Thursday, December 19, 2013

ELA: Read Theory - Online Adaptive Reading Comprehension Tool

When I was in Todd Chappa's third grade classroom yesterday, he was excited to share this new tool he has been using with his students to help them practice taking adaptive online reading comprehension assessments.  

Read Theory is an online tool that once students are loaded into the program, they can take online adaptive reading comprehension tests.  The tests adjust up if the student is doing well, or down if the student is struggling with the content.  The program then provides the teacher with the ability to track how the students are progressing.

Cost: Free
Device: Internet enabled device
Use in the classroom: Great for getting students reading for online testing with quizzes that are short and sweet.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Technology: Graphite helps teachers implement Common Core

Are you looking for a new tool or resource to help teach your students the Common Core State Standards?  If so, then Graphite is a great tool for you.  Graphite, a division of Common Sense Media, reviews apps, websites and games for their educational value.  It also provides teacher reviews of the products to give you a idea of how others are using the tool.  Read the article about how Graphite is making it easier for teachers to find Common Core resources here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

DigitalEd: Electronic Gifts

Kids asking for electronics for the holidays?

At a recent parent workshop, hosted by the PPS DigitalEd team, parents asked for advice on how to manage electronic gifts.  Visit our page below for helpful tips.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Looking for a new tool to help differentiate instruction for your students? Want a way to have your students take assessments, then have online lessons tagged for those students based on their own strengths and weaknesses? If so, then MobyMax may be a tool you want to explore.  The free version appears to be very complete with a lot of great features.

This post comes to you from guest Blogger, Logan Thomas - second grade teacher at Haverhill Elementary. Thanks, Logan, for sharing this find with us!

Logan wrote:
I saw this website on Pinterest, and checked it looks like it's similar to adapted mind, etc.

There is a place to add your class roster. Students take a placement test in any area (ELA, math, vocab, or fact fluency are available). Based on their test, the website assigns certain activities/lessons to help fill any gaps that were identified and move them forward.

There is also a feature that allows you to share/trade students with other teachers...this might be helpful for our differentiated instruction time. The site gives you diagnostics, suggestions for assignments, etc.

Here it is if you're interested:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dr. Lodge is at it again!

Lodge McCammon is a professor whose interests lie in engaging students through technology, video, and music.

He has been slowly creating songs depicting the important events in states' histories. Michigan is one of the states that he has completed. Now he is working on kinesthetic motions that follow the lyrics and meaning behind each song. The video below starts with his song about Georgia.

This is definitely a YouTube channel I recommend you watch and subscribe too. I see many more engaging videos coming our way.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Common Core: Resources for ELA, Math and Algebra from Internet4Classrooms

There are a lot of great resources online for teaching the Common Core.  Unfortunately, it can take more time than we have to slog through all the resources to find just the right one for our grade-level and standard being taught.  Thankfully, Internet4Classrooms has cataloged many great resources.  These resources are organized by grade-level, subject and CCSS.  Check out the activities, games, printables and assessments all ready to go with just the click of a button.

Uses in the Classroom: Great for teachers who are looking for resources to supplement our current curriculum or to provide extra enrichment or remediation on a specific standard or skill. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Listening to Reading with Storyline Online

Are you an Elementary teacher looking for some great online resources for listening to reading?  Do you want to expose your students to proficient readers reading great stories?  Then you need to check out Storyline Online.  This site, brought to you by the Screen Actors Guild, hosts videos of great actors reading 25 different stories.  Actors include greats such as Betty White, James Earl Jones and Melissa Gilbert. Check it out:
All the YouTube videos have been added to our YouTubeEDU account, so students can access them when logged in with their PPS accounts.

Uses in the Classroom:
Expose students to quality reading during Daily 5 time, whole class instruction or the lab.  You can play the videos on your TEC, have students watch them individually with headphones in the lab, or set up a center in your classroom with a laptop/Desktop computer and some headphones.  Kids are sure to love listening to some of their favorite stories, like Stellaluna and A Bad Case of Stripes, read by some of their favorite actors and actresses.

Monday, December 2, 2013

OneNote: Working on the U drive again!

