Monday, August 15, 2022

Book Creator Now Offers Audio, Video, and Text Commenting

Last week Book Creator introduced a great new feature just in time for the start of the new school year. That feature is the option to add video, audio, text, and emoji comments to students' books. The new feature is still in beta, but you can try it right now. You can add comments to any page within books you've created or books that your students have created in your class library. 

Watch my short video that is embedded below to see how easy it is to use the new commenting feature in Book Creator. 

Applications for Education
The new commenting feature in Book Creator should make it easier than ever to give students feedback on their work in the way that works best for you and for them. It could also be a great tool for student to use for peer-editing.

Learn more about Book Creator in the following blog posts:

Kikori Offers Free Morning Meeting Planners and SEL Lessons for All Ages!

Disclosure: Kikori is currently an advertiser on

Kikori is an app and website that I first reviewed back in March shortly after its initial public launch. Since then it has become a popular resource for teachers looking for social emotional learning (SEL) lessons and activities for students of all ages.The free monthly SEL activity calendars, like this one for August, is one of the things that has made Kikori popular.

Building on the popularity of their monthly SEL calendars, Kikori is offering free morning meeting and advisory meeting planners for the start of the new school year. The Morning Meeting planner is designed for use in elementary school classrooms. The Advisory Meeting planner was created for middle school and high school use. Both planners are aligned to CASEL Social Emotional Learning Standards, 21st Century Skills and Sustainable Development Skills. 

Sign-up for a free Kikori account and you’ll have access to both Kikori planners in the mobile and desktop versions of the Kikori app. The planners will appear in your account once you've created a free Kikori account. If you already have a Kikori account, you should be able to see the planners now. 

How to use Kikori’s Morning Meeting and Advisory planners.
The Morning Meeting and Advisory Meeting planners use the same format with slight differences in the recommended activities between the two. The format is to list a National “X” Day like National Relaxation Day and theme for the day like Mindful Monday or Wellness Wednesday. The planner then lists SEL activities that you can do with your students. The activities for this month are:
  • Greeting activity
  • Sharing or Acknowledging Activity
  • Special Day Activity (i.e. National Never Give Up Day!)
  • Morning Message or Announcement
  • Themed Activity!
Finding the details for those activities is easy because they are all listed and linked under “August SEL Calendar” in the Kikori app. See the screenshot below for an overview of the Morning Meeting Planner for this week.
In the Kikori app you can find details for all of the activities listed in the Morning Meeting and Advisory Meeting planners. When you click on an activity’s title in the app you will find details about the purpose of the activity, how to prepare for the activity, a list of materials you might need (if applicable), and suggestions for variations on the activity. My screenshot below shows part of the details page for the Neighbors Greeting activity on today’s Morning Meeting planner.
Why I Like Kikori's Advisory Meeting Planner
There are some things that I feel like I’m good at in the classroom. However, running advisory meetings has always been a challenge for me unless I had a plan going into the meetings (I attribute that to my penchant for going off on tangents). Kikori’s new Advisory Meeting planner is perfect for people like me who need a plan and focus for meetings that aren’t a part of a traditional subject area curriculum. 
How to Access and Use Kikori
Kikori is available to use in your web browser, as a free iOS app, and as a free Android app. Watch my short video below for any overview of Kikori and the SEL calendar.

More Planners for September!
In September all teachers who download Kikori's August Planners will receive a unique September Morning Meeting or Advisory Planner for PK-K, grades 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, middle school and high school. So if school isn’t in session for you right now, download the August planner anyway so that you can get the September planners.

Discounts for Upgrades
Kikori operates on a freemium model. Everything that I’ve mentioned in this blog post is available to you for free. If you want to access everything that Kikori offers, you can upgrade to a premium account. Use the code BACK2SCHOOL10 for 10% off until Sept. 30th.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Icebreakers and Exit Tickets - 30 Questions

This post is a combination of my most recent Practical Ed Tech Newsletter and one that I published last fall. Whether you're using an online platform to conduct icebreakers and exit ticket activities or you're just reading the questions aloud to your class (AKA the Old Fashioned Way), I hope these help. 

