Adobe Photoshop: Demystified

Photoshop is an amazing program with infinite possibilities. For the everyday user, especially the beginner, it helps to have a foundation to get started, and even before attempting to take a class at the college level. My hope with this post is that I can provide you with some of the best tutorials available:

Discover the Creative Cloud Experience

*NEW* Celebrity Before & After Photoshop Images

*NEW* Printable “Intro to Photoshop Tools”

*NEW* Opening multiple images as layers

*NEW* Step-by-Step Instructions on using the Magnetic Lasso Tool

*NEW* Using the Background Eraser Tool (Video Tutorial)


10 Must-Know Introductory Photoshop Skills

What is a layer in Photoshop, and how is it used?

Using the Crop Tool

How to Change a Background in Photoshop

Creative Bloq has done an amazing job of breaking down by content area and ability level. Take it one tutorial at a time, and you’ll be an expert before you know it.


This is a great tutorial introducing Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud): 10 Things Beginners Want to Know How to Do. Check out some of the other videos on that page – pretty cool stuff!

Danny Outlaw has some awesome beginner tips, and much more, in this post.



free “office” options

We have all either sent or received that MSOffice document, spreadsheet or presentation, only to find it’s not a compatible version. It’s also becoming quite costly to purchase the latest and greatest MSOffice version. In my world of education, teachers and students simply don’t have the funds to purchase Office 2007, now 2010…. and beyond. I use all three of the FREE products below.

  1. ThinkFree Online is a wonderful tool that allows the user to log in using their Google account or create a ThinkFree account. PDF’s are easily created out of many file types. Documents, spreadsheets and presentations can be created and shared, or uploaded, edited and/or shared. ThinkFree is friendly to Office 2007 and Office 2010 files. It even has a viewer, should you receive a file that you are unable to read.
  2. Google Docs –  part of the Google suite of free products, Google Docs makes is simple to read, edit and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and even pdf’s. It does have its limitations – but Google is constantly making changes to improve the quality of Google Docs. I forward anything attachments sent to my work email immediately to my gmail, allowing me to store them in Google Docs.    Here is a simple video to give you an overview: Google Docs in Plain English.
  3. OpenOffice – Don’t purchase MSOffice with your next new computer – simply download OpenOffice, and you’ll be ready for any Office task. OpenOffice is amazing – in many ways, I like it better than MSOffice. Many school systems are moving to OpenOffice, because it saves thousands of dollars in licensing fees. The good folks at Oracle keep OpenOffice fresh, so you are always using a brand new product – not something created in 2003, 2007 or even 2010. There is a bit of a learning curve – especially in Calc and Base – but online resources are plentiful, so don’t panic.
My personal recommendation is to utilize all three of these great packages. I will be posting fresh resources – so check back often, or subscribe to this post for updates. Comment below if you have anything to share, including other similar packages that you like….

The Grand Tour of Google Docs

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to present two sessions about Google Docs today to K-5 staff from both RSU57 and Sanford. My colleague, Amanda Doyle, is presenting the same session to 6-12 staff back at Sanford High School. Therefore, we created a companion resource that will assist folks with Google Docs tutorials, tips and resources long after the sessions have ended! Please enjoy these resources, and suggest links that we might add as well.

healthy happy computers

Your computer is starting to drag, and it’s only six months old. Sound familiar? It happens to us all – but there are simple FREE solutions! Here is useful list of important tasks that will keep your computer running smoothly:

