Category: Problem solving

Tech Tip #68: Make Desktop Icons Big or Little

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: Make Desktop Icons Big or Little

Category: Problem-solving

Q: The desktop icons are tiny on my desktop. I don’t know how it happened, so I don’t know how to undo it. Please help!

A: This solution I learned in self-defense, like many other tips I share, when my students figured it out and made my desktop icons HUGE or tiny. Here’s how to fix that:

  • Highlight all desktop icons by clicking and dragging a box around them.
  • Push Ctrl and roll the mouse wheel.  It enlarges or delarges them.

That’s it. How wonderful. I no longer have to squint at icons too small for my eyes.

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.


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, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Tech Tip #91: Rollback Windows Updates

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: Rollback Windows Updates

Category: PCs, Problem-solving

Q: Windows automatically updated and now one of my programs freezes. What do I do?

A: Go into the Updates list and uninstall the one addressing your problem program. Here’s how you do it:

  • Go to Start button>All programs>Windows Updates; select ‘view updates’. Or, search ‘Windows Updates’.
  • Select ‘View update history’
  • Select ‘Uninstall updates’
  • That takes you to a screen with all of the updates. It will instruct you:

To uninstall an update, select it from the list and click Uninstall or Change’

If things don’t return to normal, see Tech Tip #41 to restore to an earlier date that worked.


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, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Tech Tip #75: Laptop Frozen? Here’s What You Do

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: Laptop frozen? Do this.

Category: Security, Problem-solving

Q: My laptop is frozen. I can’t even turn it off. What do I do?

A: Do a hard reboot. Hold the power button until the laptop turns off for ten seconds and reboot. If that doesn’t work, remove the battery, wait ten seconds, put it back, and start up. Usually, that’ll fix it.

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.

Tech Tip #159: Create a Macro

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: Create a Macro

Category: MSO, Problem-solving, Keyboarding

Here are basic steps for MS Word:

  1. Click View – Macros – Record Macros.
  2. Specify a name for the macro.
  3. Choose whether it should be a keyboard shortcut or a button.
  4. Once you click OK, your mouse becomes a cassette tape. Click all elements you would like to be part of your macro.
  5. Stop recording by clicking View – Stop Recording.

Here’s a video on how to create a macro in MS Word.

If you use Chromebooks, you can adjust what some keys do (such as the Search key can become the Caps Lock) through Settings. Additionally, there are several add-ons like iMacro that will help you create macros.

Google Apps call them ‘scripts’ and they’re popular. Alice Keeler has a starter-project you can find on her website.

Mac calls them ‘substitutions’. Use the System Preferences.

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.

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Tech Tip #53: How to Make a Program Easy to Find

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: How to Make a Program Easy to Find

Category: Problem-solving

Q: There’s a program I use a lot, but it’s not on my desktop. I have to click Start>All-Programs and then try to find it. Is there an easier way?

A: Absolutely. In fact, there are three ways if you have a PC:

  • Add it to the Start button: Right click on the icon that opens the program and select ‘pin to start menu’ from the drop down menu. This will attach it to your Start button.
  • Add it to the PC’s Taskbar: Right click on the program icon and select ‘pin to task bar’ from the drop down menu.
  • Search for the program from the PC’s Start>Search (this is how most Middle Schoolers find programs).

For Chromebooks: Add it to the Chromebook’s Shelf by going to the webpage’s Menu Icon>More Tools>Add to Shelf.

 

For iPads: To save a website to the home button, use the universal ‘Send’ icon and ‘add to Homepage’.

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.

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World Backup Day–March 31st

March 31st is called World Backup Day. At least once a year, backup your data files to an external drive (like a flash drive). This is one that isn’t connected to your local computer so can’t be compromised if you get a virus. It’s good to always backup data to cloud drives or a different drive on your computer but once a year, do the entire collection of data files to what is called an ‘air gap’ drive–one that is separated from any internet connection.

