writes about a mix of practical things like what to do at a job interview for a teaching or school administrative position and lighter things like the language barrier between two native English speakers

I've been reading Terry's new Substack articles for a week now and have thoroughly enjoyed all off them. The one about teaching in a prison led to a nice conversation with Terry about our respective experiences. And his articles about evaluating job descriptions and what to do at a job interview take a slightly unconventional approach to those topics that can only be shared by someone who has extensive experience with both. If you're job hunting this spring, read his advice.

Full disclosure: Eclecticism has a mix of articles that are publicly available and some that are only available to subscribers. Terry gave me a subscription. I believe that all of the articles I mentioned in this blog post are publicly available for free. 

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. 

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