As the school year begins to wrap up, I have a few final things to share with you.
The first is a reminder about the amazing opportunities to network with other teachers in your grade level across the country, and beyond, through the teachers’ clubs on Ning. You’ll find discussion forums, blogs, and live chats available, where you can share lesson ideas, teaching strategies, classroom management suggestions, and more.
Next, is a list of great Mac keyboard shortcuts. These are ways to help you do something using your keyboard instead of going through various menus. One example of this that most of you know is Command/Apple + S as a way to save. An extensive list is available from the Apple website, Mac OS X Keyboard Shortcuts. http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1343
Finally, every once in a while I figure out something on the computer, and then can’t believe it took me so long to realize it. I had not one, but two of those moments this weekend, while working on something in Pages.
The first was when I was once again annoyed by the fact that I had to go in and change the margin settings, remove the header and footer – that gives me more space in which to write, and change the font on a new document. I did a quick Google search (it’s really a great way to find help!) and realized that there was a way that I could easily set up a document the way I wanted, and have it be a template I could select to use each time I wanted to. Here’s how:
The next time you start Pages, look at the section on the left side of the Template Chooser (that’s what you see when you start Pages), and click one time on the header, My Templates. You’ll see the template you saved on the right side. Double click on that and you should be good to go.
The second moment occurred when I was tired of scrolling through a long list of fonts, and wished I could have the ones I wanted in a list showing in the Fonts panel. As soon as I looked up how to do it, and found it had to do with font favorites, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t figured it out sooner! Here’s how you can avoid scrolling through a long list of fonts, and set the size, style, and font face you like to appear in the Favorites collection.
Now whenever you go to the Fonts panel, click the Favorites collection on the left, and you’ll see whatever you’ve added to it. You can add as many fonts as you’d like, and no more scrolling through a huge list to find the ones that you like!
One of the most common questions I hear when working with students or teachers is, “How did you do that?” There are a number of keyboard shortcuts for our Macs that you might find helpful. Here are the ones that I use most often:
Undo: Command + Z
Copy: Command + C
Cut: Command + X
Paste: Command + V
Save: Command + S
Print: Command + P
Quit: Command + Q
Send item to trash: Click one time on item, then Command + Delete
Forward delete on a laptop: Function key (fn) + Delete
Preview a document without actually opening it: Click on it one time, then press the space bar
Did you know that there are simple ways to type symbols that don’t appear on the keyboard? Here are a few that you may find helpful:
¢ (cent sign) Option + 4
÷ (division sign) Option + /
≤ (less than or equal to) Option + <
≥ (greater than or equal to) Option + >
≠ (not equal) Option + =
º (degree sign) Option + 0 (zero)
Don’t forget that the trackpad on your laptop has some great time saving gestures. The video below demonstrates ones for the newest laptops. Many of these gestures work with our older laptops, too.
It’s time to wake this sleepy blog up! Over the last few weeks I’ve been bookmarking a number of sites to share with you as time allowed. Here are some great sites that I think you’ll find you can really use!
PDF to Word is a great online tool that will convert most pdf files to .doc files. This allows you to open and edit pdf files with Word, Pages, or OpenOffice. Pages and OpenOffice will strip out formatting and some clipart, but the text is still there. The site is so easy to use, simply select the pdf file you want to convert, select the option to convert to a doc file, and enter your email address. The site will then do the rest and email the file to you. The only down side is that it’s not an immediate email, there’s sometimes a wait of up to a few hours.
Teaching Tech to Your Parents is a site from Google intended to assist those people who often find themselves asked to help older relatives with different computer skills. However, with over 50 videos on a variety of topics, it’s a site worth a look to anyone who might need a little computer help, regardless of age. There are videos there for all of us! Click the category name on the left, then click the name of the video on the right in order to view it. If you click in the little checkbox, the video will not launch. You could also click the option to view all videos, then select the category on the left.
Google Advanced Search now offers the option to sort search results according to readability! The levels are far more limited than what we use, with options only for basic, intermediate and advanced, but it’s still something worth trying when we struggle to find appropriate sites for our elementary students doing research projects.
Yummy Math is a site for older elementary students. Two teachers create various math problems based on current events, and some problems also include science experiments, showing the connections between math and science. Along with viewing the problems chronologically, you can view them by math topic, or general concept. Be sure to click the link within each problem’s description to access the full activity file.
The Online Egg Timer is definitely a site you’ll want to bookmark! It’s a webpage with three easy to use timers on it. You can project this on your SmartBoard, turn the sound up, and not worry about having to watch the clock, an old fashioned telephone sound will alert you when time is up. You can even bookmark individual timers that you frequently use, such as those used during turn and talk time.
Photovisi is a super easy and super fun photo collage tool. Best of all, it’s free! Simply pick a design, select the photos from your computer or webcam (think PhotoBooth – it’s on most of our computers!) that you want to add, and then download the collage final product. The only tricky part is a window that pops up for you to share the collage to FaceBook, Twitter, or Email. Just “x” out of that window, and the collage will be there for you to download. Remember, to download an image, click the control (ctrl) key on your keyboard while you click on the image. From the pop up window select the option for “save image as.” Here’s an example of one design:
If you have an iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone, this video just might interest you. I know I learned a few things from it!
Remember, I’m always looking for new sites and information to share. If you have something you think your colleagues will find useful, please let me know.
