Monday, April 18, 2022

It's Patriots' Day! Resources for Learning About the Start of the American Revolution

Today is Patriots' Day here in Maine, in Massachusetts, and in a handful of other states. It's a day to mark the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. As a good New Englander and a former U.S. History teacher, every year at this time I like to share a handful of resources for teaching and learning about the American Revolution. 

Pictures of the Revolutionary War is a compilation of images about the Revolutionary War. The images in the collection chronicle the stirrings of rebellion in the pre-revolution years, the war from both American and British perspectives, and events following the Revolutionary War.

The Massachusetts Historical Society offers fourteen lesson plans that are aligned to the theme of The Coming of the American Revolution. The lesson plans include a mix of document analysis activities and group discussion activities. 

Creating Google Earth tours of Revolutionary War battle sites is an activity that I did for many years with my U.S. History students. Students would create multimedia placemarks for each battle in sequence. The placemarks contained information about the outcome and significance of each battle. Here's a video on how to make a tour with with the browser-based version of Google Earth.

Video Lessons
Keith Hughes has a popular video in which he explains the American Revolution for middle school and high school students.

Crash Course has an extensive series on U.S. History. Included in that series is Taxes & Smuggling - Prelude to Revolution.

Mr. Betts has a YouTube channel on which he posts cartoons and song parodies to teach U.S. History lessons. Here's one he did about the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

For Red Sox Fans!
This is usually the day that the Boston Marathon is held and the Red Sox play a morning game. That tradition has returned this year! For my fellow Red Sox fans here's a famous clip from the 2007 Patriots' Day game.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Expeditions Pro - Guide Students on Virtual Reality Tours

Last year many of us were disappointed when Google announced the closure of their Expeditions program. Shortly after that announcement a new company popped-up to offer an alternative to Google Expeditions. That alternative is called Expeditions Pro. It launched in beta last June and is now available for anyone to install on iOS and Android devices. 

Expeditions Pro has many of the same features that teachers liked about Google Expeditions. Not the least of those is the ability to guide your students on virtual reality tours. As long as you and your students are on the same Wi-Fi network, you can lead them through a tour. When you're leading a tour your students will see arrows on the screens of the their device to point them to what they should be looking at. Additionally, when you pause a tour your students' screens are blurred out until you resume the tour. 

To lead students on guided VR tours in Expeditions Pro, you have to download the tours to your phone or tablet. Your students don't need to download the tours in order to follow along with you. Expeditions Pro offers a growing gallery of virtual reality tours. It is also possible to create and use your own VR tours in Expeditions Pro. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to use Expeditions on an Android phone and on an iPad. In the video I also show you the teacher and student perspectives of guiding and following virtual reality tours in Expeditions Pro. 

How to Record a Google Earth Tour in Your Web Browser

The online version of Google Earth has improved a lot since it was first launched back in 2017. Unfortunately, it still doesn't have a built-in recording tool like the one found in the desktop version of Google Earth. The solution to that problem is to create a project in the web version of Google Earth and then use a screencasting tool like Screencastify to record while you navigate to each placemarker in your Google Earth project. 

In this short video I demonstrate how to record a Google Earth tour in your web browser by using Screencastify. 

Applications for Education
At the end of my Around the World With Google Earth activity I ask students to record a short tour of all of the places that they add to their Google Earth projects. The directions that I provide in the video above show students exactly how to do that.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Poetry, Design, and SEL - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where overcast April weather has returned after a beautiful Friday afternoon of riding bikes with my kids. Despite the weather we're still going to play outside for a little while with our Tinkergarten group. I think some cookie decorating and other fun indoor activities are also on the agenda for the day. I hope that you also have something fun planned for your weekend. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Seven Activities for National Poetry Month
2. Three Good Tools for Creating Infographics
3. A Calendar of Social Emotional Learning Activities
4. Three Ways to Create Simple Portfolio Websites
5. Thank Your School Librarians! And Ask Them for Help!
6. Tract Offers Fun Ways to Wrap-up the School Year
7. A Free Design Skills Course for 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.

Eight Good Tools for Hosting Online Brainstorming Sessions

Earlier this week I shared a new video that I made about hosting online brainstorming sessions on Padlet. Of course, there are other good tools for hosting collaborative brainstorming sessions including physical sticky notes. Here are some other tools that I've used to facilitate and record group brainstorming sessions over the years. 

Canva offers a selection of brainstorming templates that can be used collaboratively. In the following video I demonstrate how to use Canva's real-time collaboration function for an online brainstorming session. In the video I also demonstrate how you can tell if the template support real-time collaboration or not.

Post-it offers a free iPhone and iPad app and an Android version of the same app. Both versions of the Post-it app let you snap a picture of a collection of sticky notes that you want to digitize. After snapping the picture you'll be able to sort and group the digitized version of your sticky notes. You can export your digitized stickies and groups of stickies as PDF, PowerPoint, and Excel files. Watch the video below to see how the Post-it app works.

Google's Jamboard can be used to host group brainstorming sessions. In larger classes I break students into smaller groups and have each group work on a specific page within the Jamboard session. At the end of the session we review the ideas from each page and put the most popular ones on a final page. Here's an overview of how to use Jamboard in Google Classroom


I started using Padlet more than ten years ago to host collaborative brainstorming sessions with my students. My favorite way to use it is to have students share ideas for research prompts related to a larger topic. For example, I'd give my students a broad topic like World War II and then have them add their ideas for topics to research that are connected to World War II.

Brainstormer is a free, registration-free tool for hosting online brainstorming sessions. It has two noteworthy features. First, it doesn't require any kind of registration in order to use it. Second, at the end of every brainstorming session students can vote for their favorite ideas that were submitted during the session. In this short video I provide a demonstration of how Brainstormer works. The video includes the perspective of a teacher using it and the perspective of a student using Brainstormer. 

Dotstorming is a collaborative brainstorming tool that I've used and written about for half of a decade or more. One of its key features is the option to have participants in a brainstorming session vote for their favorite ideas submitted during the session. The value of Dotstorming in an online or in-person classroom is that it allows you to gather ideas or answers to a problem from your students and then have your students vote for the favorite idea or answer. Those vote totals can then be the basis for discussions with the whole class or in small groups.

Rye Board provides you with a blank canvas on which you can place text notes, images, and drawings. Notes and pictures can be dragged and dropped into any arrangement that you like. Drawings can be added in the spaces between notes and or directly on top of images on your Rye Board. Rye Board allows for two collaborators at a time. Watch my video that is embedded below to see how Rye Board works.

Lumio has an activity template called Shout It Out that is perfect for hosting online brainstorming sessions with your students. You can learn more about that and other Lumio features in this video.