Happy Holiday!

holidayI’ll be taking a week (or so) off–until after the New Year–to prepare for my son (visiting from Kuwait), edit/format my website, work on writing projects with a deadline, prioritize life. I may drop in on you-all as you enjoy your holidays, but mostly I’ll be regenerating.

I wish you a wonderful season, safe and filled with family.

See you shortly!

More Holiday Websites:

19 Holiday Websites For Your Students

Holidays

Book Review: 16 Holiday Projects

Monday Freebies #21: Another Holiday Card

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End-of-year Tech Tips: Image and Back-up Your Computer

This week, I’m providing tips for end-of-year technology maintenance. These are activities that could (or should) be done once a month if you’re active on your computer, but AT LEAST do them yearly.

Like today.

Two critical maintenance tasks that lots of people skip are:

  • image your computer
  • back up your documents

image computerImage your computer

Every computer must be reformatted eventually. Every time you download from a website or open an email attachment or update one of your online tools or software, you collect digital dust and grunge that affects the speed and efficiency of your computer. Performing the clean up items suggested in 13 Ways To Speed Up Your Computer helps, but eventually not enough. The only way to return your computer to its original speedy youthful self is by reformatting.

I hate reformatting my computer. I lose all the extras I’ve added (like Jing, cookies, Printkey 2000 which is out of production). I forget which software I have (sure, I remember MS Office, but what about Google Earth and Celestia?) And then there are all the personalizations I’ve put on that get lost with the reformat. It takes me hours–days?–to return my computer to its prior user-friendly state. As a result, I resist reformatting for as long as I can. Usually, until a virus has made my computer unusable. Then, I have no choice.

A few years ago, I discovered imaging. When you image your computer, you take a picture of what your hard drive looks like, including all the programs and extras, and save in a secure back-up area (I have Carbonite do it for me on a regular basis). When you reformat, all you have to do is copy the image back to the computer. Mine is on a terabyte external drive. Even if my two internal drives explode, I’m good.

Here’s what you do:

  • Click the start button.
  • Go to Control Panel
  • Select ‘Backup and Restore’
  • On the left sidebar, you’ll see an option for ‘create a system image’. Select that.
  • Follow directions (it’ll ask which drive to use for the image–stuff like that)

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End-of-Year Tips: 13 WaysTo Speed Up Your Computer

vector image of a bar of soapThis week, I’m providing tips for end-of-year technology maintenance. These are activities that could (or should) be done once a month if you’re active on your computer, but AT LEAST do them yearly.

Like this week.

That’s right. It’s a new year, which means Pre-Spring Cleaning. Set aside the brushes and mops. Grab a comfortable chair, put on your problem-solving hat, and get started. The goal: To make your computer faster, more efficient, and more reliable for all the work you’ve promised to complete over the holiday break.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make sure your firewall is working. Windows comes with a built-in one. Maybe Mac does too. Leave it active. It’s under Control Panel>Administrative Tools. Sometimes, they seem to turn off by themselves (I have no idea why). Check to be sure it is active. This will keep viruses and malware out that slow your computer.
  2. Defrag your computer. To quote Windows, Fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work that can slow down your computer. Removable storage devices such as USBs can also become fragmented. Disk Defragmenter rearranges fragmented data so your disks and drives can work more efficiently. Never mind all that geek speak. Here’s what you need to know: Run Disc Defrag by going to Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Advanced Tools.
  3. Run Spybot or a similar spyware programs. Spybot is free, which is why I like it, and I’ve had good luck with it. Download.com says this about Spybot: The program checks your system against a comprehensive database of adware and other system invaders. The Immunize feature blocks a plethora of uninvited Web-borne flotsam before it reaches your computer.
  4. Run Ad-aware once a week to keep malware off your computer. It has a stellar reputation and is also free (although there’s an upgrade that you can pay for).
  5. Keep your antivirus software active. If you’re paranoid like me, run an antivirus scan weekly to be sure nothing is missed.
  6. Sort through your Documents and get rid of those you don’t need anymore. It’s intimidating, like a file cabinet that hasn’t been opened in months–or years and is covered with dust, even spider webs. Do it, though. If you don’t, every time you search, the computer must finger through those unused and worthless files. It doesn’t understand the difference between ‘unused’ and ‘important’.
  7. Back up your files to an external drive or cloud storage. If you have an automated system, skip this. If you don’t, consider getting Carbonite or similar. If you use Windows, try their backup program. It’s easy to find: Click the Start Button and search ‘backup’.
  8. Empty the trash. Don’t even look in it. If you haven’t missed a file by now, it won’t matter if you throw it out.
  9. Learn to use that program you’ve been promising you would or delete it. Evernote is a great example. Use it (and you won’t be sorry) or delete the email from your best friend exhorting you to try it. Move on.
  10. Go through your programs and delete the ones you no longer use. Here’s what you do:
    • go to Control Panel>Programs and Features
    • peruse the list and pick the programs you downloaded by mistake, meaning to use, or used to use and no longer do
    • uninstall
    • don’t look back
  11. Update any software that needs it. I don’t mean BUY a newer version. I mean click the free update that’s been nagging at you (Adobe Reader and Windows, for example)
  12. Clean the junk off your desktop. Put it in folders or create a folder for ‘Working on’. Don’t know how to create a desktop folder? Just right click on the desktop and select ‘New>folder’
  13. Clean up your Start Button. Remove shortkeys you no longer use (with a right click>delete). Add those that have become daily go-to sites

