Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Tech Tips for Teachers

Want to learn a few of the best tech tips for teachers in 2021? I've got you covered! I use so many little tricks to get things done faster that I am SO excited to share with you!

I have a lot of amazing shortcuts for you that will help you save so much time planning, prepping, and even when you're simply reading or playing on the computer.

I am going to organize this article (you know me, I love to organize!) into sections so you can save this as a reference and easily find the hacks again if you forget any of them. 

Best Teacher Tech Tips of 2021 will have 4 jam-packed sections:
- PDF Tricks
- Super Helpful Keyboard Shortcuts
- Browser Tricks
- Printing Ideas

Okay, first up!

PDF Tricks

If you find teaching resources online (who doesn't?!), you probably have A LOT of PDFs. But did you know there are so many ways you can use them?

Viewing all of the pages at once

One of my FAVORITE things I can't believe I didn't know for so long is how you can see ALL the pages in a PDF very easily (as big or small as you want) by simply clicking the arrow to the left of the page you're on then clicking on the 2 stacked pages.

This will show you ALL of the pages in the PDF at once and you can use the little slide bar to zoom in and out! You can't even imagine how excited I was when I discovered this.

Simply click the 2 stacked pages again to go back to the normal page view.

You know what this makes very easy? PRINTING!

Have you ever scrolled through a big PDF, one page at a time, writing down page numbers to print? That takes so much time! There is such an easier way.

Printing multiple pages in this view

After clicking on the pages stack to see all the pages at once, click on the first page you want to print. This will highlight it. Use CTRL + P to bring up the print box and hit enter. Done!

Want to print a bunch of pages from the same document? This is where it really saves you time.
- Hold down the "Ctrl" button on your keyboard when you click on one of the pages, keep holding it down while you click on more pages. This will keep highlighting the pages to save them as selected. 

Extra tip: You can let go of it and it'll save the ones you've selected as you scroll through. 

Just make sure you hold Ctrl down again before you click anywhere or use an arrow to go down. If you do that by accident, it will deselect the pages you've picked. I typically press Ctrl only when selecting a page then I scroll with my mouse. If you don't have a mouse that scrolls, you can drag the bar on the right side to scroll and it'll save your pages :)

This is SUCH a quick way to print a big document! So let's say you have one of my giant first grade math units open and want to print just 1 activity but not all of the pages of that activity. You want the kid directions, teacher directions, ONLY the challenge level puzzles, and ONLY the challenge level recording sheets. You could look at all the thumbnails visually to quickly find that center, hold down Ctrl while you pick just those pages out, go to File > Print, and it will have those pages already filled in the print box for you! Woohoo!

Seriously don't ever waste time writing pages down to print on a little note! 

I love being able to see all the pages, too - it helps me plan in my head :)

The Home button

I LOVE the "Home" button on my keyboard. Did you know that it will bring you back to the very 1st page if you click on it? This saves me sooo much time - I actually used to scroll all the way back up to the top of giant files. Ahh!

An example of a way this would be super helpful is if, let's say, you were using my Sight Word Sentences Center Cards and you wanted to print the new sight words for the week.

Well, it's a HUGE document because it has over 220 sight words cards included. They're listed in a big table of contents that you can click on from the 2nd page to immediately take you to the page that word is on. (The preview pictures of this resource on TpT will show you the word list so you know what I mean: Sight Word Bottle Cap Centers - look at the 2nd picture)

This sounds super convenient, right? But what about after you click on a word?

If you clicked on "these" to print it, now you're all the way on page 115 but want to go back to the table of contents to pick the next word to print because you learn 5 new sight words every week...

Click the "Home" button!

This will take you to the 1st page immediately! Looooove this trick.

The table of contents is on the 2nd page so you'd click Home then the down arrow once and you're back to the table of contents! So easy!

