Friday, October 14, 2016

8 Keyboard Shortcuts Everyone Should Know

Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to save time when using the computer.  Here are a few of my favorites and some others that I was reintroduced to.

Control & C or Command & C (mac) is the shortcut to copy a picture or a selection of text.

Now that you copied this text, use Control & V or Command & V (mac) to paste the image of text.

Searching for something in a document or on a webpage?  To do this you use Control & F or Command & F (mac)

While you are searching you may want to easy move up and down the webpage and not have to scroll.  All you need to do is press the spacebar and you will jump down the webpage a chunk at a time.  If you want to move back up, simple use shift and the spacebar and that will bring you back up.

While you are searching the web you may want to open up a new tab.  You can easily do that my pressing Control & T or Command & T (mac).

You may also be clicking on links on these webpage.  If you don't have a setting that automatically opens up links in a new tab you can Control or Command (mac) before you click on the link and it will open up the link in a new tab.

Lastly to quickly close a tab all you need to do is Control & W or Command & W (mac)

I hope these were helpful!  As always, let me know with a comment if there is anything that you are looking to learn about!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Edmodo is more than just for your students - it can be professional development as well.

Some of you may have heard of Edmodo and might even be using it in your classes.  Those of you who aren't using it probably think that it's just for your students.  Edmodo is so much for than that and can actually be a great tool for professional development.  You can join groups for things like middle school science or technology in the classroom.
Of course you can also create classroom groups to assign homework, quizzes, track performances and award badges.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Google Docs gets Columns!!!!

Google Docs users have been asking for it for a while and now and Google finally gave it to us; columns in Google Docs.  You can now create documents with with two or three columns.  As with many things Google, it's pretty simple to include columns in your document.  All you need to do is to click on Format and then choose Columns.  How easy is that?  Then you can pick one, two or three columns.   You can also click on more options to customize it a bit more and change up things like spacing between columns.

What other things do you want to see updated in Google Docs?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Back to School - Get to know your students

I have never really done a get to know you activity with my students because my school is small.  The kids have been together since Kindergarten and by the time they are in middle and high school I figured that they knew everything there is to know about each other.  This year I am trying something new and, of course, I am using technology to help me out with it.  I've decided to have each student share one fact about them that most people don't know.  To do this, I created a Padlet board for each of my classes.  Padlet is basically an online builtin board.  You share the link with others and they an add text, videos and images to the board.  Neither you or the people you share your board with need an account, but I find it help to have one as the teacher.  Padlet gives you the ability to choose a background image and set other preferences to customize what your board looks like.

Once students have all submitted their facts about themselves, I am going to have the students try to guess who they think each fact belongs to.  I'm still trying to think of a fun way to do that part, but I would love any suggestions that you have!

This post is cross posted on my science blog Savvy Secondary Science

Monday, August 29, 2016

3 Tips for making your Google Slides Pop!!

If you've switched to Google Slides from something like PowerPoint or Keynote, you might be missing the templates and themes that those programs provide.  Did you know that Google Slides has a lot of templates built right in?

My first tip is to access Google slides directly by going to instead of going through drive.  You'll get a header that includes templates for you to choose from.  If click on more you'll see so many more templates that you can choose from and the are even organized by category! is a site that offers a number of templates that you can make a copy of.  When you click on the link you'll be brought to a view only version of the presentation.  One you make a copy of it you'll be able to edit it and make it your own.  I would suggest that every time you want to use it you make another copy of it so you always have a clean copy in your drive and don't have to go back to the website to get it.  One quick note on this side...there are ads on this site that look like if you click on them will download the template.  Don't click on those because you'll actually be downloading something else. ;-)

Lastly Slides Carnival is another site to get templates to help your slides pop!  It work just as the last site worked.  You click on the template that you want and you'll get a view only version that you'll need to make a copy off.  Same tip applies that you need to watch out for ads that look like you are getting the template, but are actually downloading something else.

I hope that this has helped you snaz up your Google Slides!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Detecting Quality Sources

Thank you to Carol from I'm technically speaking for this guest post!

Detecting Quality Sources
Have you ever landed on a website and wondered about the accuracy? Or have your students landed on a site that the credibility is questionable for use in their research? How can you eliminate the mystery surrounding website accuracy and credibility?

