Help Me Launch To Hunt a Sub?

29 Jun

submarine 4I’m finally ready to put my thriller, To Hunt a Sub, out there into the marketplace. I have a cover, a good Kirkus review, a blurb, and a modest amount of courage, but I need your help. As a self-pub Indie author, ‘how we roll’ is by spreading the news via word of mouth. Here’s what I’m looking for:

Cover Reveal

Help me show off my shiny new cover (thanks to Paper and Sage) as a prequel to the book launch. I am looking for people to host my cover reveal the first few weeks of July–which I hope will be a few weeks prior to the book launch.

Release Date Blog Post

Post a short note on To Hunt a Sub’s release date, letting your readers know that it is now available at *** (TBA). Feel free to wish me luck! I will return the favor by linking to your blog from mine (or, if you prefer, somewhere else).

Blog Hop

Feature To Hunt a Sub on your blog! This can be posting my blurb, interviewing me, or ??? (your creative approach to helping me launch my book). This should be scheduled for the last few weeks of July, but I’ll let you know as we get closer.

Whichever fits your blog, I am most appreciative of your assistance.  I will return the favor by linking to your blog from mine (or, if you prefer, hosting one of your book launch activities).

If you’re willing to help me launch my first fiction book (unlike the dozens of non-fiction I’ve published–good grief, this is so different!) by telling your community about it, please complete the form below, telling me what part you’d like to participate in:

If you don’t like forms, just send me an email at And thank you for your help!

More on To Hunt a Sub’s progress:

How I’m Doing on ‘To Hunt a Sub’

How I’m Doing on ‘To Hunt a Sub’

How I’m Doing on ‘To Hunt a Sub’

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of dozens of books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. 

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How do I create a classroom library checkout system?

28 Jun

tech questions

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please contact me at askatechteacher at gmail dot com and I’ll answer it here. 

I got this question from a colleague:

I am looking for an app that classroom teachers can use to scan a classroom library and allow teachers to check books out with students.  Any suggestions on one or your colleagues may have liked?  Thanks for your help!

I chatted with colleagues and got a few common answers:
  • Classroom Organizer–a free app that works with a desktop application; lets you scan in books, manage them, and check them out (through the app)
  • Classroom Checkout–a fee-based app that catalogues books, manages student checkouts, and keeps track of books.

Another interesting approach that one friend uses is through Google Forms and an add-on called Checkitout: You enter all the books yourself (rather than scan a barcode and have the information populate) into a Google spreadsheet tied to a Google Checkout Form. Students would fill the Google Form out with relevant information and that would automatically populate on the spreadsheet you created. You can sort the spreadsheet by book rather than date to see which books are checked out to whom. Richard Byrne does a nice summary of how it works here.

A final option: QR Codes. I didn’t find anyone in my PLN using this approach, but it sounds pretty good. Here’s an article on it.

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Top 10 Reasons to Sign Up for Summer Learning

16 Jun

T-i T preview 2If you haven’t yet made the decision to join me at Summer PD: Tech-infused Teacher for three-weeks of high-intensity tech integration, here are the Top Ten Reasons for signing up:

10. Tech in ed is a change agent. You like change.

9. You’ll have a bunch of tech ed skills you can now say ‘I know how to do that’. Like TwitterChats. And Google Hangouts. And screencasts.

8. Your school will pay for it of you promise to teach colleagues–or show the videos.

7. It’s fun.

6. You want to meet new people.

5. You’re technophobic, but lately feel like teaching without technology is like looking at a landscape through a straw. You want to change that.

4. Richard Sloma said, “Never try to solve all the problems at once — make them line up for you one-by-one.” You want your tech problems lined up in single file.

3. Technology in education is the greatest show on earth. Well, at least in the classroom. You want to be part of it.

2. Ashton Kutcher told teens, “Opportunity looks a lot like work.” You agree. Learning tech ed this summer is an opportunity you’re ready for.

1. Albert Einstein said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Education’s fix requires technology. You’re ready for a new level of thinking.

For more information, click here.

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9 Must-have Tools for Writers Conferences

06 Jun

summer conferenceIt’s summer, time for writers to recharge our cerebral batteries. That could mean reading, going on field trips, spending time with online PLNs, or taking calls from family members who usually end up at voice mail. For many, it means attending conferences like Writers Digest Conference August 12-14 and the Writers’ Police Academy August 11-14 (this one sounds amazing) to learn how the heck to write for fun and profit.

If you aren’t a veteran conference attendee, you may wonder what — besides toothbrush, change of clothes, and a smile– you should bring. That’s a fair question considering in some of the more-active conferences, you might be asked to scan a QR code, visit a website, access meeting documents online, interact digitally, or use a backchannel device to share your real-time thoughts with the presenter. Last year, I posted five must-have digital tools you should bring. This year, there are nine:

Google Maps or Waze

Some conferences take multiple buildings spread out over several blocks, and depending upon the number of attendees, your hotel may not be around the corner from the Hall. Install Google Maps or Waze (both owned by Google now) on your smartphone or iPad, complete with audio directions. All you do is tell it where you’re going, ask for directions, and Siri (the voice behind the iPhone) will lock into your GPS and hold your hand the entire way. If friends are looking for a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts near the conference, the app will find one. If you want Chinese, use an app like Yelp (although I’m becoming a tad leery about Yelp. Anyone have a good alternative?).

