Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Back to School - The Month in Review

The sun has set on the last day of August. Nearly every school in my area is now back in session. And those few that aren't in session will be next week. So while calendar says that autumn doesn't start for a few more weeks, it sure feels like fall around here. I hope that you have a great start to the new school year!

As I do at the end of every month, I've compiled a list of the most popular posts of the last month. Take a look and see if there is something interesting that can help you in the new school year. 

These were the most popular posts in August:
1. Ten Popular Back-to-School Tutorials for Teachers
2. Five Good Resources for Learning About Airplanes and Airlines
3. Icebreakers and Exit Tickets - 30 Questions
4. How to Quickly Broadcast Your Screen to Your Students' Screens
5. Google Classroom Now Has Add-ons - For Some Schools
6. Blackbird Provides an Innovative Way for Anyone to Teach Coding
7. Try Canva's New Whiteboard Templates With Timers
8. Worldle Daily - A Street View Game
9. How to Design and Print Classroom Posters Using a Standard Printer
10. Significant Changes to Screencastify's Free Plan

I'll Come You!
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. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Quizalize Games - Turn Any Quiz Into an Epic Game

Disclosure: Quizalize is an advertiser on

Quizalize is a great teaching tool that I’ve used and written about since 2015 when it differentiated itself from the market by being the first classroom quiz game tool that offered an option to have your students play your quiz game as an in-classroom group activity or at-home activity. Today, Quizalize launched another new feature that is useful, exciting, and different from what other classroom quiz platforms offer. That new feature is called Quizalize Games. Quizalize Games let you take any of your quizzes and quickly turn them into video games!

Quizalize now offers six games in addition to the standard quiz game format. Those games are The Adventures of Kleo the Koala, Battlerzz, Bearzz, Hoopzz, First to the Flag, and Rockzz. The games follow the format of some classic arcade games like Zelda and Asteroids. You can preview the games here. All of the games are available to all teachers who have a free Quizalize account. By the way, if you haven’t signed into your Quizalize account in a while, you’ll also find an updated icebreaker game available to you.

The new Quizalize games can be played in single player mode, player vs. player mode, team vs. team mode, and classroom vs. computer mode.

Any Quiz Can Become a Quizalize Game
Creating a game in Quizalize has never been easier. The best part is that one quiz can be used to create all of the games. In other words, one quiz can become six different games!

To create a game in Quizalize sign into your free account. Then either choose one of your existing quizzes or create a new one. Once you have chosen a quiz you then assign it as an activity for your class. Finally, just before giving the activity to your students you select the game format that you want to use. See my screenshot below for an example of what you’d see just before giving your students a Quizalize game to play.
After choosing your game you’ll see a game code appear on your screen. Give students that code so that they can join the game. Alternatively, you can use the “magic link” option to give your students a link to click and join the game (that’s a convenient option for joining via Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, or another LMS).
Watch or Play a Game Preview
You can preview all of the new games by watching the promotional videos on this page. You can also play previews of the games on that same page or by signing into your Quizalize account and clicking on the “play as a student” button that appears below every quiz.

Fun Games and Great Feedback!
The new Quizalize games add an additional element of fun to review activities. And as the games are based on the quizzes that you choose or create in your account, you can get a lot of information about your students’ knowledge and skills. Likewise, you can provide your students with some great feedback about their knowledge and skills.

When setting up a game in Quizalize you have options to give students immediate feedback on more than just whether they answered correctly. You can also provide them with video tutorials, PDFs, and links to websites to help them understand where they went wrong in answering the questions. You can set score ranges that determine which resources students see and whether they even see them at all. For example, if a student scores below 50% you can give them one set of resources while a student who scores between 50% and 75% will see a different set of resources.

Even if your students play the Quizalize games in team mode, you can still see how they did individually. The simplest way to do that is to download the spreadsheet of results that Quizalize provides. Other options include allowing Quizalize to group students according to scores and seeing which questions proved to be the most difficult. You can use that information yourself or turn on the differentiation mode in Quizalize that allows you to assign follow-up tasks to students based on their scores.

Bonus Characters!
If you already have a Quizalize account, you probably went and tried the new games before you got this far in this blog post. But just in case you need a little more incentive to try the games, you can get a bonus character for the new Battlerz game when you share the news about Quizalize games with your friends. Just head here to do that.

Get Started!
All of the existing features of Quizalize are still intact. The new games just build upon those features and provide a new element of fun for students. Watch the demo video below to learn more about the new Quizalize games!

