Noticias em eLiteracias

🔒
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Five Interesting Ways to Use Screencastify in Your Classroom

5 de Agosto de 2022, 10:20
A couple of days ago I wrote a short post about the changes to Screencastify's free plan. At the end of that post I included some ideas for using Screencastify in your classroom. If you missed that short list, here are the ideas in more detail. 

Add Interactive Questions Into Your Videos
Adding interactive questions into your instructional videos is a great way to make sure that students actually watch your lesson all the way through. It's also a good way to determine if you need to re-teach something or alter your explanation of a concept. You can do that by looking to see if there is a pattern to the answers your students choose while watching your video. Here's a demo of how to use Screencastify to add questions into your videos.
 


Blur Faces and Objects in Your Videos
The option to blur things in your videos is a great way to protect your and your students' privacy when publishing a video. Besides blurring faces you may also want to blur names or email addresses if they appear in a screencast video. Watch this video to learn more.



Comment on Google Docs
The process of using Screencastify and Google Keep to create a video comment bank for Google Docs is fairly straight-forward. First, record your short video comments or short lesson with Screencastify. Second, get the "share" link from Screencastify. Third, create a note in Google Keep that contains the link to the video (I recommend giving the notes easy-to-remember names and labels). Finally, whenever you need the video link just open Google Keep in the sidebar of the Google Doc you're viewing and copy the video link from the Google Keep into your comment. Watch this video for a demonstration of the whole process.



Make a Common Craft-style Video
A little more than decade ago Common Craft created a whole new style of explantory video. You and your students can make your own videos in that simple style by using a screencasting tool like Screencastify and Google Slides. Watch this video to see how that's done.



Record a Narrated Google Earth Tour in Your Web Browser
The web version of Google Earth doesn't have the same tour recording tools that are available in Google Earth Pro. The solution to that problem is to use a tool like Screencastify to record your tour. Watch this video to see how you can do that.

Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Google Search Tools Students Often Overlook

5 de Agosto de 2022, 09:54
The default action for students to take when given a research task is to turn to Google. Unfortunately, many students won't venture much beyond the first couple of pages of Google.com results pages before declaring, "I can't find anything about this." But as Dan Russell reminds us in The Joy of Search, good search often requires the use of multiple tools. To that end, Google offers search tools beyond just Google.com. Unfortunately, students won't use those tools unless they know that those tools exist and how to use them. Here are some of the Google search tools that students often overlook. 

Google Books helps students locate and search inside books without having to track down a physical copy of each book that they are interested in reading. If students do want a physical copy of a book, Google Books can help them find a local library that has a copy of the book they desire. Those features of Google Books and more are demonstrated in my new video Five Things Students Should Know About Google Books


Google Dataset Search is a search tool that is designed to help users locate publicly available datasets. This isn't a tool for searching within the datasets, it's a tool for finding datasets. For example, if you're doing research on earthquakes and want to find some datasets to analyze, Google Dataset Search will help you locate datasets that you could then open and or download to analyze. Watch the following short video to see how to use Google Dataset Search



Google Scholar is probably best known as a search tool for locating peer-reviewed, academic papers. It can also be used to locate patent filings and to locate court cases. Those features and more are demonstrated in the following tutorials.

Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

How to Create a Badge Tracker in Google Sheets

4 de Agosto de 2022, 10:00
A few days ago a reader reached out to me with a question about creating a badge tracking system to keep track of students' progress toward various goals. While there are quite a few companies that offer badges as part of their systems, ClassDojo comes to mind, she was looking for something that was a little more independent and customizable. My suggestion was to try using the Badge Tracker Google Sheets template from Flippity

Flippity's Badge Tracker template lets you create a customized badge system. You can add in your own badge designs and set your own badge goals. It can be used to award complete badges and partial badges to students. 

