Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Auto sort results of a Google Form so newest responses are on top!

If you use Google forms to collect data of a long period of time you may want the newest results to post to the top of the spreadsheet. For example, I use a form as a way to track books that kids borrow, I’d rather have the newest book to be borrowed appear at the top of the list.

Here is one way you can do this.

  1. On the bottom left of the sheet click the + to create another sheet
  2. In cell A1 paste the following formula:
    1. =sort('Form Responses 1'!A:H, 1, False)
  3. You may want to double click the title of the new sheet (Which will be “Copy of Form Responses 1” and change it to something more descriptive “Sorted” is what I chose.


Remember, this new sheet, “Sorted,” is mirroring the “Form Responses” sheet, so any changes you make to the content will show up on the “Sorted” sheet.


Sharing Links with Students

It has been awhile since I posted (about a year!) and in that time I’ve changed districts and become a dad (first a foster dad and now a pre-adoptive dad!) no wonder I’m so tired!

I teach 9th grade English now instead of 8th (now the title of this blog isn’t accurate!). High school is very different than middle school in a lot of ways. One big difference is that my students have iPads instead of laptops.

Sharing links with students efficiently has become even more important now that students have to type them onto an iPad. Below are 3 ways I share with students.

1. It’s a cool visual way to submit a bunch of links to docs, videos, websites, or other resources. It requires a free account.

Here is one I made:
And here it is embedded in my site:

2. is my favorite URL shortening tool by far (I love that you can customize links, track link traffic, etc), but it can also be used to create bundles of links. It does require a free account.

Here is a bundle of speeches I put together to use when I taught

3. diigo is a great social bookmarking site but it is also great for annotating websites, then use to shorten the link, and add to a bundle of links. This also requires a free account.

I annotated one of the speeches shared in the bundle above:

If you share in other ways let me know, sharing is caring!

Embedded Web Browsing in Notebook software

I just discovered that you can embed a web browser in a notebook page. This makes it much easier to use web content – you don’t have to bounce from program to program. You can also ‘pin’ a site, which means you set it as a home page for that particular notebook page – the content you want to use already cued up in Notebook! I’m pretty psyched about this find and wanted to share!


Review: Moa by Tricia Stewart Shiu

I read Moa as part of a promotional tour. The book was given to me and I can win prizes for posting an excerpt from the book, an interview with the author, and my review (which you are reading right now). If you scroll to the bottom you will see more information about the tour and contest for bloggers. 

Hillary is eighteen and goes to Hawaii to visit her sister, Molly, and niece, Heidi. Molly and Heidi are dealing with the death of their husband/dad – a fact that seems like it will be more important than it is, it really serves to create a touching moment later in the book and solidify Molly’s believe in Moa. Hillary doesn’t think of herself as a witch (a sure sign that she is one), yet does create spells to redirect positive energy her way and to influence events. Hillary arrives just in time to play a major role in saving Hawaii by helping Moa, the spirit of a seven-year old.   

This book is billed as Young Adult (YA) but is more Y than A. I might recommend this book (if I couldn’t think of any alternatives) to a struggling reader in the 7th or 8th grades, however I’m not sure that the plot would be enough to keep their attention. I was not impressed by this book at all. The characters are flat, the plot seeks to be philosophical and deep, but rather comes off as a cheesy advertisement for a Christian afterlife under the cover of Hawaiian culture. Moa’s whole personality struck me as a caricature of the benevolent spirit, granted she is the spirit of a seven-year old, but she has been a spirit for much, much longer and that was not reflected well. The scenes that were meant to be suspenseful (Hillary racing through the town full of evil spirits that are in the guise of humans) seemed to me contrived. I was never hooked into the story. 

The interview with Shiu (read it here), reveals that the book comes from personal beliefs and draws on personal experiences, including visits to Hawaii and from spirits bearing messages. (As far as I know Shiu did not save Hawaii at anytime, but that is the sort of thing people never get credit for). The interview supports the idea that Shiu really wanted to write about her metaphysical beliefs but didn’t know/wasn’t sure how to do that in a non-fiction manner. I think if the book had taken shape as a non-fiction book, drawing on her personal experiences it would have resulted in a more interesting read. Needless to say (which is an interestingly untrue phrase isn’t it?) I will not be reading the sequel. 

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Moa and Statue of Ku eBook editions have both been dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing either of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $600 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copies of Moa and Statue of Ku for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

About Moa: Eighteen-year-old, Hillary, anticipates adventure as she embarks for trip to Honolulu, but gets more than she bargained for when Moa, an ancient Hawaiian spirit, pays her an unexpected visit. Get it on Amazon.

About Statue of Ku: The second book in the Moa Book Series, “The Statue of Ku” follows Hillary and Moa as they jet to Egypt on the Prince’s private plane to reclaim Moa’s family heirloom, the inimitable statue of Ku. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Tricia Stewart Shiu combines her addiction to the written word with her avid interest in the healing arts and all things metaphysical in her novels Moa and Statue of Ku and looks forward to finding new ways to unite her two loves. Visit Tricia on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard

Whoa, I came across a reference to this when reading an article about using one or two spaces after a period (the answer is one – read more here). 

The keyboard, pictured to the right, isn’t new.
According to this Wikipedia article, it was developed in 1936, but the QWERTY (I actually had to look at the keyboard to type that) keyboard obviously won the popularity contest. What I found interesting is this chart: which shows that with the Dvorak keyboard your fingers stay on the home row 70% of the time, imagine the increase in your typing WPM!
Interested in trying it out? The wiki article says this: 
Although the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard (DSK) has failed to displace the QWERTY keyboard, it has become easier to access in the computer age, being compatible with all major operating systems (such as Microsoft WindowsMac OS XGNU/Linux. and BSD) in addition to the standard QWERTY layout. Most major operating systems have the option of toggling to the Dvorak layout.[4] It is also supported at the hardware level by some high-end ergonomic keyboards.[5]

If anyone tries it out I’d love to hear about your experience.


The assignment was to explode a moment. I had a hard time figuring out what to write about so I ended up sketching out a storyboard to help me.

The cold bleeds through my mittens and bites into my fingers. The snow is damp, perfect for packing into a cold, hard, orb. The snowball becomes smooth between my mittens, the black of the mittens contrasting with the effulgent snow as they slide back and forth over the hardening sphere. Stretch out my hand with the snowball in my palm, the sleeve of my heavy winter coat swooshing against my side. I look up, searching for a target, my eyes rake over the scenery. The world wrapped snug in a winter blanket of snow, there is not much to see. The brown stockade fence surrounding the perimeter stands silent sentry, each post wears a pure white cap upon its head. Hitting the fence would be no challenge; I continue to shift my gaze. There, I see a bright red knit cap bouncing in and out of view above the fence. I take careful aim and let fly just as a face appears. The hat is pulled tight, covering his eyebrows and much of his pale, crystal-blue eyes. This is probably why he did not duck out of the way of the speeding sphere of snow that was hurtling through the crisp air. It cut through the fog of breath created by the exhalation of the target, shedding pieces of itself. The splat of impact sounded like a six-year-old jumping with two feet into a puddle, and was accompanied by a muffled “oomph”, and my shout of triumph.

Mixing it up

As a frequent visitor (as if I have any) you may notice a slight change in content. I have decided to not post so many links of what I find interesting to Facebook but rather to this blog. I even have the “Press This” bookmarklet that makes doing this so flippin easy. So. . . I will still be ranting and writing about things I notice but it will be intersperced with links and pictures and videos I’ve found (usually by using Stumbleupon).

On a side note, if you don’t know about stumbleupon then you are seriously missing out. BEWARE: stumbleupon can be addictive. Many users can be heard to say: “Just one more stumble. . . “

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