Category: Computer skills

animals

Tech Tip #83: How Do I Use a ‘Read Only’ Doc?

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each week, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: The file I’m trying to use say’s ‘read only’. I need to edit it. What do I do?

A: A ‘read only’ document does not allow editing the author’s original work. You can read, but not make any changes–or save it.

Here’s how you solve that: Save it by a different name, say, call it ‘edited’, and then you can edit it. There might be an amber bar at the top of the document asking you to do just that.

Questions you want answered? Email me at askatechteacher@gmail.com and I’ll answer within the next thirty days.


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

3 Apps that Boost Creativity

There are so many apps out there, I can’t keep up–and I’m supposed to. I’m the tech teacher. I used to download every app that looked fun, exciting, useful, try it out, be amazed by it, and then like a squirrel, dart to the next shiny object. I rarely got back to that one that so magnificently filled my attention for all of ten minutes. People in my PLN–teachers I respect and admire–have favorites that they swear by, which means I must try them. And I do, often love them and am sure I’ll use them the next time I have need of… a virtual Swiss Army Knife or an e-dressing room to try on clothes. But I don’t. Usually, it’s because there are ten that are Just Perfect for whatever I want to do, or I can’t find  the one I loved just a week ago. If I could remember the name, I could search for it, but at times my brain is as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Truth, there are so many apps on my IPad, I’m throwing out those I haven’t used in a year, have forgotten about, and/or can’t figure out. What’s left, I’ll use before I download more, no matter how exciting the new widget sounds.

And I found some amazing apps–about twenty that have me gobsmacked. I’ll start with three I can’t believe I never used:

notabilityNotability

This is my current favorite note-taking app. Consider this scenario. You’re at a meeting, taking notes. Typing away. The speaker draws something on the whiteboard–you fumble to record it on your IPad. Or s/he’s referring to a picture that’s in your camera roll, but how do you bring it up and add his thoughts? You know there’s a way, but what app was it and how do you integrate it with the note-taking app? Then–horror–he’s talking too fast to keep up. If only you could just tape him and listen without struggling to write every word.

You need Notability. See the image to the right? That’s how you use this powerful, inexpensive app:

  • take notes by tapping the screen. Wherever you tap is where you type. No waiting for a cursor or working from top down. In this case, I type right next to the image.
  • quickly change from typing to drawing by accessing the short, ever-present toolbar at the top of the screen (hard to see in the drawing, but it starts with a ‘t’). Drawing defaults to what would normally be a pencil, just like you’d want if you were handwriting notes and needed to copy a picture from a screen. Width and color is easily changed with another tap.
  • open an image or PDF from your Google Drive, DropBox or another location and write directly on it–or just take a picture of the speaker’s work and insert it into your notes.
  • give up note-taking and tape the presentation with the microphone tool at the top of the screen. One click and you’re recording. Another click and you’re back to typing.

From its dashboard, you can easily find and access notes, edit, revise and share with anyone. I have used Evernote faithfully and will still use it for collecting websites, data, images, and more. But for quick notes–what you might take on a yellow lined tablet (that has access to image downloads and audio taping)–I now use Notability and then share with Evernote.

(BTW: If you’re looking for a simple image annotation tool, Notability is great. Open the picture and write all over it, wherever you want.)

thinglinkThinglink

The idea of being able to annotate pictures is powerful. Many images speak for themselves, but others require enhancement–something to make the idea clearer or communicate a unique perspective. If you couldn’t see the puppy’s thought bubble in the picture to the right, you’d never know how happy he was (though the flopping chaotic ears give it away).

Thinglink is quickly taking over the market for annotating images. Besides thought bubbles, you can add hotlinks that when hovered over, become words, emoticons, weblinks, document links, tags, and more. You can even include music, videos, and other pictures. This is perfect in the classroom. One seminal picture can be linked to relevant information that covers an entire topic with just a few clicks.

Once a Thinglink is completed, it can be shared, commented on, even embedded into personal blogs and websites.

And education accounts are free.

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tech q & a

Dear Otto: How do you teach file types?

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Kaylene:

Dear Otto,
How do you go about teaching file types to students? I’m sure you begin early – but even my 6th graders’ eyes glaze over when I try to explain the difference between a .jpg and a .xls! Any tips?
..
I teach them as they come up. For example, when students use KidPix, the file extension is .kpx. That doesn’t work for slideshows so I take the opportunity to discuss file extensions and how to get KidPix drawings into presentations. When they upload images to KidPix, it wants ‘.bmp’ or adjust the settings for .jpg. We upload images and take the time to chat about problem solving (since most images students use won’t be .bmp).

