Thursday, December 15, 2011

Let the Readers Speak

What would you like to hear about in 2012?  Are there any techie topics you are dying to learn more about?  I want to hear from my readers.  Please click on the link below.  This will take you to a Google Form I've created.  Feel free to fill out multiple responses!  The more the merrier!  Your contact info is completely optional and will be kept confidential.  I promise not to sell your info to any annoying companies!  Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chromebooks Coming to Leyden

As you may have heard during the announcements today, the rumors are true!  Each Leyden student will receive a Chromebook at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year.  Want to learn more about the Chromebook?  Check out the video below.  Also, be sure to stay updated through the informational website made for the Leyden Community.  If you want to see a Chromebook in person, see me anytime!  Next year is going to be an exciting year at Leyden!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Logotype Maker

A few days ago on Twitter, I heard about Logotype Maker.  So I went to the website and found a goldmine!  I simply typed in "Mrs. D" and it generated a slew of logos.  You can even make simple changes to the logos and save them.  You don't even need to create an account, which is a huge plus!  I'm very impressed with this free site.  I thought of a handful of ways this could be useful:

1. Brainstorming ideas for our logo projects
2. Creating a quick, simple logo for websites or blogs
3. Add a logo as a signature in email
4.  Personalize projects for your other classes

I could go on all day.  I highly recommend you check out Logotype Maker!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I don't know about you all, but I'm sick of PowerPoint!  I've starting using Prezi and SlideRocket more and am currently in the process of kicking PowerPoint out the door!

Check out SlideRocket in the Chrome Web Store.  You can surprise your teacher with a dynamic, creative presentation.  SlideRocket takes the same amount of time as creating a PowerPoint.  When you open SlideRocket for the first time, you can take their 5 minute tour, which will show you the basics.

Some other great presentation tools to check out are Vuvox and Prezi.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Is There a "Free" Photoshop?

I often get asked by my design students if there is a "free" version of Photoshop.  Yes there is, but only for 30 days!  I'm sure this is not the answer they were looking for.  The good news is there are plenty of image editing apps out there for free!  My personal favorite is Aviary Image Editor.

Aviary is the closest I've found to Photoshop.  It doesn't have as many bells and whistles, but it does the trick for basic image editing and creation.  I do have to admit some of Aviary's features function differently than Photoshop, which does take a little getting used to.  You can find some great tutorials on Aviary's YouTube Channel.

I am a big fan of the Aviary Suite.  For Adobe Illustrator users, Aviary Vector Editor a great free alternative.  It contains several key features from Illustrator, including the pen and pencil tools, text, gradients, and shapes.  In addition to their visual applications, Aviary also has an audio editor and music creator.  You can find the entire Aviary Suite in the Chrome Web Store!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Google Search Infographic

This weekend, I saw an excellent infographic, from, on how to use Google Search more effectively.  I highly recommend you check it out here and become a Google search ninja!  

A couple of highlights:
1.  Stop asking Google questions!  Instead think of how the answer would be phrased.
2.  Don't forget to use symbols ( " - .. ~)
3.  Make sure to check out the keyboard shortcuts near the end.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Not enough time now? Read it Later!

Read It Later List is an application you can use to create a list of pages you want to view at a later date.  You can access the list from your computer or mobile device.  Supposedly you can even view the list without an Internet connection.  I have yet to try this feature, but if it works as advertised this could be very powerful!  Check out Read It Later here!  There is also an extension for Chrome called, "Check it Later."  This extension displays a grid of your Read It Later links.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Offline Gmail

One of my students wanted to know more about Offline Gmail.  So here it is!  In the Chrome Web Store, you can download the Offline Google Mail App.  This app will allow you to read, respond to, search, and archive your mail when you do not have internet access.  When you are connected, Gmail will automatically sync with your offline app.  This is a pretty great if you ask me!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Graphing Calculators

Don't have a graphing calculator or forgot yours at home?  Go to the Chrome Web Store and type in "graphing calculator."  Several different options will come up.  Desmos Graphing Calculator is a great choice, as it is pretty user-friendly.  Just click the big, green "start fresh" button to begin!  To check out some examples click on the "examples" tab in the upper right corner.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Apture & The Chrome Store

Ever wanted to be able to highlight a word and find out more information, instead of "Googling" the word?  Now you can!  Just download the Apture extension for Chrome!  

Yes it will work!  The Chrome store is now open to students.  All this week, I will be highlighting different apps and extensions that could be useful to you.  So, what is an extension?  An extension allows you to customize your browsing experience without leaving the tab.  Unlike apps, they work with the tab you currently have open.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Diigo Part 2

So you've created your Diigo account, but now what?  First, make sure you have the Diigo Extension for Chrome installed.  Then watch the tutorial below.  You will learn how to bookmark a site, highlight text, add sticky notes, take screen shots, and more!

Monday, November 7, 2011


What do you do when you find an interesting website that you want to return to later or share with friends?  Do you write it down or email it to yourself?  If you haven't heard of social bookmarking yet, you need to check out Diigo and create an account for youself!  

Social bookmarking is a way to save sites from any computer.  Not only can you save your favorite sites, but you can group, tag, annotate, and share them.  You can also search Diigo using keywords.  Are you looking for help with fractions or Photoshop tutorials?   Just search for it on Diigo!  You will see any public bookmarks that other members have shared.  Also, if you have sites you want to keep to yourself, you can mark them as private.

