Saturday, May 7, 2022

Drawings, Templates, and Deer - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where we're recovering from the destruction of our tulip garden at the hooves and teeth of some whitetail deer. We'll be spending part of the day working on the gardens including planting some marigolds and other plants that are reported to be deer repellents (we'll see). 

Tomorrow is Mother's Day so my daughters and I have a little time to put the finishing touches on a surprise for tomorrow morning. Happy Mother's Day to all of the mothers, including my mom, who read my blog. I hope that you have a great weekend!

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Quick and Easy Ways to Remove Image Backgrounds
2. New Google Docs Templates for Project Management
3. How Not to Cite an Image Source - Eight Years Later
4. Book Widgets Now Offers Digital Rubrics
5. Three Registration-free Drawing Tools for Students
6. Mentimeter - Share Slides and Poll Your Class on One Screen
7. The Most Popular Posts in April

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.

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 FreeTech4Teachers.com. 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.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Understanding Perspectives in Primary Sources - A New National Archives Resource

Once they understood the difference between a primary and secondary source, helping students understand the context, meaning, and purpose of primary source documents was one of the things that I enjoyed the most when I taught U.S. History. To that end, I often used resources from the National Archives Daily Document RSS feed to spark conversations in my classroom. The National Archives recently published a new guide to help students understand perspectives in primary sources

Understanding Perspectives in Primary Sources (link opens a PDF) is a free guide that you can download and distribute to your students. The guide leads students through a series of questions designed to help them identify the type of primary source (writing, drawing, audio recording, etc.), who created it, and the context in which it was created (time, place). 

Applications for Education
One of the most important aspects of the Understanding Perspectives in Primary Sources guide is in the last section. In that section students are asked, "what evidences does the creator present that you should fact check?" This is important because, in my experience, a lot of students assume that just because something is an old primary source it is therefore infallible as a source of information. The question that I would always ask my students to consider was, "does what you're reading line up with what you already know about this topic?" 

Science Friday is a Must-bookmark for Science Teachers

Science Friday is a must-bookmark for teachers and students of science. As the name implies, every Friday a new batch of podcast segments about a wide range of science topics is released. Additionally, on Science Friday you will find interesting videos and articles about a wide array of topics in chemistry, biology, physics, space science, and much more. One of the segments that I liked from last week's Science Friday was this one about why a dog's breed may not be a great predictor of its behavioral traits

Applications for Education
Science Friday offers lesson plans, many of them hands-on, that you can find in the education section of the site. To find a lesson plan just head to the education section of the site and then choose a grade level, subject, and STEM practice. The lesson plans include links to the national science standards addressed in the lesson. Lighting Up Celery Stalks is one of the featured biology lesson plans that I think students will enjoy.

Gmail Settings to Avoid Embarrassment

We've all done it, you hit "send" on an email then realize you misspelled an important word or you click send and realize that you replied to all instead of just to the original sender. These situations can be either fairly innocuous or downright embarrassing depending upon who the email was sent to and or what was said. Fortunately, there are a couple of Gmail settings that can help you avoid these situations. 

Gmail has setting that allows you to unsend an email up to 30 seconds after it has been sent. Gmail also has a setting that lets you change the default reply behavior on group mailings. Both of these features are demonstrated in this video that I recently published on my YouTube channel



Thursday, May 5, 2022

Three Registration-free Drawing Tools for Students

Tools like Google Jamboard and Explain Everything can be great for creating drawings to illustrate concepts. They can also be good tools for students to use to illustrate stories. But sometime you just need a quick and easy tool for students to use to create a drawing or simple animation without having to jump through the hoop of logging into an account. In those instances, the following free tools provide a good way for students to quickly create digital drawings. 

Brush Ninja
For more than five years now I've been using Brush Ninja to create simple animations. Here's something I wrote about using Brush Ninja a few years ago in an eighth grade class. This video provides a demonstration of how to use Brush Ninja which is free and doesn't require registration. The featured GIF in this blog post was created by using Brush Ninja. 


Draw and Tell
Draw and Tell is a free iPad app that has been on my list of recommendations for K-2 students for many years. In this free app students can draw on a blank pages or complete coloring page templates. After completing their drawings students then record a voiceover in which they either explain the drawings or tell a story about the characters in their drawings.

ABCya Animate
ABCya Animate is a fun tool that allows students to create animated GIFs containing up to 100 frames. On ABCya Animate students build their animation creations by drawing, typing, and inserting images. Students can change the background of each frame, include new pictures in each frame, and change the text in each frame of their animations. The feature that I like best about ABCya Animate is that students can see the previous frames of their animations while working on a current frame. This helps students know where to position items in each frame in order to make their animations as smooth as possible. Students do not need to register on ABCya Animate in order to use the tool or to save their animations. When students click "save" on ABCya Animate their creations are downloaded as GIFs.