Watch my short video that is embedded below to learn how to use Google Sheets to create your own badge tracker

Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Short Lessons on Centripetal Force and Tea Cups

4 de Agosto de 2022, 09:30
Last week I took my older daughter to Storyland to ride the roller coaster as many times as she wanted to. Today, I'm taking my younger daughter for a daddy-daughter day at Storyland. Her favorite rides are the Flying Dutch Shoes, Alice's Tea Cups, and the Cuckoo Clockenspiel. In other words, she likes to spin around and feel the effects of centripetal force. 

Thinking about those spinning rides prompted me to look for some concise explanations of centripetal force. Here are a few resources that I found that could be helpful to students. 

CK-12 offers a couple of interactive simulations and lessons about centripetal force. Students can use these on their own or as part of a larger lesson that you lead. 

Planet Nutshell published a concise, animated explanation of centripetal force. You can watch it here or as embedded below. 



Here's a student-produced video addressing centripetal force in the context of "the tea cup problem." Jump to the two minute mark to see how he enlists the help of his brother to create the explanation.


Finally, PhET offers lots of lessons and interactives to help students understand various forces in physics. Make sure you look at their list whenever you need help explaining a physics concept to students. 
Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Significant Changes to Screencastify's Free Plan

3 de Agosto de 2022, 15:49
Screencastify is a versatile screencast recording tool that I've used over the years to create many kinds of instructional videos including Common Craft-style videos and virtual tours. As I write this blog post, I still prefer Screencastify to the new built-in recording option in Chromebooks. That said, it should be noted that Screencastify has just introduced some significant changes to their free plan. 

Here's What's Changing in Screencastify

The new free version of Screencastify increases the recording time for your videos from five minutes to thirty minutes. That's a huge change! The trade-off is that you now can only store ten videos in your free Screencastify account. That's also a huge change! The previous free version allowed unlimited videos as long as they were under the five minute limit. You can still export all of your videos as MP4 files. So if you find that you bump up against the ten video limit, you can export one or delete one to get back under that limit. 

Ways to Use Screencastify in Your Classroom

Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

How to Use Virtual Backgrounds in Microsoft Flip

3 de Agosto de 2022, 15:19
Virtual backgrounds and background blurring are features of Microsoft Flip that can be helpful to you and your students in a few ways. First, virtual backgrounds and blurring are useful in protecting student privacy when they are recording at home or anywhere else outside of your classroom. Second, you can use virtual backgrounds as a teaching aid (see my video below for more about that). Third, virtual backgrounds are just fun and provide a nice way for you and your students to express a little personality. 

In the brief video that is embedded below I demonstrate how to use virtual backgrounds and how to blur backgrounds in Microsoft Flip videos


Learn more about Microsoft Flip in the following videos:
Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

How to Convert Word Documents and PDFs Into Microsoft Forms

3 de Agosto de 2022, 12:20
There are many little features of Microsoft Forms that shouldn't be overlooked. And there is a new big feature of Microsoft Forms that definitely shouldn't be overlooked. That feature is the ability to import Word documents and PDFs into Microsoft Forms. 

The import feature in Microsoft Forms makes it possible to quickly take a quiz that you've written in Word and have it automatically turned into a quiz that students can complete in Microsoft Forms. Likewise, you can do the same with a quiz that you have in a PDF. This feature works with quizzes that are written in multiple choice, true/false, and short answer format. 

Watch my video that is embedded below to learn how to convert Word documents into quizzes Microsoft Forms



Applications for Education
If you, like me, have quizzes or tests that you wrote years ago before Microsoft Forms and Google Forms existed, this new import feature in Microsoft Forms could be a huge time-saver!
Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Google Classroom Now Has Add-ons - For Some Schools

2 de Agosto de 2022, 11:37
Yesterday afternoon Google made an announcement that had some teachers on Twitter buzzing. That announcement was that Google Classroom now has add-ons for teachers to use. Those add-ons are supposed to make it easier to access popular tools like EdPuzzle, WeVideo, and Pear Deck from Google Classroom. 