At the beginning of the year many of you who use OneNote regularly ran in to the issue of your files seeming to disappear.  There were a couple temporary fixes for the problem, including copying the files and opening the copies, or moving your files on to your Google Drive.  The Google drive fix works well, except that you can't use your OneNote files on two computers simultaneously.  If you are one of the people we moved to Google Drive, and would like the functionality of using OneNote on two computers again, you can now move the files back to the U drive with no further issues.  If you need help with this process, set up a 15 minute appointment with Jessica or Paul using the following links:

Friday, November 29, 2013

Student Response System: Geddit

Our final student response system in this series, is a newer tool developed by a classroom teacher in order gage student understanding.  This great tool is called:

Question Types: Multiple Choice, True or False, Short Answer, Poll.  Most prominent feature is the "Check-In" where students can rate their understanding on a simple bar graph or request attention.

Works on: Any internet connected device

Really cool feature: 1. You can make notes about how the lessons went so you can review them later. 2. Have a constant running pulse of student understanding with the Check-In feature.  The best part about this feature is that it will compare how the student rates their understanding with how they answer questions so the teacher can see if their is any disparity between the two.

Learn more about geddit by watching this video:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Student Response Systems: GoSoapBox

Adding to our list of great student response systems, we have:

Question Types: Quizzes include: Multiple Choice or Short Answer - you can include image with your question.  You can also do Polls (quick multiple choice) and Discussions (short answer)

Works on: Any internet connected device

Really cool feature: 1. The Confusion Barometer: Students can show how well they are understanding the current topic.  2. Social Q&A: Students can ask a question, then other students can vote on questions if they want that question answered as well.  Go Soapbox will then automatically rank the questions based on which ones have the most votes.  Check this feature out:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Student Response Systems: Infuse Learning

Our second student response system we are going to take a look at is:

Question Types: True/False, Multiple Choice, Sort and Order, Text Response, Numeric Response, Likert Scale, draw response (only available in quick assessment mode)

Works on: Any internet connected device

Really cool feature: Students can draw their response - very cool if you have tablets in your classroom

Looking for a play by play comparison of Infuse Learning and Socarative?
Here is a great review comparing these two tools ( The bottom line is: if you are looking for a student response tool, check out both of these great tools and see which one fits you and your needs the best.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Student Response Systems: Socrative

Many of you know about the “Clicker” systems that a couple of our schools have that allow teachers to ask questions of their classes and have the students type in their response using the clicker. These are great tools for formative assessments, exit tickets and quick checks. Unfortunately, clicker systems are expensive and not very practical since they only do one thing. This is where great tools like GoSoapBox, Geddit, Infuse Learning and Socrative step in. These programs work like clickers to collect student responses, but students can use computers, chromebooks, smartphones or tablets to submit their answers. Another bonus is that they are really easy to use! Over the next week, let’s take a look at each one of these programs, starting with:
Question Types: Multiple choice, True/False, Short Answer, Exit Tickets

Works on: Any internet connected device, iPad/iPhone App, Android App

Really cool features: 1. Quiz answers are compiled into an excel spreadsheet for automatic grading and easy analysis.  2. Space Race game allows teams of students to answer questions in this fast-paced rocket race game.  The team(s) that get their rocket the furthest across the screen wins!

Check out this video to see socrative in action:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Need help? Make an appointment with us using Calendly!

As always, we are here to help you! Whether you want some help figuring out Google, setting up your Google site, or developing a really great integrated project for your students, we are here for you.

Now it is even easier to schedule an appointment with us. All you need to do is click on the link and follow the directions below. You can schedule an appointment for up to two weeks from the current date. If you want to schedule an appointment further in the future, please contact us directly at or

To schedule an appointment with one of us, click one of the following links and follow these easy steps: or
  1. Select the duration of time (15, 30 minutes, etc.)
  2. Select a day, AM or PM, with spots available
  3. Select a listed time slot
  4. Click continue
  5. Enter your contact information, location, and topics to cover.
  6. Schedule the Event
That's it!  With three simple clicks, you now have an appointment on a time that works for you.  No hassle, no emailing back and forth, just click, click, click and you are done.

