Friday, December 9, 2011 now !

The Minnesota Literacy Council has a newly redesigned website!

Take a look at the bold new layout and friendlier features.   old website  AWESOME NEW Website!

Updates, Updates and more Updates

I do understand that software companies are trying to improve their products all the time. I really do.

However I grow tired of never ending updates for every single piece of software I use, especially the ones I seldom use. So away with you my well meaning updater, I will venture into the great interweb using my current version until something changes my mind.

As of this moment Adobe Reader is the software that feels the need to fill my hard drive with its latest update and here is how I am going to turn it off.

Open Adobe Reader >> Choose Edit >> Preferences

Under Catergories you will find Updater

Check the box marked   "Do not download or install updates automatically"

Click Ok and you are done.

Fear not for Adobe dear readers, his friend Java Update will soon be joining him.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gift Giving Tips

    As the shopping season is upon us ( at least for a few weeks until the New Years, St.Patricks Day and Easter decorations hit the shelves) many people ask about what to buy on Black Friday or CyberMonday and which do-dad is best. To this end here is a list of things to consider before buying anything.

Will children/dogs/in-laws hide, eat, chew, break, wash, demolish, walk away with, lick, or destroy it ?
Many times things happen to my stuff that I end up feeling like  I should have known better than to show off my new Ipod to my 2 year old who was sticky fingered and holding a sharp object at the time.  Be smart about what you give and ask for.

Now what ?
I normally don't like to shop big box stores for technology as they do not always have a good way of servicing things except by mailing them away for a month or more. But one year we did buy a nice computer and printer from a chain store because it was the only store in 100 miles where my parents would be able to return it and get ink for the printer. Thinking about what happens after the unwrapping is done is what makes you a good gift giver.

But Grasshopper I want one now!
Often times new tech comes out in the Spring, so you might be better off waiting a few months for the new release of the latest Ithing. Ask the retailor or search online to see when the new models come out. At that time prices on the now "old" models will be less as well. Personally I believe that birthday's are the time to shower people with the best gifts, less competition. please.
Just as many parents stay up late the night before to assemble gifts for their kids, many of us kids stay up late trying to troubleshoot technology for our parents. If you are the tech person in the family, assume that will be your job to help your dad figure out how to use the remote, download a song & enter in phone contacts on the new toys you bought them.  (P.S. Also, make sure the big screen fits in your parents car. A story for another day.)

A note about Thanksgiving.
I know this post skipped over all the things I am most thankful for, fear not , I will be telling them all (in person) tomorrow.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Good News First !

Good News !

Yesterday was GIVE TO THE MAX DAY for many charities and as part of, the Minnesota Literacy Council raised thousands of dollars to help support our literacy work!

A mighty Thank You All to our supporters!

The Bad News

We have two Dell 713w inkjet printers and after putting in a new ink cartridge and printing 50+ pages it told me the official Dell ink cartridge is not authenticated and refuses to print.  (sigh)

This has been an ongoing issue for both printers, about every third time we put in a cartridge it gives us some sort of error. The first time they actually sent out "new" (refurbished) printers. Now, we contact the help desk, troubleshoot, then they send us a replacement ink cartridge.

Unfortunately the wasted time and frustration has led me to say... Bad News Dell ! I, as captain of this blog, officially do NOT recommend your 713w printer.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New font designed for readers with dyslexia

I normally don't like to re-post what others have written and have been meaning talk to a few reading experts about this (but have not found a good time to connect) so I want to post this before I forget and the info does not get the attention it may well deserve.

The Dutch design firm StudioStudio has created a typeface that can be read by dyslexics more easily and with fewer errors. For the full story

Using Google Docs

Thanks to all who attended the Google Docs training last week!

In one of the sessions, people had a hard time getting signed up for a Gmail account which I think makes it frustrating for people trying to learn Google Docs. An idea occurred to me (sadly after the training had finished) to use my Gmail account to invite others.

I would like to hear anyone else's comments on using the invitation feature in Gmail.  Is it easier than just signing up ?  Is there any downside to using it ?

Looking forward to learning from your experiences and comments!

Inspiring Leadership: Volunteer Management Conference

Do you have plans for Friday, November 4? Cancel them! 

Attend the 2011 Volunteer Management Conference presented by the Minnesota Literacy Council!

What: A one-day conference focusing on volunteer management issues in adult literacy programs.
     An awesome day of enriching, entertaining, sessions!

Who Should Attend: Volunteer coordinators, managers, teachers, and other staff members involved in volunteer management/support.

Where: Minnesota Department of Education, Conference Center B, 1500 Hwy 36 W, Roseville, MN 55113
    Home of Barry, Astrid, Brad, Todd & other education luminaries!
For more information:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Resources for Job Seeking Students

Highly, Highly Recommend

Email account >Learn the Terms Login Username Password
Cell / home phone number>Use your cell phone to practice interviews
A jump/ flash drive >Keep copies of resume in your email and on your person.

English for Work Interactive
Functional Work English instructor Bethany Gustafson combined video field trips and flash interactive activities to create a videos that allows students to not only experience job skills but targeted vocabulary as well. Jobs include housekeeping, dishwasher and laundry worker. The videos are now available for download and on-demand streaming from Minneapolis Adult Basic Education at
 Choose Online Activity List>> English for Work Interactive

O*NET Online
While not a job posting site, O*NET OnLine was created for the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration, by the National Center for O*NET Development and has detailed descriptions of the world of work for use by job seekers. The site also tags jobs as to a bright outlook or a green job.

Forms Practice
In this day and age more and more businesses only accept online applications. Filling out these forms is a skill that can seem overwhelming, this website allows you to practice filling out forms from simple to complete job applications.

