Author Archives: Daily Genius Staff

Education

6 Chrome Extensions Great for Students and Teachers

With Chromebooks gaining popularity in classrooms, many folks have offered guides on how to use some popular software like Microsoft Word and Office 365 on these otherwise seemingly stripped down machines. Though they may seem basic, Chromebooks and Chrome (as a browser for those not using Chromebooks) are probably more robust than you think. The Chromium project is an open source project for the browser and OS. Having open source code allows developers to make Chrome extensions for the browser that add features and enhance what your browser can do .
Chrome extensions run the gamut from games, gags, and pretty pictures to things that enhance your productivity, and make magic happen in one click. We’ve talked before about extensions that make thinking more visible, and others to generally enhance your browsing experience. The vast majority of extensions are free, and you can find them in the Chrome Web Store. We’ve collected 6 more that we think are worth taking the time to check out if you’re a teacher or student. Do you have a favorite that we haven’t included? Share with the Daily Genius community by leaving a comment below, dropping us a line on Twitter, or heading over to the Daily Genius Facebook Page and leaving us a note there.

6 Chrome Extensions Great for Students and Teachers

Readability

Readability aims to simplify your online reading by turning the content from the page into a simplified, clearer reading view. This can be particularly useful for students who are easily distracted by “all that other stuff” happening on the web. For all of us, it is easier on the eyes, and free of ads. It offers the option to save material to read later, and you can send things to your Kindle, too. This one also comes as a mobile app.

Google Dictionary

One of the perks of having your students read “real life” content is that they’re exposed to different language use than they may otherwise be; the downside is that may force them to spend more time looking up words they aren’t familiar with. The Google Dictionary chrome extension makes a handy little dictionary icon next to the browser’s URL field. When you come across a word you’re unfamiliar with, simply highlight the word and click the dictionary icon. Easy peasy!

Sidenotes

Sidenotes is a note-taking extension that opens up a basic notebook in the sidebar of a webpage, allowing you to jot down notes on the side (as the name so aptly implies). All of your data can be backed up to Dropbox for you to access anywhere

Stay Focusd

Stay Focusd aims to well, help you stay focused by limiting the amount of time you spend on certain websites. If you know that you’re prone to going down a black hole of Reddit postings and emerge an hour later, you can set up a filter to block you out of that site after a certain amount of time, for a certain amount of time. You can block certain sites, all sites except those you whitelist, or certain content. Think of it as a helper for your time management problem.

Note Anywhere

Note Anywhere is a simple sticky note extension that allows you to leave a note on any webpage. When you return to that page, you’ll see the note. This is great for lesson planning ideas, or for anyone doing research.

Grammarly

Whatever word processing software you use likely has a spell checker, and likely your email. But you aren’t always writing using those tools, and spell check leaves it at just that. Enter: Grammarly. Wherever you’re writing online, it follows you around, ensuring your grammar is up to snuff and not making you look bad.

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Education

14 Great Common Core Resources

The Common Core State Standards are probably affecting your classroom in one way or another. Forty-two states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have adopted the Common Core State Standards as of this writing, so chances are, they’ve made their way into your classroom. If you’re unfamiliar with them, the official website has a pretty thorough FAQ that will probably answer most of the questions that would come to mind.

If you are familiar with them, you’re probably more concerned with implementing said standards and ensuring your lesson plans address the necessary items. Whether you’re pro-CCSS or not, you may need to address the standards. To help you out, we’ve put together a handful of our favorite resources for learning more about the standards, their implementation, and some lesson plan resources to help you out. Some are from large organizations, other are from individual States, others are from individuals. Whatever you’re looking for, there’s probably something there that can help you out!

Need a laugh? Does Technology Align With the Common Core State Standards?

Do you have a favorite resource for Common Core lesson plans or materials for learning more? Share them with the Daily Genius community by leaving a comment below, dropping us a line on Twitter, or heading over to the Daily Genius Facebook Page and leaving us a note there.

