The Secret to my Animated Gifs

I'm finishing up this year's 12Days of Techmas with my most requested tip. It's a little scary to me to give this one away, because 1) it's like telling a secret family recipe, and 2) it's dangerous if used improperly, like nitroglycerin or Twitter.
But why not? It's the season of giving, after all, so I'm sharing with you the source of my cute little animated images that I've sticking in my 12Days emails!

12Days of Techmas, Day 12: The Secret to my Animated GIFs

Those little mini-movie images are called Animated GIFs (Pronounced with either hard G like "garden" or soft G like "giraffe." Computer nerds can wage weeks-long flame wars about which pronunciation is correct.)

A little history When you take digital photos, they're usually stored as JPG images. GIFs are another format; they're are not as good for photo-quality images, but can contain short animations.
In the old days of the web, websites were full of clip-art-lik…

Google Docs Tricks for Teachers

1. Fonts When you first used Google Docs, you may have been disappointed by the small number of available fonts. You may not realize that Google has added a lot more (a lot more) fonts to the available list: you just have to go get them. Click the Fonts button, scroll to the bottom, and click More Fonts.
2. Clear formatting When you copy/paste text into a document, sometimes it brings its own font style and size, which looks mi-matched in your document. When this happens, highlight the text and choose Format > Clear formatting. This removes any hidden font "junk" and lets you start with clean text.
3. Strike-through This one is geniusbrilliantcomplicated suprisingling useful. To create “strike-through” text like this, go to Format > Strike-through
4. Columns You can make two- or three-column text by highlighting the text and choosing "Format > Columns."
5. Style Headings In the toolbar next to the font selector, you may have been ignoring the button labeled &q…


As the tech integration guy, it's my job to be a cheerleader for tech in your lessons. But that doesn't mean the students (or you) have to be using tech all the time. Sometimes when students are in the middle of some high-level thinking, the last thing we would want is for them to drag out their tech for a simple online quiz.
On the other hand, using digital tools for quick check-ins has major advantages, like letting kids try out a word problem or check a concept: you find out right away who gets it and who doesn't, without having the hassle and delay of collecting, correcting, and passing back.
PLICKERS are quietly making their known throughout schools as the best of both worlds.

Plickers are printable cards that students use to answer questions. Every student in class has their own card with its own unique code printed on it. Students answer multiple choice questions by rotating the card into different positions (this side up = "A", that side up = "B"…

Digital Note Cards

Just a quick one today: a new trick for an old technique: making note cards.
Sometimes it is appropriate for your students to make a set of note cards.The classic "old-school" example is teaching students to write research papers: they would put sources, quotes, and other important info on index cards, and could then sort the cards afterward to organize the sections of their paper. Even for writing without research source, some teachers would have students make note cards to help organize content paragraphs of a longer piece of writing. Note cards are great for encouraging thoughtful planning before you start "just writing stuff down" in your document.

​"Is this enough note cards for my 3 paragraph essay?"

The biggest advantage of note cards, of course, is their ease of re-ordering. You can just flip through the cards around and keep re-arranging until you are happy with their sequence.
However, when a teacher collects these cards for review, a few proble…

Teachers Can Code!

There is a lot of talk about teaching kids to code, but most of us don't have a lot of experience with it. We've been trained by Hollywood to think of coding as tech wizardry, but it's really not.  It's a few learned skills combined with thoughtful planning and creative, logical problem solving.
This is NOT what coding is like:
THIS IS what coding is like
As someone who likes puzzles, I love coding in my spare time. Even though it uses computers, it is a surprisingly creative process that taps the part of me that enjoys logic games and riddles.
If you would like to explore the world of programming and coding, there are three great places to start, depending on your style. You won't be hacking NORAD, but you'll make basic programs yourself and get an idea about what it's all about.
1. Scratch. Scratch is a free coding program for children, and requires almost no typing. It involves linking colorful blocks together to create instructions. For example, kids can…

Your Browser Tabs Intervention

Hi, come on in, have a seat. Thanks for coming. Your friends and I have been wanting to talk to you for quite a while. It's about your browser tabs.
Yes, I know. You needall of those open tabs  because you're working on so many things at once. That's what good multi-taskers do. But, just like chocolate, snow, or reality television, too much can be a bad thing.

Yes, I know, you're working on ALL of these things at the same time...
Sure, tabs look like cute little bumps at the top of your browser, and they're so handy. But what you don't realize is that each tab it really it's own separate computer program. You wouldn't try to run 25 computer programs on you laptop at once would you? Yet, that's exactly what you're doing with 25 open tabs. 
Sometimes you have so many open tabs, you don't even remember what you have, and you start duplicating your tabs.You know it's true. And then you blame your computer for being so slow.
Don't feel sin…

Google Keep

Google Keep is an interesting but handy little Google feature that lets you make reminders and virtual sticky notes. 

I'm sure you are totally super-organized and never forget stuff, but I definitely need a little help.  Plus, I'm sure that even if you don't need a note-taking app, you might know a student or two who could benefit.

There are lots of note-taking apps out there, but Google Keep has a few sweet features: It syncs anywhere I use Google, so I can see my notes on my laptop, my phone, my tablet, my Chromebook, or wherever.I can type notes in the laptop, and then use my phone to check off to-do lists.It can send me a reminderat a time or locationof my choosing. My phone will "bing" at the right time or place.
 For examples, it can remind me... when I get home, call the banknext time I'm at the grocery store, buy milk3 months from now, cancel that magazine subscription

I can color code my notes. OK, it's minor, but I love that featureUsing the Google K…