Tech Tip: Zoom Into Specific Area On Chromebook

I’m sitting in a presentation and watching Alice Keeler present on Google Classroom at the Pequannock Google Apps Summit. She’s a Google nut, lover of all things Chrome, but a macbook user. I have no problem with that. I posted on what technology looks like over a year ago (long story short…if it works for you, USE IT).


One thing that her macbook does when she’s presenting that I’ve been wanting to do for a while is zoom in on a specific area of a page. Sure, I use the CTRL + feature to magnify the screen, but I like zooming in on one little spot that I want to focus on, while teaching or presenting. If you’re like me, you may not have known about a chrome update that allows you to do just this thing.

Ready? Let’s keep it simple.

  • Click on the status area and go to Settings.
  • Scroll down and click on “Show advanced settings”.
  • Scroll down to the “Accessibility” section and check the “Enable screen magnifier” option.


Now, how do you use it?

  • Press Ctrl + Alt + two-finger scroll up or down.

That is all. Have a great day!


A Puzzling New Year

I’m a big fan of puzzles.

Give me a brain teaser, a number pattern, a rubik’s cube or some blocks that don’t quite seem like they’ll fit together and watch as I disappear until I’ve figured it out (this is why my wife no longer gives me puzzles as gifts). One of the puzzles I used to put on my classroom whiteboard for my students to consider was this:

Rearrange the letters in “new door” to form one word.

Some of you may know this one, but my students generally did not. They’d struggle for quite some time, looking for that perfect 7 letter combination, hence revealing their perceived problem solving skills and earning the accolades of me and their classmates.  Only the problem is, that perfect 7 letter combination doesn’t exist. The largest words you can make from the letters in “new door” are WONDER (as in, I wonder why he gave us this puzzle) and DOWNER (as in, this puzzle is such a downer). Here, instead, is the solution to the riddle.


The letters in “New Door” can be rearranged to write the phrase “One Word” instead of a single word. Once a student finds this out and reveals it to the class, the usual response is “Oh yeah. That makes sense. I wasn’t looking at it that way.”

My Two Cents On 2017

  1. If you haven’t spent any personal or twitter time with LaVonna Roth, I suggest you do so, soon. Her message, Ignite Your Shine, is exciting and inspirational and will point you in an excellent direction for the future. LaVonna recently posted this picture on twitter:


This, to me, is how we will connect our 2017 #OneWord to a #NewDoor

If you’re spending time figuring out what your #OneWord resolution will be for this year, think about it from this perspective. Does your word open a new door? Does 2017 take you to a new place, with new opportunities and new rewards? Maybe you should set a #NewDoor for 2017 instead. You see, the unexpected opportunities can throw a complete wrench into the #OneWord plan. Here’s an example. Screenshot 2016-07-29 at 1.50.37 PM

I did not have “Book” as my #OneWord for 2016. In fact, it wasn’t until the end of January that I connected with Dave and Shelley Burgess, leading to the writing and publishing of Instant Relevance. I had no idea that door was going to lead to me writing a book, speaking to teachers across the nation, and sharing my message with the twitterverse. But if I hadn’t let that New Door open and swing wide, I may never have had this great opportunity.

2. If you know anything about me from my blog, my book, or our conversations over the years, you know that I absolutely adore my wife. She’s always offering me new perspectives and approaches to life. Just the other day at the dinner table (same as the breakfast table, only later in the day), she asked our kids to pretend we were sitting at the table on December 27th, 2017, looking back on the year. She then asked, “what do you want to say you were proud of, excited about, or just loved about last year?” We went around the table sharing our hopes and dreams from the viewpoint that they’d already happened and we were now reflecting on them. The natural follow up question, of course, was, “what’s stopping you from going for those dreams?” I leave you now with that same question.screenshot-2017-01-01-at-9-13-21-am

Many of us may be entering 2017 Puzzled,

but keep searching for the New Door in your One Word!




Join me and many great educators every Wednesday at 9:30 pm EST for a quick 30 minute 3 question chat called #MakeItReal. You can read the archive here and if you’re reading Instant Relevance, share your ideas, connections and stories at the hashtag. 

