Tech Tuesday: Back to School with Microsoft #WindowsChampions

Top 5 Tips for Back to School on a Budget
  1. Get Office 365 University: $79.99 USD for a four-year subscription
    At just $1.67 per month, college and university students can’t afford not to get 
    Office 365 University. Get the latest Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook) for two devices, including PCs, Macs, iPads, or Windows tablets. A subscription also includes 1 TB of OneDrive storage, and 60 minutes of Skype PC-to-phone world calling per month. 
  1. Download OneNote: Free app for most popular computers, tablets, and phones and on the web
    This year, make OneNote the single place for all your notes and information. With this digital notebook you can type, handwrite, paste and insert class notes and research anywhere, and organize them in notebooks and sections that are automatically saved and searchable. Additionally, it’s easy to share and collaborate with classmates for team projects and group assignments. 
  1. Keep it in OneDrive: Free app for most popular computers, tablets, and phones and on the web
    Here are five reasons to cross that USB-drive off your shopping list and use 
    OneDrive:  1) You get 15 GB of cloud storage for free; 2) You can’t lose OneDrive; 3) You can easily store and share photos, videos, documents, and more; 4) You can access OneDrive on any device; 5) You get 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage with an Office 365 Home or University subscription. 1 TB is the equivalent to approximately 50,000 trees made into paper and printed. That’s a lot of trees! 
  1. Use Office Online: Free on the web
    Who said nothing in life is free? Office Online offers free web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that let you create, view, edit, and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and notes. The best part is, no one needs an Office 365 subscription to work together on a team projects. With Office Online, students can collaborate on group assignments more easily, and parents can share the carpool schedule without having to send bulky attachments. 
  1. Take the Acer Aspire Switch 10 to class: $379 USD
    Not only does this device save you some serious cash, it’s the ultimate convertible of PCs. Rain or shine, it can be used in four modes – use it as a tablet, notebook or put it in tent mode to watch movies, or give a presentation. Not to mention, it’s compact and sleek so you can rest assured you got good looking device at a screaming deal.
Back to School Devices

Acer Aspire Switch (32GB) Signature Edition 2 in 1 PC
Acer Aspire Switch 10: Portable Fun for just $379
Switch Things Up! Head back to school with the sleek, modern, brushed metallic design of the new Acer Aspire Switch 10. This convertible Windows 8.1 PC provides flexibility with quad-modes - tote the tablet, type with detachable keyboard, and pivot screen for sharing or watching videos.

Acer Aspire E series (11”): Style, Everywhere – starting at $199
For surfing the web, entertainment, studying and play, this stylish yet budget-friendly notebook with the new Windows will add more fun to your school life. Power through your whole day without plugging in thanks to the 7-hour battery life, and with a variety of colors and sleek, modern design, you’ll look good anywhere life takes you.

ASUS Transformer Book T100TA: Go-Getter + Tech Trendsetter + $349
ASUS Transformer Book T100 is two computers in one. First, it’s a stylish and lightweight ultraportable laptop with an Intel Atom quad-core processor for great productivity performance with Microsoft Office. But detach the 10.1-inch IPS display from the keyboard dock and Transformer Book is also a capable Windows 8.1 tablet for easy entertainment at home and on the move. And with up to 11 hours battery life, it won’t tie you down.

Dell Inspiron 11 3147 Signature Edition 2 in 1 PC
Dell Inspiron 11 3000 Series: Power every day for just $449
With the performance of a laptop and versatility of a tablet, this 2-in-1 PC features Intel processors, Windows 8.1 and an 11.6" touch screen. Store your movies, music and maybe some school work – with plenty of storage, you can take it all with you.

HP ENVY x360
HP Pavilion x360 (13”): 360° of flexibility. All around great value at $499
Easily convert from notebook to stand to tent to tablet mode for all your productivity and entertainment needs with this amazingly value-packed convertible PC, featuring a 360° hinge. The HP Pavilion x360 features touch for a more engaging and optimized Windows 8.1 experience.

Lenovo Flex 2 (15”): Flex and impress, only $599
Whether you're working on a paper, giving a presentation, or just watching a movie, the Lenovo Flex 2 handles it all with ease. Its 10-point touchscreen flips 300 degrees, which makes it perfect for working in laptop mode or enjoying a movie in the unique stand mode. Plus, at under an inch thick, it’s lightweight and portable. Combine that with its roomy Full HD display and long battery life, and you'll find it's the laptop you'll want with you all the time.