Hope to see you soon!

PD Opportunity: Atomic Learning - Going Google

Over the last couple years, many of our technology tools have come from Google thanks to the Google Apps for Education initiative.  Your tech integration specialists have offered training on a wide range of Google topics including, GMail, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sites, Blogger and more.  We realize, however, that it is not always possible or easy for you all to attend trainings.  Also, some of you prefer to learn at your own pace and on your own time.  If you fit in to one of these categories, then Atomic Learning will be the resource for you.  They have short online tutorials on a plethora of topics including all things Google.  Here is the latest Quick Tip sheet from Atomic Learning:
The link from the quick tip is:

PD Opportunity: Blended Learning in the Classroom

Are you looking to increase student engagement in your classroom? Do you want to effectively blend within your classroom to incorporate online elements? This free Blended Learning in the Classroom course is for all types of educators - administrators, teachers of all subjects, teachers of all levels!

Participate in this FREE 16 week opportunity to begin transforming your classroom (*optional: 61 SCECHs for a minimal fee)

As a participant, you will engage with a learning cohort in a blended course and begin developing your own blended learning environment to implement with your students.

Participants will:
• Experience active and timely practice
• Learn with a small cohort of fellow educators
• Engage in learning, application, review, and revision
• Develop blended lessons in your existing classroom
• Submit artifacts to your cohort for sharing and improving

Q: Who is this course for? 
A: Any Michigan Educator

Q: How does this course meet? 
A: Most activities will be completed online; there will be one face-to-face session with your instructors, and multiple virtual meetings throughout the course.  Please note: You will complete introductory activities online prior to the face-to-face with your instructor.

Q: How large are the cohorts? 
A: Each offering is limited to the first 20 registrants.

Q: When does the course run? 
A: The course begins online January 22 and ends May 9.

Q: Where is the face-to-face offered? 
A: Check out the face-to-face session choices at:

Q: How do I register? 
A: Registration is available at:

Q: How much work will be required? 
A: Participants will be expected to spend 4-5 online hours each week in order to be successful in the course, where artifacts will be submitted weekly. Additional time will be expected each week for implementation into/practice with your own class.

Q: What concepts will be covered? 
A: Modules include pedagogy of blended learning, building community, online learning & accessibility, online assessment & evaluation, policies & preparation.

Q: Is this a self-paced course? 
A: The course is NOT self-paced. Based on best practice identified by research, it is scaffolded within modules (units). There is some flexibility of when you complete items in each unit, but all work must be submitted in a timely manner.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Newsletter: PPS Technology Times - Fall 2013

As you all recover after a couple long weeks of teaching and conferencing with parents, we would like to leave you with some light reading...the PPS Technology Times Fall Newsletter.
In this edition of the newsletter, you will find:
  • Tech Pilots in PPS
  • Where to find Tech Tips
  • Meet the Tech Staff: Your Technology Integration Specialists
  • Parent Outreach with DigitalED
  • 22i TRIG Grant
We are always looking for great ideas to feature in our newsletters, so if you or someone you know is using technology in an engaging innovative way in the classroom, please let us know!

Have a great weekend!  Enjoy.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Math: National Library of Virtual Manipulatives

The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (NLVM) is a great resource when trying to get across sometimes hard to understand math concepts to our students.  It works great on our TECs and students can use it in the labs and on laptops to help them better understand certain concepts.  With resources grouped by grade level (K-12) and Subject (Algebra, Numbers & Operations, Geometry, Measurement, and Data Analysis & Probability) it is hard not to like this great resource.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Google Spreadsheets: Turn Google Spreadsheets into online flashcards with

Looking for a quick easy way to create online flashcards? may be just the tool for you!  All you do is download the Google Sheets template.  Fill in the two sides of the card by filling in two columns in a spreadsheet.  Then, publish and presto!  Instant online flashcards are created!