If you are using Google Chrome, you can download an extension that makes bookmarking super simple.

There are many sites out there like Diigo, but it is my personal favorite.  Check out my list here.  Come back tomorrow for more information and tutorials on Diigo!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


This week I read about Artsonia on the Free Technology for Teachers Blog.  Artsonia is the largest kids' art museum in the world, with over 13 million works of art.  Children can upload images of their art to the galleries for the world to see.  Family and friends can purchase the child's art in the form of gallery prints, t-shirts, mousepads, magnets, mugs, etc., from the gift shop.  What a great way to show off your hard work!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Want to listen to music for free?  Do you like Pandora, but want to create your own lists?  Try Spotify!  It is a "new world of free music."  You can create your own playlists and share them with your friends.  Spotify does have limitations.  You can't download any music or listen on your mobile device.  If you pay the monthly fee for Spotify Premium, you will have mobile access.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Do you want to change the world?  Interested in global issues and creating positive change?  Check out TakingITGlobal!  TIG is a global social network that aims to connect and engage the youth of the world, while creating understanding and awareness of different cultures.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Your Digital Footprint Part 2

A few of last week's posts were about your digital footprint and how to protect yourself online.  I read a great blog this week by Wesley Fryer about the app Socioclean.  This app, which is currently free, scans all your Facebook public status/wall posts, photos, and videos for anything which might be offensive or inappropriate.  This is a great way to do a little maintenance on your digital footprint.  If you have a Facebook account, I highly recommend you check out Socioclean!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Securing Your Facebook Account

Facebook has changed their security controls again.  If you have a Facebook account, take a few minutes to read this blog by Cameron Camp.  It gives step-by-step instructions on how to secure your account with the new updates.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Drop Box

By now you've probably heard about drop box.  For those of you who have not, drop box is a space to save your work "up in the cloud".  The free version gives you 2GB of space.

Right now you may be asking yourself, "why would I need Dropbox?"  Well, you can sync documents between multiple devices, including your home computer, laptop, mobile, and other devices with Internet access.  All you need to do is sign up for an account.  You have the option of installing Dropbox, which you may want to do on your personal devices, but not at Leyden.

See the tutorial below to use Dropbox without a download (at Leyden).  Ignore the first 5 seconds about going to your email.  Just click here to create an account.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Way Back Machine

Have you ever received the "this page has expired" type of error message?  The Way Back Machine is an oldie, but goodie.  It is an archive of the Internet where users can view pages from 1996 to a few months ago.

Students, what do you think about this?  Pros?  Cons?  How can this affect your digital footprint?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Your Digital Footprint

Believe it or not, each time you log onto a social network, send an email, post to a website, or visit a blog, you leave a little something behind.  That little something is part of your permanent digital footprint, which you will carry with you for the rest of your life.  This can be both exciting and frightening at the same time.

Things to keep in mind:

-Your future employers will use the Internet and "Google" you.  This can work to your advantage if you are creating and posting in a positive manner.
-Use Facebook and other social media to join groups and collaborate on your favorite topics and hobbies.
-Subscribe to blogs! Start a blog!
-Create a digital portfolio of all your best works.

Lastly, remember everything you post is out there for the world to see!  A lot of times you can't take it back once you hit send.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Password Bird

Can your best friend guess your password?  Does your password contain the name of your pet, a family member, friend, significant other, or yourself?  If so, it's time for a new password!

According to a strong password:
  • Is at least eight characters long.
  • Does not contain your user name, real name, or company name.
  • Does not contain a complete word.
  • Is significantly different from previous passwords.
  • Contains characters from each of the following four categories:  Uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols
Having trouble coming up with one on your own?  PasswordBird can help you out.  Check it out:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Google Searching Secrets

1. Google can be a dictionary.  Type "definition:word" to find the definition of the word in your results (i.e.: "definition: serendipity" will track down the definition of the word "serendipity").

2. Search within a specific website. If you know you want to look up snowboarding in Wikipedia, type in " snowboarding" to go directly to the Wikipedia page about snowboarding. It works for any site, not just Wikipedia.

3. Use Google as a calculator.  You can type in almost any math equation and get your answer.  If you type " 2+8".  You will get "10".

4. Use Google to convert.  Type conversions like "How many quarts in a gallon?"?  The search results will be "1 US Gallon = 4 US Quarts."

5. Find a term in a URL. This handy trick is especially useful when searching blogs, where dates are frequently used in the URL. If you want to know about a topic for that year only and not any other year, type "inurl:2009" and your keyword to find results with your keyword in URLs with 2009 in them.


6. No need to go to Google to search in Chrome.  Just type your search directly in the address bar.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Characters, Characters, Characters

Having trouble finding the degree symbol or other characters?  Insert almost any character into your tweets, emails, documents, and forums through

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

IYO TXTng = Gd 4 or NME of GMR?

Translation:  In your opinion, is texting good for or the enemy of grammar?  If you ask me, it's the enemy of grammar.  Using this type of writing in some environments can immediately label you as young, immature and uneducated. This isn't the image you want to portray in certain situations.  Would you use this style of writing on a job application?  In an essay for English?  Hopefully you answered no to both of these questions.  Tip of the Day:  Save the idks and other abbreviations for your cell phone and friends! 

As we begin to blog, treat your posts and comments as formal writing and don't forget to review the blogging guidelines!  Lastly, put some thought into your writing, even if it's just an email to your teacher.