This is one of the big reasons why I love to include a table of contents page as one of the first few pages in big resources... because I personally use them this way! It's so much easier than using the bar or scrolling/clicking to get back to the top.

(If it doesn't work when you try it, click in the gray margin just off to the side of the page to make sure your mouse isn't clicked on a specific part of the page)

Also, if you want to get to the bottom of a PDF really quickly, the "End" key on your keyboard will take you to the last page of the document instantly. :)

Bonus tip: This works on websites too! Click Home to go back to the top of a page you're reading.

Super Helpful Keyboard Shortcuts

I am obsessed with keyboard shortcuts. O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D.

I use them constantly when I am on the computer. I use them so often that it's completely natural for me to use my keyboard to do pretty much everything for me while I'm working. I honestly hardly use my mouse because I have so many of them memorized.

If you use them enough, they become just as intuitive as typing. So I am going to share a few of my absolutely favorites with you! 

I've already mentioned a few of them (Ctrl + P to print, the Home button) and there will probably more throughout this article in other sections since I use them so frequently.

To use them, you hold down a button then press the next one. For example, to copy a sentence from this article, you already know that you highlight the text then you would hold down Ctrl and press C to copy the text. Then, you'd go where you want to paste it, and hold down Ctrl while you press V to paste it. The way I'm going to present them is Ctrl + C. This would mean you hold down Ctrl then press C. Okay, let's get started!

Key that looks like 4 boxes + L to lock your screen quickly

This one is super handy for teachers in case you want to lock the computers back to the screen that makes you log in. It will lock your screen when you press it. For me, it takes me to a picture where I have to type in a password to log back into my screen. I set this up on my computer so I can quickly password protect my computer when I'm not using it. Being able to press this in literally 1 second so I can jump up and off the computer quickly, while locking my computer so no one else can use it, is awesome!

Alt + Tab to switch between screens

I use this one so often that I forget that it even exists. I use it all day, every day... seriously.

Let's say you're working with 2 different programs but you want both of them to be full screen. Do not waste time using your mouse to click back and forth. 

When you're on one of them, simply hold down Alt then press Tab and let go. This will immediately take you to the other one. Do it again to go back. You can hop back and forth between the 2 windows so quickly and easily this way. 

Like I said, I do this ALL day without even thinking about it, to the point that I almost didn't include it in this list because I forget that it's not something everyone does constantly. 

Another fun fact: When you press Alt + Tab but don't let go of Alt, you will see all the windows you have open on your computer. If you continue holding down Alt and press Tab but DON'T let go of Alt, it will let you press Tab as many times as you want to go to each window to pick the one you want. I also use this all the time.

Ctrl + A to select all

This works in so many places. For example, me typing this right now... if I want to select everything I've written so far, I could hold down Ctrl and press A and it would select all of it.

If I'm inside a folder of files, if I press that, it highlights all the files. I use this a lot for renaming all the files in a folder quickly which brings me to...

F2 to rename a file

I rename files all the time so this saves me a lot of time. If you click on a file in a folder then press F2, it lets you immediately rename the file. Then press Enter when you're done typing to officially rename it. You can use the left and right arrows to go to the next file to rename it.

Let's say you just uploaded pictures of your kids doing my place value ice cream cones activity and you want to name all the new photos you just uploaded to something that describes that.

You can rename them ALL at the same time by pressing Ctrl + A that we just learned to select all the pictures in the folder THEN, press F2. Type in the image title you want (for example: Place Value Game) and press enter. 

This will rename ALL of your pictures Place Value Game (1), Place Value Game (2), and so on!

(Extra bonus: Ctrl + Z can undo renaming a file, moving a file, deleting a file... if you click it right after doing so)

Sooo much better than having 50 pictures named something like IMG_1004, IMG_1005... It makes it so much easier when you want to find a specific picture on your computer to be able to search by the name. (& I don't want you to waste time renaming each picture individually - oh my goodness the amount of time that would take to do!)

Which leads me to the next one...