Icebreaker Questions
1. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?
2. Where would you go if I gave you a free plane ticket today?
3. Tell a story about the third picture in your phone.
4. Do you put your shoes on in the same order every day?
5. What's the best way to start your day?
6. Coffee or tea?
7. Ice cream or popsicle?
8. Football or soccer?
9. Right handed or left handed?
10. Who was the last person you talked to before coming into this room?
11. Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible?
12. What did you do for fun last Saturday?
13. Would you rather fly or drive 1,000 miles?
14. How many countries can you name?
15. What's the best way to get to Carnegie Hall?

Exit Ticket Questions
1. How would you describe today’s lesson to a classmate who was absent?
2. What’s a new-to-you word or term you heard today?
3. What’s one thing you’d change about today’s lesson?
4. How did today’s lesson make you feel?
5. How well do you think you’d do if we had a quiz next week?
6. What was your favorite part of today’s lesson?
7. What surprised you about today’s class?
8. What’s something you wish was different in class?
9. What’s one question you’d put on a quiz about today’s lesson?
10. How would you help a classmate who didn’t understand today’s lesson?
11. What’s one thing you’d like to learn more about?
12. What was the easiest part of today’s class?
13. How did today’s lesson fit with the one before it?
14. What do you think the next lesson will be about?
15. What was the hardest part of today’s class?

New Readlee Features for the New School Year

Readlee was one of my favorite new tools in the last school year. The basic concept of Readlee is your students complete assignments by reading to their computers then Readlee uses artificial intelligence to provide you and your students will feedback on their reading. For the new school year Readlee has added some new features. 

The biggest update to Readlee for the 2022-23 school year is the addition of a Free Read option. This means that instead of you having to assign something to students to read, they pick what they want to read. When students use the Free Read option they can read anything from an article they've found online to a passage from Adventure According to Humphrey or a classic work like The Grapes of Wrath. The Free Read option still provides you and your students with information about how many words were read, time spent reading, reading speed, and unique words read. And passages read in a Free Read count toward another of Readlee's new features, Streaks. 

Streaks is a new feature in Readlee that simply keeps track of how many days in a row a student has done any reading in Readlee. A little flame icon appear next to their names and avatars in their Readlee accounts to show students how long their current streak is. A little timer icon warns them when they're in danger of losing a streak. 

The third update to Readlee is a new option to customize student avatars. Rather than just seeing initials in a little box or circle, students now have a customizable little avatars in their Readlee accounts. See my screenshot above for an example of an avatar and a streak. 

Watch the video embedded below for an overview of the new Readlee features

Watch the video embedded below of a complete overview of how Readlee works from a teacher's perspective and from a student's perspective

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Airplanes, Screens, and Search - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and cool breeze is blowing while I drink my morning coffee. It was a long week and I'm going to savor one of the last weekends of the summer by spending today exploring a little beach with my little family. I hope that you also have a coffee in your favorite mug instead of travel mug, go for a walk in the woods, or do something equally fun and relaxing this weekend. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Five Good Resources for Learning About Airplanes and Airlines
2. How to Quickly Broadcast Your Screen to Your Students' Screens
3. Five Interesting Ways to Use Screencastify in Your Classroom
4. Google Search Tools Students Often Overlook
5. Lessons on Compound Interest, Rent, and Mittens
6. PrepFactory’s New Online Algebra Program Features 100 Interactive Lessons
7. Blackbird Provides a Great Environment for Teaching Coding

I'll Come to Your School!
Due to the pandemic, for the last two years all of my work with schools has been remote. This year I'm back to offering in-person workshops and presentations. If you'd like me to come to your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) or fill out the form on this page

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!

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.

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