Posts Tagged With: Tech Tips

Once a Year Blog Maintenance–Are You Up to Date?

blog maintenance

Keep your blog up to date–photo credit: Nemo

This week, I’m providing tips for end-of-year technology maintenance. Sure, you should do it once a month if you’re active on your computer, but AT LEAST do it yearly.

Like today.

For most writers I know, life zooms by with few breaks to pause, glance around at the surroundings and clean up the clutter and confusion that grows like mold from our everyday authorial life. The end of the calendar year is a good time to do that, when many of us are blogging less, posting almost nothing, and have fewer commitments and obligations to fill our week.

Here’s my short list–one I hope is do-able during the Holidays:

  • Update my profile. Have I changed my focus? Switched jobs? Adding new pieces readers would like to know about? This, btw, should be done regularly, but at least do it at the new year.
  • Check old posts for grammar and spelling. I start with the most-visited articles (under Site Stats) and work my way down (in case I run out of time). I’m always surprised what I catch with a fresh eye.
  • Check individual post tags and categories to see if I can whittle down the options while still clearly cataloging my writing. Sometimes, I haven’t even added a category–fix all those, too.
  • Check sidebar for out-of-date and no-longer-relevant widgets and links. Add new pieces (like awards and links) that add to the blog’s utility. Move pieces around to give a fresh look.
  • Check list of ‘pages’. Sure, I’m on top of the Home page, but are the others still relevant? Up to date? Like my WIP page? Hmm…
  • Check appearance on a smart phone and iPad to see if they require adjustments to display better. I recently switched my blog theme (you probably noticed) to respond to the fact that so many people read blogs on iPads and smartphones now, rather than desktops and laptops.
  • Check blog in different browsers to see if I should recommend one over the other for best-viewing.

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End-of-year Tech Tips: Image Your Computer

This week, I’m providing tips for how to prepare for the New Year–that pesky end-of-year technology maintenance. Sure, you should do it once a month if you’re active on your computer, but AT LEAST do it yearly.

Like today.

Tech Tips for Writers is an occasional post over on my Writer Blog, WordDreams, on overcoming Tech Dread. I cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. Feel free to post a comment. I’ll cover your tech dread in a future Tip.

Q: I hate reformatting my computer. I lose all the extras I’ve added (like Jing, cookies, Printkey 2000) I forget which software I have (sure, I remember MS Office, but what about Google Earth? Celestia?) And then there are all the personalizations I’ve put on that get lost with the reformat. Is there any way to make that process easier?

A: Glad you asked. Yes–create an image. This is a picture of what your hard drive looks like, including all the programs and extras, that is saved in a secure back-up area. When you reformat, all you have to do is copy the image back to the computer. Mine is on a terabyte external drive. Even if my two internal drives explode, I’m good.

Here’s what you do:

  • Click the start button.
  • Go to Control Panel
  • Select ‘Backup and Restore’
  • On the left sidebar, you’ll see an option for ‘create a system image’. Select that.
  • Follow directions (it’ll ask which drive to use for the image–stuff like that)

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End-of-Year Tech Tips: Back Up Your Computer

This week, I’m providing tips for how to prepare for the New Year–that pesky end-of-year technology maintenance. Sure, you should do it once a month if you’re active on your computer, but AT LEAST do it yearly.

Like today.

This one’s from Tech Tips for Writers, an occasional post over on my Writer Blog, WordDreams, on overcoming Tech Dread. I cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. Feel free to post a comment. I’ll cover your Tech Dread in a future Tip.

Q: I’ve had some virus problems and it reminds me that I need to back-up my computer for the new year. I have all of my writing [aka, classwork, student grades, lesson plans] on there–what if I lost it? What’s the easiest way?

A: There are many ways–and I use all of them because I am truly paranoid about losing my work. Here are some ideas:

  • use a back-up service like Carbonite. They automatically and continuously backup to the cloud so even if you forget to do this, they don’t. Even better, you can access your work from anywhere with an internet connection. I love that.
  • email copies of your most important writing to yourself. For WIP [and lesson plans, schedules, scope and sequence], I do it constantly. Every day. If you use Gmail, you can email up to 20 mb. If your file is larger than that (which some of mine are–and my RTFs definitely are–just upload them to the Google Drive associated with your Gmail.
  • Use Windows Backup function. Here’s what you do:
  • 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.