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End of Year Tips: Is Your Online Presence Up to Date?

2015This week, I’m providing tips for end-of-year technology maintenance. These are activities that could (or should) be done once a month if you’re active on your computer, but AT LEAST do them yearly.

Like today.

For most teachers I know, life zooms by, filled with lesson planning, meetings, classes, collaborations with their grade-level team, parent meetings, and thinking. There are few breaks to update/fix/maintain the tech tools that allow us to pursue our trade.

But, that must happen or they deteriorate and no longer accomplish what we need them to do. Cussing them out does no good. Buying new systems takes a long time and doesn’t fix the problem that the old one wasn’t kept up. If they aren’t taken care of, we are left wondering why our teacher blog or website isn’t accomplishing what it does for everyone else, why our social media Tweeple don’t generate activity, and why our TPT materials languish. There’s a short list of upkeep items that won’t take long to accomplish. The end of the calendar year is a good time to do these:

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22 Holiday Websites For Your Students

holidayNeed a few websites to fill in sponge time? Here are Holiday websites that will keep students busy while teaching them:

  1. 12 Days of Christmas
  2. Christmas—history—fun video
  3. Gift Hunt–updated version of 12 Days of Christmas–just as much fun
  4. Gift Maker–updated version of Gift Hunt–just as much fun
  5. Holiday collection
  6. Holiday Crossword
  7. Holiday Elf Games
  8. Holiday hangman
  9. Holiday Hangman II
  10. Holiday music
  11. Holiday music II–sing along with the music–the site provides the words
  12. Holiday—Design Gingerbread House
  13. Holiday—find the word
  14. Holiday—match game
  15. Holiday—Math Facts
  16. Holiday—North Pole Academy
  17. Holidays around the world
  18. Holidays–various
  19. NORAD Santa
  20. Penguin Show
  21. Reindeer Orchestra
  22. Santa Tracker

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Get Ready for the New Year!

2015Next week, I’ll share four holiday activities that will get your computers, technology, and social media ready for the new year. Here’s what you’ll get:

  1. Is Your Online Presence Up to Date?
  2. Once a Year Blog Maintenance–Are You Up to Date?
  3. Back up and Image your computer
  4. 13 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer

Join me! You’ll come away feeling ready, re-energized, and geeky.

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Where’d Christmas Come From

Watch this video and come away educated:

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Subscribers: Your December Special is Available

Only a few more days for Ask a Tech Teacher subscribers to get 25% off:

This month:

Student Workbooks

Coupon code: STUDENTWKBKSPECIAL

25% off a Room License (up to 26 seats) on 1-9 grades

9 grade-level technology curriculum student eworkbooks (kindergarten through 8th grade–only 3rd-8th available currently). Aligned with the Structured Learning K-8 technology curriculum (which is aligned with Common Core and ISTE)–one ebook per grade level. Each ebook is 136-195 pages, with 193-230 images.