But before you get too excited, at the end of the announcement Google mentioned that add-ons are only available in schools that have Google Workspace for Education Plus edition or Teaching & Learning Upgrade. In other words, it's only available in the paid versions of Google Classroom

If you do have Google Workspace for Education Plus, the new add-ons look like they could be helpful to you. From a classroom management perspective, the add-ons should make it easier to get students signed into tools like EdPuzzle, WeVideo, Kahoot, and a dozen other popular educational technology tools. Here's a little video overview of Google Classroom add-ons. 



For those who will be introducing colleagues to Google Classroom add-ons, Google offers this slide presentation.
Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Search Tip - How to Find Published Google Workspaces Files

2 de Agosto de 2022, 09:39
Refining Google searches according to domain is one of my favorite ways to get students to look beyond the first couple of pages of their typical Google search queries. Students can specify site or domain in Google's advanced search menu to limit results to those that are only from top-level domains like .edu. They can also specify a subdomain like docs.google.com. In fact, that's a great way to find publicly shared Google Documents. It also works for finding publicly shared Google Slides, Forms, Sheets, and Drawings. 

How to Find Public Google Workspaces Files:

Watch the following short video to learn how to find public Google Workspace files or follow the steps outlined below.



  • Go to: https://www.google.com/advanced_search
  • In "site or domain" specify one of the following domains to locate public Google Docs, Slides, Forms, Sheets, or Drawings. 
    • docs.google.com
    • docs.google.com/presentation/
    • docs.google.com/forms/
    • docs.google.com/spreadsheets/
    • docs.google.com/drawings/

Applications for Education
Searching for publicly shared Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, and Drawings can be helpful to teachers and to students. For teachers, it can be a good way to find some ideas for lesson plans and assessments. For students, it can be a good way to find materials that have been published by teachers. Of course, it is worth noting that it's possible for students to find public documents, make a copy, and try to pass it off as their own.

Aside from finding Google Workspaces files, searching by site or domain is a good way to get students to look at websites and materials that they might not otherwise find because of where they rank in search results.
Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Blackbird Provides an Innovative Way for Anyone to Teach Coding

1 de Agosto de 2022, 20:45
Disclosure: Blackbird is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com.

A Around this time every year I get emails that go something like this, “Hi Richard, I have a new job this fall and I’ll be teaching coding for the first time. Do you have any resources you can share with me?” Usually these emails come from folks who aren’t teaching coding as their full-time jobs but will be doing it under the banner of a larger title like tech coach, STEM teacher, or Makerspace Coordinator. If this sounds like you, Blackbird is a resource that you need to bookmark right now.

Blackbird is a free platform designed to make it easier than ever to introduce students to coding principles even if you don’t have any prior experience teaching coding. I gave it a try with my students at the end of the 2020-21 school year and we liked it. Since then Blackbird has significantly expanded their offerings by partnering with schools and listening to feedback from teachers and students. As we head into the new school year, let’s take a look at how Blackbird works and how using it can be beneficial to your students.

What Makes Blackbird Different?
The first thing you need to know about Blackbird is that it is not a block editor, it’s a text editor. In other words, through Blackbird students learn to write code (specifically, JavaScript) instead of positioning blocks to create a program like they would do in something like Scratch.

If you’ve used block programming in the past and are now looking for something a bit more advanced, Blackbird is for you. That said, you don’t need to have any prior coding experience in order to use Blackbird. Blackbird will show you and your students everything you need to know in order to write code from scratch.

Lead Innovation at Your School!
The other aspect of Blackbird that makes it different from other learn-to-code services is that Blackbird is actively looking to partner with schools to develop curriculum that meets their needs. For example, take a look at this article about Blackbird’s work with Washington’s Bellevue School District where more than 400 middle school students learned to code physics simulations as an integrated part of their science classes. It was done that way to help students see computer science as a conduit to problem solving and not as just an elective course of study that stands alone.

