Category: Keyboarding


Programming Shortkeys for any Windows Tool

shortkeyCreating a shortkey 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. Depdending upon the device you use will dictate how you do this.


  • 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!


Called hotkeys. These are built in on some devices and require an app on others. On the iPad go to:

Settings > General Settings > Keyboard Settings

Scroll down and click “add new shortcut.” The one drawback is that it does not include new paragraphs on the ipad/ iphone. To do that you’ll need Text Expander, but because Text Expander isn’t supported in every app, I just use this. So, for example, at the top of every Journal Entry I like to have:


Use the Auto Hotkeys program


Keyboarding and the Homeschooler

keyboardingHere’s another great article from Catherine Ross on homeschooling and keyboard skills. Catherine Ross is a full-time stay-at-home-mum who believes learning should be enjoyable for young minds. An erstwhile elementary school teacher, Catherine loves coming up with creative ways through which kids can grasp the seemingly difficult concepts of learning easily. She believes that a ‘fun factor’ can go a long way in enhancing kids’ understanding and blogs at

It is nothing short of a struggle to make my 8-year-old daughter sit down at her desk and write a couple of lines at a stretch, without getting up a dozen times in between.But ask her to type out the lines on the computer and she’s happily done with it in less than half the time!

There’s something about ‘working’ on a computer which appeals to all kids; they just don’t seem to comprehend the fact that studies can be related to a computer as well. And this is something I realized early on when I took up homeschooling full-time. If I could use this to my advantage and incorporate some constructive online ‘computer-time’ into my kids’ curriculum, it would probably do them good in the long run and they would enjoy it too.


Tech Tip #94: Shortkey for Find

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: Isn’t there a shortkey for searching a website?

A: There is. It’s Ctrl+F. It’s been around for, well, forever, but I’d forgotten about it until my efriend Sandy reminded me. As she posted on her blog, EdTechSandy, If you didn’t know about CTRL+F, don’t feel bad. …90% of folks don’t know about it.


blogging in class

3 Problems to Address Before Blogging at Your School

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Molly:

I really enjoyed your article on students blogging.  It seems like a great way to get them writing willingly since they love to be online.  I was wondering, what are some of the problems you have run into and how did you solve them?  What pitfalls can teachers watch out for long-term?

Three big–not necessarily ‘problems’ as much as issues to address:

Digital rights and responsibilities

You don’t want to roll out blogging in your classroom without a sturdy program educating students on digital citizenship–privacy, profiles, footprints, safety, fair use/copyrights. I have lots of information on those topics on my blog. Another good resource is Common Sense Media.


tech help

Dear Otto: Best Practices for New Teachers About Tech

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Lucia:

I currently teach an instructional technology class to undergraduate students preparing to be educators. Every semester I need to revise my course to reflect “updates” in current Ed Tech. I’m hoping you might give me some advice on “best practices” for teaching students who want to be teachers! I’ve learned so much from you…and I’m hoping you can give me a boost here! I’m truly appreciative of any advice you may have!

There are four topics considered ‘best practices’ by current teachers when using tech in education. Here they are with a link to resources to help teach them:

  • digital citizenship--show how to keep students safe as they are encouraged to go online for research, collaborating, sharing, perspective-taking, and more
  • problem solving–lots of new teachers are intimidated by technology in their classrooms. Besides that there are so many digital tools–how does anyone stay up to date on them–there’s a worse problem: What happens when students using technology in class have a problem with it? What’s the teacher do? There are lots of problems the teacher can solve herself, without slowing down class and while modeling problem-solving skills, that don’t require an IT Intervention. Here’s a collection of 98


Tech Tip #89: Use Keyboard Shortcuts With Students

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: When tech gets difficult, my students stop trying. Class goes fine when the skills are similar to those used in their online games, but if it gets challenging, like remembering all the steps required to add a border to an Excel cell (or you fill in the blank with that show-stopping skill that everyone turns off to), they aren’t interested. What do I do?