14 Great Common Core Resources

  • Common Core 360  – Offers webinars, step by step help, and access to research on CCSS to help teachers and schools set up for success.
  • McGraw Hill Common Core Solutions – Offers professional development tools and resources by subject matter and grade level.
  • Pearson Education Common Core State Standards – Offers resources for curriculum, assessment, tools for English Language Learners, and more.
  • Khan Academy – Offers standards-aligned exercises (everything is free)
  • National Council of Teachers of Mathematics – Tons of lessons for all grade levels and standards for math.
  • Better Lesson – Lesson content aggregator Better Lesson offers a vast number of lessons in all standard areas, easily organized by subject and grade level.
  • Scholastic Common Core State Standards – Publishing giant Scholastic offers resources for standards broken down first by age group, then by subject.
  • NYC Department of Education – The NYC DOE offers a large database of tasks, units, and student work, searchable by grade level, subject, and keyword.
  • American Association of School Librarians – Offers an archive of lesson plans by grade level and useful templates, rubrics, and checklists for developing CCSS-aligned lesson plans.
  • EngageNY – The New York State Education Department offers a large catalogue of lessons for all age groups and subjects.
  • UEN – The Utah Education Network offers many K-12 Core lesson plans
  • Share My Lesson – On this popular site for lesson sharing, find aligned curricula and lesson plans, news, videos and links. They also offer a forum where you can pose questions or contribute answers.
  • Achieve The Core – Offers free tools to help teachers and administrators implement the CCSS in a section titled “Steal These Tools”
  • CT DOE – The CT Department of Education offers a free digital library to support teaching and learning as well as a webinar series

 
Featured image via Flickr

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Education

How To Teach Students Effective Online Research Skills

When I was in school (We walked uphill both ways! In the snow! With no shoes! Oh, the hardship!) and the internet was just a glimmer in the eye of Al Gore (I joke!), “doing research” mostly involved the library. As in, physically going there, finding books via a card catalogue, and using the index of said books to find the relevant information contained within. With vast amounts of information online, much time is saved in the research process, but do your students really have effective online research skills?

Now Trending: 5 Gmail hacks every teacher should know

What does “effective online research” even mean? Type in a search term and get going, right? While on one hand, it literally is that easy, if you want to find good quality, highly relevant materials, you need to move far beyond a quick Google search and visiting your old pal Wikipedia. We have some great, easy tips for how to make the most of online research coming your way. How do you make the most of online research? Share your favorite tips and tricks by leaving a comment below, dropping us a line on Twitter, or heading over to the Daily Genius Facebook Page and leaving us a note there! We always love to hear about your favorite tools and more.

Building Effective Online Research Skills

We’ll start with the idea of a basic online search query, and move on from there. Using one or two word search terms yields you some results, especially in a large, popular search engine like Google.

Find the Best Search Terms

If you’re not finding what you’re looking for with a basic search of a word or two, expand your horizons! Try asking an exact question (i.e., “How many people have been on the moon”) – surely someone else has asked it before! If you’re not getting the results you’re looking for, try using synonyms or similar phrases, they may yield you better results!

Use Search Operators

No, no, not Smooth Operator! A search operator is a parameter that you set (either a character or string of characters) that help define your search query. Google offers a short list of search operators here, as well as a useful tip: When you search using operators or punctuation marks, don’t add any spaces between the operator and your search terms. Some of the more common search operators you’ll use are:

  • AND: (To find results with both terms you’ve identified)
  • NOT: (Pages listed in search results should not contain this particular word or phrase after it)
  • OR: (Results should include any of the terms on either side in the query rather than pages that contain both or all terms)
  • ” “: (To find the exact word or phrase within the quotation marks)
  • -: (Put a minus sign to indicate results you don’t want)
  • 11..350: (Two periods indicate you’re looking for results within the identified range. You can add a unit of measure if you’d like, as well)
  • site: (Displays results from a specific site)

There are many (many!) more search operators available – and you can also use combinations of operators to further narrow your search. Check out this list of advanced search operators, or use Google’s handy advanced search page, which eliminates the need for memorizing the operators.

