animated gif, Canva, formative assessment, Freebies, Google Sites, Google Slides, PowerPoint, Winter Tech Blizzard

Winter Tech Blizzard 2022

It’s that time of year. Time for a snow storm of technology ideas, templates, and resources. This is the fourth year I’ve shared activities and I’m loving the Winter Tech Blizzard theme.

I hope you check back daily to see what has been shared. Each day a new snowflake will appear on the Winter Tech Blizzard site. Click the snowflake and it will take you to the ideas for the day. Click the image below to join the fun.


If you are interested in previous years, I linked them all in THIS post.


Qualities of a Leader

A few weeks ago, my students asked me what I thought a good principal looked like. I’ve had my share of admin and I’ve observed others on social media. Here was my response.

Some leaders are very people oriented. If they asked, people would get in the car with them. But, they only drive circles in the parking lot because they have no direction. Other leaders have a well thought out plan to cross the country, but no one wants to get in the car with them. A great leader has a destination and people are willing to get in the car.

It’s one of those things that just came to me on the fly, much like my further explanations when a student isn’t understanding. I don’t always remember those nuggets of wisdom after the fact, but this one has stuck with me. As I reflect on my characteristics and my desire to become a building leader, I want this thought to be in the front of my mind. I think I lean towards the great plan and I need to make sure I have the people skills so others want to join my on the journey.

Here is an animation I drew to illustrate this thought. And that’s all this is, food for thought.

What do you think makes a great leader?



PowerPointers? Too much? I struggled with a title for this series, probably because I am a Google fan but Power Point has its benefits and I do use it. @elementarylittles showed up on my Insta feed with a PowerPoint series. Some of them I know, but some were fun little tips I didn’t. I’ll share a few today.

Selecting Fonts is a fun website that will show you what words look like in the fonts on your computer. You do have to authorize the system to access your fonts. It uses Local Font Access functionality through your Chrome or Edge browser to do so. Check out her post below.

Translate in a PowerPoint

This next feature is such a game changer. You can translate your PowerPoint right inside of PowerPoint. How cool is that?

I hope you check out her account for more PowerPointers. She has a lot to share.

disclaimer: I don’t know this person, I just found her PowerPoint series to be helpful.

Chrome, Chrome Browser

Manage the Chrome Tab Chaos

Last week, I shared about how to set a homepage in Chrome. This week, I’m sharing a few super simple tricks that may make your workflow easier. Do you have a lot (I mean like a lot alot) of tabs open? Right now, I only have 12 open but I usually have way more than that.

Tab Groups

One way I make my tabs less chaotic is by using Tab Groups. You can right click on a tab and add it to a group.

You can select a color for the tab. You can also add a tab here, OR, if you create a tab just right click and add it to the group. The tab collapses down so you only see one tab for the group.

Name Chrome Windows

Another way you can organize Chrome is to create different windows. If you have a ton of tabs open, drag a tab away from the group and it will make a new window. Add as may tabs as you want to this new group. If you right click at the top of the window you can name this group. Now, when you hover over the window, open or in task bar, it will show you the name of the group.

One Tab & Toby

I have been using One Tab for quite some time. One Tab is an extension that allows you to close all of your tabs but keeps a list of your tabs so you can go back and open them up. You can name a group and share a group as a webpage.

Toby was just recently introduced to me but seems to work in a similar way. Naming a window group (what we just in the group before) will help you organize in Toby because you can add groups by window. It is very similar to one tab but with a better graphics interface. You can still name and share windows.

I’ve used One Tab for soooo long so now I’m going to have to decide which one I like better. The interface with Toby is way nicer but also seems a little more complicated to set up.

I have also shared about how to organize your bookmark bar if you would rather organize that way.

Hopefully you found a few ideas about how to manage the tab chaos in Chrome that will work for you.

Canva, Chrome, Chrome Browser, Google Slides

Google Chrome Custom Homepage

Do you have a lot of links you need to access every day in your classroom? Same! You can create a custom Google Chrome homepage with links to sites you need to visit. This post will give an example in Canva and Google Sheets and show you how to turn the homepage button on in Google Chrome.


In Canva you can design a desktop and include your links. Here is an example of one I created. I searched for presentation with calendar and picked a template I liked. I altered the presentation to fit what I wanted on the page. You do have to update the calendar each month but you can search for the calendar you want and paste it in.

You will need to get the link to add to your Google Chrome Homepage. Go to share – more – then select website. Select presentation then click open website. Copy the URL at the top in the address bar. Now you can proceed to the Google Chrome section below.

