Saturday, July 30, 2022

Flip, Focus, and Blueberries - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and it's going to be a great day to play outside. A couple of days ago I went on a bike ride and found a lot of wild Maine blueberries. So just like in Blueberries for Sal, this morning we're going back with our pails to pick some wild Maine blueberries. Hopefully, we get enough to save some to have in our pancakes throughout the winter. I hope that you have something equally fun to do this weekend. 

This week I hosted my Search Strategies Students Need to Know webinar. That was the fifth webinar in my summer series. Next week I'm hosting To Geography and Beyond With Google Earth and Maps. I hope you'll join me!

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Getting Started With Microsoft Flip
2. Two More Tools That Can Help Students Stay Focused on Online Tasks
3. Five Ways TARA Can Help You Save Time This Fall
4. PhET Virtual Workshops for Teachers
5. Double Rainbow Lessons!
6. Timelapse and Virtual Field Trip - The Great Salt Lake
7. How to Capture and Markup Web Pages in Microsoft Edge

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!

August Webinars!
This summer I'm hosting a series of Practical Ed Tech webinars. There are two 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.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Flap to the Future to Learn About Dinosaurs and Birds

As I mentioned yesterday, my daughters are currently obsessed with Elinor Wonders Why and the question in its theme song, "why do birds sing and how do they fly?" Answering the question about how birds fly led me to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and its online game called Flap to the Future

Flap to the Future is an online game through which students can learn about the evolution of animal flight. The game has four levels for students to progress through. They begin play as a small theropod dinosaur and end play as a futuristic flying animal. Along the way students will also play the game as a microraptor and as a robin. The game is played in a classic video game style of running or flying along a landscape while collecting points for advancement through the game. It's a bit like what you might see if the classic version of Mario Brothers replaced Mario and Luigi with dinosaurs and birds. 

Applications for Education

At first Flap to the Future grabbed my attention as a fun game for students to play to learn about bird flight. But the more I played it and the more I read about it I realized that it's could also be a fun way for students to learn about how dinosaurs and how scientists learn about dinosaurs.

If you play Flap to the Future and decide you really like it, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has free Flap to the Future posters that you can download and print to display in your classroom. 

More Video Editing Features Coming to Chromebooks This Fall

Earlier this summer Google launched a new built-in screencasting tool for Chromebooks. This week Google announced that more video features will be added to Chromebooks in the fall. 

The new video editing features on Chromebooks will actually be found inside of Google Photos on Chromebooks (availability for other platforms seems to be coming later). These will be an update to the current video creation options available in Google Photos. The updated video editing tools in Google Photos will let you create a video from scratch by combining pictures and video clips that are stored in your Google Photos. There is also a new set of themes coming to the video editor that you'll be able to use to create videos. 

If the Google Photos video editing tools don't offer everything you need, it appears that you'll soon be able to add the LumaFusion app to your Chromebook for multitrack video editing. Whether or not that's better than using WeVideo, I can't say at this point. 

Here's the easiest way to record a screencast on your Chromebook

How to Create an Audio Slideshow Video in Google Photos

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Roller Coaster Physics

Tomorrow I'm taking my oldest daughter to Storyland for a daddy-daughter hangout day before she starts Kindergarten in a few weeks. Her favorite ride is the Polar Coaster which is a roller coaster that is perfect for kids her age (and for 40-something dads who can't really handle big roller coasters anymore). 

Thinking about the Polar Coaster got me to look in my archives for some resources for teaching and learning about the physics of roller coasters. Unfortunately, everything that I wrote about the topic in the past is no longer available. Therefore, I compiled this new list of resources for teaching and learning about the physics of roller coasters. 

  • CK-12 has a lot of interactive simulations for physics and math concepts. One of those is this roller coaster simulator. The voiceover for the simulation is very robotic. The redeeming quality of CK-12's roller coaster simulation is that students can customize the size of the roller coaster to see how the changes they make impact the speed, the potential energy, the kinetic energy, and the heat generated by the roller coaster.  

  • PBS Learning Media offers a handful of resources for teaching and learning about the physics of roller coasters. Energy Transfer in a Roller Coaster is an interactive lesson designed for elementary and middle school students. Energy in a Roller Coaster is a simple interactive graphic that students can use to see how changes in a roller coaster design impact the speed of the roller coaster. Centripetal Force in Roller Coaster Loops is a short video that demonstrates why its not just the harness keeping your seat in a roller coaster. 

  • Teach Engineering offers a hands-on lesson plan for teaching about the physics of roller coasters. In the lesson students build and test model roller coasters to learn about the forces that affect the speed of roller coasters. 

  • How Roller Coasters Affect Your Body is a TED-Ed lesson that begins with the story of the first roller coaster in America and the injuries it caused to riders. The lesson then moves on to explain how the forces of a roller coaster can affect your body, how roller coaster designers account for those forces, and why roller coasters have gotten faster and safer over the years. 

Why Do Birds Sing?

My daughters have recently become obsessed with Elinor Wonders Why on PBS Kids. The theme song for the show includes the line, "Elinor wonders why, why do birds sing and how do they fly?" That line has been stuck in my head and playing on repeat for the last few days. So in a quest to answer Elinor's question about why birds sing I went back in my archives and found a couple of helpful explanation. 

Why do birds sing? And how do they learn the songs that they sing? The answers to those questions and more are revealed in a TED-Ed lesson titled How Do Birds Learn to Sing?

After learning how birds learn to sing, have your students explore The Wall of Birds interactive mural produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The mural features a variety of birds that when clicked on reveal information about that bird, audio of that bird's call, and a map of that bird's natural range.

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