A: After twelve years of teaching K-5, I know as sure as I know who our president is that kids will try harder if its fun. The challenge for us teachers: How do we make a multi-step skill that they may rarely use ‘fun’? (more…)

tech q & a

Dear Otto: Should I fix ‘Thumb clicking’?

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Amy:

I teach K-5 technology.  I have made accommodations for several of my students who use the mouse with their left hand (medical reasons).  What about a kindergartener who insists on using his thumb to left click the mouse?  Is there a reason (other than it just looks wrong!) that this habit should be corrected? Unlike reinforcing the use of proper pencil pinch when teaching handwriting, I don’t see the thumb click impeding this student’s future technique.  Handwriting progresses to cursive (albeit very little time is spent developing cursive anymore) so technique is important.  And I know that the mouse continues to evolve – but left and right clicking still works if my student uses his thumb and fingers.

I have seen the thumb-clicking. Sometimes, it’s the fine motor skills issue of not being able to push fingers separately (on the two mouse buttons). Also, it could be from ‘thumbing’ on phones, for texting. In kindergarten, it’s probably the former.

It is a habit that needs to be corrected. It’ll slow him down when he gets older and make him look awkward to peers which could embarrass him enough he wouldn’t want to use the computer. Luckily, K’s retrain easily. Just keep reminding him. Gently change his hand hold. Ask his classroom teacher and parents to join your crusade. He’ll get the message. Have him practice the correct way with the fun websites below under ‘More on mouse skills’.

One thing to do first: Check with parents to be sure there isn’t a physiologic reason why he’s doing it the way he is. If he has Juvenile Arthritis (which he probably doesn’t or you’d see it in other joints or parents would advise you), that can affect the flexibility of his hands, as can other diseases. Having that conversation subtly with parents will also give you the opportunity to engage them as your partner in fixing this issue.


5 Ways to Cure Technophobia in the Classroom

tech teacherThe British-based Telegraph recently posted an article about how technophobia could hold back the use of technology in the classroom. Their experts (including Lord David Puttnam, Member House of Lords and Chancellor of Open University) had this to say:

“We are watching a massively disruptive evolution within education, possibly for the first time in 100 years,” he continued. “A lot of people are finding that very uncomfortable…”

I recently had a conversation with my PLN about how they like technology in their classrooms. Few contest it’s presence (though some teachers absolutely refuse to allow it in the front door–some whole schools even), but is it used because we find it helpful or we’re forced to?

My PLN’s answers were all over the place, but far too many along themes like these–

  • unable to squeeze one more thing to learn into my daily schedule
  • are teachers prepared well to be effective facilitators
  • training needs to be ample, effective, constructive, continuous and mandated
  • serious lack of training and I’m so over loaded that I do not have the ability to add on one more thing
  • we oooh and ahhh ANY TIME technology is used and label it innovative, creative, etc. when in reality it is not
  • it is simply about common sense and using the tool that the teacher and the students get the best results with


4 Subjects Every Teacher Must Teach and How

tech teacherTeaching technology is not sharing a new subject, like Spanish or math. It’s exploring an education tool, knowing how to use computers, IPads, the internet, and other digital devices to serve learning goals. Sure, there are classes that teach MS Word and C++, but for most schools, technology is employed strategically and capably to achieve all colors of education.

Which gets me to the four subjects every teacher must teach, whether s/he’s a math teacher, science, literacy, or technology. In today’s education world, all of us teach–

  • vocabulary
  • keyboarding
  • digital citizenship
  • research

They used to be taught in isolation–Fridays at 8:20, we learn vocabulary–but not anymore. Now they must be blended into all subjects like ingredients in a cake, the result–college or career for the 21st-century student. Four subjects that must be taught–and thanks to technology, CAN be with ease. Let me explain.


 Common Core requires that:

Students constantly build the transferable vocabulary they need to access grade level complex texts. This can be done effectively by spiraling like content in increasingly complex texts.