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This past weekend we took our daughters to Living Shores Aquarium in Glen, New Hampshire. We all enjoyed learning about marine life and watching the otters play. My youngest daughter especially loved the touch tank in which little fish nibbled on her hand. My oldest daughter didn't like the touch tank as much as her sister, but she did find something she really enjoyed. That thing was a coloring station where she could color sea animals then see her drawings come to life on screen through the use of augmented reality. She ended up making seven drawings which filled the screen with seahorses, turtles, and fish that she colored. Each time her drawing came to life on the screen she jumped for joy! 

The technology that was in use at the aquarium was very similar to that found in QuiverVision. The concept of QuiverVision is that kids complete coloring sheets that become augmented reality objects when they are scanned with the QuiverVision iOS or Android app. 

Applications for Education
QuiverVision has been around for five or six years at this point. In fact, I mentioned it in this 2019 article about five directions for augmented reality in education. I was never particularly enthusiastic about it because at the end of the day it is still just a fancy coloring activity. That changed when I saw how excited my four year old daughter got about seeing her coloring pages come to life. It got her excited to learn more about marine animals. That excitement to learn more about something new is perhaps the best reason to try something like QuiverVision with students. 

Thanks to my awesome partner, Jess, for the pictures in this post.

On Sunday morning I was writing in a bit of a hurry and failed to notice a mistake in the title of my post about using the netstat command to see the connections a computer is making to external sites and devices. The mistake I made (I've since corrected it) was to use "they're" when I should have used "their." I know the difference and have taught the difference to students for as long as I can remember. That said, my mistake presented a good opportunity to dig up some short video lessons about the differences between "there," "their," and "they're" and when to use each one. 

Free School offers this short, to-the-point explanation of homophones. The video isn't going to win any awards for creativity, but it is effective in its delivery of the rules for using their, they're, and there. 

GCF Learn Free offers this 90 second video explanation of when to use there, they're, and their. The video uses little GI Joe characters to explain the correct use of each word. Judging by the YouTube comments below the video most people like the approach of the video but some don't like the use a military theme for the video.

Making videos about homophones can be a good way for students to learn and remember how to use them. On Next Vista for Learning you'll find this student-produced video explanation of the differences between their, there, and they're.

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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

Knowing just a few commands to use in the command terminal can be quite helpful in diagnosing problems with your computer and or the network that your computer is using. (Bonus, it's an easy way to make yourself look "super techy" in front of non-techy friends). One of those helpful commands is the Netstat command. 

The Netstat command will show you all of the connections that your computer is making to the Internet and to other devices on your local network. To run the Netstat command simply open your command terminal (on a Windows computer just type CMD into the search bar) then type "netstat" (without quotation marks) and hit enter. Give it time to run and you'll see all of the IP addresses to which your computer is connecting. 

This new video from PowerCert explains the Netstat command and variants that you can add to the command to learn even more about what your computer is connecting to. 

Applications for Education
The netstat command along with many other commands is one that my PC repair students and my Intro to Networking students learn early in the year as it is helpful in diagnosing problems. 

Using the netstat command can be helpful in showing all students how many connections their computers are making even when they don't realize it. Knowing what your computer is connecting to is an important part of building good cyber safety habits. So even if you don't make your students learn the command, knowing the command and showing it to students can be an eye-opener for them.
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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured graphic created by Richard Byrne using Canva. 

Connecto is the latest game template published by Flippity. The template lets you use Google Sheets to create a digital version of Connect Four in which students shave to correctly answer a series of questions to connect a line of grid spaces. I wrote about the game and how it's played last week. Since then I've had a few people ask for clarification on how the template and game work. That's what I explain in this new video

In Create a Connecto Game With Google Sheets I demonstrate how make a copy of Flippity's Connecto template, how to change the questions and answers in the game, and how to add your own custom markers to the game. I also explain a bit about how the game could be played as a team game in a classroom setting. 

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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite.

The Redwood National park is one of the natural wonders that I hope to share with my daughters in a few years. While the tall trees are the "stars of the show" there is much more to the redwood forest than just the trees. SciShow Kids recently released a series of videos that explain the redwood forest to kids. The first part of the series introduces kids to the redwood trees and what makes them grow so tall, the second part shows students the layers of the forest, and the third part highlights the animals of the redwood forest. 

Meet the Redwoods 

From the Ground to the Sky: The Layers of the Redwood Forest

Life in the Redwoods: Surprising Animals of the Redwood Forest

Applications for Education
All three of these videos could be useful as introductions to forest ecology. Before showing the videos to students I'd probably have them list the characteristics of the trees and forests with which they are familiar. Then after showing the videos I'd have students compare the characteristics of the redwood forest with those of the forests with which they're familiar. Finally, I'd ask them to think about the environmental conditions that affect the growth of plant life in both forests.

On a related note, the National Parks Service hosts a series of virtual tours of the redwoods forest. There is also some nice Google Street View imagery from within the park. 

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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.