A note: This is the same location you’ll go to restore from back-up if you have a problem.

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Tech Tip #71: Visit Foreign Language Google Search

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: English isn’t my first language. How do I go to Google in other languages?


A: To visit the foreign language Google search engines, type:
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Categories: teacher resources, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Dear Otto: How do I assess a project like Movie Maker?

tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Tracy in South Africa:

I am doing Movie Maker with my Grade 6 girls. (age 12) How would you suggest I assess this?

It depends upon your needs, Tracy. Tech ed is at times expected to be assessed quantitatively and other times, on a qualitative, effort-based platform. If your school requires the former of you, you might want to create a rubric that includes the Movie Maker features you expect to be included (i.e., storyboard, transitions, images, length, integrated sound), make that available as a checklist to students prior to completion, and then let them grade each other. You can then take that completed rubric and use it for your grading. As for the rubric: Here’s a link to one of my posts with some ideas on that.

On the other hand, if what you’re trying to teach has more to do with working in groups, mixing media, research, using internet materials wisely (such as images they might find for the movie), then you might want to adopt one of the approaches in this post–anecdotal observation, their ability to transfer knowledge from skills already learned, their ability to teach others what they know about movie making, an oral presentation.
These are two valid assessment styles. Whichever you follow would provide you with defensible and authentic results. Let me know if I can help with anything else!

 

To ask Otto a question, fill out the form below:



Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachersa columnist for Examiner.com, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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Tech Tip #69:Change Size of Desktop Icons

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: 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. Here’s how you fix that:

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

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

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Categories: Tech Tips, windows | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Tech Tip #68: Check History in Your Browser

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: How do I check to see where my kids/students have been online without making them think I don’t trust them?

A: If they’ve been online without you (because you considered them mature enough for this action), by all means check up on them. This is not a sign of distrust any more than guiding them through any other new skill is. This is you showing them the correct way to use the internet. You’re not spying on your children; you’re making sure everything is OK, kind of like checking in on them while they sleep.

Go to what’s called ‘history’. ‘History‘ is where a list of all the websites whoever logged in under a particular user name went.  Here’s how you do it:

  • Hold Control key (Ctrl) and push H. That brings up a sidebar with the sites they’ve visited.
  • Select the time frame you’re interested in

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Tech Tip #66: Zoom In/Out of Websites

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: I can’t read the internet page. How do I zoom out of a browser window?

A: There are a few ways, but here’s the simplest of all: Hold down the “Ctrl” key and move your “mouse scroll wheel”. One direction zooms in; the other zooms out. 

There are two other ways:

  • Ctrl+ (the plus sign next to backspace) will zoom in one step at a time; Ctrl- will do the same zooming out
  • Go to the menu bar. Select ‘View’, ‘Zoom’ and either ‘Zoom in’ or ‘Zoom out’

To return to the original setting, hold down the “CTRL” key and hit the number zero.

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Categories: 8th grade, fourth grade, keyboard shortcuts, mouse skills, Tech Tips, websites | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #103: Need Email Accounts for Registration? Here’s a Fix–Update

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: A lot of web-based tools require email verification. My students don’t have these at school or home yet. What do I do?

A: For whatever reason, the video I used to reference has been pulled. I didn’t realize how many used that work-around until I heard from many of you, eager for a solution.

This one might even be easier than the previous. This is from LifeHacker. In a nutshell, Gmail ignores ‘dots’ and + in a username. Jacqui.murray is the same as jacquimurray is the same as jacqui+murray. Use that to your advantage with student accounts. Read LifeHacker’s article for more detail or this one over at Curious Little Person. For more death, visit Tech Recipes.

I love problem solving–don’t you!

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Categories: email, Tech Tips, Web 2.0 | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #64: Reset Default Font

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: If you’re like me, you don’t like MS Office 2007 or 2010’s default font of Calibri, size 11 with a double space between paragraphs. Here’s how you fix that:

  • Type a couple of paragraphs in any document
  • Highlight what you typed and right clicktemplate ms word
  • Select font
  • Change the font to what you prefer. In my case, it’s TNR 12
  • Click the Default button on the lower left and approve that this is, in fact, how you’d like a future documents to be formatted when opening a new document. If it asks whether you want this for future documents, say Yes.
  • Now right click again and select Paragraph
  • Make sure Line Spacing is single (or double if you’re following MLS)
  • Go to Spacing and make sure both Before and After show 0 pts.
  • Click Default

That’s it. The next time you open a document in MS Word, it will open with this revised formatting.