Cost: Free

Uses in the classroom: Create flashcards to help students study at home or in the classroom for a test, display on your classroom TEC for review, or have students create their own flashcards for themselves or others to use as a formative assessment or review.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Need songs for projects? Check out the YouTube Audio Library

Having students create videos and podcasts is a great way for them to demonstrate their understanding of a concept. Unfortunately, finding music tracks for these types of class projects can be tricky because you need to use songs that are not subject to some form of copyright. This becomes an even bigger problem if you want to share your project online, and it gets taken down by YouTube for copyright infringements.

To help with this issue, YouTube have just released a library of tunes that you can download freely and use in your multimedia projects. There are over 100 songs and melodies to start with from different genres and styles.

You can access the library at

This great tip was found at:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Videos: Looking for some quality videos to spice up your curriculum? PBS Learning Media is a great place to start!

Happy Friday All!

Today's tech tip brings you a fantastic resource for spicing up your curriculum and engaging students in your content.  PBS Learning Media has some wonderful videos that are short and on topic.  There extensive library of PBS videos can be narrowed down by grade level, subject, standard, or collection.  The best part about it?  You get quality PBS programming in bite sized chunks for FREE!

Are you a middle school math teacher looking for an engaging way to connect with your students on the concept of integers?  Check out this video:

Elementary school teacher looking for a way for your students to practice inferring and predicting?  Check out the Detectives Notebook Game.

There are thousands of resources just waiting for you to explore.  These great games and videos are sure to help make a lesson go from bland to brilliant!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chrome: Where's the Black Bar? How do I get to my apps?

Over the weekend, Google replaced the black bar with the 9 square "grid".

Watch this two minute video to find out what and where it is.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Google Mail: Video Tech Tip - Responding to Email with GMail

Here's another Google Mail video with a couple of nice to know features. This is the last of the GFC four part series, but don't worry we still have other sources to pull from.

Gmail: Responding to Email with Gmail

We are starting this short 4 minute video at 1:51 and it discusses...
  • Conversations
  • Adding a Vacation Responder
Of course, you can always start from the beginning if you want some of basic tips.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween: Fun Tech Activities

Looking for some fun activities to do with your students on Thursday?  Tired of your usual Halloween lessons and want to spice things up with some new ideas?  Tech & Learning has put together a great list of

Halloween web activities to try out. Here are a couple of the ideas from the article...

  • Children can tell their spooky stories with Kerpoof, Storyjumper or a collaborative story using Storybird. Choose your storyline, write your text and boo others!
  • Children can create their cute monsters on Moshimonsters. They can write or talk about their animals’ Halloween plans.
  • You can attach different animal parts to a human body to build your wild self and share it with others.
  • If you are working with young learners, PBS Kids is also celebrating Halloween with many interactive activities.

You can check out the complete list here.

Hope you have a Spooktacular (almost) Halloween.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Science: Great interactives from the BBC for teaching science.

Understanding science concepts often requires hands-on experimentation and visuals.  This great resource from the BBC Science Clips offers great online interactives for our students to play with when exploring new science concepts.  The material is grouped by age (from 5 years to 11 years).

Friday, October 25, 2013

Digital Citizenship: 6 Degrees of Information - Great Video for sharing with tweens and teens

All too often our tweens and teens do not realize how easy it is for someone to find out about them online.  They think because they only share things with their facebook "friends" or use apps like SnapChat that supposedly delete photos after only a few seconds they are safe and aren't leaving a digital footprint behind.  This great video from National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America really helps to illustrate how easy it is to find out a wealth of information about others in just 6 simple clicks.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Google Mail: Video Tech Tip - Formatting your messages and adding a signature

The following video is another in a series of four that talks about how to use gmail. (We have sent you two already.)

Gmail: Sending Email with Gmail

Feel free to start this short 4 minute video at 2:08 seconds in and it discusses...
  • Formatting Your Message
  • Adding a signature
Feel free to start it from the beginning to watch the whole thing. There are always little tricks to pick up.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Network Drives: Handouts for How to Access your U Drive from home

If you want to print out the instructions on how to access your U drive from home please use the following links.  Thanks to Joshua Enos for the initial tech tip!

Easiest Way - Accessing without downloading anything on your home computer

More Steps, but better user experience - Accessing by downloading and installing the software on your computer.