.. (more…)

Tech Tips #114: Embed Google Docs

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each week, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: So many colleagues are sharing their documents through Google Apps, but I don’t know how to do that. Can you help?

A: I love this part of Google Apps for Education. When your Google Doc is complete,

  • save it by a name of your choice
  • File>Publish to the Web (on the menu bar)
  • Change the drop down choice ‘webpage’ to ‘HTML to embed in a page’
  • copy html code
  • paste into blog, wiki, website like I did below:

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tech education

Tech Tip #41: Repair Your Computer With System Restore

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I don’t know what I did, but my computer doesn’t run right anymore. What can I do?

A: With access to the internet, computer malfunctions have become more prevalent than ever. Sometimes you download a program–or your child mistakenly pushes a button that allows malware on your computer. Suddenly, through no fault of your own, things just aren’t working right anymore.

This is so common that Microsoft has a program called System Restore on every computer with Windows operating system. System Restore is a utility that allows users to restore their Windows configurations to a previous state. While System Restore is often associated with providing recovery when driver or software installations go awry, it can really shine when spyware or other malevolent software compromises user machines. In many situations, this handy utility can roll back afflicted machines to a completely uninfected state. Of course, System Restore can work only when it is turned on and cataloging system states, so make sure it’s enabled on all user machines.

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Connect Classrooms With Skype–How it’s Done

skypeDo your students Skype?

I first met Betsy Weigle over at Classroom Teacher Resources when I ran across a great how-to post she put together on Skyping in the classroom. The more I ran around her blog, the more impressed I became with her expertise and asked if she would do a guest post for my readers.

Betsy holds a Masters in Elementary Education & Teacher Certification from Eastern Washington University and earned her National Board Certification. She attended the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teaching Academy for Science and Math, been a national finalist at the Microsoft Innovative Education Forum and been awarded an Enhancing Education through Technology Grant. Her professional experience includes teaching grades 3 through 5 and substitute teaching from Kindergarten through 6th grade

I think you’ll enjoy this post:

Using Skype to Connect Classrooms

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Tech Tip #53: How to Pin Any Program to the Start Menu

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: There’s a program I use all the time, but it’s not on my desktop. I have to click through All-Programs-(etc–wherever it is you must go to find it). Is there a way to add it to my start menu so I can find it more easily? (more…)

Weekend Websites #57: 28 Websites to Teach Tech to Kindergarten-First Grade

The moment students start using the computer, they need to create good habits. That includes not only posture and hand position, but internet use, In my class, that starts in kindergarten. Students need to understand the pros and cons of computer basics, the dangers and benefits of websites, and the right way to use both (they’re not just for games).

Here’s a list of websites I use with my kindergarten and first graders to both introduce them to the computer (and all of its parts) and start them on the right way to surf the internet. I start with internet basics and mouse skills at the beginning of the year and spend the remaining months working through the rest. By second grade, they’re ready for more advanced skills: (more…)

ISTE Debrief: Don’t Hide the Internet from Today’s Kids

If you didn’t make it to ISTE 2011, you missed a great time. There was more going on than any sane person could absorb in a month and all 30,000+ of us attendees tried to do it in four days. The seminars cover every topic from tech integration to how to use specific programs to general trends. I tried to attend a few of each to not only learn new material but to make sure what I’m teaching is as relevant this year as when I first taught it to my classes.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Teachers are not lecturers. We are guides, even fellow-learners
  • Students learn by doing more than being taught. Encourage this
  • There are a lot of ‘right’ ways to learn
  • Students are problem-solvers. Let this happen
  • Technology is about offering options in learning styles
  • Technology offers different ways to teach different learners. Use it that way.
  • Work beyond the classroom because class is too short, kids aren’t engaged the entire five hours
  • Paperless classroom is possible. Figure it out.
  • Virtual presentations so kids hear from the experts in real time (more…)

Four Online Sites to Teach Mouse Skills

It sounds easy, but to a five or six year old, holding the mouse, clicking that left button, dragging and dropping while holding a finger down is darn difficult. I found four programs that will make it painless:

Mousing Around–learn clicks, multiple clicks. Don’t be surprised when the kids start shouting out animal names.

mouse 1Bees and Honey–shorter, but concentrates on clicks and dragging-dropping

mouse2Tidy the classroom while learning clicks, double-clicks (difficult for youngers) and drag-and-drop

mouse22Mouse Program–for olders who can read, but a thorough exercise of the mouse skills

mouse222


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.