The Blackbird Approach to Teaching Coding
Blackbird offers four curricula to choose from. Those are Games and Animations, Expressions and Equations, Magnet Rocket, and Ratios and Proportions. Whichever curriculum you choose, Blackbird works in the same manner. That manner is to start with a simple activity that makes a point or line appear on the screen. Students then see a split screen lesson that shows them some brief instructions on the left side of the screen and a code editor on the right side of the screen. It’s in the split screen environment that students write their first lines of code. See the screenshot below for a visual of what students see.
Students can work through the lessons at their own pace. There is a helpful “show me” button that students can click when they get stuck on a lesson. Clicking “show me” reveals the solution and its explanation. However, students still need to actually type the code in order to complete the lesson. And if you’re worried about students progressing too quickly and getting ahead of their classmates (or you), Blackbird’s workshop space gives students a space where they develop their own projects.

Blackbird makes it incredibly easy for you as a teacher to try all of the lessons that your students will do. All you have to do is sign into your teacher then click “learn” to see what your students will see. You can complete any and all of the lessons yourself and use all of the help tools like “show me” that your students have access to when they’re signed into Blackbird.

What if the kids know more than me?
When you’re teaching coding for the first time the fear that “the kids know more than me” is a very real one. Likewise, there can be a real fear that some kids will go way ahead of you and or their classmates. If that’s the case for you, consider what a teacher named Ashley at Bellevue School District had to say about these topics.

Ashley used Blackbird to teach coding as an integrated part of a science class. She didn’t have prior experience teaching coding and was worried that kids would know more than her and get way ahead of their classmates. She said having some students go ahead gave them leadership opportunities in her classroom. Additionally, she liked that it helped those kids build their confidence.

Ben, a middle school teacher in Portland, Oregon, saw using Blackbird in his classroom as an opportunity for his class to feel like they were building something together instead of just following his instructions. He also mentioned in an interview with Blackbird that he liked the fact that using Blackbird moved the focus of the class away from him and onto what the students were creating.

Finally, I’ll remind you that teaching coding (or anything that you’ve never taught before) is a good opportunity to model lifelong learning for your students.

How to Start Using Blackbird in Your Classroom
Getting started using Blackbird in your classroom was easy when I did it sixteen months ago. It’s even easier to get started for the 2022-23 school year. You can register for a free account using your Google account, Clever account, or your email address. Blackbird will let you sync your Google Classroom rosters in order to create classes for your students to join. Alternatively, you can manually create classes for your students to join. Either way, once they’ve joined your class they can start on the lessons for the Blackbird curriculum you’ve chosen to use. And as you would expect, you can view your students’ progress in your Blackbird account.

Watch the video embedded below for an overview of how to use Blackbird to teach coding in your classroom.

Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Elinor's Nature Adventure and Hands-on Learning Activities

1 de Agosto de 2022, 12:35
As I mentioned last week, my daughters have started to enjoy Elinor Wonders Why on PBS Kids. While they were watching an episode this morning I went on the PBS Kids website to search for some Elinor-themed learning activities. I wasn't disappointed with what I found. 

The parents page for Elinor Wonders Why is full of resources for activities for parents do with their children. Of course, the resources are also great for elementary school teachers who are looking for some hands-on activities. On the parents page you'll find directions for making Elinor-themed finger puppets, placemats, mini-libraries, costumes, and many other craft projects. You'll also find directions and templates for creating investigative activities like identifying insects and sorting "treasures" found in nature. 

PBS Kids also offers some online games for kids to play and learn from. Those games include the investigative style games Elinor's Nature Adventure, Pond Life, and Backyard Life. There are seven games in all. All of the games can be played without having to sign-up or sign into any kind of account. The games I tested worked equally well in the web browser on my laptop and on my iPad. 

Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

How to Make Whiteboard Videos in Microsoft Flip

1 de Agosto de 2022, 10:51
Last week's most popular post was Getting Started With Microsoft Flip. To start this week let's look at doing a little more than just a basic selfie video in Microsoft Flip. An additional way to use Microsoft Flip is to create whiteboard style videos. 

When you open the recording tool in Microsoft Flip press record and then open the options menu you'll find lots of tools for enhancing your videos. It's there that you'll also find an option for a whiteboard. You can use that virtual whiteboard when recording a video as a topic prompt and or when replying to a topic. 

Watch the following video to learn how to record a whiteboard video in Microsoft Flip



Applications for Education
You can use Microsoft Flip's whiteboard video tools to create an instructional video for your students to watch. But having students make videos can be a great way to learn what they know about a topic and how they think about a topic. Here's a list of 25 topics for students to create whiteboard videos about.
Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

July's Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers

31 de Julho de 2022, 23:07
The sun is setting on what turned out to be a great last day of July. I spent the last day of the month hanging out at the lake with my kids and going for a little bike ride. I hope that you ended the month in a similarly relaxing way. I say that because, to me, the switch from July to August always feels like mental switch to back-to-school season. 

As I do at the end of every month, I've taken a look through my Google Analytics account to find the most popular posts of the month. Take a look below and see if there's anything interesting that you missed during the month. 

1. Pictures as Math Problem Prompts
2. A Good Place to Find Free Images and Music for Classroom Projects
3. Try the Fact Check Explorer
4. Geo Artwork - A Fun Game About Geography and Art
5. A Great Place to Find Free Sound Effects
6. Reminder - Two-Factor Authentication Saves Frustration
7. Five Google Forms Features Overlooked by New Users
8. Getting Started With Microsoft Flip
9. Five Ideas for Classroom Apps
10. Best of 2022 So Far - Image Background Removers

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!

August Webinars!
This summer I'm hosting a series of Practical Ed Tech webinars. There are two left in the series. You learn more and register through the links below.
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 FreeTech4Teachers.com. 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.

Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Five Good Resources for Learning About Airplanes and Airlines

31 de Julho de 2022, 10:36
We're planning a little trip this fall to visit some family that we haven't seen since before the start of the pandemic. When we told our daughters that we're going to fly they got very excited about it. We've now been answering questions about flying seemingly nonstop for a few days. Those conversations prompted me to compile this list of resources for teaching and learning about the science of flight. 

Turbulence: One of the Great Unsolved Mysteries of Physics is a TED-Ed lesson that explains what turbulence is and the forces that create it. The lesson explains that even though we typically associate turbulence with flying in airplanes, turbulence exists in many other places including oceans.


The Wright Brothers - The Invention of the Aerial Age offers timelines for teaching about the developments made by the Wright Brothers. Dig into the Interactive Experiments section of the timeline and you'll find Engineering the Wright WayEngineering the Wright Way offers interactive simulations in which students learn about wing design by joining the Wright Brothers for test flights in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

How Things Fly hosted by the Smithsonian features an interactive module in which students design their own airplanes. The activity starts with a simple and slow airplane that students have to modify until it reaches a target speed and altitude. As students modify the wings, fuselage, and engines of their airplanes they are given instant feedback on the effects of those modifications. In some cases the feedback includes the airplane crashing and the students having to start over again.

TED-Ed offers a lesson about breaking the sound barrier. The lesson is called The Sonic Boom Problem and it explains how a sonic boom is created and how math is used to predict the path of a sonic boom in the atmosphere. 



Here's some archival footage of Yeager's flight in the Bell X-1.

If you have ever wondered why airlines sell more tickets than they have seats on an airplane, the TED-Ed lesson Why Do Airlines Sell Too Many Tickets? is for you. In Why Do Airlines Sell Too Many Tickets? you can learn about the mathematics that airlines use to maximize the revenue that they can generate from each flight. That math includes calculating the probability that everyone who holds a ticket for a flight will actually show up for the flight. The way that probability is calculated is explained in the video. Finally, the lesson asks students to consider the ethics of overbooking flights. Watch the video below or go here to see the entire lesson.

Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

A Great Place to Find Lesson Plan Ideas

30 de Julho de 2022, 10:37
Disclosure: TARA is currently an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com.

Earlier this week I published a lengthy piece about a new tool called TARA and how it can help you save time this fall. My favorite of all the features in TARA is the strategy resource bank that is available to any teacher who wants to use it. In the strategy resource bank you'll find dozens of teaching strategies accompanied by free handouts to use in your classroom. 

In this short video I provide a demonstration of how to use TARA's strategy resource bank



Applications for Education
The resource bank is obviously a good resource for new teachers but it shouldn’t be overlooked by experienced teachers. When you feel like you’re stuck in a rut or your “old reliable” lesson plan isn’t clicking with kids anymore, browse through TARA’s resource bank for some inspiration for a new strategy to try.
Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Flip, Focus, and Blueberries - The Week in Review

30 de Julho de 2022, 09:54
Good morning from Maine where the sun is shining and it's going to be a great day to play outside. A couple of days ago I went on a bike ride and found a lot of wild Maine blueberries. So just like in Blueberries for Sal, this morning we're going back with our pails to pick some wild Maine blueberries. Hopefully, we get enough to save some to have in our pancakes throughout the winter. I hope that you have something equally fun to do this weekend. 

This week I hosted my Search Strategies Students Need to Know webinar. That was the fifth webinar in my summer series. Next week I'm hosting To Geography and Beyond With Google Earth and Maps. I hope you'll join me!

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Getting Started With Microsoft Flip
2. Two More Tools That Can Help Students Stay Focused on Online Tasks
3. Five Ways TARA Can Help You Save Time This Fall
4. PhET Virtual Workshops for Teachers
5. Double Rainbow Lessons!
6. Timelapse and Virtual Field Trip - The Great Salt Lake
7. How to Capture and Markup Web Pages in Microsoft Edge

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!

August Webinars!
This summer I'm hosting a series of Practical Ed Tech webinars. There are two left in the series. You learn more and register through the links below.
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 FreeTech4Teachers.com. 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.

Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Flap to the Future to Learn About Dinosaurs and Birds

29 de Julho de 2022, 13:38
As I mentioned yesterday, my daughters are currently obsessed with Elinor Wonders Why and the question in its theme song, "why do birds sing and how do they fly?" Answering the question about how birds fly led me to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and its online game called Flap to the Future

Flap to the Future is an online game through which students can learn about the evolution of animal flight. The game has four levels for students to progress through. They begin play as a small theropod dinosaur and end play as a futuristic flying animal. Along the way students will also play the game as a microraptor and as a robin. The game is played in a classic video game style of running or flying along a landscape while collecting points for advancement through the game. It's a bit like what you might see if the classic version of Mario Brothers replaced Mario and Luigi with dinosaurs and birds. 


Applications for Education

At first Flap to the Future grabbed my attention as a fun game for students to play to learn about bird flight. But the more I played it and the more I read about it I realized that it's could also be a fun way for students to learn about how dinosaurs and how scientists learn about dinosaurs.

If you play Flap to the Future and decide you really like it, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has free Flap to the Future posters that you can download and print to display in your classroom. 
Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

More Video Editing Features Coming to Chromebooks This Fall

29 de Julho de 2022, 10:02
Earlier this summer Google launched a new built-in screencasting tool for Chromebooks. This week Google announced that more video features will be added to Chromebooks in the fall. 

The new video editing features on Chromebooks will actually be found inside of Google Photos on Chromebooks (availability for other platforms seems to be coming later). These will be an update to the current video creation options available in Google Photos. The updated video editing tools in Google Photos will let you create a video from scratch by combining pictures and video clips that are stored in your Google Photos. There is also a new set of themes coming to the video editor that you'll be able to use to create videos. 