Network Drives: Accessing your U drive from home

Go to and click Faculty and Staff, then the VMWare Virtual Desktop button.

Click on the image labeled VMWare Horizon View HTML Access

You will be prompted to enter your PortagePS credentials (you do not need to add the here). Click Log In.

You will be prompted to choose a desktop configuration. Click on Staff Floating (Windows 7).

You will see a swirling status icon. Wait for this, and the loading of the rest of the virtual desktop, and you will be rewarded with a Windows 7 desktop running inside of your browser window.

Performance of this virtual desktop is directly related to the speed of your internet connection, and the speed of your home computer. If you want files out of your U drive to work on at home, the best option right now is to email the file(s) to yourself or upload them to Google Drive.

If you are a fairly tech savvy person, you could also download the client onto your home computer. For instructions on how to do this, click here. This will provide you with a smoother experience that will not depend as heavily on your Internet connection.
Note: you are not logging in to your teacher station directly with this, merely using a generic “virtual” computer that doesn’t even really exist, except for a data file on a server.

When you are finished with whatever you need to do in this machine, select Start>Shut Down, as you would with your teacher stations.

This brings you back to the VMWare Horizon View screen, where you should log out again.

And you’re done!

Digital Citizenship: Edutopia's Resource Roundup

Going along with our celebration of Digital Citizenship Week, here is another great resource.  Check out Edutopia's collection of articles, videos, and other resources on internet safety, cyberbullying, digital responsibility, and media and digital literacy. (Updated 10/2013)

Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the  "Additional Resources on the Web" section that is in yellow.  There are some great resources here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Digital Citizenship: Happy Digital Citizenship Week!

Many of you may not know, but this week is Digital Citizenship week.  A week highlighted on the calendar to promote the increasingly important topic of Digital Citizenship with our students.  Digital Citizenship can no longer be a topic taught solely in the computer lab by a keyboarding teacher.  As students live and share more of their lives online, Digital Citizenship and creating a positive Digital Footprint becomes an imperative topic of discussion.  As you can probably tell, this is a topic I am very passionate about.  In that vein, I will be sharing some wonderful resources with you all this week on Digital Citizenship.  Many of these resources will come from one of my favorite resources, Common Sense Media.

Today's resource is a wonderful self guided curriculum for third through fifth graders called Digital Passport.
Here is a screen-shot of the site:

Summary of Tool: This program provides five engaging lessons to hep students become better digital citizens.  Each lesson includes a video and an online interactive game.  Students are also able to complete "Missions" in which they are asked to use their newly acquired knowledge in order to earn badges in their Digital Passport.  The topic covered include:

  • Cell Phone Use and Multitasking
  • Privacy
  • Cyberbullying
  • Search
  • Crediting Resources
Cost: Free

Age Group: 3rd - 5th Grade

Benefits for teachers: Students can use their computer lab time to learn engaging critical life skills.  Requires little planning/set up on the teachers part.  Provides tip sheets to send home to parents.  Helps students learn important computer skills highlighted in the Common Core State Standards.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Social Studies: Dr. Lodge's 50 States Project

Dr. Lodge just added Michigan to his 50 State Project!  Dr. Lodge is working on "The 50 States Project," a 50-song album covering the basic history, geography, and economic structure of each state in the U.S. The goal of each song is to encompass what every student should know about his or her state.

Here is the site to all the songs:

You can also check out his other projects here:  These projects include the US Constitution, Bill or Rights, 5 Themes of Geography, The Civil War, World War II, and much more.

Not a Social Studies teacher?  He also has great resources for Science and Math.  Check them out here!

Friday, October 18, 2013

L drive, G drive, Z drive....Oh My!

Are you having trouble remembering how the L drive and G drive are different?  Are you confused on how to get to these shared drives now that they have all been lumped in folders in your Z drive?  If so then this tip is here to help, brought to your courtesy of Joshua Enos - Building Tech.

Lab drive translations - What do the letters mean?
L: is for Lab
G: is for Group

How do I access the G and L drive from my teacher computers?
The G and L drives can be accessed by going to the start menu, clicking on the word Computer and selecting the Z: drive.

