Wednesday, March 23, 2016

10 "Two-Minute Tech" Tips for Teachers | #30DBB - Day 24

This is day 24 of "The Thirty Day Blog Binge." Learn more

Each week I send out a "Two-Minute Tech" email to the seven elementary campuses I support. Sometimes it's a good keyboard shortcut, other times it's an instructional tool, then sometimes it's delightfully random (Google Easter Eggs, anyone?). They're typically things that wouldn't occupy an entire training and that teachers can start using right away.

This post is a collection of 10 those handy little tidbits. Enjoy!



You want to use YouTube videos in class, but you never know what ads, comments, or related videos are going to show up that you don’t want kids to see.

Check out this week’s Two Minute Tech video to learn about Watchkin, a free and easy online tool that cleans up YouTube so it’s safe to use with your students.

26 Keyboard Shortcuts Every Teacher Should Know

There are ways to save a little bit of time that can make a big difference, and using keyboard shortcuts is one of them. Attached you’ll find a list of 26 time-saving shortcuts for some of the programs you use the most: Windows, Office, Powerpoint and the Chrome browser.

Try starting small and pick three shortcuts that you can use every day. Start to see what a difference it starts to make in your efficiency. You may just start finding time you never knew you had, and who couldn’t use more of that?



Sometimes you have massive PDF files and you really only need 3 pages of it for what you’re doing. The answer to that problem is PDFSplit. Upload any PDF to this free online tool, and choose which pages you want to extract. It’s a lifesaver when you’re working with large curriculum documents or other resources for your classroom.

Check out this week’s Two Minute Tech video to learn more!


2x YouTube Videos

When you browse YouTube for videos to engage your students, it can be tedious to watch everything in real-time. You can cut your previewing time down in a big way by using speed controls in YouTube. Next time you’re looking through videos to see if they address what you need for class, try this:

  1. Click on the gear in the lower right-hand corner of the video.
  2. Select "Speed."
  3. Try adjusting the speed to 1.25, 1.5, or 2.

When you preview a video at double-speed, a 4:00 video only takes you 2:00. You just saved time (and you get used to the chipmunk sounding voices after a while).



Research tells us that kids learn better when they have frequent opportunities for movement (and let’s be honest, so do adults). That’s why this week’s Two Minute Tech is focused on GoNoodle. With a free account, you get access to GoNoodle’s video library of class movement activities: everything from simple stretching and deep breathing to dance and indoor recess.

Check out this week's Two-Minute Tech video to see how easy it is to sign up and navigate. So when your students need a “brain break,” pull up GoNoodle and let ‘em move for a few minutes! You’ll be glad you did.


Outlook Shortcuts

Checking email is rarely the highlight of anyone’s day, so you might as well be efficient about it. Try these keyboard shortcuts in Outlook and see if you start spending less time answering email and more time doing what really needs to get done.

Ctrl + N – new email
Up Arrow/Down Arrow – choose messages
Ctrl + Click – select multiple messages
Delete – delete email
Enter – open email
Alt + R – reply
Alt + L – reply all
Alt + S – send

Check out this week’ Two-Minute Tech video to see email efficiency in action, then try adopting some of these into your daily routine.


Classroom Timers

Every teacher needs a timer, whether it’s for counting down a station rotation, time left in an assessment, or the number of minutes until your bellringer needs to be finished. Here are 4 great tools to help you with that.

  1. Google
    • Go to
    • Type in "Set a timer for ______ minutes" and hit enter. (put any number in the blank)
    • Click on the "Full Screen" icon to have the timer fill the entire screen.
  2. Online Stopwatch
  3. - for those of us who enjoy the old school kitchen timer
  4. Countdown Timer
    • Click "Get Started."
    • Add music to your timer (click the music notes)
    • Set multiple timers in order (click the plus sign)
    • Set it up like you want it, click the "Save" button, and bookmark to use again and again!
Ctrl + Click

Small things make you more efficient online. Like when you’re faced with 260,000 pages of search results…you click one link, then click the back button when it’s not what you want, then try to find your place on the search page again, then you click another link…that is a waste of your precious time. Instead, try making one small change:

Ctrl + Click

If you hold down the Ctrl key and then click on a link, it will open it in a new tab behind your current page. Open several search results first, then browse through them, keeping your original page open so you can come back to exactly the same place.

It’s simple, and it’s one of the best ways to increase your efficiency and take back some time to focus on the things you really need to get done.



As we head into the break, resolve to take some time for yourself. And as you do that, take a minute and check out Wunderlist, an amazing free app to help get you organized personally and professionally. It was named “App of the Year” in 2013, and it’s my personal favorite of all the “to-do” apps out there. 

Here's how to get started in 4 easy steps:
  1. Go to and create a free account.
  2. Select a few lists from their suggestions (you can add your own later)
  3. Click on a list from the left-hand side and type in your first "To-Do" at the top.
  4. When you've finished your task, click the box on it's left-hand side to check it off. That's it!

After you’ve got that going, download the free Wunderlist app to your phone (it’s available for every type of device…except maybe that old flip phone from 2002 your mother insists on using), and sign in with the same account. Like magic, everything will be synced up automatically.

Wunderlist also lets you share your lists with other users so you can keep your whole family (or grade level team) organized and on the same page.

So as you take a break, do something nice for yourself and get organized with Wunderlist.


Formatting Email Hyperlinks

Are you sending a link home to parents in an email? Here’s something to consider:

Or they can look neat and tidy, like this: Map to LISD Administration

In Outlook, here's how to get that nice, clean, professional look for your email links:
  1. In your email, type the text you want to make into a link.
  2. Highlight the text.
  3. Press "Ctrl + K."
  4. Copy and paste the link you want to use in the box that says "Address" at the bottom.
  5. Click "OK."
To make sure the link goes to the right place, use "Ctrl + Click" to check it. The people receiving your email will just have to click on the link to get to where you want them to go.


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