Build a Resume
Do your students need to write resumes, but struggle with formatting issues and making their work look professional? Check out for an alternative to laborious word processing! This free online application allows you to enter the necessary information into its online form, and then use templates to construct a professional-looking resume that you can download and print or send by email directly from the website.

Interview Skills
Help your students sharpen their interview skills with The Do’s and Don’ts of Interviewing for a Job. Ric Dwyer worked with a local temp agency to create a DVD good and bad interviews examples. The website is a follow up to the DVD.

To request a copy of the DVD contact

Minnesota’s career, education, and job resource

Minnesota Works

Links from Fall Kick-off Tutoring Event : Great Websites

Great Websites for Learning and Life
Allows you to download Jing which lets you do screen captures of graphics and videos. It is FREE and extremely easy to use.
This website allows for simple, free online collaboration.
Playing this vocabulary game not only increases your knowledge but also donates 10 grains of rice for each correct answer. Get smarter and feed the world at the same time.
A great visual dictionary with lots of diagrams and views. Very helpful !
Enter a word and it becomes a universe. The colors correspond to related words and definitions. Click on an orbiting sphere and it expands as well.
easy-to-follow pictorial lessons on using various versions of Word, Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Open Office and more

Mac Users find help here:
Check out over 50 handouts from the Statewide ABE Conference
Create a temporary email account for those times you need to click something to confirm your email but don’t want the baggage that comes with it. and
Use the satellite images to learn about the world around you. Cool, interesting and helpful tips on how to make your life better.

Minnesota Literacy Council Website Resources Minnesota ABE Disability Specialsits  Award Winning Daily Posts of websites specifically for Teaching ESL/EFL& ELL

Literacy and Technology in Minnesota

Volunteer Match With this site, organizations can find a great volunteer, or volunteers can find a great organization. Search results can be narrowed to as close as five miles from home or expanded to encompass the volunteer’s state. Opportunities to volunteer include arts and culture, education, homelessness, immigration and many others.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dropbox Pro for Life Contest

App Sumo ( a daily geek deals website ) is holding a contest to give away ten 50GB Lifetime Dropbox accounts.

If you are already a fan you know how useful Dropbox can be and a Free , Lifetime, Pro account would be awesome !

If you are not familar with Dropbox, it is a handy software program that allows you to store and share data across multiple computers. I use the free version but the Pro version is much larger and normally runs $99 a year.

To enter simply go the the link below and enter your email address.

(Yes, I  do assume this will mean they will send me their newsletter or some other promotional email at some point)


Best of Luck ! Hope you are one of the other 9 winners!

Friday, September 30, 2011

3 Sorts to Lighten Your Email Load

1. Sort by Size, find the biggest email and you will usually discover photos or powerpoint presentations. If you dont need them, ditch them. If you really want to keep them, save them in Dropbox, on a jumpdrive or even on your hard drive. 

Messages sent via email do not need to stay in email.

2. Sort by Date. List your emails from oldest to newest and you will discover that you really do have emails from 2007. Delete the relics. Most people can get by with stuff no older than 6 months.

3. Sort by Sender. I get tons of newsletters that seem like a good thing to read later and they hide amoung the emails I really need. Sorting by sender lets you rid yourself of hidden non-treasures. This sort is also a good way to rediscover those emails from past fellow employees letting you know what their new email address is. Read it, add their info to your contacts, delete the email.

Geek Secret
Many email programs allow to to see how many total (not just new) emails  you have in your Inbox and other email folders. In MS Office you can right click on an email folder > Choose Properties> Check the box for Show Total Number of Items.

Fall Tutoring Kickoff

Join other tutors and get some fresh ideas for spring!
This mini-conference will feature a variety of 50-minute
sessions designed to give you practical activities and ideas.

There is no charge for the training.

Saturday, October 15, -- 8:30 am - 1:00 pm

Friday, September 9, 2011

O' Brother Why Art Thou Not Printing ?

While I am someone who lives in the digital age , I still love  paper and loving paper means loving my printer; even when it doesn't love me back.

Often times when we get a printing error, we try things like looking for a paper jam or turning it off and then back on. Both are valid  trouble shooting steps but don't forget to actually look to the printer for help. We currently have a number of Brother printers within our organizaiton and they have stood the test of time very well, but when they don't the first thing I do is look for the flashing led lights  to determine what the problem is. 

Sometimes it is something simple like low toner cartridge.

Other times the problem may be indicated my multiple blinking lights. Either way, the Brother Solution Center has very nice trouble shooting instructions complete with blinking lights to mimic what you might see on your printer.

There are dozens of printer brands out there so if a Brother is not what you have, check your printer manufactor's website for helpful troubleshooting tips.

Epson Support
Lexmark Support
Dell Printer Support

  Now if  I could only fix the jam in my stapler....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

50+ Summer Institute 2011 Handouts Available

Once again Summer Institute was a great way for me to network and recharge my training batteries. I presented a session called "Cell Phones in the Classroom" and enjoyed every minute of it. The attendees were eager to participate in activities and engaged in lively and informative debate.

A copy of my presentation handout and the handouts of many of the presenters can be found on the Literacy Action Network's website.


Friday, February 18, 2011

11 Tools for 2011

Here are the links to the tools we will be looking at for this training.

10 Minute Mail

Remember the Milk




Poll Everywhere


MLC Educational Website Search

MLC Curicculum Development Grants

Computer Tutorials

Free Online Courses from HP

HP Templates and worksheets for learners.


Jason Brazier’s Training Blog

Susan Wentenkamp-Brandt tech blog:

Jessica Jones maintains a blog on working with blind ESL students:

50 Best Blogs for Education Leaders

Newsletters and Magazines

Tech and Learning

The Journal


Tech Republic

Campus Technology

School CIO