From there, click on the Student Drives Folder.  In the folder you will see a few folders.  One will say Lab and another will say Group.  If you open the Groups folder, you will see all the G drives.  If you open the Lab folder, you will see all the L drives for the various labs/laptop carts.

For example:
At WMS for Lab 310:
Student G: drive is the same as staff Z:\Student Drives\WMS\Group\Lab310
Student L: drive is the same as staff Z:\Student Drives\WMS\Lab\Lab310 - Students DO NOT have access to write to this share, only to read from it.

At WMS on laptop carts (Silver, White, Yelow, Green):
Student G: drive is the same as staff Z:\Student Drives\WMS\Group\Carts
Student L: drive is the same as staff Z:\Student Drives\WMS\Lab\Carts - Students DO NOT have access to write to this share, only to read from it.

At WMS in the Media Center (All Laptops AND desktops):
Student G: drive is the same as staff Z:\Student Drives\WMS\Group\MC
Student L: drive is the same as staff Z:\Student Drives\WMS\Lab\MC - Students DO NOT have access to write to this share, only to read from it.

See the pattern? So in the Art room on the 3 student machines, their G: is equivalent to Z:\Student Drives\WMS\Group\Art on the teacher machines.
Same for the Tech Ed lab, Special Ed computers, etc...

Here's the logic behind it: 
 Let's say a teacher has a master template they have created in Word, but they want students to modify it to complete an assignment. The teacher should place the master template in the L: drive in a logically labeled folder. Students can then copy this template out to their U: drive, and modify it. Because students cannot write to L: (only read), they cannot accidentally write changes to the master template. This also alleviates network congestion as a roomful of students are not actively trying to edit the same template at once. Once students have completed the assignment, they can copy it to a folder the teacher has created as a turn-in folder. Students DO have write access to G:, so all students will then have their completed assignment in both their U: drive, and the G: drive.

On the student computers, it will still say L drive and G drive

Each location has a separate L drive and G drive

Chrome: The Omnibox - More than just a place to type your websites.

Google Chrome calls their web address bar "The Omnibox".  You can do many things in the Omnibox that will save you time and make your life easier.  Here are some of my favorites...

Google is the king of search, so it makes sense that you can search directly from their web address bar.  Instead of going directly to in order to search, you can just open your browser and type in your query in the URL address box at the top of the screen.

If you need to do a quick calculation while on the web, you can simply type in an equation like 3+4 and then click the enter key.  This will bring up a calculator in your browser window.

Have you ever wanted to quickly know many teaspoons are in a tablespoons, or how many miles are in a 5k?  Is so, then Google search will be your new best friend.  Simply type: 5km in miles or 3 tsp = tbsp and a converter will show up in your search results.

Want to know what the weather will be like for the rest of the week?  Simply type weather? in your address bar and the forecast for the week will appear.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Atomic Learning: New online trainings available

Portage Public Schools has a subscription to the online training site Atomic Learning.  This site offers great online training opportunities for those of you who enjoy learning at your own pace.  Here are some of the recent training opportunitites related to Google.  Enjoy!

Recent Training Releases

Atomic Learning regularly updates our training offerings to keep you up-to-date on the latest and greatest educational technology. Recent additions to the training library include:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Google Mail: Video Tech Tip - Creating Filters in Gmail

We received a number of replies from individuals who were very thankful for the last Gmail video we sent out. So we thought we would send you another!

Gmail: Creating Filters with Gmail

This short 3 minute video discusses...
  • Automatic Message Filters
  • Searching Gmail (Find anything)
After watching the video, feel free to contact us if you have further questions.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chrome: Reopening a tab you just closed.

Have you ever accidentally closed a tab or your browser?  Do you get frustrated trying to remember the site you were just on?  Well there is a quick fix for you if you are using Google Chrome.

To reopen a tab you just closed:

If you closed the whole browser:
Open Chrome back up.
Type: ctrl+shift+t

You can do this repeatedly if you closed multiple tabs accidentally.