More Specific Resources

Web searches may yield you many results, but when you need something that goes more in depth, you may need to turn to some other types of resources. Here are a few of our favorites:

The Single BEST Resource Out There

With all of the technology available, many people have forgotten that there is a really (really) amazing resource out there that can help you find absolutely anything – your LIBRARIAN! Whether you’re checking in with your school librarian or your local public library, these folks are well versed in using the tools we’ve talked about above as well as many more to help you (efficiently) find what you’re looking for. Take tips from them – these are the research pros! Just because you have a computer in front of you doesn’t mean they can’t offer you a solution. This is especially true if you find yourself stuck. They’ve probably been there before – and lots of people have asked lots of questions before you!
Featured Image via Flickr

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The EdTech Alphabet for 21st Century Teachers

Along with the vast amount of technology that has entered our classrooms in recent years comes a whole new vocabulary. The EdTech alphabet that we’ve put together below started as a smaller collection of different topics we’ve written about over the past few years, and while it is by no means exhaustive, it covers a lot of ground in terms of different tools, methods, ideas, and resources.

See Also: The 25 Terms Connected Educators Should Know

If you’re struggling to integrate technology, if your school is low on funding, or if you’ve always used technology in your classroom, or consider yourself a seasoned pro, you may find some new ideas in the graphic below. We’ve linked to some relevant posts from the last couple of years in the text alphabet below.

We’re working on making a more robust alphabet graphic in the future, with multiple entries for each letter. Is there anything you want us to include (that hasn’t already been mentioned below)? Let us know by leaving a comment below, dropping us a line on Twitter, or heading over to the Daily Genius Facebook Page and leaving us a note there! We always love to hear about your favorite tools and more.

The EdTech Alphabet

From A-Z, our classroom lexicon is changing. A may be for apple, but also for Apps! What else? Keep reading!

A: Apps

B: Blended Learning

C: Challenge Based Learning

D: Digital Citizenship/Good Digital Citizens

E: eBooks

F: Feedback

G: Gamification/ Games

H: Hour of Code

I: Instagram

J: Jamboree (or other Professional Development Event)

K: Kaizena

L: Lesson Plans

M: Mobile Learning

N: Networking

O: Office 365

P: Project Based Learning

Q: Questions for Critical Thinking

R: Robots

S: SAMR

T: TED-Ed 

U: Udemy (and other online learning platforms)

V: Videos

W: Webinars

X: X Marks the Spot

Y: YouTube

Z: Zero (What to do with little to no funding for technology)

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Education

The Teacher's Guide to Using Pinterest in Education

Five or so years ago when it launched (way back when, in technology terms), Pinterest entered a social media market dominated by text. Quite simply, it brought an unprecedented visual aspect to social media which users enjoyed, though it was a fairly basic platform. Fast forward to today and you’ll find a plethora of new features that can make it particularly useful in your classroom.

Read More: How to Use Instagram In Your Classroom

So how can making boards and pinning photos be a useful tool for teachers? Pinterest offers a number of different options for teachers both for professional development and for student work. Tons of teachers (and other folks, too) are using this tool  – there are countless boards devoted to lesson plans, classroom ideas, and more. There are purportedly around 100 million active users as of December 2015 – and as with many web-based tools, the more people there are contributing to a platform, the better stuff there will be for you to use (even if you have to sort through some garbage to find it!)   To get your wheels churning, we’ve collected a few of our favorite ideas below.

pinterest

Pinterest Basics

If you’ve never used Pinterest before, fear not – it isn’t hard! Signing up for an account is easy and free. Do note that if you want your students to sign up for accounts and use the platform as part of your assignments, the ToS require users to be at least age 13. You’ll start by creating a couple of boards, which you can organize however you’d like (by theme, idea, project, etc). When you ‘pin’ something using the PinIt Button, you are adding that image to your board. When you ‘repin’ something, you’re pinning another user’s pin to one of your boards. When you pin or repin any item, it will be linked back to the source, so you don’t need to worry about noting where you found something! You can search other user’s pins via the Pinterest search function on the site or in the app, and like and/or comment on any pins you find. Additionally, you can follow specific boards or users. When you do, pins from those boards and users will show up on your feed when you go to the home page.
Now that you’ve got the basics down, we’ll move on to our favorite uses for Pinterest in education.

