What’s in my Bag of Tricks- Tech Tools

I get asked versions of this question all the time.tricks

This list probably took me 5 seconds to come up with, because each of these tools are things I use multiple times a day! “I did not include Social Media; those are their own post!”

(I should preface by saying I’m a PC girl right now using MS Office (but not that 365 nusiness, because I need the features, yes?). I know there’s Mac equivalents of all of this you can look up, and if you’re Team Chromebook,  I’m sorry.

1. Snipping Tool (insert chorus of angels) OMG. I still can’t believe I had to learn about this from my dad. If you have yet to experience the magic, the Snipping Tool is hidden in the “Windows Accessories” and allows you to take a screenshot of a specific area of your screen. From there, you can choose to save the image, copy-paste it to another program, or attach it right into an email. It’s like why even bother having PrintScreen as an option anymore?

So what do I use it for? Uh, everything. Pretty much 95% of the pictures and visuals you’ll see on this site were created in PowerPoint and snipped so I could save them as an image. How- tos and tutorials are simp. When someone emails me a with a question of how to do something tech-related, I can reply with a snip of my screen to accompany the written directions. Most of my Instagram posts were created on computers and snipped before I posted it. (I’m way too particular for some of those Photofy-type apps- though they’re cute most of the time)

2. Clone (Ctrl + D)– Have you ever been working and thought- why doesn’t someone invent a way to copy and paste in the same command? Well they DID. And apparently it’s been around forever. In an earlier post I mentioned my love/hate relationship with SMART Notebook. One tool that I was totally into was located under Cut/Copy/Paste; there was also an option to CLONE. Say wha? So say you pefectly format a text box but you need 10 of them on a page. You COULD copy/paste it 10 times, or you could clone it. When I right clicked on it in Notebook it said that the shortcut for Clone is Ctrl + D. Does it work in Office? YES IT DOES. CTRL + D for everything!!

-One of my favorite ways to teach this to the kids is in PowerPoint around the holidays we manipulate some pre-made holiday scenes. We put in one piece of clipart of a present and then with a few key strokes multiply it to ALL the presents! What could be better?!

3. Save/Print as PDF- It’s become universally accepted that if you plan on sending or sharing a document, it should be a PDF. Luckily, there’s two quick and easy ways to make that happen. One is by “printing” anything (website, Word Doc, PowerPoint), and in the drop-down menu for printers, “Adobe PDF” is usually listed as an option. I love this because I still can have my original version to update and change as I go, but I also have a “final” version to distribute and share. Word Docs just don’t look the same on every computer.

Another way to create a PDF is by choosing “Save As,” and in the drop-down menu for “file type,” PDF should be listed as an option. This tool is clutch especially if you’re a font junkie like me!

4. Export a PowerPoint to a Movie- yes, this is a thing. And it has been for awhile too apparently. Again like everything, there’s two ways to do it (Bill Gates, you are a crafty one). The basic way is under the “File” tab, choose “Export” and “Create a Video.” (I know in older versions, the language was a little different- “Save and Share” comes to mind- so you’d have to check). The export will put the slides at 5 seconds apiece unless you’ve rehearsed them to go longer or there’s more than 5 seconds worth of animations or activity.

The other way to do this work if you have Office Mix. Under the “Mix” tab, choose “Export to Video” (pretty straightforward right?). I love this feature because sometimes if it’s just a little thing I want to show my kids it’s a super quick way to explain it via PowerPoint video. Teachers can take existing presentations and say, post them to YouTube. I made all my little intros for my videos using this trick before importing them to Premiere Elements or Camtasia. It’s way easier than trying to mess around with super fancy video editing software. I’m at a point where I need to be able to crank out these little help videos in a free period, so I’ll take all the help I can get saving time (without sacrificing wow factor!)

5. “Open Link in New Tab”– So simple, yet so essnetial to productivity. Right clicking on any linked item will bring this up as an option (usually the first one). This is insanely helpful if I’m on a power TPT shopping trip or am comparing a few different items.

From there, the open tabs kind of function like a to-do list. Every tab I close brings me one step closer to that magic moment when I can walk away from my desk!

I hope that maybe at least one of these was something new to you or you are walking away with a new idea of ways you can use the tools that are right in front of us!

Thanks for coming to the party!



Embedding a Timer in PowerPoint

My district has had a long and tumultuous relationship with SMART Notebook, and this year it was announced it was going to be discontinued for our teachers, so as you can imagine, everything hit the fan when people realized they’d have to convert their work into another medium.

I was totally in favor of it; it was currently not doing what we needed as our kids were going 1:1 with touch screen laptops. Aside from the primary grades, those beautiful (expensive) SMART Boards were just being used as fancy anchor charts. They also were used as a way to keep the teacher chained to the front of the room as they wrote notes on the board (wait, I thought we all decided that was boring?).

There are two things I think SMART Notebook did better than PowerPoint ttimerhat I was sad about: the infinite cloner and the cute little timers and dice you could use on the screen. Having a large time the kids would see is an excellent little tool! But alas…

Then I did a BreakoutEdu (awesomesauce) and one of the video links was to a 45 minute timer to display on the board from YouTube. I’ve used a timer tool in Google before, but this was cool. It played music as it counted down, and the music got faster as the time ran out!

Wait a minute. Is it possible that if there’s this one 45-minute countdown video on YouTube, that there are others for other time denominations out there?

Yes, yes there are.

You can certainly do a quick search on your own, but I made a playlist of a few frequently used timer videos of all lengths of time:

So the next logical thought becomes- so if my timers are on YouTube videos, and I can easily embed a YouTube video right onto a PowerPoint slide (minus -1 point for SMART Notebook), couldn’t I embed my timers into the slides I already have created for seamless use in the classroom?


The above video is a geeky little explanation I made, but the short version is: under the “Insert” Tab, you choose “Video” and “Online Video.” That brings up a search bar where you can search anything you want. Nifty, huh? You can format or resize a video just as you could in a picture so you can combine a timer with any other information you could want on the board.

Here’s an example:


(On the screen the video is interactive, I just took a screenshot of it)

Awesome right?

Do you have any other resources on helping kids manage their time in a classroom? I’d love to hear!

Thanks for coming to the party!