How to do this 

There are various ways to back up your data. You can back up your data to an external device or a cloud-based backup service, or to both. You might even make more than one backup to external storage devices and keep the two copies in different places (providing protection and access to your data even if one of the backup devices is destroyed or inaccessible. Preserving your valuable documents and images for future access and use requires planning, as well as the use of automatic backup services.

To back up PC/Windows, use Windows Backup:world backup day

    • Click the start button.
    • Go to Control Panel
    • Select ‘Backup and Restore’
    • Select ‘Backup Now’

From there, select a drive with sufficient space and start. Be forewarned: If you have a lot of data, it takes a while. You can work on your computer while it’s backing up; it’ll just be slower.

Mac: Use the Time Machine tool.

Chromebook: No need. Everything is saved to the cloud. Now if you want to backup your cloud, use a service like Backupify.

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How Minecraft Teaches Reading, Writing and Problem Solving

A while ago, Scientific American declared “…“not only is Minecraft immersive and creative, but it is an excellent platform for making almost any subject area more engaging.” A nod from a top science magazine to the game many parents wish their kids had never heard of should catch the attention of teachers. This follows Common Sense Media’s seal of approval.  On the surface, it’s not so surprising. Something like 80% of five-to-eight year-olds play games and 97% of teens. Early simulations like Reader Rabbit are still used in classrooms to drill reading and math skills.

But Minecraft, a blocky retro role-playing simulation that’s more Lego than svelte hi-tech wizardry, isn’t just the game du jour. Kids would skip dinner to play it if parents allowed. Minecraft is role playing and so much more.

Let me back up a moment. Most simulation games–where players role-play life in a pretend world–aren’t so much Make Your Own Adventure as See If You Survive Ours. Players are a passenger in a hero’s journey, solving riddles, advancing through levels and unlocking prizes. That’s not Minecraft. Here, they create the world. Nothing happens without their decision–not surroundings or characters or buildings rising or holes being dug. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. There’s merely what You decide and where those decisions land You. Players have one goal: To survive. Prevail. They solve problems or cease to exist. If the teacher wants to use games to learn history, Minecraft won’t throw students into a fully fleshed simulation of the American Revolution. It’ll start with a plot of land and students will write the story, cast the characters, create the entire 1776 world. Again, think Legos.

My students hang my picture in the Teacher Hall of Fame every time I let them play Minecraft–which I do regularly. Of course, I provide guidelines. Which they love. It’s fascinating that today’s game playing youth want a set of rules they must beat, parameters they must meet, levels (read: standards) they must achieve, and a Big Goal (think: graduation) they can only reach after a lot of hard work, intense thinking, and mountains of problems. Look into the eyes of a fifth grader who just solved the unsolvable–something most adults s/he knows can’t do. You’ll remember why you’re a teacher.

A note: Any time students use the internet, start with a discussion on how to use it safely. This is especially important with multi-player games like Minecraft (you will close the system at school, but that may not be the case in the student’s home). It is fairly easy for students to create their own servers (requires no hardware, just a bit of coding) and invite friends into their Minecraft world. Encourage this rather than entering an unknown server-world.

In case you must ‘sell’ this idea to your administration, here are three great reasons why students should use Minecraft in school: Reading, Writing, and Problem Solving.

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Coding Websites/Webtools by Grade

 

Over the next week, I’ll share ideas that will get you ready for your Hour of Code. This includes (links won’t work until the articles are posted):

  1. Hour of Code? Here’s why you should participate
  2. Long list of websites by grade
  3. 15 Unusual Projects
  4. The Easiest No-coding Way to Build an Education App

This is a long list of online activities related to coding and programming. It is updated once a year so I apologize in advance for any dead links. At any time during the year, click to take you to the master list.

