Sunday, August 21, 2022

DIY Tech Fixes for Teachers

The content of this post originally appeared on my other site, and subscribers to my newsletter got a copy of this poster sent to them as a high resolution PDF

Many of the problems that people experience with their computers and with web-based tools, can be remedied through simple fixes like running updates and rebooting. But if you’re not aware that these simple things can fix your problem, you might not try them and skip right to calling the IT help desk. To help you fix your own classroom tech problems, I’ve put together a short list of simple fixes.

The following list isn’t meant to be all-inclusive. It’s simply meant to address common problems and their solutions. If you’re a person who is called upon to help with classroom tech problems, feel free to forward this article to your staff.

1. Run updates. If you see that updates are available for your computer, run them. This will probably mean restarting your computer which can be inconvenient, but it’s not as inconvenient as having a computer that isn’t running well. Additionally, using a computer and software that is not updated can make it more vulnerable to security breaches.

2. Turn it off, count to ten, turn it on. Even if your computer is up to date, restarting it can fix glitches. This is particularly true when dealing with issues related to connecting to things like printers and projectors.

3. Cookies! Do you have cookies enabled? Many websites (web-based apps) require cookies in order to offer you the best possible experience and or full functionality. Similarly, you may need to clear cookies in order to clear information stored in your browser for a particular site. Here’s a short video on how to do that.

4. Close a few tabs and background apps. If your computer is running slower than you’d like, the problem might be that you have too many unnecessary things running in the background. If you’re not sure what’s running in the background on a Windows computer, press CTRL+ALT+Delete to open the task manager. On a Mac open the Activity Monitor to see what’s running in the background.

5. Enable pop-ups. It is not uncommon for web apps to use a pop-up window for account log-ins and for additional functionality like audio recording (WeVideo is one web app that comes to mind as an example). If the pop-up is blocked, you won’t be able to log-in or see those additional functions.

6. Are you on the right network? Many schools have different networks for students and staff. There may be different permissions granted to staff than to students on those networks. Additionally, broadcasting your screen on a wireless projector and screencasting from your computer to your students’ computers usually requires that you’re all on the same network.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Readlee Adds Support for More Languages

As I wrote last week, Readlee was one of my favorite new tools of the last school year. It's a tool that you can use to gain great insight into how your students read. Readlee does that through the use of AI that provides you and your students with feedback about things like how many words they've read, how many unique words they've read, how long they spent reading a passage, and much more. 

Last year Readlee only supported English. As of this week Readlee now supports Spanish, French, and German in addition to English. As they wrote in their announcement, the new language options in Readlee could be great for students who are learning a new language to get feedback on their pronunciation and fluency as well as motivate them to practice on a daily basis. 

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

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

Posters, Rhythm, and Joy - The Week in Review

Good morning from Salt Lake City International Airport where I'm waiting for a flight home. Yesterday, had the pleasure of speaking at Mountain Heights Academy where I gave a keynote titled Using Technology to Bring Joy Into Teaching. After more than two years of giving virtual presentations, it was great to give an in-person presentation again. 

Speaking of presentations, next week I'm hosting a free webinar titled Get to Know Your Students Through Tract. Learn more about it and register here. And on August 30th I'm hosting a webinar for everyone who has recently purchased a copy of my eBook, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Icebreakers and Exit Tickets - 30 Questions
2. Ten Popular Back-to-School Tutorials for Teachers
3. How to Design and Print Classroom Posters Using a Standard Printer
4. Free Email Etiquette Posters
5. Kikori Offers Free Morning Meeting Planners and SEL Lessons for All Ages!
6. An Old Story About Digital Badges and Why Kids Like Them
7. Rhythm Fit - New Lesson Plans from OPEN Phys Ed

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.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Three Google Workspace Updates to Note This Week

Just about every week Google makes updates to Google Workspace. Some only affect administrators of Google Workspace domains while others affect all end-users of Google Workspace products. This week there were three Google Workspace updates that teachers and students should note. 

More Accessibility Controls
People who use screen readers, magnifiers, and braille now have more control over the accessibility settings for Google Workspace products. Now you can set different accessibility options for Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings. What this means is that the settings you apply to Docs won't automatically apply to Slides, Sheets, and Drawings. Read more about this update right here.

To learn more about accessibility settings in Google Workspace products, read this blog post and watch the videos within it. And to learn about accessibility settings in Chrome, read this post and watch the videos within it.

Social Links in Google Sites
This update simply makes something you've always been able to do just a little bit easier. In the insert menu in Google Sites there is now an option labeled "social links." You can use this option to insert links to your social media accounts and have those links display little social media icons. This is something that was always possible to do with icons and links, it's now just a little easier. Take a look at Google's announcement about this feature to see an animated GIF of the process of adding social links to your Google Site.

Assign Tasks in Google Docs
Earlier this year Google added project management templates and to-do lists as options in Google Docs. Now when you create a task in one of those templates or lists, it's assigned to you and or your collaborators as Tasks that appear in the sidebar of Google Docs (and any other Google Workspace tools you use). Read this blog post to learn more and see an animated GIF of this new feature.

Free Webinar - Get to Know Your Students Through Tract

Last year, Tract emerged as one of my favorite new edtech companies. Backed and co-founded by education pioneer Esther Wojcicki, the start-up enables busy teachers to transform what they teach in the classroom into interactive and fun educational projects created and led by kids. With Tract, students sharpen their critical thinking skills and solve real-world problems as they learn, teach, create, and share their own multimedia content.

Join me on Wednesday, August 24th at 3pm ET for a free webinar in which we’ll dive into Tract’s new collection of turnkey project guides so you can kick off the school year with an enriching, educational experience that supports project-based learning, Genius Hour, social and emotional learning, GATE, and more.

In the webinar, I’ll be joined by Tract CEO, Ari Memar, who will tackle any and all questions that you may have about Tract’s mission, the platform, and the steps they take to protect students’ privacy.

Register here to join me for the live webinar on August 24th at 3pm ET.

It will be recorded for those who cannot attend the live session. The recording will be emailed to everyone who registers for this free webinar.

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