If the Google Photos video editing tools don't offer everything you need, it appears that you'll soon be able to add the LumaFusion app to your Chromebook for multitrack video editing. Whether or not that's better than using WeVideo, I can't say at this point. 

Here's the easiest way to record a screencast on your Chromebook



How to Create an Audio Slideshow Video in Google Photos

Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Roller Coaster Physics

28 de Julho de 2022, 14:47
Tomorrow I'm taking my oldest daughter to Storyland for a daddy-daughter hangout day before she starts Kindergarten in a few weeks. Her favorite ride is the Polar Coaster which is a roller coaster that is perfect for kids her age (and for 40-something dads who can't really handle big roller coasters anymore). 

Thinking about the Polar Coaster got me to look in my archives for some resources for teaching and learning about the physics of roller coasters. Unfortunately, everything that I wrote about the topic in the past is no longer available. Therefore, I compiled this new list of resources for teaching and learning about the physics of roller coasters. 

  • CK-12 has a lot of interactive simulations for physics and math concepts. One of those is this roller coaster simulator. The voiceover for the simulation is very robotic. The redeeming quality of CK-12's roller coaster simulation is that students can customize the size of the roller coaster to see how the changes they make impact the speed, the potential energy, the kinetic energy, and the heat generated by the roller coaster.  

  • PBS Learning Media offers a handful of resources for teaching and learning about the physics of roller coasters. Energy Transfer in a Roller Coaster is an interactive lesson designed for elementary and middle school students. Energy in a Roller Coaster is a simple interactive graphic that students can use to see how changes in a roller coaster design impact the speed of the roller coaster. Centripetal Force in Roller Coaster Loops is a short video that demonstrates why its not just the harness keeping your seat in a roller coaster. 

  • Teach Engineering offers a hands-on lesson plan for teaching about the physics of roller coasters. In the lesson students build and test model roller coasters to learn about the forces that affect the speed of roller coasters. 

  • How Roller Coasters Affect Your Body is a TED-Ed lesson that begins with the story of the first roller coaster in America and the injuries it caused to riders. The lesson then moves on to explain how the forces of a roller coaster can affect your body, how roller coaster designers account for those forces, and why roller coasters have gotten faster and safer over the years. 

Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Why Do Birds Sing?

28 de Julho de 2022, 13:21
My daughters have recently become obsessed with Elinor Wonders Why on PBS Kids. The theme song for the show includes the line, "Elinor wonders why, why do birds sing and how do they fly?" That line has been stuck in my head and playing on repeat for the last few days. So in a quest to answer Elinor's question about why birds sing I went back in my archives and found a couple of helpful explanation. 

Why do birds sing? And how do they learn the songs that they sing? The answers to those questions and more are revealed in a TED-Ed lesson titled How Do Birds Learn to Sing?


After learning how birds learn to sing, have your students explore The Wall of Birds interactive mural produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The mural features a variety of birds that when clicked on reveal information about that bird, audio of that bird's call, and a map of that bird's natural range.

Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

How to Capture and Markup Web Pages in Microsoft Edge

27 de Julho de 2022, 19:23
This afternoon a reader of my weekly newsletter kindly pointed out that Microsoft removed the annotation tool that was in earlier versions of Microsoft Edge. However, there is still a built-in web page capture tool in Microsoft Edge. And that tool does include some basic markup capabilities. 

In this new video I demonstrate how to capture and markup web pages in Microsoft Edge. 



Applications for Education
The capture and markup tool in Edge can be useful if you want to draw attention to a specific part of a web page for instructional purposes. For example, I might use it to highlight a portion of a news article that I'm discussing in a social studies class. I might also use it to point out design elements to students learning about web design.
Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Not Your Average High School Finance Lesson

27 de Julho de 2022, 18:50
Thanks to one of Gary Stager's recent LinkedIn posts I recently learned about an interesting high school investing and saving activity created by William Frey at Fryeburg Academy (just a few towns over from where I live). 

