Saturday, October 22, 2022

Geography, Monsters, and Drawings - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the sun is rising and it's a brisk 29F as I sip my dark roast coffee. It was a busy week here my little part of the world. We had two birthdays in my house, we all fought off little colds, and I announced a new course that I'm super excited about hosting in November

This weekend I have hours of leaf blowing and raking ahead of me. But I'll be sure to make time for riding bikes with my kids and taking our dogs for some walks in the woods. This is the best time of year to explore the Maine woods. I hope that you have an equally fun weekend ahead of you. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. GeoGeek AR - An Augmented Reality Geography Game
2. How to Catch Monsters - A Halloween Play Script
3. Five Google Workspace Tips That Can Make Your Day Better
4. C-SPAN Offers a Free Electoral College Poster
5. Halloween-themed Physical Education Lesson Plans
6. Five Ways QR Codes Can Be Helpful in Your School
7. Another Good Place to Find Free Drawings for Classroom Projects

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 43,000 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 Strava.
This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

TED-Ed Lessons With a Halloween Theme

Halloween is a little more than a week away. It is during the next week that a lot of students will be introduced to the work of Edgar Allan Poe. A TED-Ed lesson examines what made Poe's macabre works timeless classics. In Why Should You Read Edgar Allan Poe? students can learn about Poe's guiding principles for writing, the recurring themes of his work, and the personal factors in his life that contributed to his writing. Find the complete lesson here or watch the video as embedded below.

If your students are going to do some Halloween-themed writing, TED-Ed has a lesson titled How to Make Your Writing Suspenseful that could be helpful to them. The lesson is part of a larger TED-Ed playlist called The Writer's Workshop

Vampires: Folklore, Fantasy, and Fact is a TED-Ed lesson that explores the myth of vampires. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

Why Does the Road Crack? - Another Question from my Daughters

One of my favorite things to do these days is to ride bikes with my daughters. Sometimes I even record those rides on Strava because my older daughter now wants to keep track of how fast she can go down a little section of road in our neighborhood (current record 10.5mph). When we were riding earlier this week she complained about the cracks in the pavement in one part of our neighborhood and asked, "why does the road crack?" 

I did my best to answer my daughter's question of "why does the road crack?" by explaining that there is a lot of water in the ground in our area. When that water freezes it expands and pushes up on the pavement which then makes it crack. She's six, so I'm not sure she quite got it even when I made the analogy to one of our clay garden pots cracking for the same reason last winter. 

As I almost always do when my daughters ask me a question that I haven't thought about in a long time, I turned to YouTube in search of a visual explanation of why roads crack in the winter. After a little searching I found this video from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Jump to the 1:14 mark in the video to see an old visual of what happens when wet soil freezes. 

This topic is a great one for an animated explanation. Student can use some simple animation tools to create an explanation of what happens when water and or soil freezes and pushes up against a fixed or rigid object. Register for my new Animated Explanations course to learn how to create and use animated explanations in your classroom.

Five Things Students Can Explain With Simple Animations

One of my all-time favorite tech coaching experiences was helping an eighth grade science class produce short animations to explain forms of energy. It was one of my favorite experiences for two reasons. First, the teacher came to me and said, “I’m sick of boring PowerPoints. Get them to do anything else.” Second, the kids really grabbed onto the project and were excited to work on it. In the end, everyone was happy with the project.

Creating simple animations to illustrate understanding of concepts isn’t limited to eighth grade science classes. It can be done by just about anyone in just about any context. That’s kind of the idea behind Dan Roam’s book The Back of the Napkin and it’s the idea behind my upcoming Making and Teaching With Animated Explanations course.

To give some ideas of how animated explanations might be used in your classroom, here are five things students can explain with simple animations.
  • Expansion and contraction of geopolitical borders over time.
  • Steps to solve real world math problems like calculating the height of a tree.
  • How plants grow from seeds.
  • Literary concepts like foreshadowing, personification, or paradox.
  • How satellites stay in orbit.

Click here to learn more about and register for Animated Explanations.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

You Should Write About Rainbows!

Today is my youngest daughter's 5th birthday! When I told her that I needed to do some writing this morning she said, "you should write about rainbows!" So that's what this post is all about (for the record, the writing that I had planned to do this morning was about some cool resources for Geography Awareness Week coming up in November). 

How to Make a Rainbow is a SciShow Kids video that I featured when it was released about six years ago. The video gives directions for a little activity in which kids can make rainbows appear on white paper by properly positioning a glass of water in front of ray of sunlight. The video then goes on to explain what makes rainbows appear outside. 

How Rainbows Form is a Physics Girl video that goes a bit beyond the basics that the SciShow Kids video covered. How Rainbows Form explains dispersion and refraction of light. The video also explains what causes the colors of the rainbow to appear in the order we see them. Finally, at the end of the video viewers learn what causes the appearance of a double rainbow.

How Rainbows Form and What Shape They Really Are is a short video from ABC Australia. The video explains how rainbows are made, but also explains why we only see part of rainbow and not the full circle of a rainbow. (By the way, I'm not related to the presenter any more than I'm related to lead singer of Talking Heads).