Google Bookmarks

Google Bookmarks

classroom management Google tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ May 24, 2015

Your 2014-2015 Planbook is either on, or near its last page. It’s time to create and organize your “Year-End Check-off List”. In terms of technology, we cannot stress enough one word.


I vividly remember sitting in an administration office working on a school website on the first day of summer break. In the next room, the district IT administrator was moving files and cleaning out network drives. I also remember the reaction when the entire junior high network drive was accidentally deleted. Although I understood the magnitude of what had just happened, I also felt confident that all of my files were safe. The last thing I had done was a full backup.

Once your files are secure, your next task might be to clean out, delete, and organize your bookmarks. If you are logged into Chrome, these can be accessed from any computer. In addition to Chrome bookmarks, Google has its own bookmarking online service that can be accessed from any browser. By adding a “Google Bookmarklet” to your web browser, you can easily bookmark webpages and label them to organize them. Make sure you have enabled your “Bookmarks Bar” to view the bookmarklet where it will be “dragged”.

These bookmarks are private, and currently you are not able to sync them with Chrome bookmarks. We are hoping this will be a feature that will be added as Google continues to expand its features. For now, you can share individual bookmarked links via your “Google+ Share” tab.


The main advantage of your Google Bookmarks page is the ability to store your bookmarks and to access them from any browser on any computer.

You will need to go to and log into your Google account. You may discover that you already have some bookmarks. You can sort them by title, date, or label.


You can add a bookmark from the toolbar on the side, or you can use the “Google Bookmarklet” to add bookmarks as you clean out and update your Chrome bookmarks.


It seems as though there are endless ways to manage bookmarks, but we are doing our best to keep it simple for you.

Recess TEC extends our best wishes for this Memorial Day weekend as you spend the time with your family and friends and pause to pay tribute to those who died serving in the military.

Password Strong

Password Strong


Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ May 10, 2015
A “Recess Rewind”…

Whenever Shannon and I sit down to work with teachers,
there are usually a maze of usernames and passwords to work through before we can begin.
More often than not, passwords become a stumbling block to a quick start and access to accounts.
We’ve shared password tips before, and this past week I shared my solution to the seemingly thousands of passwords I use when working with technology.
The response was enthusiastic, and I thought it was worth sharing again.
Let us help you be “Password Strong”!

Don’t ever check the box to save your login information on a public computer.
Even if it is in a computer lab, you don’t want to take any chance that students will be able to log in to your online grades, email, or gain access to any other sensitive personal information.

Make a strong password. Too many times we have seen “teacher” used as a password.
Pick a word that you can remember. Make sure it contains at least 8 characters.
Preferably it should be a combination of more than one word, but something that has meaning to you.
You can also pick a phrase and use the first letters of each word.

Next, exchange some of the letters in that word with symbols and numbers, such as:

  • $=S
  • @=a
  • 3=e
  • 1=i
  • 0=O

Capitalize some of the letters, or use “&” to separate words when you are using more than one word in your password.

Finally, somewhere in your password, insert a letter or an abbreviation for the account that you are using, such as a “G” if it is the password for “Google”, or “FB” if you are setting your password for “Facebook”. This unique letter(s) should be inserted in the same place for each password.

For more details included in past posts,
you can revisit:
“Password Fail?”
“Lock it Up…”

After showing one teacher,
she has added “Update all of my passwords” to her “Summer-To-Do’s” checklist.Next, throw away that long list of passwords that is always inside your Planbook on your desk.
It’s nice to eliminate one more piece of paper in your life!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of those teachers who celebrate with their children and grandchildren, their mothers and mothers-in-law, and their wives!

Chrome Updates

Chrome Updates

Blog Google tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ May 3, 2015

We highly recommend using the Chrome browser,
especially when working in Google Drive and Google Classroom.
It is important, though, to frequently check for updates to keep Chrome running smoothly and efficiently.
Our tip for this Sunday will help you complete that process in just a few minutes.

On the upper right-hand corner of the Chrome Toolbar, you’ll find a “Customize and Control Google Chrome Icon”.
This is a square made up of three horizontal bars. Click on that and you should see this menu:

Chrome Update 2

If your browser needs updating, you will find the “Update Google Chrome” message.
Clicking on the message will launch this window:

Chrome UpdateAfter you click on “Relaunch”, your Chrome browser will close, update, and reopen with the same tabs that you had before you updated.

Once the update has completed (and this takes about a minute), the menu should now look like this:

Chrome Updates 5

Click on the “About Google Chrome” bar,
and Chrome will once again check for updates.
With the update that was just completed,
it will only take a few seconds for the update check to run resulting in this message:

Chrome Update 4

We recommend checking for updates on a regular basis to keep Chrome running smoothly for you and your students.

Another beautiful day is promised for Central Illinois,
and we hope the same is in your forecast.
One more tip is to find some outside time with family and friends.