Questions you want answered? Leave a comment here and I’ll answer it within the next thirty days.

To sign up for Tech Tips delivered to your email, click here.

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Categories: 8th grade, fifth grade, middle school technology, Parent resources, teacher resources, Tech Tips, Word Processing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #63: Don’t Like Double Space Between Paragraphs?

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: Word 2010 comes with a double space between paragraphs as the default, but I don’t like that. I’ve tried to reset it to single space, but it doesn’t fix it. What do I do?

A: I don’t like it either. What was Bill Gates thinking? Don’t as many people start a paragraph with a tab indent as a double space between paragraphs? Now I have to fix that every time I open a Word doc. Here’s how to do it (in Word 2010):

  • Go to Page Layout
  • Go to Paragraph, Spacing
  • Make sure ‘after’ is set to 0–not 10.

To make this the default:

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Categories: Tech Tips, Word Processing | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Tech Tip #62: Email from Word (Or PowerPoint or Excel)

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 was helping one of the faculty at my school. She couldn’t print a document (server problems) so I suggested she email it to herself at home and print it there. She started going online to her Yahoo account and I stopped her. Click the email tool on the Word toolbar. She was so excited–an epiphany! What fun to share that with her. She was so happy about it, I’m going to email it to all the teachers in the school (I’m the tech teacher). Continue reading

Categories: classroom management, Excel, free tech resources, MS Excel, Slideshows, teacher resources, Tech Tips, Word Processing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #61: How to Get Youngers to Use the Right Mouse Button

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: Kids always get confused when I’m explaining directions that require the right mouse button. I’ve found an easy way to clarify:

“Right click with your mouse”

Student promptly clicks with their left mouse. I know–doesn’t make sense. It does to them. They’re happy to focus on the right hand and have no idea they need to go one level further. My comeback:

“The other right.”

Always works. And, they don’t feel stupid (which they aren’t). They remember it.

Questions you want answered? Leave a comment here and I’ll answer it within the next thirty days.

To sign up for Tech Tips delivered to your email, click here.

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blogger, a columnist for Examiner.com, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Tech Tip #60: How to Add Shortcuts to the Desktop

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: How do I create a shortcut on my desktop so I can find my programs easier?

A: There are two ways to do that:

  1. click on the icon on the start button and drag and drop it to the desktop, or
  2. right click on the icon on ‘all programs’ (click start button, then select ‘all programs’ at the bottom) and select ‘send to’, then select ‘desktop (create shortcut)’

That’s it.

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Categories: 8th grade, fifth grade, fourth grade, free tech resources, middle school technology, teacher resources, Tech Tips, third grade, windows | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: 98 Tech Tips

tech tips

With the school year on its way back, I want to share some of the tech books I use in my classroom. I think you’ll enjoy them also. This one is a two-volume all-in-one for grades K-8. It includes a mixture of lessons that cover different skills, different subjects. Hope you like it!

98 Tech Problems from the Classroom:

and How Students Can Solve Them

Running a tech lab can be frightening. What if there’s a problem you don’t know how to answer? What if the computers break? What if they all break at once?

Several years ago, in an effort to create a practical strategy for technology success, I started tracking how often I got the same tech questions from students. Soon, I extended it to parents who, in a well-intentioned effort to help with school work, often got stuck on a techie issue. Some spent hours on a problem that could have been solved in minutes–if only they knew how to do that.

Turns out, 70% of the time, it was the same 98 problems.

I’m going to share these with you. You’ll find them inquiry-driven and student-centered, authentic solutions to organic conversations. If you’re a new tech teacher, make sure you know them because you’ll be asked for these answers over and over—in fact, you’ll be expected to know them. After all, you’re the tech expert.

Whoever you are, you’ll want to teach your students these practical strategies for fixing their biggest show stoppers.

Who needs this book?

If you’re a veteran teacher integrating technology into units of inquiry and/or Common Core State Standards, these tips will be invaluable. You are usually on your own in the classroom, without tech experts to assist. Keep this ebook handy and you’ll have more time to devote to classroom projects.

Questions?

Visit the publisher’s websitefor more details.

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculumK-8 keyboard curriculumK-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blogger, a columnist for Examiner.comIMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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