Inspire

Pinterest can be an amazing source of inspiration. On the teaching side of things, you can create boards devoted to specific projects, lesson plans, or general ideas that you’d like to incorporate in your classroom. Many teachers use Pinterest as a spot to save ideas that they come across online but don’t have time to delve deeply into or want to integrate later on.
If you’re getting your students involved, they can create boards for inspiration on certain projects, either by searching other users’ pins, or by finding their inspiration elsewhere on the web and collecting it on a board in Pinterest. You can also have your students use a specific phrase in their pin descriptions (sort of like a hashtag, but without the #), so that you can find the pins easily later on.

Learn and Discover

Since it contains a wealth of pins on just about every topic out there, browsing and searching existing pins can be a great learning and discovery tool. If you search or browse through relevant topics and keywords, you’ll find that you come across many things you may not have even known existed. Don’t discount browsing – if done with a little bit of method to the madness, it is much, much more than a time-waster!

Collaborate

Students working in groups can collaborate on boards and group their inspiration, ideas, progress, and final work all in one place. Since multiple users can pin to the same board (here’s how to add multiple users to a board), it makes a great platform for collaboration. As the teacher, you’ll be able to see who contributed what and when, which can be useful in determining if everyone is contributing in reasonable time (which is sometimes an issue!)

Showcase

Once the work is done, have your students showcase their work on different boards. There are a number of different options here: each student in a particular class could pin a piece of their work to a board, multiple classes or groups could collaborate on a board, or you could even host a contest between students, groups, classes, or schools!

Recommend

Whether you’re recommending books for students to read, websites for them to check out, places to go, or ideas for projects, create a board! Your students can peruse your recommendations at their own pace and go back to them whenever they want!

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How to Get Free Computers for Schools

There’s much discussion about putting technology in classrooms, what options are best, and how to best employ hardware, software, apps, and other web tools. While all of these are completely valid discussions, it can be easy to forget that for many schools and classrooms, there is a bigger issue at hand – how can you get the technology in the first place. Whether your school or district is underfunded, or you simply don’t have enough devices for the number of students in your class, know that there are other options for you to find free computers for schools.

Read More: Great Apps for the One iPad Classroom

We’ve put together a list of a few different options that may help you bring free or low-cost computers to your classroom. Some of the listings are for specific locations only, others may require a bit of searching and digging to find the right place in your area. We’ve tried to make some notes on each listing below, but the information is not at all exhaustive!

It’s important not to overlook the obvious: there is no super simple, easy way to get free stuff. Free computers are not going to rain from a cloud above your school just because you need them to. Many of these organizations have an elaborate process you’ll need to go through to get the devices you want, or you may need to do a sizable amount of legwork to organize a crowdfunding or donation/recycling campaign. If you find you don’t qualify for some of the programs, there’s another route that you may want to explore: ask around. Many local businesses get rid of their electronic equipment pretty regularly. Contact as many as you need to – there are a lot that would be willing to donate the devices to a school within their own community, but they may not know that the students even need them! When in doubt, ask!

Do you know of an organization that donates computers to schools that need them? Share with the Daily Genius community by leaving a comment below, dropping us a line on Twitter, or heading over to the Daily Genius Facebook Page and leaving us a note there!

How to Get Free Computers For Schools

Computers for Classrooms – (in California only)

World Computer Exchange

Interconnection (Seattle area)

PCs for People

Freecycle

Computers for Learning

National Cristina Foundation

Computer Recycling Center (Bay area)

Microsoft Registered Refurbishers

 

Crowdfunding and Grants

Crowdfunding campaigns and grants are other options to help you get what you need for your school or classroom. They’ll require some time, effort, and coordination on your part, but may bring some cash flow for your student’s electronic needs.

Digital Wish

Donors Choose

Funding Factory

Corning Foundation

Grants.gov

Grantwatch.com

 

Featured image via Flickr, edits by me

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Education

30 EdTech Conferences Worth Checking Out

As technology has become more ubiquitous in our classrooms, more avenues have begun to develop to allow teachers learn how to best employ said technology, as well as learn to use it in the first place. Way back when, there were a few different conferences one could attend, and many teachers stuck to their school sponsored inservice days for professional development. Now, there are more EdTech conferences available then you’ll ever have time to attend, so you’ll need to select carefully from the offerings to find something that fits with what you need the most.

