Tech Tips 2day

"A little fun; a little business; a lot of learning."

December 2013

The purpose of this "calendar":

What better way to learn about a technology than with a light-hearted technology tip for each school day?! If you would like, you only need to read one tip per day or as many as you would like; you decide based on your available time. So, take a look at this calendar each day and learn something new... or something old... or something just plain different. Let me know something YOU think could be included. I'll be happy to add it!

For each day, I have included a "Curriculum Connection" so you can see how the resource could be used in your classroom. Don't be afraid to share how you use the resource in your classroom with me or other teachers!


(For the list of contributors, go to the bottom of this calendar)

December 2, 2013: Use your Interactive White Board as another monitor

Have you ever wished you could use your computer while showing a video? It's possible! All you need do is hold down the Windows key on your keyboard and press the "P" key. Choose the "Extend" option. You can now drag windows from your monitor to the right and onto your new "monitor". This doesn't work with all programs (ActivInspire flipcharts aren't interactive using this method) but it gives you greater flexibility using your computer.

Curriculum connection: Being able to expand your options while using your computer allows you to be more productive during times when you may not have previously been able to. Once you start using another monitor for your work, you may never want to go back to just one monitor.

Photo courtesy of

December 3, 2013: Help your students become better online searchers*

Web search can be a remarkable tool for students, and a bit of instruction in how to search for academic sources will help your students become critical thinkers and independent learners.

With the materials on the following site, you can help your students become skilled searchers- whether they're just starting out with search, or ready for more advanced training.

Curriculum connection: Our students are digital learners and Internet research is a preferred option by many (if not most) of them. Educators should assist students learn the best, most efficient methods to research topics and conduct quality searches. This site is student-friendly and effective.

December 4, 2013: TIME for Kids*

TIME for Kids is news presented in a kid-friendly format. It is a weekly classroom news magazine that motivates kids to read. Issues cover a wide range of real-world topics kids love to learn about.

Curriculum connection: This is a wonderful resource for reinforcing reading skills. TIME for Kids provides many different topics of interest designed for students but equally interesting for adults. This would be a perfect site for classroom centers.

December 5, 2013: Rotate your screen

If you haven't experienced the joy of a student flipping or rotating their computer screen, you're lucky. Would you know how to get the screen back to the correct setting?

If you see a screen that's been rotated sideways, simply press "Ctrl" + "Alt" + "Up Arrow". This will put the screen back to the correct setting.

Curriculum connection: If you can't read the screen, you can't work on the computer very easily. This is one of those tips that will be very handy when it happens to you!

Photo courtesy of

December 6, 2013: Google has specific search engines to help narrow down searches* Need a current event? Forget about the newspaper, use the internet like teenagers do to find stories that are only minutes old. Arguably the best image search engine in the world. Try finding a picture of something today. Looking to make a purchase. Shop and compare prices online first using Google Shopping. What to check the stock market, try this website for a quick overview. Looking for an up to date map or satellite photo, check out these amazingly easy to manipulate maps and photos. Google has their own video search engine. Find an educational video on the internet that you can play for your class Several years ago Google bought Youtube which has become the premier video sharing website on the internet. Another project that Google is working on is to create a more efficient way to search scholarly papers. This is a great way to jump into some literature. Check out a book online, read some passages and find out where you can buy a copy.

Curriculum connection: Students waste a HUGE amount of time surfing the Internet trying to find content. The listed search engines help speed-up the search process and help prevent wasted class time. Spend more time learning and less time surfing!

December 9, 2013: Trading Card Creator*

The Trading Card tool give students an alternative way to demonstrate their literacy knowledge and skill when writing about popular culture texts or real world examples. This interactive site allows a student to create trading cards about real or fictional persons, places, objects, events, or abstract concepts. These cards can be used with any type of books students are reading. They provide an excellent pre-writing exercise for students who are writing narrative stories and need to consider characters, setting, and plot.

Curriculum connection: This is a fantastic way to promote and reinforce reading and writing skills with all students. Not only do the students work creatively and visually, they have fun. This site works for all grade levels.

December 10, 2013: THAT'S what those letters stand for???!!!

  • http is the acronym Hyper Text Transfer Protocol
  • www is the acronym for World Wide Web
  • URL is the acronym for Universal Resource Locator

Now, when your students ask what those letters mean, you know!

Curriculum connection: Too often, we use terminology but forget to explain to the students what that terminology means. The above three acronyms are used by virtually every teacher but many teachers don't know what they are the acronym for. Take a look at the vocabulary you use in your classroom; does every student know what that vocabulary means?

Graphic courtesy of

December 11, 2013: You suspect a student of plagiarism. How to find out for free.*

A student just turned an assigned definition in to you and you were concerned that this wasn't their work. You suspect they just copied and pasted this definition from the Internet. Here’s an easy way to possibly catch a plagiarist. Go to and type a phrase or sentence from the suspected work into the Google search box in quotes. Click “Google Search” and if you’re right you’ll find the exact webpage the suspected plagiarist pilfered their work from.

Curriculum connection: Students and teachers must cite information that is not created by themselves. Get in the habit of recognizing resources in your flipcharts, PowerPoints, videos, etc. If students see teachers citing sources, they will realize the worth of recognizing the work of others.

Graphic courtesy of

December 12, 2013: The taskbar that used to be at the bottom is now at the side. Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sometimes students can't resist moving the taskbar from the the bottom of the screen and placing it along the sides or the top. This can drive you crazy because, face it, you're used to seeing Explorer, Outlook, and other shortcut icons along the bottom of your screen.

