Online Holiday Shopping Tips and Tricks

Happy Holidays! Every year I share a revised guide to shopping online during the holiday season. It is a busy time of year and my wife and I find that doing the majority of our shopping online helps us both reduce our stress level and save a little bit of money. This guide is built for educators, but just about anyone can find some resources to save some money online. Please let us know in the comments below if you have any additional suggestions or resources we can add to this guide!
Here are some tips to help teachers, their families, and just about anyone to save a little green this holiday season.

1. Online Cashback
There are many sites that take advantage of online advertising to provide the consumer with coupons and cash back for major retailers. They also provide links to some great online coupons from most retailers. They are free and easy to use. Combine this with rewards on a credit card and it can really start to add up.
  • Mr. Rebates - Cash Back rebates of up to 30% on all of your online shopping plus get free money-saving coupons at over 2000 online stores. 
  • Ebates - Find coupons and earn cash back at over 1800 stores when you shop at Ebates! Save with online rebates, deals, promo codes and discounts. 
  • Mainstreet Shares - MainStreetSHARES gives you more than just cash back when you shop. We help you turn your shopping into an investment in you! 
  • Fat Wallet - Find coupons, cash back, hottest deals from hundreds of top retailers. Get deals shared by our huge community of frugal shoppers. 
2. Apple / Google / Amazon
What Tech are you looking for this year? Smartphone, iPad, iPod, Tablet, Kindle, Wearables, Chromebooks or Macbook? Most major tech retailers will have online and in-store sales.
3. Educator Union Membership Card
Did you know that the IEA / NEA / AFT posts some excellent deals for teachers? These deals include merchandise, restaurants, and travel.
4. Shopping and Coupon Websites
Many websites that compile information about sales, coupons, and deals year round.
5. Protecting Your Credit Card Online
Most online stores / credit card companies do a great job taking care of credit card purchases, but a great way to pay for many online purchases is to use PayPal. It’s free and provides an extra layer of security between your credit card and online shopping.
6. Amazon, half.com, and eBay
Great places to shop for just about everything new and used. All three sites have great customer support.
7. Electronic Reviews and Retailers
I know many of you are searching the best gifts for your favorite educators. Here are some great places to research and by electronics for teachers.
Get the Reviews – What’s good or not so good? A couple of sites that I use to decide what I want.
  • c|net (Great Reviews of Just About Everything Electronic)
  • Consumer Reports (Great Reviews and Guides to Lot’s of Stuff)
  • PCMag (Main Focus is on Computer Tech)
Online Electronic Retailers – Good prices and excellent service.
  • newegg (New and Refurbished Electronics – Just about everything)
  • TigerDirect (Tiger Direct and CompUSA all in one – They even have a warehouse on 59 near the mall if you want to save on shipping. 
  • geeks.com (Great deals on new and refurbished electronics)
Fun Stuff for the Geek at Heart


Learning to be an #EdTech Coach


A recent ISTE post in the Ed Tech Coaches Network asked the question: 
"If you were given the chance to develop and Ed Tech coach certificate - what college courses would it need to have?"
My first thought was to avoid focusing on the tools. My Masters in Instructional Technology courses seemed to primarily focus on the tools and less on the pedagogy of good teaching. To add insult to injury, most of these tools no longer exist. (Hyperstacks anyone?) It was not all bad, I did think about instruction as I learned about the tools, but instruction was secondary to learning how to use the tools. Instruction should have been first in everything I was learning! 

My next thoughts were about a few of the resources we've used to plan professional development. We always try to start with the idea that technology can serve to enhance a good lesson. We try to remember that technology alone does not have the power make a bad lesson great. Technology only enhances what is already there. Great teaching must come first or the power of instructional technology is most likely wasted. 

All this being said, here are a few of the resources I shared in my response:


Specifically I would probably focus on these 5 big concepts:

What courses do you think would be essential for an #EdTech Coach? 



The All Powerful and Almost Magical Chrome Browser


The Chrome Browser is a power tool to enhance your learning experience and save you time while online. Understanding how Chrome can help teachers and students be more efficient with their time online is an essential skill. 

Getting Started with Chrome

Open Chrome and make sure you are signed into Chrome on the device you are using. Click here if you need help signing into Chrome. When you sign in to Chrome, you can save and sync things like your history, bookmarks, and passwords, so you can get to them on any device.

Chrome Browser Essentials 

Chrome Learning Activity 1:
 Review the Chrome Essentials Document and learn more about the following aspects of Chrome: 

  • Making Chrome the Default Browser
  • Setting Homepage
  • Setting Startup Pages
  • Incognito Window
  • Bookmarks
  • Omnibox
  • Tabs 
  • Shortcut Keys
Chrome Learning Activity 2: Explore the Chrome Store Web Store and find an Extension or App that could be used to support teaching and learning.

Click here to share an Extension or App.
Click here to view responses.

Learn more about Chrome Browser 



Communication Resources for the Modern Leaner

When I review a new EdTech tool or resource I want to know how it can support and build essentials skills before I think about content. I always start with how a tool can support one or more of the 4Cs of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. 
There are many incredible tools to support communication. ISTE has a set of standards to connected to essential communication skills for students. 
Communication - Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students will:
  • Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
  • Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
  • Develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.
  • Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.



With the help of my incredible PLN, I've compiled a list of tools that can support communication for students and teachers in classrooms. 


What other tools can you recommend to build communication skills with students and staff?

How can we build bridges to better support learning? 

Explore More