Are You Ready For… Windows 10?

It’s the first weekday of August and there’s no denying it – the start of school year 2015-2016 is neigh.

In the last post (nearly a month ago!), I stated my desire to post often during Summer Break.  Well, best laid plans…

It’s been a busy month as I’ve focused on other projects: reading the 800+ page novel Seveneves, hosting family members from Walnut Creek (CA) and Austin (TX), uploading kids’ digital photos from my external hard drive to Google Photos, and sleeping in until 10 am!

The countdown clock to our first day of in-service (Friday, Aug. 21st) is ticking faster now.  I need to prioritize the books I still want to read and the on-line (and other) projects on which I really want to work.

One task high on my to do list is upgrading my HP laptop to Windows 10.  I’ve not done it yet, but when I do in the next week or so, there’s plenty of resources to guide me.

Here’s a few I’ve curated during my recent web travels:

“Windows 10: The Review”

“How to Do a Clean Install of Windows 10”

“How to Fix Windows 10 and Fix It’s Minor Annoyances”

“The Best Windows 10 Features You Probably Haven’t Heard About”

“Why You’ll Want to Actually Use Microsoft’s New Web Browser”

“Windows 10 Is Spying on Almost Everything You Do – Here’s How to Opt Out”

“Fourteen Things You Can Do in Windows 10 That You Couldn’t Do in Windows 8”

“Microsoft Reveals Some Interesting Plans for Windows 10”

“Fix ‘No Wi-Fi Available’ Windows 10 Install Issue, Here’s How”

I hope these are helpful if/when you make the jump to Win10.  I’ll let you know how my upgrade goes….

And I promise to post more on this professional blog (and a personal one I’m preparing to launch soon) as I have lots and lots of links curated.  And less and less time until school is back in session!

To Do List Recommendations – HabitRPG Video Overview

It’s a new calendar year and time to get more organized.

In case you’re not yet using an app to organize your tasks (or if you’re looking to make a change), here’s a very recent review of the best apps for this job.

I’ve previously used two listed at the link above. is free, simple, clean and extremely easy to use.  It integrates with a calendar app offered by the same designer.  Rewards are given as a certain number of tasks are completed.  These “rewards,” while occasionally useful, are essentially coupons for products from the sponsors of the app.  It’s advertising, albeit in a limited, backdoor way.

Wunderlist seems to be the “gold standard” of the free To Do list apps.  It has many options, calendar integration, robust “unlockable” paid functionality and more.  Additionally, it appears to have numerous professional, collaborative features.

I like my To Do list to be a platform from which I feel rewarded as I make progress through my tasks.  It helps me to be more organized and productive if there’s a sense of fun and levity as well.

While I’ve used both and Wunderlist, my daily choice for the last few months has been HabitRPG.

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I’ve placed my comments on it as well as a guided tour of it within this video that I hope you’ll view.

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Enjoy and best wishes for your own productivity in 2015!


Two Ways to Engage/Assess Students with Google Forms

I have only begun to scratch the surface of what the ever-expanding Google Forms and the more encompassing Google Classroom offer to educators.  Here’s links to two posts which give solid step-by-step directions about how to create peer feedback Forms and also quizzes/tests with questions drawn from a question bank.

Delivering Peer Feedback with Google Forms

Creating a Quiz on Google Forms from a Test Bank

I’ve not yet tried Forms to create a quiz as my school uses the LMS BrainHoney which offers a robust assessment tool.

I did use Forms quite successfully for a project in one of my classes earlier this fall.  The assignment was a mock job interview in which the interviewee was to receive peer feedback. For this I set up a Form to be the means of this feedback.  I decided this in part because my class was a less expressive group of students and I felt the feedback would be more honest and useful if it was anonymous.  After the peers submitted the Form, it was quick and easy for me to go into Sheets and copy and paste the info into a spreadsheet for each student.

To see my Form for this assignment, click here.

A "How-To" on Creating a Paperless Classroom

A good step-by-step guide, complete with available resources, to aid in moving your classroom from paper-based to digitally based.

How to Create a Paperless Classroom

Wondering If You Should Upgrade Your iPad to iOS 8.1?

The students at our school now have the option to upgrade to iOS 8.1 and we have the option to do so as well.

Are the benefits of it worth the hassle of clearing a significant chunk of memory and then taking the time for the download and installation?  And will it make the iPad2 run more slowly?

Here’s a useful article which describes and shows the differences between iOS 7 and iOS 8.1 so you can decide whether to take the (irreversible) plunge:

iOS 8 vs. iOS 7

Perhaps this conclusion will be helpful:

Should You Install iOS 8.1.1 on the iPad 2?

If you are already on iOS 8 or iOS 8.1, you should install iOS 8.1.1 on the iPad 2 today. For most users there is a benefit with slightly better performance and the overall experience is much better for a vocal group of users.

Still, it’s not a magical update. If you are still on iOS 7.1.2 you should stay on that update for now based on several user reviews.

If you are on iOS 7 and really want an iOS 8 feature on your iPad 2, this is the update to jump to, but for the most part staying on iOS 7.1.2 is a safer option.

From: Gotta Be Mobile

Wondering about when iOS 9 is likely to come along?

iOS 9 Rumors

You’ll note in this article that iOS 9 is likely to not be compatible with the iPad2!

Best Educational Apps of 2014

For your downloading pleasure over the upcoming breaks….

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Explain Everything is a Great Teaching Tool

A few months ago I read a review of Explain Everything and had to try it for myself. I was impressed! The interface is intuitive and relatively simple. After recording your voice and screen gestures as you walk through a PowerPoint presentation, you can seamlessly upload your creation to YouTube. Give the students the link and you have a review “sheet”, a make-up for an absent student or the starting point for a flipped classroom. And at just $2.99 at the App Store it’s a steal!

Has anyone else used Explain Everything?  If so, what have you done with it?

Use Voki to Create Speaking Avatars

A free site I love using to create customized characters is

Some of the customization possibilities include the character, clothing, accessories, and background picture. However, the reason I use Voki is for the ability to give the character a voice! You can add your own voice by recording it over the phone or microphone, typing in your text or uploading a file. If you type in the text you are able to choose the language/accent you want and even pick a specific voice for it too. Once you finish modifying your character, click publish to email it out or get the code to access it anywhere. I signed up for a free account to keep my vokis all in the same place on the website.

How to Submit Assignments via Google Drive (Student-Facing VIDEO)

This is a video to share with students to give them step-by-step instructions on how to submit an assignment via their Google Drive app into a shared Drive folder you’ve set up for them.  It shows the crucial step of how to move from the default Drive location into the shared folder.