Program on computers, iPads, laptops–whatever works, whatever age. I’ll start this list with web-based options, by grade level and then continue with a mash-up:

Kindergarten

1st grade

2nd grade

3rd grade

4th grade

5th grade

MS

HS

Build an App

  1. Apps Geyser
  2. App Inventor–build Android apps on a smartphones; from MIT
  3. Game Salad
  4. Glide–create an app from a spreadsheet
  5. Jotform App Builder
  6. Metaverse–create apps using Metaverse’s AR platform
  7. Thunkable

Coding Curriculum

  1. C-STEM Studio–download to teach computers, science, technology, engineering and math with robotics
  2. Code Academy
  3. Coursera
  4. Everyone Can Code–from Apple
  5. Free Code Camp
  6. Google Computer Science for High School–free workshops (with application) for K-12 teachers
  7. Learn to Code (for free)
  8. PluralSight
  9. Ted-ED Think Like A Coder–a 10-episode cartoon-based series to teach kids about coding in a game format
  10. Tree House

Hour of Code

Miscellaneous

  1. Animatron–design and publish animated and interactive content that plays everywhere, from desktop computers to mobile devices.
  2. Basics of Coding–from AT&T
  3. BeeBop–based on the Beebop floor robot–free
  4. BotLogic–great for Kindergarten and youngers
  5. BrainPop coding games
  6. Build a website–a guide
  7. Cargo-Bot—logic iPad gamecoding
  8. Cato’s Hike (K+)
  9. Chrome Experiments–geeky experimentation with programming
  10. Codea (Perfect for Intermediate+)
  11. Code.org–learn to code; with teacher accounts, no student emails required (join with Join code)
  12. Codespace–coding curriculum
  13. Daisy the Dinosaur—intro to programming
  14. Edabit–learn to code with interactive challenges
  15. Foos–app or desktop; K-1
  16. Grasshopper–coding app for beginners with lesson tutorials; intuitive
  17. Hopscotch (for up to intermediate–more complicated that Kodable)
  18. Hummingbird Robotics
  19. I like programming video
  20. Kodable-great for K-2–learn to code before you can read
  21. Kodu—game programming
  22. KOOV–by Sony Education
  23. Learn to code
  24. LightBot Jr.–programming for six-year olds
  25. Lightbot–solving puzzles with programming; MS
  26. Minecraft coding mod
  27. Move the Turtle–programming via iPad for middle school
  28. Osmo Coding--a purchased game system to teach coding
  29. Pencil Code
  30. Pyonkee–free, a little glitchy
  31. Robby Leonardi–programmer–a game played about programming in the style of Mario
  32. Roboblockly–to teach coding and math, from UCDavis
  33. ScratchJr--for ages 5-7
  34. Stencyl–build games without coding with downloaded software
  35. Stickman–draw a stick figure and the site animates it
  36. Swift Playground–from Apple, includes lessons and challenges designed to teach kids to code
  37. Symbaloo collection for coding
  38. TED Talk on young programmers
  39. Which Language Should You Learn to Code–an infographic of options

Robotics

  1. C-STEM Studio
  2. Cue–from Wonder Workshop
  3. Dash and Dot — from Wonder Workshop–younger thinkers
  4. Drones
  5. Mebo
  6. Robot Don
  7. Sphero

Scratch

Click for an Hour of Code lesson plan bundle (K-8).

Click for Robotics 101 lesson plan.

Windows apps

  1. CodeWriter 
  2. HTML Programs

More on Hour of Code

6 Unplugged Activities for Hour of Code

Build Your Own Apps

Build Websites

Hour of Code–Is it the right choice?

Kid-created Games That Teach

Looking for a Class Robot? Try Robo Wunderkind

Minecraft Review

PrimoToys–unplugged programming for youngers

Root Robotics–Great Way to Extend Hour of Code

Scratch Jr.

Should Coding be a Part of the Modern School’s Curriculum?

Websites and Apps to Support Hour of Code

Why Should Students Learn Computer Science? A Teacher’s Perspective

Wonder Workshop’s Amazing Dash

@CSEdWeek #hourofcode #hoc #edtech


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.