Ctrl + F to find anything!

You can press Ctrl then F to find words. This works on websites. This works in anything you're typing into.... It works in a lot of places! It even works within the folders on your computer. I use it all the time to find files. 

Shift to select a specific row of files in a folder

Remember how I told you about Ctrl + A to select ALL the files in a folder? Well, you can also select just a row of them, or rows of them, with a simple keyboard trick.

Ready for it......?? In the folder, you click on the first picture/file in the series that you want THEN hold down Shift and click on the last picture in the row that you want. 

This will select all the pictures from the first one you click to the last one you click. Can you believe that?? It also works in other places! Use it right now to select words in this paragraph! Click the word "Use" then hold down Shift and click on paragraph! Did it just select that chunk for you? Isn't that cool? I've always clicked and dragged! I don't really use it for selecting text but I use it for selecting images all the time now that I know it exists.

My husband actually just recently shared this gem with me and I was equal parts excited to have discovered it & equal parts angry that he never told me it existed haha. Sometimes he randomly drops those little tech tip gems on me and I'm like, "Thank you so much... but WHY have you never told me that button existed?! But thank you!" :) 

You can use this tool to simply select a row of 5 pictures, let's say, without having to click on them all individually... or 5 rows of pictures where you know you want from the file to this file.

Bonus: You can also use the holding down Ctrl while clicking individual pictures/files to select the exact ones you want like I explained in the PDF section. This works for files in a folder too :)

Advanced tip: You can combine those 2 tricks too! Let's say you have a giant folder of pictures and you want to select a bunch of random ones. Click on the first one and hold down shift then click the last one in a series.... then hold down Ctrl to individually select another one you like... or hold down Ctrl AND shift to keep all the ones you already have selected but do the Shift trick again. I hope that makes sense! This will allow you to select multiple chunks of pictures and individual pictures while skipping the ones you don't want to select.

Okay, another bonus (I told you I love my keyboard!): One thing I do a lot is sometimes I want to select all but a couple pictures in a file, I'll hit Ctrl + A to select them all... then I'll hold down Ctrl (so they all stay selected) then click on the ones I DON'T want to deselect them.

Ctrl + W

Now please don't do it on this window because I just rambled a bunch in the previous section :) but you can click out of a lot of things by using Ctrl + W! 

If you have a folder of files open, this will close it for you.

It doesn't work with all programs but it does work with some. I use it to close a lot to close things. Most often I use it for closing tabs I'm done reading.

Please don't do that right now, though, I have so much more to share with you! :) Especially if you like this one because browser hacks to save you time while online is next!

Browser Tricks

These are all my favorite browser hacks I use! They may be different on your browser but this is how they work on mine!

Ctrl + T

So I just told you about Ctrl + W to close the current tab you're on. Well, Ctrl + T will open a brand new tab for you. I use this one constantly. If I'm reading on a website and want to search something really quick, I press Ctrl then T to open up a new tab instantly.

I am one of those people who has a million tabs open all the time, by the way... which I have solutions for you for that as well! 

Ctrl + N

This does the same thing except it opens the new tab in a brand new window.

I use this one a lot too if I want to start a new group of tabs.

Ctrl + Shift + T

This is probably my favorite of all of them....

Do you ever click out of a tab you're reading by accident? Hold down Ctrl then keep holding it down while you also hold down Shift then press T then let go.

This will re-open the most recent tab you've closed!

I. love. this.

Like I said, I have so many tabs open and sometimes I click out of them by accident. Or, more often, I click out of it then change my mind and want to reference it again really quick so I use this keyboard shortcut to reopen it.

You can also repeat this over and over to keep opening your most recent tabs you've closed until you find the one you're looking for.

Ctrl + R

I'm sure you already know this one but this will reload the page you're on. Saves you a few seconds rather than having to find the little button with your mouse. :)

Ctrl + clicking on a link to open it in a new tab

I pretty much open every link in a new tab while I'm reading so it doesn't leave the page I'm reading.