We would also like to highlight last week’s post if you missed it.
We are heading to EIASE once again this summer to host our own workshops.
If you haven’t already registered, we invite you to follow this link to do so online.
We’re featuring Google Classroom, iPad workshops, and general technology integration in your curriculum.
Each session is two hours long, and we promise to jump right in and give you what you need to get excited about next year!

Recess Summer TEC Camp 2015

Recess Summer TEC Camp 2015


Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ April 26, 2015

We’re back!

It’s been a few years since we’ve hosted a “Recess Summer TEC Camp”.
Shannon moved from the classroom to embrace the responsibilities of Technology Coordinator for the Tuscola School District. We spent the summers traveling to school districts providing professional development to great teachers throughout Illinois and Missouri, and with Shannon’s new position, we focused on providing workshops for the Tuscola teachers. We have had several people ask us if we were going to ever offer our own summer series again, and this summer seems perfect to go for it.

We invite you to visit our webpage where you can sign up for technology sessions that have never been included in our series before. You can register HERE.

This summer we’re offering 2 hour sessions to make the most of your time. We will have laptops, Wi-Fi, and EIASE is an amazing venue that maximizes the learning environment with comfort and no technical “glitches”.

Included in our Recess TEC Camp sessions is Google Apps for Education, a popular series that we will be presenting at several school districts this summer. Professional development in the use of iPads is still another often requested workshop. YouTube is gaining popularity as more and more schools are opening up their filters to allow teachers to use this powerful platform to support their curriculum. We’ll show you how to maximize the many options that are available to you. And finally, one session on the basics of SMARTBoard is offered for teachers who are new to the classroom and this piece of technology. We still find there are many teachers that, without the knowledge of the basics, aren’t able to tap into the power behind its interactive potential to motivate and engage students.

So please join us. We’ll provide snacks and fun.


Recess Fun

We promise you there won’t be a boring introduction of why we are qualified to “enlighten” you about technology in the classroom. And we promise you that we will jump right in, fill your 2 hours with exactly what you need to get motivated for your new year in the classroom with new ideas to get you excited and to get your kiddos stoked to learn.

Substitute Feedback Form

Substitute Feedback Form

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ April 19, 2015

As teachers, we all know the huge amount of time it takes to get ready for a substitute teacher. I had my “3-ring substitute teacher notebook” and my “required” sub-folder next to my desk “just in case”. I seldom had to use them. Preparing for a “sub” required far more work than it took to be there. Unless I had a family emergency, or I seriously couldn’t physically teach, I was there. Personal days were used for Recess TEC workshops.

And then there was the “Feedback Form” that was waiting for me on my desk when I returned.

As a substitute teacher, I appreciate the time that is dedicated to getting ready for me. I try to follow the plans as much as I can and to leave comments about my day. There is often a paper feedback form to fill out with a pen/pencil, but more often, when there is none, I open up a Word document and type observations, feedback, comments and messages as the day moves forward.

As I sat Friday afternoon filling out a “Sub Feedback Form”, I thought about Google Forms. As a substitute teacher, it would be much easier to fill out an online form designed for that purpose. As a teacher, it would be nice to have all of the feedback collected in one spreadsheet that I could access from home where I could plan to address any issues when I returned. (That’s what you want, right? To get good news about how your students did exactly what they should have been doing!) It couldn’t replace the plans and general instructions for the substitute, but it would be a nice alternative to the usual feedback form.

If you choose this type of feedback form, I would make sure of the following:
1.    The option for a “digital feedback form” is at the top of the list of instructions for the substitute teacher so he/she could begin using it from the beginning of the day in each class.
2.    The link to the form is clearly labeled and visible on your computer desktop in a folder marked “Substitute Teacher”.
3.    Make sure the substitute teacher has access to your computer desktop.

I’ve put together an example to use as a start for your own. I tried to make it appropriate for both departmentalized and self-contained classrooms. You can view below or here.

If you have any ideas/comments/suggestions as to ways this form could work better in your classroom, please share in the comments. We’re all in this together!




Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ April 12, 2015

“You read and write and sing and experience, thinking that one day these things will build the character you admire to live as. You love and lose and bleed best you can, to the extreme, hoping that one day the world will read you like the poem you want to be.”
~~Charlotte Eriksson

On March 27th, one of our favorite Facebook pages, Humans of New York (HONY) posted a short piece about StoryCorps. The founder of HONY, Brandon Stanton is both the photographer and the author behind HONY, and it’s Brandon’s thought-provoking questions that encourage and enable people to share their very private and personal stories. The comments and the support of the viewers of this page add to its overwhelming popularity. Brandon is now encouraging people, especially teachers and family members, to use StoryCorps to record conversations and memories to add to this oral history project.

