Monday, July 11, 2022

Boclips for Teachers is Shutting Down

For couple of years Boclips was one of my favorite alternatives to YouTube for teachers and students. Unfortunately, their business model seems to have shifted over the years and appears to be now focused solely on selling pricey subscriptions to schools and other institutions. I surmise that because late last week I received an email from Boclips announcing that they were discontinuing Boclips for Teachers which was the way that individual teachers could use the videos in the Boclips library. 

If you've been using Boclips for Teachers, you probably already know that much of the content that is on Boclips can also be found on YouTube. And if you were using Boclips simply to avoid the distractions associated with YouTube, you should try one of these distraction-free ways to use YouTube in your classroom

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Best of 2022 So Far - Custom USGS Maps

I'm taking the weekend off. While I'm gone I'll be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year so far. 

Earlier this year I highlighted the galleries of free to use and re-use media that the USGS hosts. Earlier this week I was back on the USGS site looking in those galleries when I noticed something new to me. That something is the USGS National Map Viewer

Don't the name fool you, the USGS National Map Viewer is more than just a place to look at a map. The USGS National Map Viewer lets you choose from a huge library of datasets to display on a map. You can view the source information for each dataset. Additionally, you can choose the base map on which the datasets are displayed. If that's not enough to get you to try the USGS National Map Viewer, I should also tell you that you can draw on the maps, measure on the maps, and print your customized map displays. Watch this short video to get an idea of what is possible with the USGS National Map Viewer



Applications for Education
The USGS National Map Viewer could be a great tool for students to use to make visual connections between the information provided in a dataset and the locations referenced in those datasets. For example, in the video above I applied the earthquake faults dataset to the map so that students can see where there is more or less seismic activity in the United States. On a related note, here's a nearly realtime USGS map of the latest seismic activity around the world.

Best of 2022 So Far - Brush Ninja Updates

I'm taking the weekend off. While I'm gone I'll be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year so far. 

Brush Ninja is a tool that I've been using and recommending for a few years now. Brush Ninja makes it incredibly easy to draw a series of images and quickly turn them into animated GIFs. In the fall of 2018 I used Brush Ninja with some middle school students to create animations to illustrate their understanding of forms of energy. You can read more about that activity right here

Brush Ninja is still a great tool for making animated GIFs. In fact, it has gotten better since I first started using it. You can now use custom backgrounds including background pictures that you take with your webcam. The animated GIF creator also now lets you change the size of the canvas you're drawing on. And there are now twice as many stickers available in the GIF creator than when I started using it. 

In addition to making animated GIFs, Brush Ninja now has three other tools. Those are an emoji art creator, a collage maker, and a comic book creator. The emoji art creator lets you click on a canvas to place any of hundreds of emojis into a pattern to create digital artwork. The collage maker is exactly what it sounds like, a tool for making photo collages. The comic book creator simply lets you upload a series of images to a comic book template that you can print and fold. 

An overview of all of the Brush Ninja tools is provided in this new video that I recorded on Wednesday. 


Applications for Education
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I've had students use Brush Ninja to make animations to illustrate their understanding of forms of energy. I longer explanation of that instance can be read here. An explanation of my initial introduction to the concepts behind sketching in the classroom is available here

One of the reasons that Brush Ninja continues to by one of my go-to tools is that it doesn't require students to register or sign-up for anything in order to use all of the available features. 

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Animals and Reading - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where I've spent most of the week on a staycation taking my kids to the Maine Wildlife Park, visiting York's Wild Kingdom, and relaxing while watching stages of the Tour de France (I was so hopeful that Neilson Powless would pull on the yellow jersey). This weekend we'll be hanging out at our favorite lake. I hope that you also have something fun planned for your weekend. 

In the middle of my staycation week I did host one webinar in my Practical Ed Tech summer series. Next week I'm hosting Video Projects for Almost Every Classroom. I hope you'll join me to learn how to plan, conduct, and evaluate five video projects that can be done in almost any K-12 classroom. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. A Good Place to Find Free Images and Music for Classroom Projects
2. Geo Artwork - A Fun Game About Geography and Art
3. Summer Reading, Notebooks, and Thinking
4. Best of 2022 So Far - Image Background Removers
5. Best of 2022 So Far - QRToon
6. Best of 2022 So Far - Mote
7. Best of 2022 So Far - Readlee

July and August Webinars!
Starting this week I'm hosting a series of seven Practical Ed Tech webinars. You can register for one or all seven of them. Read about them here or follow the links below to register.
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 41,000 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.

Best of 2022 So Far - Smithsonian Canvas

I'm taking the rest of the week off. While I'm gone I'll be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year so far. 

This week the Smithsonian Learning Lab released a new tool that could be very helpful to history and art teachers. The tool is simply called Canvas (no connection to the LMS of the same name). Smithsonian Learning Lab's Canvas tool lets you build collections of Smithsonian digitized artifacts and arrange the display of those artifacts however you like. 

The Canvas tool will work with new collections that you create in your Smithsonian Learning Lab account and it will work with your existing collections. In both cases you can select the layout for the collection, the size of the images, and the color scheme of the notes in your collection. You can also share your Canvas so that your students can view it. Complete directions for using the new Smithsonian Learning Lab Canvas can be found here. Directions for creating collections can be seen here



Applications for Education
In the announcement of the Canvas tool the Smithsonian Learning Lab provided a couple of uses for the new tool. Those uses include arranging artifacts for making side-by-side comparisons (great for art teachers/ students) and creating thematic collections that span multiple areas. This Canvas of postcards is a good example of arranging a collection thematically.