Sunday, February 5, 2023

How to Use SVG Files in PowerPoint

Last week a reader reached out to me for advice about how to design slides and PDFs so that the images in them didn't get grainy-looking when they were enlarged. The solution that immediately came to my mind was to use SVG files whenever possible instead of JPG or PNG files. SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphic. 

An SVG won't get grainy when it is enlarged for use on a slide or PDF. In the video that is embedded below I demonstrate how to use SVG files in PowerPoint and Canva. In the video I also show a couple of places to find SVG files. 

Video - How to Use SVG Files in PowerPoint

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Groundhogs, AI, and Cold - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where the it's -17F and windy as I write this blog post. Even by Maine standards it is exceptionally cold. How cold? The ski school where I teach on the weekends is closed today due to the wind and cold. Instead of skiing today we'll be doing some baking and some art projects. I'm looking forward to some warm chocolate chip cookies this afternoon after I ride my indoor training bike. I hope that you have something fun to do this weekend regardless of the weather. 

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Get Ready for Groundhog Day With These Short Lessons
2. The Makers of ChatGPT Have Launched a Tool to Detect Text Written With AI
3. GPTZero - Another Tool to Detect Writing Created by AI
4. 75 Google Documents Tutorials
5. How to Map Spreadsheet Data on Felt
6. 27 Google Drive Tips and Tricks
7. Three Things You Should Know How to Do With TinyURL

Workshops and eBooks
If you'd like to have me speak at your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) or fill out the form on this page. Book me for this school year and I'll include copies of my eBook for all of the teachers in your school. 

50 Tech Tuesday Tips!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook that I created with busy tech coaches, tech integration specialists, 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 44,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • I update my LinkedIn profile a time or two every week.
  • 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.

10 Tools for Gathering Real-time Feedback From Students

Chat tools and polling services provide good ways to hear from all of the students in a classroom. These kinds of tools, often referred to as backchannel tools, allow shy students to ask questions and share comments. For your more outspoken students who want to comment on everything, a feedback mechanism provides a good outlet for them too. Over the years I've used a variety of feedback tools in my classroom. This is my updated list of backchannel and informal assessment tools for gathering real-time feedback from students.

Classroomscreen is a service that lets you create a homescreen on which you can place reusable countdown timers, stopwatches, polls, noise meters, random name selectors, and more helpful classroom management tools. With the polling tool in Classroomscreen you can display a question for your students and have them respond with a multiple choice selection or by choosing a smiley face. See my screenshot below for more details. 

Yo Teach! lets you create online backchannel spaces to facilitate discussions. To get started on Yo Teach! simply go to the site and name your room. You can get started by just doing those two steps, but I would recommend taking a another minute to scroll down the Yo Teach! site to activate the admin function, the password function, and to select "avoid search."  The "avoid search" option will hide your room from search results so that people cannot find it without being given its direct URL. The password function lets you set a password that must be entered before students can participate in the chat. The admin features of Yo Teach! let you mute or remove students from a discussion, delete your room, and view statistic about the usage of your room. The admin function that reveals statistics will show the names of participants and how active they have been in your Yo Teach! room. Here's a video overview of Yo Teach!

ClassPoint. It's a great little tool that you can use to build interactive quizzes and polls into your PowerPoint presentations. You can also use it to annotate slides, create whiteboards on the fly, and share your annotations with students. In this short video I provide a demonstration of how ClassPoint works. The video shows a teacher's perspective and a student's perspective of how ClassPoint can be used in your classroom. 

Ziplet is a service for gathering feedback from your students in a variety of ways. The simplest way is to create an exit ticket by using one of the dozens of pre-written questions provided by Ziplet. Ziplet does not require students to have accounts to respond to exit ticket questions. Students can simply enter an exit ticket code that you give to them before they answer the question. What Ziplet offers that is somewhat unique is the option to respond directly to individual students even when they are responding to a group survey. The purpose of that feature is to make it easy to ask follow-up questions or to give encouragement to students based on their responses to a question posed to the whole group. Here's a short video about how to use Ziplet.