Encore™ 2 WT8-B32CN Tablet
Toshiba Encore 2 (8”): Powerful Windows 8.1 with Bing tablet for $199
The Encore 2 8 tablet features an elegant Satin gold matte finish and are engineered with rounded edges that make them comfortable in hand. Measuring 0.4 inches thin, weighs less than a pound! Featuring a bright HD (1280x800) multi-touch display – perfect for on-the-go reading and studying.

Disclosure: I am a Windows Champions blogger and I received loan of a laptop and tablet, and may receive other equipment from Microsoft to assist me in evaluating Microsoft products and services for my blogging activity.    


Fast Food Protein - A Quick Way to Compare Fast Food Choices

We live in a crazy, busy world that sometimes forces us to make choices that we're not fond of. Personally, I try to avoid fast food as much as possible because I don't like the way it makes me feel after I eat it. I don't feel full or satisfied after eating a burger and fries. But when I do need a quick bite to eat when I'm on the go, I'd like to be able to eat something that's at least somewhat healthy and that is worth my money so I'm not hungry in an hour.

My younger brother, Kyle, has created a website to help consumers quickly compare fast food protein and nutrition when on the go. Fast Food Protein allows you to choose the fast food joint you're eating at and quickly see which foods have the most protein. You can also arrange the results by calories, fats, or carbs, if your focus is on those nutritional info instead. The design of the website is fairly simple and is very easy to use and navigate on a smartphone.

Why focus on protein? Kyle explains, "Protein is a key micro-nutrient that everyone needs. It's especially sought after by those looking to build muscle. There are many high protein diets focused on weight loss because high protein meals will leave you feeling fuller, longer."

Kyle has written a blog post about the Best Healthy Fast Food Choices. The post looks at tasty fast food pitfalls, such as french fries, and gives a list of the best choices available in fast food in terms of low calories and high protein. Not worried about calories and just want a high amount of protein? Check out the Top 5 High Protein Fast Food Meals blog post.


Tech Tuesday: Food Apps for On-the-Go Dining #VZWBuzz #MoreSLC

Going out for a night on the town or just escaping coming home from school and continuing to work, eating out at a great restaurant is my go-to for relaxation around town. I love trying new restaurants, especially down in Salt Lake City. I like to use the following apps to find restaurants and reviews when on the go.
  • OpenTable - Make online reservations, read restaurant reviews from diners, and earn points towards free meals. This app is free to use and makes trying new popular restaurants a breeze since you can make your reservations online.
  • UrbanSpoon - UrbanSpoon is a great resource for finding a new place to eat when you have no idea what you're in the mood for...just use the shake feature. The shake feature in the UrbanSpoon app allows you to shake your mobile device and it will automatically randomize the location, cuisine, and price range and give you a restaurant to try{or you can lock one or more of these options if you have something specific in mind}. Find restaurants read reviews and view pictures diners have taken of the featured eats.
  • Yelp - I absolutely love Yelp! It's the best app for finding local restaurants. You can get all kinds of info on a place and read reviews. Yelp doesn't just list restaurants though, they also do gas stations, attractions, shopping, etc. 
Disclosure: I am a part of the Verizon Wireless #VZWBuzz Influencer Team. I received a cell phone and may receive other equipment from Verizon to assist me in evaluating Verizon products and services for my blogging activity. All opinions are my own. 


Bing in the Classroom & Microsoft Educator Network #WindowsChampions

While in Seattle for the Champions Summit in April I was introduced to Bing the the Classroom. I was quick to let the other teachers at my school know about this awesome resource!

Here are some facts on what Bing in the Classroom is all about...

