UTB Newsletter - Issue 2 - 2020

  • Welcome from Mike, our Director
  • Something to make you think
  • Something we think you'll like
  • Updates in Google Slides
  • Tip of the week: Setting Defaults in Docs
  • Microsoft and Google Tips
  • Classroom + Lesson Idea
  • Latest blog posts
  • Join the UTB Team

Hello March!

Welcome to another edition of the UTB Newsletter. We love receiving your feedback on how you are using it with teachers and students. I was facilitating a leadership day with Parramatta Catholic Diocese in Australia yesterday, and one of the teachers told me about how they had used the tip on organising student files in the last newsletter. If you want to see the archives, simply access them from the right hand side of our website.

Last week Adam (our General Manager), Julia (our Marketing Manager) and myself spent a few days in the Philippines meeting with our A team (our admin team). We had a great time re-looking at systems, evaluating the tools we use, and building relationships over way too much food and fun activities (diving with the whale sharks was my favourite!).

Our AMAZING 'A' Team! Ianne, Aileen, Jed, Ivy and Rod :)

When was the last time you took time out of your busy schedule to 'sharpen your saw' re-evaluate your toolset and your systems for document management, communication channels etc? You will be amazed at the return you will get from investing this time. If this is something you would like guidance on, just ask. :)

There are some great tips in this newsletter to improve efficiency and stay up to date with all the updates to G Suite.


Mike and the UTB team


Media Literacy

“According to the latest research... encouraging your children to think critically about the media they’re consuming is much more important than playing screen-time babysitter.”

This article has some great ideas, aimed at parents, to help kids think critically about what they are exposed to in the media. A lot of these could be adapted to classroom activities to help your students become more digitally literate in a world where we can’t always trust what is being put in front of us.

How are you working with your students to develop their critical thinking?

What's new with G Suite?

G Suite tools are often being updated with awesome new features and capabilities. Sometimes they happen so regularly we struggle to keep up with them all.

We've put together this handy doc for you that we'll keep updated with all the changes for you.

TIP: Use the document outline to quickly jump to the section you want to check out.

Not sure about using the document outline? Check out this blog which explains how to use it.

Tool or tip of the week

Google Slides is not just a slide.

Often we think of Google Slides as a tool to present writing with - but by changing the size of it we can easily use it for so many more things.

You can manipulate text and images to create awesome outcomes.

Here's a quick video showing you how to do that - and then the world is your oyster!

Your students could create infographics, magazine covers, posters, album covers and much more.

Watch the video here

Handy keyboard shortcuts for Windows 10

Utilising keyboard shortcuts is a great way to speed up common tasks. All those seconds you can save by using the keyboard instead of the mouse can add up to many minutes (or more!) over the year!

Below are five handy keyboard shortcuts for Windows.

Note: The 'Win' key is the one with the Windows logo - usually located on the same row as your space bar.

Win + L: Lock your computer. You should be using this every time you leave your computer unattended!

Win + P: Project. You can use this one every time you connect your laptop to a projector in the classroom!

Win + Shift + S: Take a screenshot. This will open Windows Snip and Sketch.

Alt + Tab: Toggle between open windows.

Win + V: Open Clipboard History. This will show you all the items that you have copied that day, and let you re-paste them again! The first time you use this shortcut, you will need to enable Clipboard History.

The trick to learning to use these keyboard shortcuts is to pick just one to start with. Then practice using it everyday until it becomes a habit. Putting a large sticky note on your desktop or workspace with the keyboard shortcut written on it is an easy way to remind yourself to use it.

Got too many items on your bookmark bar in Chrome?

The Chrome bookmarks bar is a great place for putting shortcuts to websites you use often. However, most people I meet love it so much that it is bursting at the seams with bookmarks! This means that all the bookmarks don't fit and end up being hidden behind a drop down arrow.

If this sounds like your bookmarks bar, we have an easy solution for you! Take a look at your bookmarks bar now...see how each bookmark has an icon and some words? And how it is the words that take up all the space? Let's ditch the words!! You can do so by:

1. Right-clicking on the bookmark. (or two figure press on a touchpad)

2. Choosing 'Edit'.

3. Deleteing the test from the 'Name' box.

4. Clicking 'Save'.

And there you go, it's just an icon now! You can do this for all the bookmarks that have an easily identifiable icon. For those that don't, consider shortening the text to just a few letters or words.

Watch the .gif Donna made here.

Classroom / Lesson Idea

Integrate Sphero into your maths program.

Often we're asked if we could only have one robotic tool, what would it be?

Immediately I think of the Sphero - it's a tool with immense depth and one that fits the low floor, high ceiling, wide wall analogy incredibly well.

And so, "How would you use it?" is the very next question people ask.

Here's a maths lesson that we created focusing on direction and scale as the maths concepts reinforced by the use of the Sphero.

It was written for the NZ curriculum but can be easily adapted for others.

Website of the week

'youcubed' - a super useful maths site

Thinking around how maths should be taught has changed a lot over the last few years - and much of this change has been lead by Dr Jo Boaler who is a professor working out of Stanford University.

Her work is telling us that mindset is incredibly important when developing mathematical thinkers and she references her research into how the brain works.

We've long known that the importance lies in the process of strategising, not the answer that you end up with.

