Blog classroom management tips

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

Last week we shared “TweetDeck” in our Sunday post and how its use can simplify your management of Twitter.

But, wait.
You say you also use Facebook and Instagram?
What you need is an “SMMS”.

A “Social Media Management System”.

Introducing Hootsuite to take managing your social networks to another level.

With Hootsuite, you have plenty of options if you want to pay.
The good news is that with a “free account”, you can manage three of your social networks, and we think that is more than enough to spread the word about your classroom, school, and district.


What is Hootsuite?
According to Wikipedia:

“Hootsuite is a social media management system for brand management created by Ryan Holmes in 2008. The system’s user interface takes the form of a dashboard, and supports social network integrations for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, MySpace, WordPress, TrendSpottr and Mixi.

Additional integrations are available via Hootsuite’s App Directory, including Instagram, MailChimp, Reddit, Storify, Tumblr, Vimeo and YouTube.”

Creating an account is easy with your email or your Facebook account.

HootSuiteOnce you are logged in, you can create columns personalizing them with your tweets, mentions, feed, messages, and timelines.
You also have the option of how often you want your social streams to refresh.
It defaults to “Every 5 minutes”, but that can be changed.
You can also add tabs, and by clicking into the titles, you can personalize them.

Hootsuite. Helping you keep it simple.

[Tweet “Using Hootsuite to organize and manage your social networks as a resource for yourself and your students.”]

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!

[Tweet “Our tip includes a “how-to” with Google Chrome updates to keep your workflow running smoothly…”]

We’re Back!

We’re Back!

Blog Travels

Like the barber’s kid with the long hair,It's Time!
or the carpenter with the leaky roof,
our website needed some attention.

Some serious attention.

When viewed on a mobile device,
the first thing you saw was,
“Your flash player needs updated.”

Not a good first impression for our visitors.

We knew the best thing for us to do was to start over. We had a lot of “quick fixes”,
and we knew it was going to take time.

On January 2, we took a deep breath and enlisted the advice of “Simply Sell” to start the process to purge and organize our site.

We wanted clean and, we wanted modern.

We wanted easy navigation, and we wanted quick responses to the needs of our visitors.

Thank you for your patience,
and thank you, Simply Sell, for listening to and helping us with a product that truly reflects who we are!
You are always easy and fun to work with!

Stay tuned for tips and posts.
We’ve missed you!

Snip, Snip

Blog tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 9-30-2012

There are lots of ways Shannon and I “capture our screens”,
but the easiest way is…
well, the easiest.

I had forgotten this simple tool until my son, Brian, pointed it out to me.

Right inside the accessories folder on your computer,
you will find the “Snipping Tool”.

If you just drag it out to your “Start Menu”,
it will be there whenever you need a quick capture.

Best of all, you can save the “snip” as a jpeg, png, gif, or html file.

The “Snipping Tool” offers other options that include highlighting, pen choices, an eraser, and sending the capture as an attachment.

This has been my “go-to” capture program over everything else because it doesn’t require another program to open, it’s accessible, and it’s quick.

So, click and drag that little tool out so it’s easy to use,
finish your morning drink of choice,
and we hope you have saved some time for yourself to enjoy this beautiful fall day…

Instant Eyedropper

Blog Photography tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 3-11-2012

While formatting backgrounds and colors,
I want elements to match and compliment.

When opening up my color formatting options,
I’m directed to “More Colors…”,
and I have the option to enter the coding to get the precise color I want.

One tool I have found to be invaluable is the
Instant Eyedropper”.

A free download, this little web tool quietly hangs out on my Windows Taskbar.
When I need to know the exact color of a pixel, I  just click on the icon
and drag it to the pixel. Once I have hovered over the pixel,
I release the “eyedropper”,

and the color code is automatically copied to my clipboard.

Next, I just enter the code into my formatting options,
and I have the exact color I am looking for.

The color codes this tool supports are:

  • HTML
  • HEX
  • Delphi Hex
  • Visual Basic Hex
  • RGB
  • HSB

With this little tip, we hope your Sunday is filled with color…
the colors of spring, that is, with only nine days left until that day!

Record That

Blog tips

Sunday Sit, Sip, and “Sync” ~ 2-12-2012

Do you need a quick, short mp3 recording?


Plug in the microphone.


Click “RECORD”.

Click “STOP”.

Preview with a click of the “Play” button.

“Save Recording”.

Watch it “upload”,
and when it has finished processing and uploading, you can browse and “Save As” to a destination on your computer.

Another option is a link to your own “player”.


More Than a Bucket List…

Blog reflections tips

Monday Morning Message ~ 10-3-2011

On the Home Page:

“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal.
The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”
Benjamin E. Mays

For all of you “task/goal oriented people”, this is the to-do list to end all to-do lists.

is a project that allows you to set 101 personal goals to be accomplished in 1001 days. That is 2.75 years taking you over several seasons that include multiple “teacher breaks”. The best part is that you can find other lists and suggestions that provide inspirational, motivational, and creative suggestions to add to your list.