Using a fake site is a fun way to teach website evaluation skills, as the students are almost solving a mystery. There are clues within the site that will lead them to discover the truth of real or fake. There are even special tools that can be used to help solve the mystery. A good list has been collected by Dr. Mary Ann Bell at Aditi Rao has published on techbytes a list of 11 at One of my favorites is Broilerplate.

Examine the clues
One of the first clues to a website mystery, might just be in the URL/website address. Let’s use
my Boilerplate site as an example. If you truncate the URL (take off all the /’s) and look at the main address: Obviously “bigredhair”, does not sound very scholarly and add to that the .com signifying a commercial site. These first clues point to a fake/untrustworthy site.

Another set of clues can be unveiled when considering who the author is and what their purpose is this the site. Ask yourself what intent of the author might be: to inform, explain, sell, share, or other. Does it seem to be more opinion or fact? You can check the links on the site and what they connect to as well. All these clues should help lead you to a good deduction of credibility.

What do you think so far? Is the Boilerplate site fake? Sometimes you need more clues to make the determination. A good detective also has useful tools, let’s put some to use and solve this mystery!

Use the tools
RADCAB stands for relevancy, appropriateness, detail, currency, authority and bias. This site has teaching posters and an evaluation rubric students can use.

Imagine Easy Web Academy’s Website Evaluator (
Simply paste the questioned website’s url into the box and click evaluate. The site will lead you through an evaluation process. Examine the purpose, accuracy, authority/author & publisher, relevance, and currency of the website.

C.R.A.A.P. Test
For older students I like the C.R.A.A. P. test. It looks at currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose. A great rubric that students can use is located here:

Resource Gude

Now that you have removed the mystery….how did your site score?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Host a ClassFlow™ Dynamic Teacher House Party

ClassFlow is a new LMS and they are offering some cool stuff just for sharing with your friends. Below is some information about the party they are having and how you can host one as well.

You can find more information by going to their website.

As a teacher, you know that the best classes are the ones where your students are engaged in the lesson, interacting with you, and collaborating with each other. Enter ClassFlow™, designed by Promethean. ClassFlow is a free collaborative teaching and learning platform that can bring your classes to life. ClassFlow integrates free and premium curriculum content with an energizing and engaging lesson delivery application that works with most individual devices — laptops, Chromebooks, iPads, etc.

ClassFlow is a key part of the modern classroom, so invite your fellow dynamic teachers over to experience lively learning with ClassFlow. Share tips with each other for great lesson plans and then show them how ClassFlow makes learning more interactive and dynamic. Best of all it's free, so apply to host a party today and help your fellow teachers discover ClassFlow.

This event is only open to residents of the US.

If you’re selected and confirmed as a host, your exclusive Party Pack will contain:

  • Visa gift card 
  • Set of photo booth props 
  • And more

Monday, August 1, 2016

TSST Top Ten Posts of July

July has been a busy month for me and I've gotten back in the swing of a lot of things that I had let slide.  Blogging is one of them so I hope you'll forgive me. ;-)  Here are the ten most popular posts of July for you to read or reread.

  1. StudyBlue Pro - give it a try!
  2. Socrative quick Questions
  3. 5 Ed-Techs to make your time in the classroom easier
  4. how to use GradeCam
  5. PowToon - Animated Videos
  6. Using Mail Merge with Gmail
  7. Augmented Reality in the Science Classroom
  8. an easy way to group your students
  9. Set expiration dates for access to Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides
  10. Fun Socrative Quizzes

What was your favorite post or what are you hoping appears as a future post? 

Friday, July 22, 2016

5 Ed-Techs Tips to make your time in the classroom easier!

Thank you to Alexis for this guest post!