Read More: Apple and Google’s Professional Development Programs

If you aren’t yet sold on spending your time or hard-earned cash on EdTech conferences, there are a number of reasons why you should consider it. I’ll delve a little bit deeper in a different post, but here are a few totally not elaborated bullet points to consider:

  • You’ll get out of your usual routine. Talking with educators who work in different schools, districts, age levels, and subjects can bring you new perspective.
  • You can network with other educators from all over the globe and have the opportunity to discuss, brainstorm, and learn.
  • You’ll learn about programs and initiatives that have been successful in other schools.
  • Vendors are (usually) available to showcase the latest and greatest in classroom technology, pedagogical materials, and more.
  • You’ll add to your repertoire of teaching best practices.
  • You’ll be inspired by what’s going on around you, which may bring you new ideas for your own classroom.

Given the plethora of options available, we’ve narrowed down the possibilities a bit, and have included 30 conferences that we think are worth checking out.  These vary quite a bit from traditional conferences with large lecture sessions and tons of vendors to smaller, all hands-on learning events, so you can pick what will works best for your needs!Do you have a favorite conference or EdTech professional development opportunity that we haven’t included here? Share with the Daily Genius community by leaving a comment below, dropping us a line on Twitter, or heading over to the Daily Genius Facebook Page and leaving us a note there!
nb: a couple of these conferences have already taken place in 2016, but keep an eye out for the 2017 events!

30 s Worth Checking Out

EdTechTeacher – More than 7 workshops and 5 conferences throughout the year, various locations throughout the US
EdCamp – Events in many locations on many dates – check the website for details
Future Ready Schools Summit – 2016 dates TBD, sessions in Austin Texas, Seattle Washington, Madison Wisconsin, Boston Massachusetts, and Orlando Florida
iNACOL Blended Learning Conference and Blended Learning Symposium– multiple dates and locations
Learning and the Brain – Multiple dates and locations for conferences and seminars in the US, 2016
FETC – January 12-15, 2016, Orlando, Florida
Learn Launch – January 21-22, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts
BETT – January 25-28, 2016 and 25-28 2017, London, UK
Educon – January 29-31, 2016, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
AIEA (Assoc. of International Education Administrators) – February 21-24, 2016, Montreal, Canada
IntegratEd – Feburary 24-26, 2016, Portland, Oregon
SXSW Edu – March 7-10, 2016, Austin, Texas
GESF – March 12-13, 2016, Dubai, UAE
CUE – March 17-19, 2016, Palm Springs, California
Blended Learning Conference – April 1-2, 2016, Providence, Rhode Island
ASCD – April 2-4, 2016, Atlanta, Georgia
Education Innovation Summit – April 18-20, 2016, San Diego, California
New Schools Summit –  May 10-11, 2016, San Francisco, California
PBL World – June 13-16, 2016, Napa, California
ST4T – June 15-17, 2016, Clearwater, Florida
EdTechxEurope – June 15-16 2016, London, UK
Serious Play Conference – July 26-28, 2016, UNC Chapel Hill, North Carolina
ISTE – June 26-29, 2016, Denver, Colorado
Education Networking Conference September 25-27, 2016, Dallas, Texas
Digital Media and Learning – October 5-7, 2016, Irvine, California
WISE Summit – 2016 dates not yet announced, usually in early October. Doha, Qatar
Foundation for Excellence in Education – October 22-23, 2016, Denver, Colorado
Miami Device – November 9-10, 2017, Miami, Florida
OEB – November 30- December 2, 2016, Berlin, Germany
Global Education Conference – 2016 dates TBD
Featured image via Flickr

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Education

How to Use Canned Responses in Gmail

Yesterday, we enumerated some our favorite Gmail hacks that we employ regularly to make our lives a little easier. We heard from a number of you that the canned responses feature seemed as though it would be quite useful, and several of you requested a tutorial. Since we don’t like to be in the business of disappointing our readers, here you go: a tutorial on how to make canned responses in Gmail.