Never mind the fact that, as I look at other people’s goals,
I gain some feeling of satisfaction knowing how much I have actually accomplished in my life.

Been there, done that.

Drive through a giant redwood?
Been there, done that.

But wait; there’s more…

This site is “FREE”.

(You know how we love “free”!)

The “Day Zero Project” was started and is maintained by Michael Green from Christchurch, New Zealand,

and Michael loves lists, movies, and photography. Oh, and traveling and technology, too.

What’s not to like about Michael Green???

Your list and your profile is open, but you do have an option to make it private,
or individual tasks private.

I, however, will choose to make mine open so I keep myself accountable for my goals.

The whole idea of setting goals is to accomplish and reach them, and my ultimate goal is to accomplish my goals.

What a concept…

So, Goal #1:
Make a list of 101 goals.

Come on. Who’s with me?


Let’s do this thing together!


( aka = http://dayzeroproject.com/user/nbrach )

Monday Morning Message ~ 1-10-2011

Blog reflections tips

Monday Morning Message ~ 1-10-2011

With the new year, and some changes we foresee, the “Recess TEC Team” is making a new commitment.We have questions, too...

We are both asked many questions as we travel to different schools for training and presentations.
Our in-boxes are filled with more questions, and…
we often ask ourselves questions.

The difference between the questions we are asked, and the questions we ask ourselves is that;

1. most of the time we know the answers to questions asked, and
2. of the questions we have for ourselves, we know where to get the answers.

So Recess TEC has decided to share ideas, tips, suggestions, websites, and thoughts that might help you facilitate technology in your classrooms.
Our goal is to make technology fun for you and your students. We have worked with teachers who are frustrated with technology and have grown discouraged when they can’t get it to “work”.
What we do best is to break it down to the “least common denominator” and add fun and enthusiasm.
We always include things that are free, practical, appropriate, and relevant.

When we learn new things, we get excited about teaching.
And when we are excited about teaching,
our students are excited about learning.

So, check back with us each Monday, and we look forward to some “recess” time with you.

Blogging Maniacs

Blog reflections writing

The start of school is behind us and we are into our 2nd week.  I introduced the students to our class blog which is being hosted at www.kidblog.org and I have been amazed at how excited and focused they are on their writing.  Not only are they generating thoughtful posts on which they are experts.  They are also generating thoughtful comments on each other’s blogs.  Now I have never been an expert on writing by any stretch.  But I do know that in the past I have struggled to get kids excited about writing.  By weaving technology and writing together, I have been successful at getting  a much higher level of buy-in from the students.  This is year is no different.  Plus, they are writing for fun.  Fun…that’s right…fun.  I am only requiring the kids to post one entry on his or her blog each week as part of the overall spelling grade.  Most kids are posting more than that already.  My daughter included.  Not because I asked her to.  Not because she wants to impress me.  Not because she wants to have the most entries in the class.  But because she WANTS to post.  She wants to have content on which others will comment.  The comments of the other kids and the feedback received by the parents of the other students in my classroom are driving her to want to post more work.  Will this be a phase?  Will it get boring and end soon?  I have no idea, but I am enjoying it while it lasts!

If you want to head over to www.mrsssmith.com and check out our “student blog” link on the homepage, I am sure the kids would love to have even more comments.

Races For All Paces

Blog workshops

Races For All Paces

The Recess TEC team took the morning off from presenting today and instead entered in the Races For All Paces, a family style fun run and walk.   Mom and Ashton, along with my niece Taylor registered for the 1 mile walk while Mike and I ran the 5K.  It was one of the windiest races I have run since my HS track days.  It was a great feeling of accomplishment to run and finish within the top 20-25 runners (official results haven’t been posted yet), but at the same time made me realize that I need to spend a little more time running in between school and working on the computer in the evenings.  Wow, am I out of shape!  Mike was already ahead of me by the first mile marker, but not by much.  Near the middle of my third mile, he was done….and so was I, but not literally.  I did make it though…without passing out at the finish line, thankfully.  We actually got finished quickly enough to be able to get back over to the 1 mile course and walk with Ashton, Taylor, and Mom.  Mike ended up getting Ashton to run for the majority of it while Mom, Taylor and I enjoyed the walk on a beautiful yet windy morning.  While we really love spending Saturdays in computer labs across central IL, working with educators (and sometimes up north…ok…once), this was also a great way to spend a Saturday morning.  Plus we got to introduce Taylor to our favorite Charleston area restaurant, “What’s Cookin’?”  Yum strawberry bread!

Strawberry Bread