Plickers is a great student response system for classrooms that aren't 1:1 or for anyone who would rather not have to go through the trouble of trying to get all students onto the same webpage or chatroom at the beginning of a lesson. Plickers uses a teacher's iPad or Android tablet in conjunction with a series of QR codes to create a student response system. Students are given a set of QR codes on large index cards. The codes are assigned to students. Each code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. When the teacher is ready to collect data, he or she uses the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards to see a bar graph of responses. Click here for three ideas for using Plickers in your classroom.

Mentimeter is an audience response tool lets you create polls and quizzes for your audience to respond to during your presentations. Responses to open-ended poll questions can be displayed as a word cloud, but there isn't a true chat function in Mentimeter. You can create and display polls and quizzes from the Mentimeter website or you can use their PowerPoint Add-in to display your polls and quizzes from your slideshow. Your audience members can respond from their phones, tablets, or laptops.

The Q&A function built into the presentation mode of Google Slides is a good option for gathering questions from students when they are viewing slides that you or their classmates present. Likewise, posting a simple question in Google Classroom is a good way to quickly get a sense of what your students know about a topic before you begin a lesson or what they think was important in a lesson that you just taught. 

Poll Everywhere is a service that allows you to collect responses from an audience via text messaging. The free plan for K-12 educators provides selection of features and quantity of responses that is adequate for almost any classroom. One of the neat ways to display feedback gathered through Poll Everywhere is in word clouds. 

I've been using Padlet since it was called WallWisher back in 2009. Padlet enables me to have students not only share exit responses as text, but to also share exit responses as hyperlinks. For example, if my students have been working on research projects I will ask them to share a link to something they found that day along with an explanation of how it is relevant to their research.

Formative provides you with a place to create online assignments that your students can respond to in class or out of class. Assignments can be as simple as one question exit tickets like "what did you learn today?" to complex quizzes that use a combination of multiple choice, short answer, and true/false questions. You can assign point values to questions or leave them as ungraded questions. The best feature of Formative is the option to create "show your work" questions. "Show your work" questions enables students to draw responses and or upload pictures as responses to your questions. When you use this question type students will see a blank canvas directly below the question. On that canvas they can draw and or type responses.

Friday, February 3, 2023

How to Use Canva to Create Custom Valentine's Day Cards for Kids to Share

Now that Groundhog Day has come and gone, Valentine's Day is the next holiday that my daughters are looking forward to celebrating. Yesterday, both of them came home from school with letters from their teachers about Valentine's Day activities planned for their classrooms. The activities are mostly the exchange of little cards between classmates. I'm sure that some of you who teach pre-K and early elementary school grades have similar activities planned for your classroom. If you find that you need some templates for printing cards that your students can exchange, take a look at Canva

Canva has lots of templates that have a Valentine's Day theme. You can use one of those templates to create some printable cards. In this short video I demonstrate using a couple of different template formats to create Valentine's Day cards for kids. 

Take a look at this playlist for 58 more tutorials and ideas for using Canva in your classroom.

Two Lessons for a Wicked Cold Day

Over the next two days here in Maine we're expecting some of the coldest temperatures and windchills of the last 50 years. As we say in Maine, it's going to be wicked cold! It's going to be so cold that kids will stay inside for recess and we'll leave the water dripping in our faucets overnight to prevent pipes from freezing. If you're experiencing some wicked cold weather right now or you're just curious about it, I have a couple of short lessons to share with you. 

How windchill is calculated:
The windchill is expected to reach -35F tonight at my house. The following video explains how windchill is calculated. The video comes from Presh Talwalkar.


The psychology of extreme weather:
Television news reporters like to use the word "extreme" whenever we have a lot of rain or snow in a short amount of time. Is the weather really "extreme" or is that just our impression of it? The following Minute Earth video takes on the topic of how extreme weather affects our thinking about weather patterns in general. I found the video to be interesting from a psychology perspective. The video is embedded below.


Popular Posts