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Tagged With: hardware

18 Pluses, 5 Differences, and 9 Tips about Chromebooks in Your Classroom

Do you have chrome books in your school? They’re those lightweight thin laptops that cost almost nothing and are taking the ed world by storm. When asked, teachers don’t say, ‘I got a set of computers for my classroom’. It’s always, ‘I got Chromebooks’ much as they’d say ‘iPads’ to mean a digital device that’s more exciting, useful, and cutting edge than the boring old desktops.

Before I talk about what’s to like and not like about a Chromebook, let’s look at what it is. In the education world, there used to be a battle betwEducation Post It Note Shows Skills Learning And Improvementeen two types of desktop computers: Macs vs. PCs. They both did the same things, but in hugely different ways. And from that difference grew an avid love/hate among their devotees (especially Mac users).

Today, ‘desktop computers’ are only one of the digital devices in the education toolkit. Consider iPads with their focus on the visual, ease of use, engagement of users. Then Chromebooks arrived–able to do ‘most’ of what ‘most’ students need–but it must be through the Cloud.

That gives educators three options (desktops, iPads, Chromebooks) as they select tools to deliver education. The challenge is to understand the differences between these options and select based on personal criteria. That includes classroom needs, infrastructure, and–yes–money. What gives the most service for the least investment?

In this last, I think the debate is settled: Chromebooks win every measure of value for dollar.


Categories: Classroom management, Reviews | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Update Your Online Presence

PLN maintenanceFor most teachers I know, life zooms by with few breaks to clean up the clutter and confusion that grows like mold over our everyday online presence. We’re like hamsters on a treadmill, trying to climb the every-growing pile of classes, lesson plans, PD, PLNs, school blogs and websites–our own professional activities. Little things like updating our virtual worlds with where we work, what awards we’ve received, who our latest boss is, get lost like a single snowflake in a snowstorm. Who has the time?

You do. Now.

When my students tell me they couldn’t do their homework because they didn’t have time, I refer them to the advice of Richard Sloma–Never try to solve all the problems at once — make them line up for you one-by-one.

Line your maintenance issues up. Pick them off like metal ducks in a shooting gallery. One. At. A. Time.

Here’s my short list. It can apply to FB, LinkedIn, class wikis, websites, Moodle accounts–anything that you routinely update and share with colleagues, students, parents:

  • Read the critical parts that make up your online presence. This includes your profile, the About page, anything that refers to ‘Contact Me’. Highlight the stuff that embarrasses you, is more than five years out of date, applies to the start of the school year (and hasn’t been touched since). Make a (digital) list of those and add them to the bottom of this list. Depending upon how serious they are, you might want to start with them.
  • Update social media profiles–FB, Twitter, G+, professional groups you belong to. Do they all say the same thing (they should)? Have you changed educational focus? Switched jobs? Adding new material efriends would like to know about? This, btw, should be done regularly, but at least do it at the new year.
  • Re-read old posts, articles, updates. Voltaire once said, No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking. The same can be said for grammar and spelling mistakes to the eye of a trained teacher. We don’t miss much, and what we do miss shows up like a ringer on a Little League team, especially when they’ve percolated for a few weeks. I start with the most-visited articles and pages (under Site Stats) and work my way down (in case I run out of time–or energy).
  • Check individual post tags and categories to see if you can whittle down the options while still clearly cataloging writing. Often, your organizational thinking has changed since you wrote the piece–what used to be a ‘math’ article, now fits better in ‘Common Core’. Relevant and timely categories and tags help those in your PLN, PD, parents and students dig deeper into your pedagogic thinking. Make this easy to do by keeping all your writing organized and searchable.
  • Check sidebar for out-of-date and no-longer-relevant widgets and links. Here are just a few of the problems I fixed:


Categories: Computer Wisdom, Teacher resources | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Tech Tip #77: Laptop Frozen? Here’s Another Solution

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:My laptop won’t turn off. What do I do?

A: Do a hard reboot. Hold the power button in ten seconds, until the laptop turns off, and reboot.

Question? Email me at and I’ll answer.