  • Delete unused programs, folders, and files.  An external hard drive is perfect for storage and/or backup if you have lots of music, pictures, video and other large files. Using ccleaner (see below) to delete unwanted programs or turn off startup programs can be very helpful!
  • Create backup disks. Backup any files that you use on a regular basis or files that are updated frequently. In the unfortunate event of a hard drive crash, you won’t panic about lost work. Drag your entire My Documents folder to your external hard drive once a week, and store the drive in a safe place!
  • Create system restore points regularly. Do this at least once a week. If weaker viruses are accidentally downloaded, the restore point will ensure that your data is recoverable. Most computers will ask you to create a system restore point before a new download, but creating your own occasionally is a great idea.
  • I can’t stress this enough: DO NOT USE LIMEWIRE, MP3ROCKET, FROSTWIRE, BIT TORRENT OR ANY SIMILAR PROGRAMS! They not only allow illegal sharing of files, which is pirating, but they also allow viruses and spyware to slip past your firewall.
  • Use anti-spyware software. These programs can rid your computer of unwanted spyware, greyware, and malware. I recommend CCleaner and Advanced System Care Free!
  • Utilize anti-virus protection. If you can’t afford an anti-virus program, I recommend AVAST Free.
  • Defragment. Defragmenting your computer will guarantee that your files are organized and your computer is running at optimal speeds. This should be done at least once a month. I highly suggest using SmartDefrag or Defraggler in place of Windows Defrag.
  • Find a reputable computer shop! Just as you need a trustworthy auto mechanic, a trustworthy computer repairperson can save you hundreds of dollars in unnecessary repairs or upgrades. Don’t spend a lot of money on an older computer – it’s just not worth it. Save up and buy a brand new netbook or laptop instead.
  • Have at least two browsers on your computer! I recommend Google Chrome as your default browser.
  • It’s imperative that you have more than one admin account on your computer. This way, should one become corrupt, you won’t lose access to your computer. Go to the control panel, then Users, and create a new backup account. Be sure it has administrator privileges.

UPDATE: Please also remember your other devices, such as smartphones and tablets, iPhones and iPads. Check out your app store for FREE apps to clean and protect your device. I use AVAST Free on our Android devices, as well as an app called Clean Master. I discovered a CCleaner Portable edition on CNET, which has great ratings. I will be checking that out asap.

wordpress how-to’s

Years ago, Dreamweaver and FrontPage were THE products to use for web design. These days, most bloggers and developers like to use web-based products, with WordPress seeming to be the favorite. I’ve been using WordPress for about six years now, and I love it. I had to rely completely on tutorials and other free online resources to build my first sites. To make it easier on any of you that happen along, I have pulled together a number of WordPress tutorials to make your first or next website amazing. I’ll keep adding, so check back often. If you have any awesome resources, please share!

Beginner WordPress Tutorial Video by NuuVidea

Mashable’s 5 Essential WordPress Tips for the Beginner

Step by Step Video on How to Blog with WordPress (It’s a long one!)

UPDATED Step by Step Video on (A bit longer, but worth it!)

Wikiversity’s Web Design Portal

WordPress Tips – a cool portal with links to other blogs about

Matt’s Tips on

10 WordPress Tips to Make Your Blog Look Like a Website (For Beginners)

apps and resources for your classroom

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As you can imagine, this post will be updated frequently! I would certainly appreciate your input, so comment below to add your own awesome apps and resources, as well as let me know what you think about those I’ve shared:


Grand Tour of Google Drive

Cool Links – this is my own collections of cool resources.

ClassDojo – FREE Behavior Management App for the Classroom

Typing Club – Full FREE Typing Course for Kids

Portland Press Herald App – Students have access to the newspaper every day!

Virtual Manipulatives – FREE Math Manipulatives App – Awesome reviews!

These TechEdge videos are great – the one I’ve shared is one of MANY. Check them out!

iPad Apps:

The 55 Best Free Educational Apps for iPad – by TeachThought

iPad Apps Tracker – Top 200 Free Apps for Education – by PadGadget

20 Amazing iPad Apps for Educators – by

Best Free iPad Apps – by Gizmo’s Freeware

48 FREE Educational Apps Sorted by Grade Level – by Edudemic

Android Apps:

50 Free Android Apps Being Used in Education Right Now – by Edudemic

Top Android Apps for Kids to Download (Free) – by GetAndroidStuff

The 50 Best Education Apps for Android – by TeachThought (not all free – but worth a glance)

Thinglink – Make Your Images Interactive

Thinglink is a cool free resource that’s making learning (and teaching!) even more fun and interactive.

According to the ThingLInk Toolkit, “ThingLink is a free and user friendly digital tool that provides users with the ability to turn any image into an interactive graphic. Create multiple “hot spots” on specific parts of an image and turn that image into a multimedia launcher. Include video, record audio or provide a link to any website with the click of a button. Easily embed an interactive ThingLink graphic into any blog or website. ThingLink is a truly amazing tool that allows users to pack a lot of content into a small space. ThingLink is a flexible tool that is well-suited for use in the classroom.”

Check it out if you have a few minutes to spare – you’ll thank me:

ThinkLink’s Homepage

ThingLink Toolkit – chock full of great stuff!

A ThingLink about ThingLink!