To move the taskbar back to the bottom, left-click and hold an empty space on the taskbar usually under the icons (don't hold any of the icons on the taskbar or this won't work) and drag the taskbar to the bottom. Tah-dahhhhh! It's back and you can now breathe easier.

Curriculum connection: This has nothing to do with your curriculum unless you are a technology teacher. It's just a helpful hint because it can be truly a confusing experience if the taskbar is placed on the screen where you aren't used to seeing it.

December 13, 2013: Password Protection Ideas*

What makes for a good password? Here are some basic suggestions:

  1. Avoid common names, dates, phone numbers or things easily associated with you.
  2. Avoid common words or phrases as they would be the first thing checked by password cracking software.
  3. Use a combination of numbers and letters. For example, substitute numbers for letters and letters for numbers in a word or phrase.
  4. Make it something you can remember all by yourself. Don’t write it down anywhere!
  5. Don’t use naturally occurring keyboard sequences (like “qwerty” for example)
  6. Try to make it at least 8 - 16 characters long. Obviously the longer the better.
  7. Plan on changing your password often. Experts suggest changing your passwords at least every 6 months.

Curriculum connection: We, as educators, always need to keep the safety of our students and parents as a high priority. We do not want someone to steal information about our students (names, addresses, personal info) so we need to protect our accounts. Be safe. Be concerned. Spend time on your passwords especially if the account you are creating has anything to do with school.

Graphic courtesy of .

December 16, 2013: Take a picture of your screen

This can be a super useful tool to add to your toolbox. If you would like to take a snapshot (picture) of your screen, hold down the "Ctrl" key and press the "Print Scrn/SysRq" key. Then, open Word (or any text editing document) and paste the image you took a screenshot of on the page.

Curriculum connection: This is a handy tool for saving information from a website you would like to look at later. Save the images you paste into Word in a folder and you will be creating a file drawer of material.

Photo courtesy of .

December 17, 2013: Email Etiquette*

1. Be concise and to the point.

2. Answer all questions and pre-empt further questions.

3. Use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation.

4. Use appropriate spacing and emphasis.

5. Do not overuse the high priority option.

6. Do not use CAPITALS for an entire email.

7. Don’t leave out the message thread.

8. Read the email before you send it.

9. Do not use Cc if sending to a mailing list. (Use the Bcc for large group messages.)

10. Take care with abbreviations and emoticons in formal emails.

Curriculum connection: Email etiquette education is critical for future job skills. Since email is still an important part of business communication, educators should be concerned that email messages reflect only the best in senders of messages. When you think about it, an email reflects many aspects of a person's education and personality.

Graphic courtesy of .

December 18, 2013: Online books. Check this out!*

Did you know that there is an online searchable database of million of the world's books that's completely free to use? For several years now the Internet Archive has been collecting millions of scanned and text versions of fiction, popular books, childrens books, historical texts, and academic books that are searchable in their OpenLibrary.

There have been other efforts along these lines such as the Gutenberg Project which currently offers 42,000 free online ebooks and Lit2Go which comes from Florida's Educational Technology Clearinghouse. Lit2Go offers a huge free collection of online audio books that can be downloaded as MP3's and played on just about any digital device including your phone. Many of the books and stories that our students read can be found here.

The Google Books project can be found here:

They have already scanned millions of books from major universities all across the nation. You can search their database and read the books right off the screen.

Curriculum connection: Reading is the backbone of education. If you can't read, life can become very difficult. There are millions of free, online books for all age levels that can be downloaded and enjoyed. Support reading: Support success.

Graphic courtesy of .

December 19, 2013: Finding current events made easy*

1) Go to and select the “News” tab in the upper left hand corner.

2) When you get there you’ll be viewing a list of the top stories by category. The stories are gathered from online news resources from all around the world. The stories are categorized and updated routinely. You can even see how old the stories are. Some of them are only minutes old. You can't get much more "current" than that, can you.

3) Categories include Science & Technology,Sports, U.S. National News and evenEntertainment. To find more stories in that category just click on the tabs in the top left of the web page.

4) Maybe you’d prefer to view your news from a Russian, Chinese or an Indian perspective. Just click on the country of your choice at the bottom of the screen and you'll be viewing current events from those countries. This is an example of an automatic news aggregator which is a website that pulls together top stories from all sorts of news outlets and puts similar stories together. It's one stop shopping for all the current events you could ever need.

Curriculum connection: Studying current events is an important part of the educational process. Students should be taught how to determine high quality information from poor quality education. Teaching current events also educates the students in history and viewpoints that may be different from their own. Also, it is interesting to read how other countries view the same information presented in the United States. This can be a true eye-opener!

Graphic courtesy of .

December 20, 2013: Check "facts" with these awesome Web Tools*

Here are a couple of websites that can help you sort fact from fiction and outright lies:

For sorting through urban legends and dubious emails there is no better website than:

This site is dedicated to stomping out “eRumors” that show up in your email:

This site was made famous in the last presidential election. To sort through all the political information out there the Annenberg Foundation set-up

Speaking of politics, if you prefer your facts with a specific political slant you might want to consider one of these two websites: Fact checking with a conservative slant Fact checking with a liberal slant

Since most of these sites cater to adult audiences you might want to consider this website as a resource for students:

Curriculum connection: How can an educator teach "facts" if those facts aren't true? The above tools assist educators in determining if information is a fact or fiction. The above sites are beneficial for students to use (particularly middle school and high school) and will assist in the fact-finding emphasis emphasized by our district.

Graphic courtesy of .

*Research help and content for this month's tips: