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Tech tips

169 Tech Tip #117–How to Use an Internet Start Page

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #117–How to Use an Internet Start Page

Category: CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

Sub-category: Internet, Search/Research

Q: My students get distracted when they go on the internet by all the ads, bling, and websites that are not age-appropriate. What do I do?

When students open the internet, it should kick start their browsing experience, not leave them searching for a bookmark. As a teacher, you make this happen with what’s called an internet start page. It’s also your first line of defense in protecting students from the inherent dangers of using the internet because it focuses them on safe, age-appropriate sites that you have personally approved.

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Categories: Classroom management, Tech tips | Tags: | 2 Comments

169 Tech Tip #116–How to Take Screenshots

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #116–How to Take Screenshots

Category: CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

Sub-category: Keyboarding, PC, Mac, iPad, Chromebook

Here are the screenshot shortkeys for five platforms:

  • Windows: a tool included in Windows called the Snipping Tool
  • Chromebooks: Ctrl+Window Switcher key
  • Mac: Command Shift 3 for a full screenshot; Command Shift 4 for a partial screenshot
  • Surface tablet: hold down volume and Windowsbutton
  • iPad: hold Home button and power button simultaneously

There are also screenshot programs you can download like Jing and Printkey (the latter uses your keyboard’s Print Scr key) or use from your browser (like Nimbus or Snagit). Each has a different selection of annotation tools. You may find this works better for your needs.

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169 Tech Tip #115–Three-click Rule

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #115–Three-click Rule

Category: CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

Sub-category: Teaching

Q: Some websites require so many clicks, I get lost. What’s with that?

A: I hadn’t put a lot of thought to this until I read a discussion on a teacher forum about the oft-followed 3-click rule made popular by Web designer Jeffrey Zeldman in his book, Taking Your Talent to the Web. This claims that no piece of content should ever be more than three clicks away from the main page.

This applies to teaching tech to students, also. During my fifteen years of teaching tech, I discovered if I keep the geeky stuff to a max of three steps, students remember it, embrace it, and use it. More than three steps, I hear the sound of eyes glazing over.

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169 Tech Tip #80–17 Ways to Add Tech without Adding Time

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #80–17 Ways to Add Tech without Adding Time

Category: CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

Sub-category: Teaching, Writing

Let’s start with seven ways to blend technology into your everyday teaching:

  1. Include digital ebooks in your class library.
  2. Include online libraries with student resources.
  3. Expect digital class presentations to include video, audio, music, or a mixture of digital tools.
  4. Encourage students to tape class presentations to replay later and/or study from.
  5. Allow students to join the class virtually–through Skype or Google Hangouts–in emergencies.
  6. Make research tools like dictionaries and thesauri accessible from all digital devices.
  7. Empower students to solve common tech problems.

Then, add these next ten to redefine your classroom:

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169 Tech Tip #74–What’s My IP Address

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #74–What’s My IP Address?

Category: CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

Sub-category: Security, Internet

Q: I need my computer’s IP address, but I don’t know where to find it. Help!

A: Let’s start with why you might need your IP address. Here are a few reasons:

  • Your Web hosting company needs it to troubleshoot your internet connection or an email problem.
  • You fear your computer has been hacked so want to know where it last was accessed.
  • You need to link your printer (or another digital device) to your computer.
  • You need to verify legitimacy for an online company you work with.

There are lots of places online that provide your IP address for free. Here’s one: My IP Address.com.

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169 Tech Tip #60-How to Add Shortcuts to the Desktop

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip #60–How to Add Shortcuts to the Desktop

Category: CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

Sub-category: PCs, Chromebooks

Q: How do I create a shortcut on my desktop so I can find programs easier?

A: On PCs, there are two ways to do that

  1. click the icon on the start button and drag and drop it to the desktop, OR
  2. right click the icon on ‘all programs’ (click start button; select ‘all programs’) and select ‘send to’, then ‘desktop (create shortcut)’

This is a great tool for students so they can easily access the programs they use most often. If students are in fourth grade or up, let them do this themselves. They’ll feel empowered and they’ll add shortcuts you didn’t consider.

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End-of-year Tips: Image and Back-up Digital Devices

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

  1. Update Your Online Presence
  2. Backup and Image your computer
  3. 22 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer

A note: The links won’t work until the articles publish!

Today: Image and Backup Your Digital Devices

Two critical maintenance tasks that lots of people skip are:

  • image your computer
  • back up your documents

Image 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 22 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer helps, but eventually not enough. The only way to return your computer to its original zippy youthful self is by reformatting.

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End-of-Year Tips: 22 Steps To A Speedier Computer

year-end computer maintenanceThis week, I’ll share three holiday activities that will get your computers, technology, and social media ready for the new year. Here’s what you’ll get:

  1. Update Your Online Presence
  2. Backup and Image your computer
  3. 22 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer

A note: The links won’t work until the articles publish!