Hello! Alexis from Science Beans here! I wanted to talk about some technology resources that all teachers can use to make your time in the classroom easier (and a little more fun!). Technology has changed my classroom in amazing ways. Here are some tools I use in the classroom that have transformed learning and saved me time ;)

Common Curriculum (CC)

Common Curriculum has saved me a tremendous amount of time when it comes to lesson planning. I wanted to find a way to make lesson planning easier and completely online rather than creating word documents for my weekly plans. It was getting tedious and very annoying having to type and retype the plans to place them in my lesson plan binder! I did a little research and after testing some online lesson planning sites out I fell in love with CC. The service is FREE for teachers but of course has upgrade options as well. The site gives you the option to plan for multiple classes in whatever format or template you like. One of my favorite options is being able to collaborate with colleagues making common planning time a piece of cake! The PRO version is completely worth it because you can plan by units, track standards in your lesson plans, export your plans as PDFs in different formats, and have a class website! No matter what version you decide to use, the lesson plans are all saved online. If someone needs to see my lesson plans, I share them (email, pdf, etc.) no need to print! For more info, see my previous blog post here.

This is what the lesson plan page looks like & the standards listing:

This for me is not only fun but extremely useful! I am pretty obsessed with it (I even have an Edmodo cape that I won at an online seminar – nerd alert!) Edmodo looks like Facebook but for schools and classrooms. The transformation of Edmodo over the years has been incredible. There is so much you can do and learn about on Edmodo that different PD’s and Seminars are given to teach you the various tools. Put simple, you make a class page, the kids sign up, and you get to collaborate! You can post notes, create assignments, create quizzes, you can create a poll, or use a ‘Snapshot’ (series of benchmark questions in math and reading that will show you which standards students need help in). I like to use mine as an online classroom platform.
All of the notes, assignments, handouts, you name it, are in folders on the class sections. One of the best additions to Edmodo has been the linking of your Google Drive or Office 365. It’s not only good for students but a great way to collaborate between teachers locally or around the world. I can probably write a book on everything you can do on Edmodo, trust me it’s awesome! Check it out!


This is a cool site/app that allows you to send out text message reminders to students. When I first started using remind (when it was remind101) it was simple. You received a unique phone number, the kids would subscribe to the text messaging service with a class code you created, and voila! They would receive text reminders every time you sent out a message. They could not answer and did not have access to your personal information. Over the years, the site/app has changed its name to Remind and has some amazing features. Now you can:

The number to sign up is the same for all teachers (81010) and the class code is the only thing that changes or is unique

  • set office hours where students can respond back to questions
  • students can “stamp” messages using the app
  • Add pictures, sounds, links, to messages or set the delivery time
  • receive the messages by email
  • post a widget on your school website for the messages to be displayed
  • send messages to a small group of students in a class
  • download a pdf of your message history in any class…..

…..and so much more! Parents have signed up and love knowing what the students should be working on. My school has also moved to using a school wide remind where school announcements are sent out.

Kahoot & Quizlet
I don’t know about you, but my students love to play games (and so do I). No matter what the age or grade level, turning an assignment into any form of competition is usually a good idea. Kahoot is a free site that creates a game out of a set of questions created by the teacher. Once the game or ‘Kahoot’ is made, students answer the questions on their own devices. The question and answer choices are displayed on the screen in the front of the class and the students can choose their answer on their devices. It tracks the points and gives you data at the end with the questions the students did well on and what they need help with! Real time data! There are tons of way to use this resource: pretest style to see what they know, review game, bellringer, as a brain break, etc. Pressed for time? Many Kahoots are shared and you can use games created by others around the world. You can also create a discussion Kahoot and a survey version.

A similar option is Quizlet where you can make flashcards virtually, which seems cool enough, but it’s not just about the creation of the cards that’s awesome, it’s what you can do with them! Students can again play games using the cards and one of my favorites is Quizlet live. Students are placed on random teams and asked questions that match a set of cards. They need to figure out who on their team has the correct answer in order to win the race! Check out the video of students playing.

Discovery Education #SOS – Spotlight On Strategies

I am an extreme science nerd, which means anything Discovery or Discovery channel related is cool to me. I had
the opportunity to spend the last 3 years as a Discovery Education Leader and learn a huge amount of resources to help change the way students learn and how they create things. One of the resources we were taught focused on the use of something known as SOS (spotlight on strategies). Discovery came up with creative ways to use various media sources and formats to engage students in any subject or concept you are teaching. Here’s an example of one known as “take a Walk”. They come in pdf format and give you step by step what you need to do to complete the strategy. I love the last part with more ideas which is one way of extending any lesson. Click the link about to check out the Discovery Blog focused on all of their SOS strategies.