A quick way I do this is you hover over the link, hold down Ctrl, THEN click the link. This automatically opens it in a new tab while not leaving the one you're currently on. :) 

Let's say you're reading this article and I mention my Fact Fluency in First Grade post and it's linked in the text you're reading like that... and you really want to read it, but later... right now, you want to finish what you're currently reading... but you don't want to forget about that link. Well, you can simply hover over that link, hold down Ctrl, then click it to open it in a new tab, so you have it ready for you for when you're done reading this.

I hope that makes sense - it's how I always read websites! I don't like to get distracted while I'm reading a page I am interested in, but I often want to save something they mention for reading later, so I do that to put it in a new tab so that, when I click out of the one I am on, it's ready for me to read next.

This is also why I end up with a ton of tabs open, haha :)

Browser Extensions for Managing the 9389437543 tabs you have open

If you're like me and open a lot of tabs while you're reading/planning, you may want to look at a browser extension that will save them all for you. 

I use one where I click the little button and it saves all the tabs I have open in a list of links for me. I can go back to that list any time to find that link again. I can name the group of tabs I saved, too, or use Ctrl + F to quickly find an article I saved in my groups of lists if I remember what it was about. 

Sometimes I'm reading and open a lot of new tabs but then I want to get off the computer before I've read them all, so I'll use my extension to save them all in my list to read later.

Check out this list for helpful extensions including a tab management one:

Setting up the Row at the Top with Websites you go to often

I go to the same websites constantly - my email inbox, my store on TpT, the list I have of all my blog posts (to grab links), my favorite websites to read, and so on.

So I have all the ones I go to frequently saved in my row, so all I have to do when I open my browser, is click on the icons in that top row to go straight there.

If you find yourself going to the same websites constantly, don't waste time typing them into the URL bar. Make a little button for them.

If you use the same browser I do, clicking Ctrl + Shift + B (hold down Ctrl AND shift then press B) will hide and unhide your row. 

If you see it bouncing in and out of view while you press that, woohoo you have a row you can use! If not, you may be using a different browser than I do.

To add a website to your row, go to the website exactly where you want it to go - all the clicks to get directly to your inbox while logged in, for example. 
- Then, do Ctrl + D to bring up the save box
- Rename it to something simple like "Mail" so it doesn't take up a ton of space in your row
- Under "Folder" make sure it is putting it in your bar
- Hit enter

This adds it to the row across the top so you can click on it any time to go straight to that page. I do this a lot for specific pages that take multiple clicks to get to, so it goes straight there!

Use Ctrl + Shift + B to hide your bar if you don't want to see it & the same thing to display it if you do! I always leave mine up typically because I use it so often. I have so many in mine, though, that I've started naming them like Mail, FB, IG, P, Blog, TpT so that they're super short and I can save more in there.

Moving tabs

Since I mentioned I often have a lot of tabs open, sometimes I don't want to see them all. So I'll click on the tab (literally, the tab for the tab) and drag pulling down so it takes it out of the group of tabs into a new window. Quick little tip! You can click and hold and drag down to put it back into a group too :) 

You can also hold down Ctrl to select multiple tabs then drag down to move them all out of the group of tabs at the same time.

You can also use the shift trick I taught you to quickly select multiple tabs in a row by clicking on the first tab, holding down shift, then the last tab you want to select a row of tabs. A lot of these tricks I'm telling you (like holding down Ctrl to select multiple items) work in a lot of places so, once you know them, you can use them for a lot of things! For example, Ctrl + S is the "save" button for so many different programs. I click it constantly when working on almost anything to save as I work without having to stop and click. It's a habit by now. :)

F11 to make a website take up the full screen

This one is so helpful for when setting up activities on the computer for kids where you don't want them to have the ability to go to another website or click on something in the bar. Plus it looks less distracting for them. If you press F11, it'll get rid of the top part so it makes just the website full screen. Pressing F11 again will bring it back to the normal view. 