If you’re interested in having me to your district for #MakeItReal training or other workshops, email me anytime at 

The Election: Still Relevant

This is not a political post!

I just wanted you to know that 🙂

There are a lot of posts out there about the results of the U.S. Presidential Election. In fact, I wrote one for Alice Keeler’s blog before November 8th on how to use the election in your classroom. But now, in many places, the anticipation of an interesting election has become a divisive discussion in classrooms among students who either hold their own political beliefs or repeat those of their family members.

I’d like to repeat: This is not a political post!

I would categorize this post as fitting into the two N sections of my book Instant Relevance: “Natural Flow: Follow the Question” and “National Events and Crazes.”

My 13 year old niece, Anna, who I mentioned in a recent post about student perspective in our classes blurted out an interesting phrase on November 9th.

Why do we have this whole Electoral College thing anyway?

She wasn’t asking from a historical perspective on the creation of the college with respect to the number of senators and representatives a state has. She was asking because of the confusing reality that one candidate had won the popular vote and another was becoming President. This is when we brought up an interesting point: Maine splits their electoral votes. In Maine, Hillary Clinton received 3 electoral votes and Donald Trump received 1.

Ready for Anna’s question?

What if all the states did that?

I hope that you’re brain started rolling around this idea like mine did. As a math teacher, there’s a lot of stuff in here to work with. As it turns out, the popular vote information by state is available to all on a little place I call “the internet.”

So I found it(not a difficult task) and started doing some quick analysis with Anna.

Here’s my quick analysis and results.(click for google sheets)


You’d think that there would be some definitive grounds for changing states procedures on electoral vote dispersion if you were a Clinton supporter after this.


My niece is pretty astute. In each of the alternate versions, she noticed that there are electoral votes missing. It doesn’t add up to 538. So where are the missing votes? Who gets them? Would it change the outcome again?

Those are the excellent questions that we, as teachers, get to ask. We get to watch our students dive deeply and mathematically into the details of percentages, the effect of rounding at different parts of a calculation process, and the search for missing information while they’re trying to answer them . That’s a valuable lesson.

Ask the questions. Give students time. Share the results. This election will be one of the most relevant and significant learning experiences for us all.


Desmos for Halloween!

If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for great ways to incorporate Desmos into class. Tomorrow, most of my students will want to talk about Halloween, understandably. So, if you build it…

Here’s an excellent new Halloween Activity! Have your students travel the Halloween Maze!


Here are 3 great Halloween Desmos Ideas you can use to motivate your students to create their own.

The Jack O’Lantern X3

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Halloween Scenes x3

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And Finally, for the Elementary classroom, A Coloring Book of Desmos Halloween Math Graphs. Coloring is fun, but Coloring Math is Halloween-tastic!

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Happy Halloween!

Instant Relevance: Christmas Tree Edition

I bought our Christmas tree today. The teenager who sold it to me at the VFW assured me it was a good one and would last the season, “no problem.” I’ll take his word for it as I’m not quite done with my Arborist degree. The kids love the day …

Bottle Flipping: Distraction or Connection

Are your students bottle flipping? Do you know what bottle flipping is? Check it out. Really, bottle flipping is just a fun fad that kids and jobless adults are making a new habit of becoming good at, like throwing cards into a hat back in the 1930s. The interesting thing …

Instant Relevance: National Coffee Day!

Teachers Like Coffee There. I said it. Today  happens to be National Coffee Day!!! Some coffee shops, chain restaurants and gas stations are giving out free coffee today. One of my favorite places, Dunkin Donuts…is not. But that’s ok, because they are lowering the price of a medium hot coffee …

Why Can’t I See Your Tweets??

I host a weekly twitter chat called #MakeItReal at 9:30 pm on Wednesday nights. We discuss relevance in our teaching, our content, and our students lives and have just begun a 7 week Book Study on my recent release Instant Relevance, Using Today’s Experiences to Teach Tomorrow’s Lessons. Last night, …

Stuck In My Own Perspective

In a recent Teach Like A Pirate chat (#TLAP) Dave Burgess and I responded to a question independently and identically, causing me to respond with this. Perspective is everything. I have a really cool niece named Anna who’s 13. She got the chance to fly with her dad (hereafter known as …