See Also: 6 little-known Google tools you should try today

What is a Canned Response?

If you missed yesterday’s post, a canned response is a semi-automated message that you can type out, save, and insert easily into emails.  If you often get emails that require the same response, you’ll find this feature will save you loads of time. For classroom teachers, it has many uses, including (but not limited to!):

  • Sending responses to students regarding homework assignments, changes in schedule, etc
  • Communicating basic school/classroom regulations with students and parents
  • Responding to parent inquires
  • Reminding students of classroom procedure in response to inquiries

So when you’re going on a field trip and twenty parents write to you with the same questions, or many students write asking about extra credit but need a gentle reminder that all previous homework must be handed in before extra credit is available, canned responses can save you from having to re-write similar emails.

Enabling Canned Responses

To use this feature, you’ll first have to enable it in Gmail. To do this, click on the little gear on the right side of your Gmail screen, and click on “Settings”.
canned responses
Click on the “Labs” tab, and Canned Responses should be the first option in the list below. Click on “Enable”, and make sure to save your changes.
canned responses
 

Making a New Canned Response

Now, compose a new email that you’ll use for a canned response. When you’re done composing, click on the down arrow on the far right bottom corner of your message, select “Canned Responses” and “new canned response”.
canned responses
Save your canned response with the name you choose.
canned responses

Using A Canned Response

When you want to use a canned response, it will be there waiting for you, whether you send from a newly created email or as a response to another email.
Either way, you’ll click on the drop down arrow in the bottom right of your compose mail window, and select “Canned responses”. Your saved response will show up in the list under the name you chose. Click on it, and the text will magically appear in your compose box.
canned responses
 
From there, you’re free to edit as you need, which is a great way to use a canned response and then personalize it a bit so it doesn’t feel like a canned response. You can save as many canned responses as you want, and if you find you have too many, just highlight the message you want to delete under the “Delete” section of the canned responses drop down menu, and it will be out of your hair!

Automating Canned Responses

If you don’t need to personalize a canned response, you can even have Gmail automatically send a canned response for you. Simply create your canned response as described above, and we’ll use filters to tell Gmail that you want to send it automatically.
In this example, I’ve created a filter for all messages that contain the phrase ‘field trip’, and have applied the action “send this canned response” to all emails that contain that phrase. This may not always be an appropriate option, but can be very useful in certain situations.
canned responses
Featured image edited by me, original photo via Flickr

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5 Gmail Hacks Every Teacher Should Know

Tons of schools (and thereby teachers, administrators, and students are using some form of Gmail as their email service these days. Along with the whole suite of Google Apps for Education, Gmail helps keeps teachers, students, and parents connected.

Email is email, right? You use it to send and receive communications from others, and perhaps as a never ending file that you can search later on for information someone sent you. Actually, Gmail is a very robust platform and can probably do hundreds of things you’ve never even heard of. There are endless tips and tricks out there to help you customize Gmail, but we’ve selected a few of our favorites that will be quite handy in the classroom.

      See Also: How to get started with the new Google Slides

Do you have any favorite Gmail tips and tricks that help your classroom to run more seamlessly, or just make your life a little easier? Share with the Daily Genius community by leaving a comment below, dropping us a line on Twitter, or heading over to the Daily Genius Facebook Page and leaving us a note there!

      Want even more Google tools and tips? Join Daily Genius on Google+!

Gmail’s Canned Responses: Make Quick Work of the Mundane

If you ever find yourself writing pretty much the same thing over and over, the canned responses feature may be your new best friend. Canned responses lets you pre-write common emails, and insert that text into any reply you choose. Once you’ve inserted the message, you can always customize it a bit if you want, or send it off as is. Simply enable the canned responses feature in labs, save your desired messages as canned responses, and you’re good to go. So when every parent asks you the same question about a field trip or multiple students are asking the same questions about a project, you don’t need to write thirty of the same email each time.