To support all of this Jo has developed an amazing website - youcubed. She shares resources, tasks and reading around the evidence she has and much more.

If you teach maths and you haven't checked it out yet, I highly recommend you head over there and spend some time looking through it. I particularly love the Week of Inspirational maths ideas - pure gold!


STEAMY Roadshow Events

Using Technology Better, Noel Leeming Group & MacGear are hitting the road together to bring you a STEAMY afternoon....


Auckland - Freemans Bay School - Monday, 9th March 2020 | Tauranga - Greenpark School - Thursday, 12th March 2020 | Wellington - Scots College - Tuesday, 17th March 2020 | Christchurch - Wairakei Primary School - Thursday, 19th March 2020 |

NZ PLD Update

Ministry funded training for NZ schools

We have loved the opportunity to work with nearly 100 New Zealand schools who have accessed professional learning facilitation hours through the Ministry of Education. Our trainers feel privileged to have worked with so many school leaders to develop a vision for this training and then to provide teachers with support to help them reach their digital technology goals.

For some this has meant training for digital fluency (G Suite, O365, Apple), STEAM, digital technologies curriculum integration and so much more. Being able to work long term with schools has ensured that we have been able to develop strong relationships and help schools to make lasting change that is transformative for students.

Recently the Ministry of Education opened a new application portal for PLD. The process looks really straight forward and there are a lot of resources there to help you - not an Excel spreadsheet in sight!

Term 1 applications can be applied for using existing priorities (no particular order):

  • Maths
  • Science
  • Reading, Writing
  • Digital fluency

Term 3 and 4 applications will focus on the new priorities:

  • Cultural capability
  • Local curriculum design
  • Assessment for learning.
  • Digital fluency

The deadline for Term 1 submissions varies depending on your location but, all are in March so NOW is the perfect time to get your applications in. This way when you receive your hours you can connect with our team and ensure that your staff are supported to integrate DT across all subject areas. You do not need to have finished existing hours to apply for more, so get in now if you are running low!

Term 1 application closing dates are:

Our trainers are happy to help you out with applications for any of the terms - just fill in this quick form and we will be in touch!

Here are some of the ways we’ve supported our PLD schools over the last few years:

  • Supporting school leaders, teachers and learners
  • Teacher only days - fun, relevant, hands on training to get you inspired and ready to jump in and learn more
  • In class modelling with your students, focused on your context, followed by a sit down to discuss, make more curriculum links and align with DT progress outcomes
  • 1-1 and small group training
  • Helping new staff and beginning teachers understand how to use their school platform (G Suite, O365, Apple etc)
  • STEAM and Design Thinking
  • Makerspace - design, set up and use meaningfully
  • G Suite training. Level 1, 2 and a fundamentals course
  • Literacy and numeracy workshops
  • Local curriculum design and mapping
  • Getting to know tools like PaCT
  • How to ensure ALL students can access learning with a focus on accessibility tools
  • Digital citizenship workshops for students, teachers and communities
  • Developing overviews and school maps relevant to individual schools based on strategic goal setting

Blog posts you may have missed

Check out the practical, helpful tips in our blogs below.

Something you want us to blog about? Make a request here or check out our website to see all our posts.

Getting started with G Suite - Do your students end up with their Google Drive full of untitled files? Does their poem about aardvarks show up first in their Drive? Getting your students started with G Suite the right way can make all the difference to your classroom. Use our checklist to build good habits from the beginning to save them (and you) from frustration.- By Karla Sanders

3 steps to developing a PD plan that actually works - If you are organising the learning for your staff, you know that it is near impossible to organise anything that pleases everyone! Let’s take a step back and look at WHY you are organising profession learning opportunities for your staff... - By Mike Reading

5 ways to up your maths game with G Suite Tools - During 2109 I worked with over 1,700 teachers and there was overwhelmingly one question that I was asked most often, “How can I use digital technologies in my maths program?”. This blog will get you started with five ideas for using G Suite tools purposefully in your maths program. By Donna Golightly

Join the UTB Team as a trainer!

We have a few training opportunities to join the UTB training team in Australia and New Zealand.

We're keen to hear from people who may be interested in full time, part time or casual work with us.

If you are a passionate educator, digitally savvy and keen to explore training options fill in this form to express your interest. We'll get back to you with more details!



We love getting your feedback about ideas you've used from this newsletter or from one of our training sessions!

In fact, we get such a kick out of it that every fortnight we want to give someone who shares the love a free online course of your choice - valued at up to $300!

All you need to do is a share a photo or video of an activity that was inspired by something we shared with you (could be from face to face, online training or the newsletter), with a quick caption telling us what's happening in it!

Here are a couple of ways you can share...

  • Share it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag us in with @Usingtechbetter, #utbSHARE and #utbPD
  • Not on Facebook, Twitter or Insta? No worries - email it to us at support@usingtechnologybetter.com and we'll share it out on our social media


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Created with images by William Iven - "woman holding an iphone" • Lauren Edvalson - "Google Logo on a Cookie " • Alex Litvin - "Projector rays" • Tadas Sar - "untitled image" • Kelly Sikkema - "Man handing a woman a heart shape" • Andrew Ridley - "untitled image"