Good morning from Maine where the sun is rising on what should be a nice summer Saturday. At this time last week I was riding my bike across the gravel roads of Emporia, Kansas for the Unbound Gravel 200. Today, will be a little less physically demanding. We're going to the Living Shores Aquarium to feed stingrays and learn all about marine life. It should be fun. I hope that you also have something fun planned for the weekend. 

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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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

This morning I saw an interesting Tweet from a company called Ziplet. The Tweet is what prompted me to write this blog post. Ziplet's Tweet this morning was an interesting exit ticket prompt. Here's the prompt:

"Imagine a classmate is absent from class today. How would you explain the lesson to him/her in 25 words or less?"

Ziplet is an online tool that lets you create an online classroom to post questions for your students to respond to with emojis, with words, or by selecting an answer choice. You can let your students respond anonymously or require them to identify themselves. Those features alone don't make Ziplet different from lots of similar services. 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.

Applications for Education
Ziplet fits in a gap between tools like Kahoot and Google Classroom. For that reason it could be a good tool for engaging students in discussions about assignments, course topics, or the general feeling of the class. Ziplet does offer a Google Classroom integration as well as an Office 365 integration. Students can respond to Ziplet prompts in the web browser on their computers or by using the free Ziplet mobile apps. 

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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. 

Last fall Google added options for blurring your background in Google Meet and using your own pictures as backgrounds in Google Meet. This week another background option was added to Google Meet. 

You can now use videos as virtual backgrounds in Google Meet. Right now the options are limited to just videos provided by Google. Hopefully, more options including uploading your own videos will be added in the future. The current video background options provided by Google are "classroom," "party," and "forest."

Applications for Education
This update isn't going to change the way that any of us use Google Meet for online instruction. That said, it is nice to have an option to break-up the routine of Google Meet meetings with a fun background choice. In the future, if Google allows us to upload our own videos to use as backgrounds we could us those videos in a virtual green screen environment in which the video plays behind us while we talk about what's displayed. I'm picturing that working much like the animated green screen backgrounds used by television meteorologists on morning news shows.

For those who haven't tried virtual backgrounds or blurred backgrounds in Google Meet, in the video below I demonstrate how to use both of those features.

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 CloudComputin and WayBetterSite. Featured image taken by Richard Byrne at Norway Lake in Norway, Maine. 

If you're like me and you still have another week or two until summer break, you might be looking for some resources to share with students and their parents to help prevent summer slide. In fact, a few readers emailed me this week looking for suggestions for math activities to share with parents of elementary school students. Here are five good places to find summer math activities for elementary school students.

MathGames.com
Don't let the name fool you, MathGames.com offers more than just a series of math practice games. You can find hundreds of worksheets to print for free on MathGames.com. Those are organized according to grade level.

There are plenty of games for students to play on the site too. You can find those by clicking on the "games" header in the site. If you do that, scroll down the page a few times to find the MathGames.com digital textbook which organizes the games according to topic.

CK-12 Elementary Math Resources
CK-12 offers a good collection of resources for elementary school math practice. The collection is organized by grade level (grades 1 through 5) and skill set. The resources include a mix of videos and online practice exercises. Students can review a video and then attempt the practice activities.

MathQuiz.io
MathQuiz.io is a math game developed by a student. It's a relatively simple site that presents you with a series of math problems to solve in your head then enter an answer. The problems are presented in sets of ten consecutive questions. You can play in an "easy" mode which is mostly simple addition, subtraction, and multiplication or you can plan in the "medium" mode which incorporates problems with fractions, division, and negative numbers. 

A Maths Dictionary for Kids
Jenny Eather's A Maths Dictionary for Kids has been one of my go-to math resources for many years. It students provides simple and clear definitions of math terms. Each definition includes a small diagram or simple activity to illustrate the term's definition.

A Maths Dictionary for Kids has more than 270 free worksheets arranged according to topic. All of the worksheets can be found here.

ABCya
ABCya offers hundreds of educational games for K-8 students. The site is arranged according to grade level and Common Core standard. The trouble with that arrangement is that you can't search for a skill without knowing the corresponding Common Core standard. If you use keyword search on the site, it will yield results to everything on the site, not just the games.

Summer is here in the northern hemisphere. If you find yourself looking for some summer reading that you can give to elementary and middle school students, ReadWorks has you covered. 

Once again this summer ReadWorks is offering free summer reading packets that you can send home with your students. The free summer reading packets are available with fiction and nonfiction articles for students entering first grade through high school. Click on either the fiction or nonfiction packet for a grade and it will open a PDF that you can print and distribute to your students. There is an option to download a packet with reading comprehension questions for each grade level.

To preview, download, and print the ReadWorks summer reading packets you will need to create a free ReadWorks account.

If this is your first time reading about ReadWorks, there is much more to it than just PDF packets. ReadWorks offers a complete online environment for finding grade-level appropriate fiction and nonfiction assignments then distributing those to your students. Here's a video overview of how ReadWorks works.

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