On a similar note, if you want to quickly open a new tab you can either click the blank small tab at the top of your window next to your last open tab, or you can type: ctrl+t

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Google Mail: Organizing Your Inbox

Even though we have discussed archiving mail and labels in this blog post and this one, some of you would like a more visual tutorial.  For those of you who would like more information about managing Gmail, please watch this short, 3 minute video.

Gmail: Managing Email with Gmail

This video discusses...
  • Archiving Mail
  • Labels (Folders)

After watching the video, feel free to contact us if you have further questions.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Google Sites: Adding Picasa Web Albums

Picasa Web Albums are a great way to add pictures and slide shows to your Google Site.

If you upload your pictures or student artwork to Google+ Photos (the new picasaweb), you will be able to place a slideshow gadget on your Google site.


Find a page on your google site. Click the edit pencil. Place your cursor where you would like to put your album gadget. Follow the graphic below.

Select an album.

Choose whichever options you like or leave the settings as is.

Click save, then save again to see it how visitors to your site will see it.

How you can share pictures and artwork in slideshow format.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Google Mail: Creating a Custom Theme

As promised in my last post, here is how you can personalize your background even more by creating your own custom theme.

Step 1: Click on the gear in the top right hand corner of your inbox.
Step 2: Select Themes from the drop down menu.

Step 3: Scroll down until you see "Custom Themes".
Step 4: Choose Light or Dark
Step 5: Select your image from one provided, or upload your own.
Step 6: Click Select.

All done.  Now you have a custom theme!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Google Mail: Changing Your Background Theme

Have you looked at a friends Gmail inbox and seen a nice/interesting background image?  Do you want to get away from the boring white background of GMail and spruce up your screen?  Let's face it, a lot of us spend way more time looking at our inbox screen than we would like.  Shouldn't what we are looking at appeal to us?  Well the good news is that it is very easy to change the background theme of your inbox.

Here is how...

Step 1: Click on the settings gear in the top right corner of your Gmail inbox.
Step 2: Select Themes from the drop down menu.

Step 3: Choose the Theme that fits your style, or create your own custom theme (more on that later).

All Done!  No saving required.  When you select your theme it will automatically change.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Brain Pop: Beginning of the Year Training Available Online

Back to School With BrainPOP: An Overview

Perfect for newbies and veterans alike, this overview webinar covers the ins and outs of our resources. They'll discuss best practices for using BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. in the classroom and highlight BrainPOP Educators’ newest features. Leave this webinar with a toolkit of tips and tricks for getting the most out of your subscription.

When:Wednesday, October 2 at 3:30 pm
Sign Up: Pre-register and Join
Event Password: moby

Chrome: Adding shortcuts to your taskbar or desktop

Do you want an easy way to create shortcuts for your Google Apps (Gmail, Blogger, Docs, etc.)?  It is as easy as a couple clicks.

Step 1:
Right-click on a Chrome application from your new tab screen:
Step 2:
Select Create shortcuts...

Step 3: 
Choose Desktop, Pin to Taskbar, or both.  Click Create.

Here is what your choices would look like
New desktop icon:

...or taskbar icon:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Google Mail: Spell Check

There are a couple ways to check your spelling in Google mail.

Spell Check in the Chrome Browser

The first is the simplest.  If you are in Google Chrome, their is an automatic spell check in the browser.
If you spell something incorrectly, it will be underlined in red.
You would then just right click on the misspelled word and select the correct spelling.

Spell Check in GMail

You can also spell check in the compose window.
Click on the triangle by the trash can in the bottom right corner.
Select "Check spelling"
The misspelled words will be highlighted.
Click on the misspelled word and select the correct spelling.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Publisher: Saving files as PDFs so everyone can open it

Do you create your newsletters in Publisher?  This is a great tool for creating newsletters, but unfortunately many of our parents do not have access to MS Publisher and therefore cannot view our awesome newsletters.

An easy solution to this problem is to save your Publisher files as PDFs.  This allows anyone who receives your document the ability to open it, regardless of the device they are using.  This is a big deal.  Last year, my husband received my son's first kindergarten newsletter on his phone.  Unfortunately it was in .pub format and he was unable to open it.  The following week the teacher sent it as a PDF and he was a happy daddy because he could now access and read the newsletter no matter where he was located.