A Unit on Saving and Investing for High School Students appears to be created to coincide with the use of The Stock Market Game. In the unit students gather and compare data about financial then use that information in the construction of a portfolio. What's interesting about Mr. Frey's activity is that students will learn to use the Entity Framework in Wolfram's Knowledgebase to create and compile comparisons. (Take a look at this page for a demo of Wolfram's Knowledgebase for finance). 

Applications for Education
What makes Mr. Frey's activity outstanding is that it can be used to introduce students to programming concepts in the context of a real-world application (identifying and comparing publicly traded companies). This activity takes The Stock Market Game from manual analysis and speculation to programmatic selection. 

A Unit on Saving and Investing for High School Students is one of many projects featured on the Wolfram High School Summer Camp website. A couple of other projects that jumped out to me were Ranking US States by Flyoverness and Locate and Analyze Food Deserts in the United States
Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Getting Started With Microsoft Flip

26 de Julho de 2022, 18:19
Back in June Microsoft threw a big party to announce that they were rebranding Flipgrid. What was once called Flipgrid is now Microsoft Flip. Fortunately, not much else changed and all of my favorite Flipgrid features still work. That said, some people have already been asking me for tutorials about Microsoft Flip. That's why I created this new tutorial on getting started with Microsoft Flip

In Getting Started With Microsoft Flip you'll see:

  • How to create a Microsoft Flip group.
  • How to create a topic in a Microsoft Flip group.
  • How students can reply to topics in Microsoft Flip. 
  • How to give feedback to students in Microsoft Flip. 
Watch the video on my YouTube channel or as embedded below. 

Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Timelapse and Virtual Field Trip - The Great Salt Lake

26 de Julho de 2022, 15:27
This morning my attention was grabbed by a BBC video titled Utah's Great Salt Lake is Running Out of Water. It's a fascinating video about the conditions that have contributed to the Great Salt Lake shrinking by nearly two-thirds in this century. Spoiler alert: drought isn't the biggest contributor to the shrinkage. 

Watching the BBC's video about Great Salt Lake prompted me to do a little searching for more information about the lake and its ecosystem. That search led me to a few things worth sharing with students. 

In Google Earth you can view timelapse imagery of Great Salt Lake. In the desktop version of Google Earth you can view imagery dating back to the 1970s. In the web version of Google Earth you can view imagery dating back to the1980s. Both will let you see the shrinking shoreline of the lake over the last few decades. Here's a short Google-produced video of the timelapse imagery of Great Salt Lake. On a related note, here's how to find timelapse imagery in Google Earth.

Last year The Natural History Museum of Utah produced Virtual Field Trip - Great Salt Lake. This ten minute video that takes students from the origins of Great Salt Lake through today. Along the way students can learn about changes to the lake's water level and ecosystem. 



The Genetic Science Learning Center hosted by the University of Utah offers a handful of resources for helping students learn about the Great Salt Lake ecosystem. Those resources include an interactive food web, an interactive brine shrimp lifecycle display, and an interactive map of Great Salt Lake microenvironments.

On related notes, I'll be speaking in Salt Lake City in August. And if you'd like to learn more about using Google Earth in your classroom, join me on August 2nd for a webinar titled To Geography & Beyond With Google Earth and Google Maps
Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
✇ Free Technology for Teachers

Double Rainbow Lessons!

26 de Julho de 2022, 00:47
My daughters love rainbows. They have rainbow dresses, rainbow bracelets, rainbow stickers, and anything else that can have a rainbow on it. So they were super excited last week when we saw a double rainbow from our front porch! (You can look on my Instagram for better pictures of it than the one in this post). Their excitement and later questions about how rainbows are made prompted this post. If you have children in your life who are curious about how rainbows are made, the following two videos are for you. 

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.



Are you a tech coach or media specialist looking for some new ideas to share with your colleagues? If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook you need. You can get it right here.
❌