StoryCorps 2

Dave Isay is the founder of StoryCorps, and his TED Talk can be viewed here. Listening to his TED talk will educate you about the history behind StoryCorps and its importance.

What is StoryCorps? From their About Page:

“StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews from more than 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.”

StoryCorps 3

Please take the time to visit the StoryCorps website and consider downloading their app to help collect your stories. Start with their “Login Page” to create an account, and you can upload an audio file with an image from their website. We have found creating an account online helps facilitate the login process on the app.


StoryCorps 4

As an added note, here is a little more about the “man behind HONY”:

National Poetry Month 2015

National Poetry Month 2015


Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ March 29, 2015
Recess Rewind

“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.”
  ~~Walt Whitman

We first featured National Poetry Month in a March 24, 2013 post titled “April is for Poets”.
We are featuring it again this Sunday with new links updating it to this year’s celebration.
With so many new friends finding their way to our blog, we decided that it was time to occasionally do a “Recess Rewind” with some “classic” TEC tips.


There is still time to plan for April and the National Poetry Month 2015.

National Poetry Month 2015

With the iPad and web tools, technology can take motivation and ideas to a whole new level.
To start, know that you can order a free copy of their annual poster for National Poetry Month 2015 from The Academy of American Poets.

Although posters are not guaranteed to arrive before April, it is a place to begin, and for $5, you can order past posters. The academy also offers a “Dear Poet Project” for upper grades on their website: Included are four activities aligned to the Common Core Standards for grades 7-10.

Scholastic has a website to encourage writing poetry with published authors. Along with activities, students have the opportunity to “publish” their poems online to share with friends and family.

Another resource is from with online interactive poetry writing sites for students grades K-12.

Finally, a British website for “young writers” offers a list of different types of poetry with several examples of each. It is an excellent resource for student poetry anthologies. Students could choose their favorite types of poems to include in their personally created collection, or you could filter their choice depending on your students’ levels and abilities.

We hope this offers both you and your students some fresh ideas to motivate you as we enter the last months of our school year.

Enjoy your weekend! It’s chilly here, but the sun is shining and the crocuses are blooming. We are all looking forward to some April showers and more spring flowers!

Quicker QR Codes

Quicker QR Codes

classroom management tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ March 22, 2015

We are finding more and more of our teachers are adopting the use of QR codes to direct their students to resources and activities. If you are using Mozilla Firefox as your browser, there is a little add-on that can speed up generating your QR codes. By enabling the add-on, “QR Code Image Generator” by webdevmedia, you only have to right-click and scroll down to find your generator. This add-on will allow you to make QR codes of the current URL, selected text, or “free text”.

Quicker QR Codes
It also works offline.
If you prefer shortcut keys, just press CTRL-SHIFT-Q. 

Quiicker QR CodesQuiicker QR Codes

You no longer have to search for QR code generators or go to your bookmarks.

I took a substituting job last week, and the teacher had developed an activity for a math center. After students completed a worksheet on fractions, they used their iPods to check their answers using the QR codes next to each problem. Who doesn’t love to see the “fist pumps” and to hear whispered, “Yeses!” when our students scan the codes that lead them to a correct answer?
Just another way technology can motivate students to learn.

Oh, and I looked up the spelling of the plural form of “yes” and learned from several sites that either “yeses” or “yesses” are acceptable.
And the plural form of “no”? That would be”noes”.

Have a great week!

SMARTBoard tips

 Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ March 8, 2015

Watch our video as Shannon introduces
This is a handy little web tool that will turn any quote into a poster that can be shared on your favorite social networks, or downloaded as an image file for use in your SMARTBoard lessons or PowerPoint presentations.
Check it out…

Easy Peasy!
Fast and simple leaving you plenty of time to head outside and enjoy some fresh air and hopefully some sunshine!

Google Add-On Lab Scheduler

Google Add-On Lab Scheduler

Google tips

 Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ March 1, 2015

Here is another tip we picked up at METC 2015 in the session, “Become a Google Ninja” presented by Michael McCann and Greg Lawrence. “Lab Scheduler” is a Google add-on that enables school personnel to schedule devices, resource rooms, computer labs, or resource personnel. We see “Lab Scheduler” offering far more uses than just device “sign-outs”. For visiting support personnel, training, special events at school when classrooms need to schedule special visitors, and anything that is tied into blocks of time/periods, this add-on will simplify the set up and keep it current.

Lab Scheduler


Lab Scheduler Overview

The video below from Greg Lawrence’s YouTube Channel explains how best to add and set up the “Lab Scheduler” add-on, and when I previewed the app itself, I was impressed with how slick it worked. This is a great little management tool for anyone trying to manage schedules in middle schools and high schools.

March made its entrance as the proverbial lion, and with nine inches of fresh snow on the ground,
I’m headed out to catch some snow shots this first day of March.
Stay warm and safe!