Bonus: If they want to go "back" on the website they're on, they can press Alt + left arrow. It's easy for them to remember because they know the left arrow means go back if they play any computer or video games. Kids learn these sorts of things ridiculously fast which, much like with my husband, I go, "Wait, how did you do that just now??" :)

Okay, I honestly have even more than what I've shared that I use but I feel as though I've written a ton in this section so let's move on to....

Printing Tricks for Teachers

There are a lot of fancy things you can do with a little tech help with your printer!

Some of the things I've already mentioned involved printing, but here are some more:

Making Your Own Bulletin Board Letters

Firstly, you don't have to spend a penny on bulletin board letters. They are SO easy to make and print yourself!

Plus, when you make them yourself, you can choose the exact font, size, color, style that you want.

I wrote this incredibly easy guide for making your own a few years ago:
DIY Bulletin Board Letters

It's super easy! So many teachers have shown me the absolutely adorable letters and bulletin boards they've made using my guide which is so cool to see. Please tag me @missgiraffesclass if you share pictures of yours - I love seeing them! :)

Printing Posters Half the Size

Do you have classroom posters you've bought? You can probably use them in more ways than just posters!

Maybe you want to make them half page posters so they fit easier in your room?

For example, I absolutely LOVE my Long Vowel Word Families Posters but if I were to hang them all up full page sized, they'd take up a lot of space.

So I print them 2 to a page so they are half the size!

All I do is Ctrl + P to print then click on "Multiple" and where it says "Pages per sheet:" I put 2.

This will put 2 pages on the sheet. In the "Pages" box I put the exact posters' page numbers I want if it doesn't automatically select them. You can also use the PDF page selecting trick I taught you for picking the exact posters to print :) See what I mean about how I use the same ones over and over?

I love this because I can make posters half the size if I want to.

Making Full Page Posters into Little Cards for Teaching

I ALSO make them into little teaching cards!

This is a great way to take posters you've bought and double them as center activities too!

To do this, select the posters you want and do the exact same thing but for "Pages per sheet:" put 6. You can also do 9 if you want them even smaller.

There's actually a lot of ways you can use these! Here are some fun examples:
- Make them into little playing cards (use 6 or 9 to a page) where kids can hold them up and quiz each other
- Use them yourself as little cards for reviewing at your small groups table
- If they're posters for a particular skill like my Prefixes Posters, for example, tape the little cards around the room and let kids find and read them or write them down as a center activity.
- Numbers posters and Shapes Posters you may already have bought can also be doubled as a super easy center this way too! They can put the number posters in number order, put little tiny card versions of Alphabet Posters in ABC order... there are all kinds of ways you can make them into games! They can build the number with cubes or blocks next to the little number poster.
- Send them home as study cards (this is a really useful way to use them, especially Phonics Posters!)
- Laminate them, punch a hole in the corner, and put them on a ring so kids can use them as reference

I always like to get a lot of uses out of anything I buy so I figured these tips may be helpful for you if you already have posters you've bought over the years. You can reuse them in fun ways by simply printing them smaller! I put links to some of the sets I have to give you visual examples of what I mean, but I encourage you to look at the posters you already have and see if you can reuse them!

I know I have a ton of posters sets and so many of them can be repurposed into centers, study cards, small group reviewing cards, and so on!

Using the Same "Multiple" Feature to Create Picture Sheets of PDFs
You can also use this feature to print the pages in a PDF all on one sheet by selecting 16 "Pages per sheet:" so that it prints all the pages of the PDF on a single page (multiple pages if it's a big one) as little pictures.

This lets you see 16 pages of the PDF all at once! So visual and awesome for finding specific worksheets when you want them.