Thanks for having me and I hope you enjoyed these Edtechs!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Socrative quick Questions

Socrative is a site that I like and have written about several times before.  I've talked about how to use it and some fun quizzes that you can do with your students.

When I go over homework assignments or an assignment like a practice test I like to switch it up every once in a while.  It can get a little boring just calling out numbers and having students give their answers.  Recently I  used Socrative to go over a practice test and my students (and I) liked the change of pace. Socrative has a few different modes, but I like quick questions because it doesn't require any set up from you ahead of time.

You as the teacher need to create an account, but your students don't.  The first time you log in you'll be asked to choose a name for your room.  The great thing is that your room name never changes.  This makes it super easy for the students to remember.

Once you are signed in, you'll be able to choose one of four modes in the dashboard.  Quick questions allows you to poll your students without any advanced prep.  Click on quick questions and then you'll be prompted to choose multiple choice, true/false or short answer.  In the meantime, your students should go and enter your room number.  They will see the answer choices as A, B, C, D, E, True/False or a box to type into.

The teacher view will show you the live results and you can stop the data collection at any point.  You can also see how many students are in the room by looking at the top right (under the word FINISH).  This way you can see how many students are joined your room.
When you are done with the question, simply scroll down  to start a new question.  When you are done with everything, click on FINISH in the upper right hand and you will be able to view the data from your session.

Students can access Socrative from any device with a web browser, but there is also an app for Android, iOS and Window devices.

Have you tried Socrative before?  What do you think? 

Are you more a visual person?  Here is a video walking you through the steps.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Google Hangouts in your Classroom - Free Online Conference

How can you use Google Hangouts in your classroom?

Join Simple K12 for their FREE Online Conference on Saturday, June 11th, to discover ideas on ways Hangouts can be used to connect and engage your students.

Learn how to use Hangouts for:

1. Conducting "hangout" sessions

2. Mystery location or mystery number calls

3. Connecting with experts

4. Collaborative projects including peer editing and researching

5. Broadcasting school events

6. Podcasting in the classroom

And so much more!

Click Here to Register

BONUS: Register today and receive their new Free Resource Guide!

Inside you will find a sampling of some of the best Google tools for your classroom...

And ideas on how to use them!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Using Mail Merge with Gmail

How to use Yet Another Mail Merge to create Gmail merged e-mails.

If you are like me, you use mail merge when you want to send the same e-mail out to multiple people, but personalize it with some information. For example, you may want to send an e-mail and personalize the name in each e-mail or you have a different word or phrase that needs to be in each e-mail.

 In Microsoft, it's easy to send a mail merge, but it's just as easy to send one via Google.  The first thing you'll need to do is set up a spreadsheet.  In the spreadsheet you need to have headers for each column for the mail merge to work well.  One of the columns needs to be e-mail.  The other columns can be any of the personalizations that you want to much (such as names).

Next, you'll need to go into Gmail and type up the e-mail you want to send and save it as a draft.  To enter personalizations you need to insert a placeholder.  For example, if you wanted to enter the person's name in the e-mail you'll have to use the word that you titled the column.  I probably would have called it name, so then I would find the spot where I want the person's name and type in <<name>>.  Basically you just put the column heading name in between the arrows (<< >>).

Lastly you'll need to install the add on called Yet Another Mail Merge. To do this you can click on this link which will bring you to the installation page. Once you have done this, go back to your spreadsheet and click on the Add-Ons menu and then Yet Another Mail Merge and run the add-on.

You are all set!  The add-on will sent the e-mails to the list of people in your spreadsheet.  It will also tell you who read it and who didn't and even let you target those people will follow-up e-mails.

If you have questions or want more clarification just let me know!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Set expiration dates for access to Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides files

I just read Google's Blog and they talked about a new feature when sharing files with others.  You will be able to set an expiration date when give someone commenting or viewing access to a file; you will not be able to do this to someone you give editing access too.  It will probably be rolling out around the end of the school year, so you can really take advantage of it next school year.

I like this because I often give students access to view a file of mine for a specific reason, but don't really want them having access to it for an extended period of time.  Yes, they might be able to make a copy of it for themselves, but you can turn off that feature.