Undo Send

This may be a feature that you’re already familiar with, but if you’re not, it may be the holy grail of emailing. Undo send lets you do precisely what it sounds like: undo sending an email. Maybe you clicked send accidentally before finishing an email, or maybe you sent something you suddenly wish you hadn’t (we’ve all been there). Either way, Gmail offers you the option to undo a sent email for a short period (5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds) immediately after clicking send. To make sure this feature is enabled or to customize the amount of time you have after sending to recall, go to the little gear on the right side of your Gmail, click on settings, and then on General. Click “Enable Undo Send” and select the amount of time you want after sending to undo the send. Make sure to click save when you’re done. Voila!

gmail
Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

We all have things we do every day, multiple times a day. For me (in terms of email, anyway), filing away messages into different folders is one of them. Others would be composing new messages and reporting spam. Gmail already offers a ton of keyboard shortcuts that will save you some time (the list is separated by shortcuts that are always turned on and shortcuts that need to be manually turned on), but if those aren’t doing what you need, or if you don’t find them to be intuitive, you can create your own custom shortcuts. To create your own shortcuts, click on the little gear on the right side of your Gmail, go to Settings, and then to Labs. Scroll down to “custom keyboard shortcuts” and enable that option. From there, go to the Keyboard Shortcuts tab under settings, and create your own shortcuts. If learning shortcuts overwhelms you, try a Chrome extension like KeyRocket which helps teach you shortcuts while you’re using Gmail.

Email Addresses For Every Occasion

Did you know that gmail addresses can be modified with + signs and periods? The emails will all go to the same place regardless of the periods and plus signs. Thus, heydailygenius@gmail.com is effectively the same as heydaily+genius@gmail.com or heydaily.genius@gmail.com, or any other version you can devise.

How can this benefit you as a teacher? It offers you the ability to filter emails sent to those specific addresses. Let’s say you teach five classes, and receive email from parents and students from each of those five classes. You could create modified emails for each class, and then create a filter and a label for each one and send them to different folders.

For example:

Your email address: awesomescienceteacher@gmail.com

Class 1: awesome.scienceteacher@gmail.com

Class 2: awesomescience.teacher@gmail.com

Class 3: awesome+scienceteacher@gmail.com

Class 4: awesomescience+teacher@gmail.com

Class 5: awesome+science.teacher@gmail.com

When you receive emails and create the labels and filters,  they’ll all be sent to the appropriate spot so that you’ll have to do less searching, sifting, and organizing later.

Custom Filters

Speaking of filtering, have you tried it? If you haven’t, filters can really help clean up your inbox and sort messages into a more manageable sort of organized chaos. You can create filters that send messages directly to a certain folder (for a specific class, perhaps, like we envisioned above), directly to your junk folder, or create another action.

To start, select a message that you ‘d like to filter, and click on the drop down arrow on the right. Select “filter messages like this”.

gmail

Next, you’ll define the types of messages (from a certain address, to a certain address, containing certain words, etc). When you’ve input your desired parameters, click “create filter with this search” on the bottom right.

Gmail

 

Once you’ve determined the types of messages you want to filter, you’ll tell Gmail what you want to do with those messages. I’ve selected “Skip the inbox” below, but you can choose any of the options below or a combination thereof. You can even send a canned response (see our first tip in this post!).

Gmail

 

As you can see, there are a wide variety of offerings to customize your Gmail account and make it work for you. Have we overlooked one of your favorite Gmail hacks? Let us know by leaving a comment below or getting in touch via social media!

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Education

This compilation video of rocket launches takes care of your first science lesson

It’s your first week back in school and you’ve not spent the holiday doing lesson plans – so this video might just save you.
After all, 2015 was a fantastic year for space exploration – from SpaceX to China’s accelerations in the space race, along with Pluto providing enough wonder for a lifetime, along with the first orbital rocket to be launched and land again, and NASA’s Scott Kelly managing his groundbreaking year in space.
What do such achievements have in common? Rockets. Loads of them. Eighty seven were launched (not quite the record, which is 93 in 2004), from nine countries – with Russia leading the way (29), with Iran managing just the one.
And this compilation has them all, nearly (not including four Chinese launches seemingly not filmed). As a compilation of human endeavour, of the urge to explore and push the boundaries of science this takes some beating. If your class watch this and aren’t intrigued or excited by the idea of space, science and engineering, then something has gone very wrong.

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