Today: 22 Steps to a Speedier Computer

There are two ‘speed’ problems that arise when using computers:

  • the computer itself is slow, for lots of reasons
  • you are slow–meaning: You have too much to do. We’ll deal with this later…

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. Keep your antivirus software active. If you’re paranoid like me, run an antivirus scan weekly to be sure nothing is missed.speed up your computer
  3. 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’. Plus, they distract you from finding the documents you really want. If you don’t use files anymore, but don’t want to toss them, make an ‘Old’ file and put them all in there.
  4. 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’.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Go through your programs and delete the ones you no longer use–or never used (like the ones that come pre-installed on a new computer). 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
  8. 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)
  9. 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’
  10. 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
  11. Clean out your subscriptions. This slows YOU down as you sit to work. They usually arrive via email. Dragging through dozens of emails a day when you know you aren’t interested in a lot of them slows you down. Me, I have over 200 every day. I regularly purge blog and newsletter subscriptions that didn’t work out as planned.
  12. Make notifications weekly instead of daily. If you get Google alerts, set them for weekly (unless you really must know when someone posts on the term ‘Labrador puppies’). If you have social media, let them notify you of activity once a week instead of daily. If you get reports on Twitter usage or Google Adwords, schedule those weekly.
  13. Change your browser to Chrome. When I did, it doubled my surfing speed. And it’s not just me. Among those-who-know, it’s considered the fastest browser (and IE the slowest).
  14. Slim down your start-up process.  Only have the programs you really need start when you boot (or reboot). Skip the rest. How? Click Start, type msconfig in the search bar and press Enter. In the System Configuration window, click the Startup tab. From the list of programs that appears, untick the box next to those you don’t need to launch automatically at startup. Only deselect programs that you don’t use regularly or know that you don’t need.imaging your computer
  15. Add more RAM. That’s the stuff that lets you keep more stuff open on the desktop (including tabs in your browser). If you don’t have enough, it’s like having a postage-stamp-size desk for planning your lesson plans. Upgrade yours to the max your system will take.
  16. Clean out your temp files ***
  17. Empty your recycle bin. When your computer starts up, it must bring all that trash to life in case you want to revisit it. The less that’s in there, the less you have to rejuvenate.
  18. Delete unneeded fonts. Like the recycle bin, when you start up, your computer must bring all those fonts out so you can use them. They’re small files, but not miniscule and take measurable time to activate. Who needs a thousand fonts? Settle for a hundred.
  19. This one’s a bit geeky: Install an SSD start-up drive. An SSD drive is one of those super-fast, expensive hard-drives. Get one just large enough to boot up your computer. You won’t store files on it or data–just use it to start your computer in about a third of the time it normally would. I did this to my desktop and no longer have time for a cuppa or a shower while the computer starts up. A warning: A lot of saving defaults to the start-up drive so reset where your auto-saves go (like temp files, images, and similar).
  20. Clean your computer. With a mini vacuum. Get all that grunge and dust out so it doesn’t get into the computer parts that will not only slow you down but stop you in your virtual tracks.
  21. Unsubscribe to stuff you no longer read. You know–the emails that come in and are deleted without a glance. Get rid of them. If they don’t have an ‘unsubscribe’ (which by law, they should), label them ‘junk’.
  22. From Andrew over at Andrew’s View of the Week: Consider the age of your current computer. Typically the expected useful life of a computer is no more that 5-6 years. In the high-tech business, we replace them every 3-4 years. If your system is approaching 5 years, consider budgeting for a new one next year. In addition to being a risk for increased risk of hardware failure, you’ll find the new systems to be faster, cheaper and filled with tons of new feathers.

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Categories: Tech tips | Tags: | 5 Comments

How to Use Google Forms in the Classroom

google formsThere are lots of free survey and polling sites (two popular options are PollDaddy and Survey Monkey), but often they limit the number of surveys you can create or how many questions you can include without ‘leveling up’ to a premium version. Among the teachers I know who are always looking for ways to save their limited pennies, Google Forms is a run-away favorite. It is intuitive, flexible, professional, can be adapted to school colors and images, and can be shared as a link or an embed. You can work alone or with colleagues and there are a wide variety of options that tweak the form to your needs.

Using available templates, a customized form can be completed in under five minutes. Responses are collected to a Google Spreadsheet that can be private or shared with participants and can be sorted and analyzed like any other spreadsheet.

Google Forms integrates well with Google Apps for Education, Google Classroom and many LMSs such as Blackboard.

How to use it

Google Forms is simple to use. Just follow these steps:

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Categories: Teacher resources, Tech tips | Tags: | 10 Comments

169 Tech Tip #128–Top 10 Chromebook Shortkeys

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip #128–Top Ten Chromebook Shortkeys

Category: CHROMEBOOKS

Sub-category:  Keyboarding

Here’s a poster with ten Chromebook shortkeys popular in classrooms:

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Categories: Keyboarding, Tech tips | Tags: , | Leave a comment