Monday, April 11, 2022

A Free Design Skills Course for Students

As you probably know, I am a huge fan of Canva. I use it on a daily basis to create YouTube thumbnails, presentations, and teaching materials like my new Around the World With Google Earth activity. The great thing about Canva is that enables people like me who don't have an eye for design to create things that look pretty darn good. But learning all of the features of Canva can take a while if you don't know where to start or where to look. That's why Canva has recently released a new design course for students

Canva's new Design Skills for Students course is a seven-part, self-paced course that teaches high school age students everything they need to know to create great graphics, animations, presentations, and more. Each part of the course has a short tutorial video followed by a practice activity for students to complete. Take a look at the first lesson right here

If you are looking for some Canva tutorials for yourself, take a look at my big list of more than three dozen Canva tutorials

The game templates are a fun aspect of Canva that many people overlook. Here's my short overview of how to use those templates. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Seven Activities for National Poetry Month

A little Twitter conversation last week reminded me that the start of the baseball season is full of hope and for all but one team ends with heartbreak. There's a lot of poetry in that. And so it's fitting that the start of the baseball season is in April and that April is National Poetry Month offers thirty activities for celebrating National Poetry Month. If you'd like even more ideas for National Poetry Month, take a look my short list of suggestions below. 

ReadWriteThink Poetry Interactives
Earlier this year ReadWriteThink relaunched nearly all of their interactive writing tools so that they no longer relied on Flash. That means you can now use them in any modern web browser. My favorite of their interactive poetry writing tools is the Word Mover tool that resembles refrigerator magnet poetry. Take a look at this short video to see the current version of ReadWriteThink's Word Mover interactive.

Coding With Poetry
Coding With Poetry is a feature from There are two activities available on the Coding With Poetry page. The first is a short, Hour of Code activity in which students animate a poem by writing some simple code. The second is a longer activity that is part of's Computer Science Connections curriculum. In the second activity students write a program that writes poetry (I did a similar thing with my 9th graders last year and it took some of them two class periods to complete it).

Poetry With AI
Verse by Verse is an experimental AI project from Google. Verse by Verse lets you compose poems by combining lines from the works of famous poets. In other words, it's a poetry remix tool. To use it you simply visit the site and select three poets to inspire you. Then you write your own first line of a poem. Once you've written a line of your own Verse by Verse will suggest three lines from each of the three poets you originally selected. You can then include those lines in your new poem. Finished poems can be downloaded as text overlaid on an background image.  

Poetry Comics
Make Beliefs Comix offers more than 700 writing prompt pages. All of the pages are designed to be printed and given to students to write on. Within that collection you will find a small collection of poetry pages. All the the printable poetry prompt pages include artwork designed to spark a student's imagination. Some of the artwork is in color and some is in black and white. A bonus of the black and white artwork is that you're essentially getting a coloring page and a poetry prompt in one package.

Poetry 180
Poetry 180 is a Library of Congress project that was created when Billy Collins was the U.S. Poet Laureate. The purpose of the project is to provide high school teachers with poems for their students to read or hear throughout the school year. Collins selected the poems for Poetry 180 with high school students in mind. I didn't look at every poem in the list, but of dozen or so that I looked at, none would take more than a few minutes to read in a classroom. Speaking of reading in class, Collins encourages teachers to read the poems aloud or have students read the poems aloud. To that end, here's his advice on how to read a poem out loud.

There's a Poem for That!      
There's a Poem for That is a series of twelve TED-Ed lessons featuring six famous works. The lessons include poems from from Frost, Shakespeare, Yeats, O'Keefe, Gibson, and Elhillo.

Jamboard Magnetic Poetry
On Google Jamboard you can create a set of sticky notes with words on them. You could color code the sticky notes to make verbs one color, adjectives another color, and nouns a third color. Once you've made your word bank you can then divide the Jamboard and add directions for writing a poem with the words in the word bank. Finally, share your Jamboard as an assignment in Google Classroom. When you share it in Google Classroom make sure that you choose the option of "make a copy for each student" so that students have their own copies to work on without having to manually make copies for themselves. 

In this short video I explain how to use Google Jamboard and Google Classroom to create online magnetic poetry assignments for your students. 

Five Image Editing Features Built Into Google Slides

Regular readers of my blog probably know that I'm a big fan of using tools like Canva, Adobe Creative Cloud Express, and Pixlr to edit and enhance pictures. But sometimes those tools feel like they have almost too many options. Furthermore, some schools don't allow access to those tools because they would prefer that students use tools in Google Workspace. In both cases, it's worth knowing how to use the image editing features that are built into Google Slides. 

There are five image editing features in Google Slides that I always point out to students and to teachers who come to one of my workshops. Those features are color filtering, transparency and brightness adjustments, drop shadows and mirroring, cropping with shapes, and border adjustments. Watch this short video to see all of those features in use. 

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Librarians, Logic, and Learning - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we're excited for the first day of Tinkergarten even though the weather forecast has some rain in it. Tinkergarten is a fun program for little kids like mine to have some fun outdoor learning experiences. Classes happen regardless of the weather which is fine because part of being a Mainer is being able to have fun outside in all kinds of conditions. I hope that wherever you are this weekend that you have something fun to look forward to like we do. 

This week I joined my pal Rushton Hurley to host another episode of Two EdTech Guys Take Questions. The recording can be seen here. This week I also put together an update to one of my all-time favorite social studies lessons plans. And I answered a bunch of questions from readers like you. If you have a question for me, don't hesitate to send me an email. I do my best to answer all questions. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Thank Your School Librarians! And Ask Them for Help!
2. A Calendar of Social Emotional Learning Activities
3. Using Branching Logic in Microsoft Forms to Provide Directions
4. My Five Favorite Flipgrid Video Features
5. Annotate PDFs With Lumin PDF - Free for Teachers
6. A Few Good Resources for Learning How Blockchain Works
7. Five Helpful WriteReader Features for Teachers and Students

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 Development
Thanks to This Month's Banner Advertisers!
  • Kikori App offers a huge library of SEL activities for all ages. 
  • WriteReader is a great tool for multimedia writing. 
Other 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.

Three Ways to Create Simple Portfolio Websites

We're nearing the point in the school year that many of us start to think about activities for students to do to summarize their highlights of the school year. One way to do that is to create simple portfolio websites. These are sites that have just one page that features only the best work that students are proud to share. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to use three different platforms to create simple portfolio websites. In the video you'll see me use, Adobe Creative Cloud Express, and Canva to create simple websites. 

Applications for Education
Some examples of the things you might have students include in a simple portfolio website are pictures (either of their work or as examples of their work), videos they've made in your class, slide presentations, and documents they've written.