After you create your document and save it normally, go to the File menu again and click on Save As.
In the window that opens, change the file type to PDF.  Click Save.
ALL DONE!  Really, that's it.

It gets better...
This works for word, powerpoint, and other Microsoft Office 2010 products!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Google Mail: Search your Google Mail inbox for a person/message/or subject

I frequently get asked....
In Outlook I used to be able to sort by the "from" to find a message by a particular person.  How do I do that in Gmail?

Bad News: You can't sort by the from in Google Mail
Good News: You CAN search by the from in Google Mail.  Here is how...

Step 1: While in your inbox, click on the triangle in search bar at the top of the screen.

Step 2: In the From box, type the email address for the person you are searching for.
Step 3: Click the Blue magnifying class.

Step 4: You will now see all your emails that particular person sent you.

Note: You can also search by To, Subject, Has the Words, and Doesn't Have.

Happy Searching!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Google Mail: Automatically opening mail to: links in Gmail instead of Outlook

Chrome allows web services to ask if you’d like to use them to open certain links. While most links generally take you to another page, some links can open programs and perform other actions. For example, mailto: links can open your email program.

In order to make email links open in Gmail instead of Outlook, you will need to do the following.  

When you open Gmail in Chrome, a protocol handler icon  appears in the omnibox/webaddress line next to the star bookmarks icon. 
Click it to show the following options:
  • If you'd like to allow Gmail to open all email links, select the Use Gmail radio button. When you click a hyperlinked email address on a page, Gmail's compose window will open.
  • Select No to keep how your computer opens email links the same way as before (ex: Outlook).
  • Choose Ignore to prevent the request from appearing again when you visit Gmail.
You will want to select the first option. Then select Done.
Now your email links should open in GMail instead of Outlook.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Google Mail: Renaming Labels

When your "folders" transferred over from Outlook, they all were labeled with "inbox/..." because all your folders were in your inbox in Outlook. Many of you have asked how to rename your labels/folders so they no longer say "inbox" on them. Well here you go...

  1. To rename your label, hover over your label you want to change. 
  2. A little down pointing triangle will appear next to the label. Click on that. 
  3. Select Edit. 
  4. Rename your label. 
  5. Click Save.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Google Mail: Oops, I deleted my contact - Restoring Contacts

If you make changes to your contacts that you want to undo, you can restore your full contacts list to an earlier saved version. This allows you to undo changes like:
  • Recovering contacts that have been accidentally deleted
  • Restoring contacts after an unsuccessful sync
  • Undoing a recent import
  • Undoing a recent merge
  • To restore your contacts to a previous version
Follow these steps:
  1. Click Gmail at the top-left corner of your Gmail page, then choose Contacts.
  2. From the More actions drop-down menu, choose Restore contacts.
  3. Choose the time you'd like to revert your contacts list to (e.g. 10 minutes ago, one hour ago, one week ago, etc). We suggest that you also make a note of the time that you restore your contacts, in case you'd like to return to where you started.
  4. Click Restore. You'll see a confirmation at the top of the screen when the rollback is complete.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

PowerPoint: How to Annotate your Slides during a Presentation

Have you ever wanted to annotate right on a PowerPoint slide while you were giving a presentation?  Need to call attention to a particular part of your slide?  Good News!  You are only a click away from being able to do this in PowerPoint 2010.

Choosing Your Pen

While playing your presentation/slide show...
Step 1: Right click on your slide.
Step 2: Select Pointer Options

Step 3: Select Pen or Highlighter
Step 4: You can also change the color of your ink from this same menu

To Keep or Discard Annotations

When you exit your presentation, it will ask you if you want to Keep or Discard your ink annotations.

Keyboard Shortcuts

There are also some keyboard shortcuts you can use to access your pens during a presentation.

  • ctrl+p during a presentation will turn your pen on
  • ctrl+a during a presentation will turn your mouse back in to an arrow

Turn Annotations On or Off

You can also choose to turn your saved annotations on or off.  While in the normal view of PowerPoint, click on the Review tab and select "Show Markup" to toggle back and forth between turning the annotations on and off.