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This is a student-paced, student-directed course that integrates with any school curriculum and prepares students for end-of-year Common Core testing. Includes:

  • why learn technology?
  • formative and summative assessments
  • domain-specific vocabulary
  • relevant tech problem solving
  • required digital citizenship overview
  • curriculum map with a K-8 timeline of topics
  • embedded links so students can simply click and go—no searching for the site, trying to remember the site address
  • rubrics, quizzes, study guides, and more–to save teacher duplicating papers. It’s right there in the workbook!
  • over one hundred full-color images and how-tos
  • samples of projects at student fingertips so wherever they’re practicing, they have an example and directions
  • background material right there. If student wants to remember what they did a week–a month–ago, it’s right there.
  • extensions to dig deeper for those who are inspired by a topic
  • year’s worth of homework–all in one place
  • workbook goes with the student. It’s licensed to them through the school. If they’re in the library, the classroom, the soccer field, they can practice. Even at home (with appropriate license).

What’s included in Student Workbooks

  • student digital workbooks for the entire class
  • teacher manual for each grade level purchased (print–international excluded–and digital)
  • 32 teacher videos weekly to address current lesson (K-5 only)

Benefits of a Room License for School:

  • provide an overarching curriculum map for using technology in your school
  • provide access to full text PDF from 26 digital devices in the room, 24 hours a day. This maximizes productivity and student independence.
  • enable flexible learning paths as students work at their own pace, with the ability to review or work ahead as needed
  • share pedagogy to infuse your classroom with technology 
  • enable teachers to dig deeper into relevant topics, vertically integrate with core grade-level teachers
  • provide multiple authentic and organic methods of formative and summative assessment
  • provide free online Help via Ask a Tech Teacher (staffed by educators who use SL resources) and grade-specific wikis  (K-5 only)
  • free desk copy of print book for teacher use (if available in print and for domestic customers only)

Benefits of Room License for Students:

  • provide easy access to monthly lessons, how-tos, rubrics, project samples, practice quizzes, grade-level expectations, homework, images, and check lists 
  • provide quick links to websites required in lessons
  • provide full color instructions that can be zoomed in on for greater detail
  • allow a convenient place to take lesson notes (using a PDF annotator like iAnnotate)
  • encourage students to be independent in their learning, work at their own pace rather than a one-size-fits-all class pace. This is great both for students who need more time and those who ‘get it’ and want to move on
  • enable a quick way to spiral up to the next grade level for quick learners or back to earlier resources for student needing to scaffold their learning
  • prepare students for the rigor of end-of-year summative testing

If you’re an AATT or Structured Learning subscriber, get 25% off when you purchase a Room License for one grade-level or a set of K-8.

If you need a license for your school or District, contact Zeke dot Rowe at StructuredLearning dot net–he’ll give you a special 25% off code for those.

Also applies to K-8 Keyboarding Student Workbooks.

Coupon code: STUDENTWKBKSPECIAL

Discount:  25% off a Room License (up to 26 seats) on 1-9 grades

Expires:    12/15/14

Works on all of these digital devices:

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How to Order: Publisher’s website only

 

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Programming Shortkeys for any Windows Tool

shortkeyCreating a shortkey for a program will quickly become a favorite with your students. I use it for the snipping tool–because we use that a lot in class–but you can create one for any program you use a lot. Then I discovered how to create a shortkey for it:

  • Go to Start
  • Right click on the desired program
  • Select ‘properties’
  • Click in ‘shortcut’
  • Push the key combination you want to use to invoke the snipping tool. In my case, I used Ctrl+Alt+S
  • Save

Here’s a video to show you:

Now all I have to do is remember the shortkey!

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Student Workbooks Now Available!

I had a lot of requests for student workbooks to go with the K-8 Technology Curriculum. Finally–they are available!

9 grade-level technology curriculum student eworkbooks (kindergarten through 8th grade–only 3rd-8th available currently). Aligned with the Structured Learning K-8 technology curriculum (which is aligned with Common Core and ISTE)–one ebook per grade level. Each ebook is 136-195 pages, with 193-230 images.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is a student-paced, student-directed course that integrates with any school curriculum and prepares students for end-of-year Common Core testing. Includes:

Read more »

Categories: 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, subscriber special | Tags: , | Leave a comment