In the last few weeks many of you have talked with me about wanting your students to use the classroom computers as a center for meaningful learning, but you’re just not sure of the best way to go about it. This blog post is a repost of one from last December, with some new ideas and pictures added in.
First, start by deciding how you want to manage the rotation of students at the computers. It’s important to keep in mind that classroom computer use shouldn’t be just for the “smart” kids, or the ones who finish their work early. Classroom computers should be looked at as a learning tool for all children. So how do you manage getting all of your students onto the two or four computers in your classroom? That’s going to depend on both the make-up of your class, and your teaching style. There’s no one right way!
One option is to have a list of students posted by the computer. Students simply go to the computer in sequential order, crossing their name off the list when their turn is over. Another option is to assign groups of students to each day of the week. Post the lists so students don’t have to keep asking if they can go the computer that day. Keep in mind that they don’t have to work independently on the computers, let them collaborate with partners or in small groups. Look at the make-up of your class and decide what will work best. Remember, you don’t need to have all of your students use the computer in one day, or even in one week. It might take you a week or two weeks to cycle students through.
Once you know how you want to rotate the students to the computers it’s time to decide when they’ll use them. Ideally, anytime you’re not doing a direct teach to the whole class is the perfect time! If this doesn’t work for your teaching style, then set some specific time aside each day. Remember, they’re not just playing on the computer, and it’s not just for those who finish early. They’re learning!
The next step is to decide what activity/activities you want the students to do on the computer. Remember, you generally want to reinforce or expand knowledge with an activity based on what you are teaching right now. You may also want to use the computer center to cover topics in which some students need reinforcement. Think of computer center activities as micro-integration lessons, which the students complete without teacher help. The activity could be something with a traditional application like Kidspiration, KidPix, Pages or Keynote, it could be an online activity like a word cloud, or it could be skills reinforcement on a website linked from their K-2 or 3-5 start page. Ideally, computer center activities should take between 5 – 15 mn., depending on the grade.
Planning is the key to success! When you’re working on lesson plans you might get an idea about something the students can do with the computers. Or, look at the ideas on our Integration Resources website and in the Technology Templates folder in your grade level share folder. Also, feel free to ask me if you need an idea. Once you get comfortable with the computer center concept you can even plan different activities for different groups of students based on their needs. Technology is a perfect tool for differentiation!
Don’t forget that if you don’t see what you like or need, you can create activities. A perfect example is this activity created by Laura Sorensen at Wheeler for her third grade students. She created it in Kidspiration, saved it as a template, and placed it in her class folder inside the third grade share folder. Click on it to view full size.
I suggest that you introduce whole class computer center activities to the students by using the SmartBoard. If you’re going to have small groups doing different activities, introduce the activities to each small group at the computer center.
Make use of your classroom computer experts. Chances are a student or two will have questions while you’re working with a student one on one or in a small group. Post a list of 2 or 3 computer helpers that students can go to when they can’t ask you.
Help build your students’ technology independence. Write various center reminders on index cards, and tape to the computer, but not on the monitor. Give students directions how/where to save, how/where to print, and how to find templates or websites. You might also want to add any special direction reminders for the activity.
Here’s how it can all look when taped around the computer:
Start slow, give yourself and your students time to learn and grow through the use of the computer center activities. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and realize it might not flow very smoothly the first few times you try it. You may have to make adjustments to what you’re doing based on your first few tries. Talk with your colleagues about what is and is not working. Share your ideas with each other! Most importantly, remember to ask for help if you need it!
Welcome to the start of a new and exciting school year! I thought I’d start the year by sharing two new computer tricks I learned this summer.
I spent quite a bit of time dealing with some rather large .pdf files, and found myself frustrated as I repeatedly scrolled through hundreds of pages, trying to find something I had previously read. I kept wishing that I could just add a bookmark to a page in the .pdf file, similar to the way I can bookmark any web page. At some point I thought to look at the items in the menu bar of the Preview application (my default app for viewing PDF files). There it was, right in front of me, a menu for bookmarking! How I never noticed it, I’m not sure.
If you’d like to be able to bookmark specific pages in a pdf document, here’s how:
1. Open the document with Preview (this is usually the default for PCS teachers)
2. Go to the page you wish to bookmark
3. From the menu bar, click on Bookmarks
4. Select the option to Add Bookmark
5. Type in the name you want for the bookmark. I try to use something specific that will tell me what I want to see on that page.
6. Click the Add button.
The next time you have the document open, click the Bookmarks menu on the menu bar to see the list of items you bookmarked in the document. Click the item you want and you’ll be right on that page, no more scrolling through multiple pages to find what you want!
Along with looking at a number of pdf files on learning and curriculum this summer, I also looked at countless websites. When I’m looking at results from a Google search, I like to open links in new windows or new tabs, so I don’t lose my place. Normally I hold down the control (ctrl) key on my keyboard and click on the link. This gives me a menu to select whether I want to open the link in a new tab or a new window. One day, purely by accident, I clicked the apple/command key instead of the control key when I clicked the link. I found that it automatically opened the link in a new tab! Try it the next time you want to look at a link, but still keep your current web page open.
As you plan for the first few days, you might want to look at Fourteen Interesting Ways to Get to Know Your New Class. It’s a presentation with some fun ideas.
Have a fabulous new school year!