Part of Microsoft’s continued focus on promoting digital literacy in education, Bing in the Classroom is an ongoing program focused on helping kids use technology to inspire and satisfy their curiosity. It provides ad-free, safer, more private search in schools, daily lesson plans that inspire critical thinking, and a rewards program that community members can use to earn tablets for their schools. More information can be found at http://www.bing.com/classroom, and you can track the progress of specific schools at http://www.bing.com/findyourschool.
  • Ad-free, safer, more private search. Bing in the Classroom removes all advertisements from Bing search results, filters adult content, disables the use of searches to send personalized ads, and adds specialized learning features to enhance digital literacy. {Program excludes Bing apps.} Over 4.5 million students in more than 5,000 schools are covered by our enhanced search, with over 35 million ad-free queries served to date.
  • Daily lesson plans. Bing is well known for having a big, beautiful homepage image that changes daily and inspires visitors to explore their world. With Bing in the Classroom, we’ve used that homepage inspiration to create free daily lesson plans that help students learn how to search the Web effectively while inspiring their curiosity.
  • Earn Surfaces with Bing Rewards. The Bing in the Classroom tablet program is an extension of an existing Bing program, Bing Rewards. With Bing Rewards, you can earn credits just by searching the Web on Bing from your browser or phone and for trying out new Bing features. And now, with Bing in the Classroom, you can donate those credits to the school of your choice; Microsoft will pool them with other supporters of that school and, as soon as your school meets the credit minimum, send it a Microsoft Surface tablet with Type Cover. About 60 people using Bing Rewards can earn a tablet for a school in a month.
  • Keep track of your school. Bing in the Classroom offers a page for every school in the U.S. that tells you not only if it is receiving ad-free, safer search but also how many Rewards credits have been donated, by how many people, and how many Surface tablets schools have earned.

I used some of the daily lesson plans with my students last year and they really enjoyed the activities. I love that the lessons require students to use critical thinking to search for their answers.

The Microsoft Educator Network is another resource that I love as a teacher. All of the tools listed on this website are free for teachers to use. Resources include apps, tutorials & guides, Office plug-ins, and more. My favorite guide is OneNote Toolkit for Teachers. OneNote is now free on all devices and can be synced across your devices when you sign in with your Microsoft account. I use OneNote for planning - both at home and at school. I plan out meals/recipes, vacations, to-do lists, etc. at home and plan lessons, projects, collaborate with other teachers, etc. at school. I absolutely love it.

Disclosure: I am a Windows Champions blogger and I received loan of a laptop and tablet, and may receive other equipment from Microsoft to assist me in evaluating Microsoft products and services for my blogging activity.    


Technology in Education with Microsoft & Parade Magazine #WindowsChampions

Last Tuesday I had the amazing opportunity to sit on a panel at a local Microsoft event with Parade Magazine to chat about technology in education. I absolutely love my career and couldn't imagine doing anything else - blogging and running my small businesses are added perks in my life. Ever since my dad bought our first family PC in 1997, I've been fascinated with technology. It amazes me to see the huge changes that have come in tech just in my lifetime thus far. From overhead projectors to SmartBoards to tablets and TVs - technology has made teaching even better.

But with all of these rapid changes in technology, is tech in education a good thing or a burden? This was the biggest question we faced during our event in Salt Lake City last week. Maggie Murphy, editor-in-chief of Parade Magazine, was the facilitator of our panel conversation. In our hour together, a lot was discussed, pondered, and learned.

One of the biggest issues being faced in education - as determined through our conversation, through my communication with other teachers, and seen in schools by tech specialists - is not knowing what to do with the devices schools buy for classroom use. As technology advances, schools are upgrading and just handing over the new devices to teachers and telling them to figure it out. Realistically, the issue here is that the devices that we're provided with are school owned. Therefore they can only be used for educational purposes, which is great, but without direction on how to use these devices, teachers don't know what to do with them. Microsoft Stores have tech teachers that will visit schools and teach teachers how to use the devices their school is using.

Another issue being faced by teachers is obtaining the technology they need in their classroom. Sure, schools are beginning to provide more and more tech like laptops and tablets in classrooms, but some teachers need listening centers {which can be created from an old smartphone or MP3 player} or eReaders for literacy centers. {These things can be donated to classrooms as a tax write-off.} Microsoft has a free way to earn Surface tablets for your school by using Bing search rewards. Every 500 points you earn can be donated to the school of your choice to earn them a Surface.

Overall, we can all agree that technology in education - both at school and at home - is something that can be a great resource, if we know how to utilize it to it's full potential. Tomorrow I'll be back with another post on Bing in the Classroom and Office - with tips on how to use these amazing resources!

Disclosure: I am a Windows Champions blogger and I received loan of a laptop and tablet, and may receive other equipment from Microsoft to assist me in evaluating Microsoft products and services for my blogging activity.    

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