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Tech Tip #76: Laptop Frozen? Here’s What You Do

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

A: To fix a recalcitrant laptop, remove the battery, wait ten seconds and put it back and start up again. Half the time, that’ll fix it. (more…)

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Weekend Websites: Mouse Skills

Here are some of my favorite websites to teach mouse skills to kindergarten and 1st grade. It’s from my collection and is constantly updated here:

  1. Bees and Honey1183938_stylized_mouse
  2. Jigsaw puzzles
  3. Jigzone–puzzles
  4. Mouse and tech basics–video
  5. Mouse exercises–for olders too
  6. Mouse movement–bomono
  7. Mouse practice
  8. Mouse practice—drag, click
  9. Mouse skills
  10. Mouse Song
  11. Mouse Use Video
  12. Wack-a-gopher (no gophers hurt in this)


Categories: 1st, Kindergarten, Mouse skills | Tags: | Leave a comment

Weekend Website: ReclaiMe

tech problemsEvery week, I share a website that inspired my students, parents or myself. Here’s one that provided me peace of mind…




website/blog maintenance




Until the day you need it, any software that promises to recover lost data seems too confusing to worry about. That all changes when the book you’ve been writing for ten months announces ‘file corrupted’ when you try to open the lesson plans you created to align the math curriculum with Common Core disappear, or that Open House slideshow of student work is deleted from the share drive where you keep it–and from your local drive. Then, it’s a big deal. Keep this review in your bookmarks (Symbaloo, MentorMob–whatever you use) so you can find it when the day arrives. And it will, exactly when you don’t have time to deal with it.


Categories: Problem solving, Reviews, Teacher resources, Websites | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Hue HD–Webcam, Doc camera, Versatile Friend

I get a lot of questions from readers about affordable document cameras. They’re hard to come by, but I think I found one–HUE HD…


Any age


Digital hardware


Hue HD Camera


Students are used to digital cameras, phone cameras, and the ones that come with laptops and iPads, but not a colorful camera-with-built-in-microphone that has a friendly-looking bubble head (my students put eyes on ours) that can be twisted any direction. The Hue HD webcam was an instant success in my classroom. The body is sturdy and the gooseneck that connects the camera to the weighted base is rigid enough it stays in place even when flexed. And, the USB cable that connects the camera to the computer is long–six feet-giving lots of range for creative work.


Categories: Reviews | Tags: , | 2 Comments

LearnPad–a great solution for lots of classrooms

Every week, I share a website or product that inspires better learning. Here’s one I think will be the future of tech-in-ed:



Categories: Classroom management, Digital Devices, Education reform, Reviews | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Tech Tip #34: My Program Froze

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’m writing a very (very) important paper and all of a sudden, the screen is frozen. I can’t save it, or anything else. What do I do?

A: Programs do freeze for no reason sometimes, but not often (I’m assuming you take care of your computer–defrag, don’t download with abandon, update it occasionally). Before you declare a dog-ate-my-homework sort of catastrophe, try this:

  • Check your desktop for an open dialogue box and close it. You might have to answer its question first.
  • Push escape four times. You might have inadvertently got yourself into something you don’t even know you’re in. Escape often lives up to its name.
  • Click your program on the taskbar. You might have gotten out of it by accident.


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Tech Tip #28: 5 Ways to Fix a No-Sound Problem–For Free

[caption id="attachment_9295" align="alignleft" width="117"]tech tricks for K-8[/caption]

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 can’t get any sound out of my computer. Do I need a new sound card?

A: Before you invest that kind of money, try these easy fixes:

  • Are headphones plugged in?
  • Is the volume turned up?
  • Are speakers plugged in? This is my personal favorite. About once a year, this happens to me. The solution is exacerbated because I can’t reach the back of my CPU (the tower) to check the plugs. Can’t being a relative word, because I do finally do so and my problem is fixed!
  • Is the sound muted? Check the icon on the systray, or the collection of icons in the lower right corner of your monitor.
  • Are the speakers broken? Plug in a set of speakers that you know work. Does that fix it?


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