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Tract Now Offers Guides for Project-based Learning

Disclosure: Tract is an advertiser on

Tract is an online platform for engaging students with fun, project-based learning activities. I’ve written about it quite a bit over the last year as it has grown in popularity. Part of the reason for its popularity is that it can be used in a variety of settings including Genius Hour and hybrid classrooms. Like all good edtech companies, Tract has listened to feedback from teachers and implemented their suggestions.

The latest update to Tract for the new school year is found in the form of project guides. Many teachers have asked for a bit more guidance on how to best utilize Tract. Tract’s response was to create comprehensive project guides for teachers.

Tract currently offers project guides for third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade projects. Project guides for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade are on the way. To get a better understanding of how Tract’s project guides are formatted, take a look at the project guide for Should Art Class Be Required? (link opens a Google Drive file).

Each of Tract’s project guides is curriculum-aligned and designed to help teachers easily integrate short videos from Tract’s library into fun learning activities for students. In the words of Tract’s marketing department, the goal is to “turn kids' media consumption into a launchpad for an enriching, educational experience that supports project-based learning, Genius Hour, social and emotional learning, GATE, and more.”

Get FREE access to Tract and their turnkey project guides by using the access code BYRNE at

Learn more about how to use Tract by watching - A Great Place to Find Online Enrichment Activities.

Spaces EDU Adds Easier Enrollment and Faster Sharing

Back in June Spaces announced a bunch of new features that they were working on getting ready for new school year. Those features are now available!

Faster Enrollment and Easier Activity Sharing
Nothing stops momentum in a classroom like having to go around to each student and say “click here” or respond to students saying “it won’t let me in.” That’s why Spaces has introduced new enrollment and sharing options.

There is now an option to generate QR codes for your students to scan to join your Spaces classroom account. Students simply scan a QR code and are enrolled in your class. Watch this short video to see how it works.

In Spaces you can create activities for your students. Students can view the activities by logging into Spaces. But that’s not the only way to share activities with your students. The easiest way for students to find activities is in the LMS that you’re using for your classes. Unique URLs are generated for each activity. You can post those activity URLs in your LMS. Additionally, Google Classroom users have the option to post directly to their Classrooms from their Spaces accounts. Take a look at this brief video to learn more about activity URLs and sharing.

Curriculum Standards, Goals, and Proficiency
Last fall Spaces added the option to tag student work with curriculum goals and or alignment to state standards. The best part of that for me was that Spaces made it super easy to find the standards and apply the tags to submitted work (watch my demo). Spaces is now expanding that capability to activities.

Now when you create an activity in Spaces you can tag it with the standards to which it aligns. The benefit of doing this is every artifact submission that a student makes for that activity is automatically tagged with the correct standard. This is helpful in showing students’ progress toward meeting standards. For a glimpse of a students’ view of activity completion, watch this brief video.

Speaking of progress toward meeting standards, in August Spaces will be rolling out proficiency scales. Proficiency scales will appear as color-coded labels that you can apply to your students’ submitted work in Spaces. Think of this as a quick way to tell students if their work meets a proficiency standard, needs more work, or if it exceeds expectations. Jump to the 27 second mark in this video to see Spaces proficiency standards in use.

Create a “Best of” Portfolio
One of the things that first drew me to Spaces was the ability to create individual, group, and whole class portfolios. But until now there wasn’t a way to quickly put the same submitted work into multiple portfolios. That has changed with the latest update to Spaces. Now you can quickly copy students’ work from a group or class portfolio into an individual portfolio. This makes it possible to do something like create a “best of” portfolio for students to share work that they have done in groups and done individually throughout the year.

A Few Short Lessons About Labor Day

This coming weekend is Labor Day Weekend in the United States and Canada. For most of us it is a three day weekend. It is the traditional "end of summer" in the minds of many of us. If you're planning to answer questions about Labor Day or teach any lessons about it, here are some short videos to add to your list of resources.

Why Do Americans and Canadians Celebrate Labor Day? is a TED-Ed Lesson about the origins of Labor Day. In addition to learning about the origin of Labor Day students can learn a bit about changes in labor regulations over time.

History of the Holidays is a series of videos from History. Each installment explains a different holiday. The Labor Day video is embedded below.

PBS Kids offers a short animated overview of the history of Labor Day. It's not nearly as detailed as the two videos I've listed above, but it's probably adequate for elementary school kids.

For more resources for teaching about Labor Day, take a look at this list compiled by Larry Ferlazzo.