Sunday, July 24, 2022

Two More Tools That Can Help Students Stay Focused on Online Tasks

On Friday morning I shared a browser extension called BeTimeful that limits your access to social media sites during your working hours. As I wrote in that blog post, there are similar tools worth noting. Here's a short overview of some tools that can help students remove distractions and stay focused while working online.

StayFocusd is a Chrome extension that I've used for years whenever I feel like I'm falling into the bad habit of chasing rabbit holes on the internet. StayFocusd lets me specify the sites that I want to block from myself or limit my time spent viewing them. After specifying the sites and the amount of time I'll allow myself on them, a countdown timer appears whenever I view those sites. The timer resets every 24 hours.

Pomofocus is a task timer that is based on the Pomodoro method of getting things done. On Pomofocus I create a list of tasks then start the timer. Each task is allotted 25 minutes (you can adjust that). After 25 minutes there is a five minute break timer that automatically appears. After the break the next task timer appears.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Math, Sounds, and Baseball - The Week in Review

Good evening from Cooperstown, NY where my brother and I are attending David Ortiz's induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame tomorrow. We spent some of today attending a parade of Hall of Famers and earlier in the day I explored the area on my bike. Check out my Twitter or Instagram accounts for some pictures from the day. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope you're also doing something fun. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Pictures as Math Problem Prompts
2. A Great Place to Find Free Sound Effects
3. Custom Tables in Google Docs
4. New Text Formatting Options in Google Forms
5. Try the Fact Check Explorer
6. Create and Share Collections in Bing Maps
7. Arts, Culture, and Geography Games to Share in Google Classroom

50 Tech Tuesday Tips!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook that I created with busy tech coaches, tech integrators, and media specialists in mind. In it you'll find 50 ideas and tutorials that you can use as the basis of your own short PD sessions. Get a copy today!

July and August Webinars!
This summer I'm hosting a series of Practical Ed Tech webinars. There are three left in the series. You learn more and register through the links below.
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 42,000 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.

PhET Virtual Workshops for Teachers

PhET is one of my top resource recommendations for math and science teachers. PhET offers more than one hundred online, interactive simulations for teaching concepts in mathematics, physics, chemistry, earth science, and biology. Those simulations can be used on PhET's website and they can be embedded into your website for your students to use

If you're a math or science teacher who wants to take a deep dive into how to best utilize PhET's interactive simulations in your classroom, you may want to work through PhET's virtual workshops. The workshops include videos recorded at in-person PhET workshops along with practice activities and resource handouts for teachers. 

PhET offers a workshop specifically for math teachers who have computers for every student in their classroom. That workshop is roughly five hours long. There is another workshop that provides a comprehensive overview of everything that PhET offers and the ways in which the simulations can be used in your classroom. That workshop is roughly twenty-one hours long.

Friday, July 22, 2022

BeTimeful Hides Social Media Distractions

BeTimeful is a browser extension that is designed to hide social media distractions during your working hours. There are similar browser extensions that block your access to social media sites during working hours. What makes BeTimeful different is that instead of entirely blocking your access to social media sites, BeTimeful hides all distracting content like "related," "recommended," and "trending," content. What that means is you can post on social media with BeTimeful installed, but you can can't see anything other than your own updates. 

When you install BeTimeful you can set working hours for yourself (it imports your Google Calendar settings to do that). Outside of working hours BeTimeful won't hide or block anything. During working hours BeTimeful hides all social media distractions. 

BeTimeful can work in Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. It will work on your laptop, desktop, phone, and tablet. 

Watch this short video to see how BeTimeful works. 

Applications for Education
BeTimeful could be helpful to college or high school students who need a little help staying focused on their work while writing or researching.

Search Strategies Students Need to Know

The next webinar in my Practical Ed Tech summer series is Search Strategies Students Need to Know. This is the most popular webinar that I host every year and I'm hosting it next Wednesday at 11am ET. I’ve updated it with new activities you can do to help your students get beyond the first page of search results.  

If you have ever had a student say, "Google has nothing on this," this webinar is for you!

In the webinar you'll learn how to get your students to look beyond the first page of Google search results and dive deeper into the online research process.

Highlights of the webinar:
  • Creating search lessons.
  • Search strategies for all students.
  • Handouts to guide students through the search process.

Register here to join the live webinar on July 27th at 11am ET!

Recordings will be available for those who register in advance but cannot attend the live session.