What are your thoughts about this update?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Getting Organized with a Planner

I always feel like I have a million things going on and I have trouble focusing on what needs to get done and what is just fun to do.  I now have two planners: one I use for personal stuff that I carry around with me and another I use for school related stuff that stays on my desk at school.  I have recently started decorating my personal planner with some functional stickers that help me organize my thoughts.  I was contacted by the great people at Oh Hello Co about doing a blog post about how I could use their stickers in a school planner.  I love their stickers and use them in my personal planner so I decided that they would be great in my school planner as well.  Below is a quick video on how I plan a week in my school planner.  If you are interested in checking out these stickers, click on this affiliate link that will take you to their shop.  As a thank you, you will get $5 off your first order.

What do you do to stay organized? 

Disclaimer: Links used in this post are afflilate links. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Amazing Google tips and tricks from the EdTechTeam

Today I spent the day virtually attending the EdTechTeam GAFE summit at the University of Hawaii.  There were four sessions along with the keynote and demo slam that were streamed lived via Google Hangouts.  I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about Google, but I learned so much in the various sessions today.  Lucky for you, EdTechTeam recorded everything and you can go back and watch it.   I highly suggest that you add these to your YouTube watch later list.  You can get to the links for all of the sessions by going to

If you don't have time, or interest, in watching all of the sessions I highly recommend the Chrome Secrets and Google A-Z sessions.  These are the two session that I learned the most in.

Have you every been to an EdTechTeam GAFE summit?

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Best Pencil Sharpener EVER!!!

This year I started using the BEST PENCIL SHARPENER EVER!!!  Ok, this may seem dramatic, but as a teacher you know that pencil sharpeners can be a big pain in the classroom.  You may also be asking what this has to do with technology.  Technology is not just the electronic technology we think of.  Technology is defined as the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. (source)  I would definitely classify this pencil sharpener as technology.

In my classroom there were two choices - the old fashion pencil sharpener that has been bolted the wall for the past fifty years or the electric sharpener that always gets jammed or makes so much noise.  I had hear about the pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies last year and, though it looked good, wasn't sure if it was really worth it.  I finally took the plunge and bought a sharpener.  I am so glad that I did because it really is the best sharpener.  It's super easy to use, quiet and works great.  I recorded a short video so you can see how it works.

I know I mentioned this is the video, but while it comes with a clamp I would suggest that you don't use it.  I have used it with and without the clamp and I think it's better without the clamp.  It falls off and then the kids think they broke it and it just takes up time.  There is a permanent mounting bracket you can get if you want to permanently mount it somewhere.

So since writing is not my strong suit and I'm not good at conclusions, I'm just going to leave you with this:  You need at least one of these sharpeners in your classroom asap.  I regret not getting one sooner.

Classroom Friendly Supplies has provided me with this sharpener for purposes of providing a review. I received it at no charge to me and I am under no obligation to return the product but can keep it for me own personal use. In addition, the above link is a referral link.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A playlist of video tech tips

If you aren't reading Richard Byrne's Free Tech for Teachers Blog, be sure to add it to your feed.  He recently put together a collection of soem of the videos he has made into a YouTube playlist.  There are a lot of great videos for a variety of tech tools.  Take a look at it and see what new thing you can try.  Click on the three lines on the top left of the video to see a list of all of the videos in the playlist.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Zaption Presenter

Zaption Presenter is now out of beta and open to all!  If you haven't heard of Zaption before it a website that allows you to insert questions into videos so that students are stopped along the way and asked them to respond to a question.  Up until now it was an individual task.  Now you can create a tour (what Zaption calls a video that you have inserted questions into) that the whole class watches at the same time.  Students get a code and can answer the questions on their own devices during the video.  The question shows up both on the video and on their screen.  In addition, you can add questions to the tour on the fly if there is something that you want to focus on.  Below is a sample tour that will explain to you how Zaption presenter works.

How do you typically show vidoes in your classroom?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Texthelp brings you Teach for Google

Texthelp is has created Teach for Google.  It's a site where you can get mini courses on how to best use Google Apps for Education in your classroom.  There is a mixture of free and paid content.  The free content includes things such as Guided Notes and writing a RAFT.  Take a look and see what they can do for you!