Google Sheets

You can create your own design or use a template. This is a template from Slides Mania that I altered to fit what I wanted to display. Add in your links and then you will go to File and select Publish to the Web. Grab the link and move to the next section.

Google Chrome Settings

Now we need to setup your homepage. You likely to do not have the homepage button set in Chrome.

When Google Chrome is open, go to the three dots in the top right corner by your account photo and click on settings. Select appearance, click show home button and then paste the URL you copied earlier.

Now open a new tab and click the home button near the URL address box at the top.

Your new homepage with clickable links should appear. You can update this page in Canvas or Google Slides anytime and the updates will appear the next time you load your page.

I hope this makes finding your links easier.

animated gif, Canva, Stop Motion

Stop Motion Stickers in Canva

If you have been around my blogs for any length of time, then you know my love for digital stickers on student work. I usually create mine in Google Slides and have tutorials to do so. Did you know you can also create these stickers in Canva? Well today is the day to learn all about it.

  1. Click create a design and set your page to square. I used a 10 in by 10 in design.

2. Next, find the elements you want to use. I picked a sun and then “shine” to get the orange pieces around it. That is the part I plan to rotate during the animation. I also want it to say, “Your work shines” so I add “Your work” with a text box.

3. Now click the duplicate button on this page.

4. On this new page we will do 2 things. First, rotate the orange shine part by clicking on that element and using the rotate handle that appears. Second, I used one of the text elements and found one that looked shiny and added the S for shines.

5. Continue with these steps, rotating the sun and adding a letter to shines until you have the word shines spelled out. I ended up with 7 pages.

6. Now the fun part begins. First we want to set the timing for our stop motion. The timing is located in the top bar. I set mine to 0.2 but you can play around with this. 0.1 is faster, 0.3 is slower.

7. Now it’s time to download our design. Click the share button, then download, then select GIF at the bottom.

Here is you animated sticker. This isn’t the only way to animate stickers in Canva. This is actually very similar to the Google Slides process. These are also not transparent but you can always try Sometimes it works.

I hope you found this tutorial useful. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my students LOVE animated stickers on their digital work and I teach high school. These stickers are for everyone!! And look at that, I didn’t use a Bitmoji even though you can connect your Bitmoji to Canva. What?!? Maybe we can do that the next time.

Doodles, Get to Know Them, Icebreaker, Student Choice

Get to Know You Doodle

Did you know I cohost a video podcast called Doodle and Chat with Friends? No, well head on over to Youtube and subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss the fun! Did you know that each month, Carrie Baughcum and I release a Doodle and Chat newsletter with an idea for the classroom and upcoming guests? No!?! Well sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss out!

In the episode linked below, Carrie and I doodled our name and the turned them into characters.

Well… Carrie turned this idea into a welcome activity for her classroom. And I loved the idea so much, I’m doing the same thing. Now, Carrie has middle school special education kiddos and I have high school Juniors and Seniors in math so our set-up looked a little different. But we can both do this activity, modifying it to fit our students.

Carrie’s activity

I’m going to ask each class if they would prefer to choose from the prompts OR we can do a bowl that knows situation in the classroom and draw out a prompt. Either way, I think this is going to be fun for the first day of school when some of my students don’t have their laptops yet.

If you use this idea, tag me (@MandiTolenEDU), Carrie (@carrie_baughcum) and #DoodleAndChat on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok. We would love see what you do!

Canva, Google Slides, Syllabus

Syllabus Ideas

My class syllabus has changed a lot over the years, as have my teaching practices. As we get ready for our students to arrive, I thought it would be a good idea to share some fun and creative ways to create a class syllabus.


I will be using Canva for my class syllabus this year. I’m using one of their resume templates and there are soooo many to choose from. I had this idea while updating my resume at the end of last year, then I saw @historysandaval share hers and I knew I was on to something.

I used Brown & Beige Minimalist Elegant Web Designer Resume template and changed it up to fit my color and style choice. I may make the font bigger and do two-sided like in previous years, but I love how it looks!

Here are some additional examples of Canva syllabi from Twitter:

Google Slides

I have used Google Slides for the last few years. Here are two templates I have used often. You can go into the theme builder section and change the colors.

I’ve also seen some people share their Syllabus in Google Slides making it linkable. This wouldn’t work for me because my students don’t get their devices until the end of the first week so I have to print mine. If you don’t need to print, then this could be a great option.


Here is an example from Amanda Sandaval that I have not used, but saved because it’s a super fun idea. She used Google Drawing to create it, but you could also use Google Slides.

Have fun creating your syllabus and best wishes for the start to a new school year!