I actually do this when I print giant PDF resources sometimes so I have a little reference sheet of all the pages included. It helps me quickly find the page I'm looking for.

I actually print a page like this for ALL my big PDFs and keep them in a binder for each subject, organized by concept, so I can quickly find worksheets I want visually. For example, in my math binder, I have a reference sheet for each of my graphing PDFs all next to each other so I can flip to the little graphing section, visually look at all the pages within each unit and find the exact center or worksheet I'm looking for on my computer in minutes.

I hope this is making sense! It's just an extra way I like to organize my binders sometimes. If you read my Phonics Sounds Binders post, you know I love my binders! :)

Another example of how to use the printing 16 pages to a page idea:

Let's say you have my big teaching coins and money math unit but you also have several other PDFs of money worksheets and activities from other bloggers... print each one of the PDFs with the pages set to 16 to a page then slip those into a binder or in your "Money and Coins" file folder in your cabinet, so that when you need to find and print one of the worksheets or activities, you can use your little reference sheets to know the exact pack it's in to find it and print it.

You can also JUST take home those little reference sheets if you do planning at home, rather than your entire folder of coin activities.

This saves me a lot of time looking for worksheets! I even sometimes will print that page and clip it to all the pages I've printed from that pack, like I said, so I can just look at ONE page in my files to see if it's little picture is on there since it's on top of the papers it's clipped to. Super helpful for if I have a ton of printed pages for the same topic.

Bonus Tip: Did you know you can also print pictures in this way? If you have a folder of pictures on your computer: Select all the ones you want on the page. Use the right button on your mouse to click one of them then select print and then tell it how many you want on a page. It's a fun and easy way to print a little sheet of pictures straight from your folder :)

Okay I still have so many more but now I really feel like I've probably overwhelmed you with ideas! Or at least I hope you got a lot of new ideas! :)

Please let me know below if you learned any new tricks!! If you tried one and it didn't work for you, please ask so I can help clarify! These are all such huge time savers for teachers that I want to make sure you have all of them in your toolbox :)

There is A LOT of information here - I highly recommend you save it to reference later! 
How to do that: Hover over this picture & click "Save" or click here to go to the pin directly to save this to your boards so you can come back to it if you forget any of the keyboard shortcuts.

Tech Tips for Teachers - amazing list!!

If you think you'll use a lot of these ideas and to save this to your row we talked about, that's also a quick way to get back to this page when you need it!

I absolutely love sharing these sorts of ideas so if you loved this, you may also enjoy:

and really any of my blog posts! I sprinkle fun ideas to make things more fun and save you time throughout my posts :) You can see a big organized list of all of them here:

Miss Giraffe Favorite Blog Posts List
(You could also save this list into your row to come back to it :) Just saying! ha)

I also post lots of ideas as pins & on social media so you can go to the top of my sidebar to the right (click Home to go straight to the top!) ------>
to follow me where you hang out the most :) I do post different ideas on different platforms, though, so if you use more than one, I recommend following in more than 1 place so you don't miss anything. I also recommend following me on TpT so you see when I post new resources if you teach the primary grades. I love making resources and filling them with fun ideas too :)

Anyway, I'd love to hear from you below! Let me know if it was helpful or if you want to let me know more tech tips you want to hear about! You can also fill out this quick form (please make sure to check the box) to join Miss Giraffe's Class to receive fun emails from me so we can keep in touch! :)


  1. Wow, so helpful, wish I had known long ago. Especially like the number of pages that can be printed on one page. Thank you.

    1. Yay! I'm so glad these tech tips were helpful for you! I appreciate you taking the time to leave a sweet comment - thank you! :)

  2. Holy Moley! This is a great list of tips. I also appreciate the way you shared the applications specifically for educators. Thank you!

    1. Thank you! Yes, I wanted to show all the ways educators can use little computer tricks to make teaching and lesson planning easier and faster since so many of them can be utilized for that. Thank you for leaving a kind comment! :)