Here’s my review of Waze.

Conference App

Most conferences have one. I find these more useful than the conference website. They are geared for people who are juggling a digital device one-handed, half their attention on the phone and the rest on traffic, meaning: They’re simple and straight-forward. Test drive it so you know where the buttons are, then use it to find meeting rooms, changes in schedules, and updates.

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Ten Tech Problem-Solving Tips You Don’t Want to Miss

03 Jun

problems-solvingHere are the top ten problem-solving tips according to Ask a Tech Teacher readers:

  1. Tech Tip #108: Got a Tech Problem? Google It!
  2. What to do when your Computers Don’t Work
  3. 25 Techie Problems Every Student Can Fix–Update
  4. How to Teach Students to Solve Problems
  5. I Can Solve That Problem…
  6. Let Students Learn From Failure
  7. Let’s Talk About Habits of Mind
  8. Computer Shortkeys That Streamline Your Day
  9. #81: Problem Solving Board
  10. 5 Ways to Cure Technophobia in the Classroom

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#IWSG–Another bad first draft or the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

01 Jun

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out). The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears, or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s insecurity – “Not with a bang but a whimper”.

TS Elliot’s “The Hollowman” was one of my favorite poems growing up, and this line still sticks with me:

Not with a bang but a whimper.

He wrote it to describe the end of the world, that we will not go out in a blaze of glory, but a dribble of meaninglessness. Right now, I’m praying that my imminent book launch is a road to … somewhere… not a dead end,  that it’s the answer to my dreams rather than just another bad first draft, that the ending is meaningful, not just where I ran out of things to say. If self-publishing is “learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss” (I’ve rephrased Douglas Adams), I so hope I miss.

Thoreau made the observation, “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.” I hope To Hunt a Sub is fish free.

Any words of encouragement to get me through this?

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Happy Memorial Day

30 May

I’m taking the day to honor our soldiers. Without their sacrifice, where would we be?

I think I had these same music videos last year–they’re still my favorite.

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How I’m Doing on ‘To Hunt a Sub’–VII

28 May

us submarineI had a few interruptions, but made a lot of progress on my newest thriller, To Hunt a Sub. Here’s the short blurb for this thriller:

…a brilliant PhD candidate, a cynical ex-SEAL, and a quirky experimental bot team up against terrorists intent on stealing America’s most powerful nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine.

Here’s what I did these past few months:

  • I incorporated my editor’s changes–loved most of them–and sent the final draft to several people I hope will write reviews for me. That will take a few months, which gives me time to complete other items.
  • I got my cover, which is waiting for the big Cover Reveal date (I haven’t set that up yet). Paper and Sage did a great job on it (who I found through efriend, Rebecca Bradley).
  • I am consciously ignoring the call of this book’s sequel, Twenty-four Days. I know if I start editing that, I’ll lose energy for the launch of this book.
  • I’m organizing my Blog Hop pieces where I’ll ask your help to promote my newly-published book. Stay tuned!
  • I’m still looking at Kindle Scout as a good option to get started. We’ll see.
  • I still need to get my barcode. I think I have a good place to get that in a day, so I’m procrastinating it.

I hope to move on to marketing in four(ish) weeks. Sigh. <shiver>.

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Thirteen Writing-with-Tech Tips You Don’t Want to Miss

23 May

digital writing helpHere are thirteen of the top writing-with-tech tips according to Ask a Tech Teacher readers:

  1. A Helping Hand: Assistive Technology Tools for Writing
  2. Tech Tip #124: Editing is Easier with Digital Writing
  3. Revision Assistant–the Most Comprehensive Virtual Writing Assistant Available for Students
  4. 4 Ways Students Can Plan Their Writing
  5. 7 Innovative Writing Methods for Students
  6. How to Write a Novel with 140 Characters
  7. Technology Removes Obstructed Writers’ Barriers to Learning
  8. 66 Writing Tools for the 21st Century Classroom
  9. How Minecraft Teaches Reading, Writing and Problem Solving
  10. Common Core Writing–Digital Quick Writes
  11. Will Texting Destroy Writing Skills?
  12. #112: 10 Ways Twitter Makes You a Better Writer
  13. How Blogs Make Kids Better Writers

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10 Things Students Can Do With Buncee

16 May

bunceeBuncee is a web- and iPad-based creation tool for both teachers and students. With it, teachers can prepare engaging lessons, newsletters, and how-tos. Students can write interactive digital stories, easy-to build presentations, and more. The drag-and-drop interface makes it simple to put exactly what you want where it fits.  If you ever struggle with getting PowerPoint to do what you want, you won’t with Buncee. It’s intuitive, aligned with other programs you already know how to use, with virtually no learning curve.

Here’s how it works: You log into your account and set up your class. You can invite up to thirty students (no student email required) and then manage their activities, assignment responses, and classwork from the teacher dashboard. A project is built like a slideshow–add new slides that appear in the sidebar and build them out with a wide variety of searchable multimedia–Buncee artwork, stickers, photos, videos, freehand drawings, audio, text, animations, YouTube videos, and links. You can add images from the web, your computer, or your DropBox account. You can even record your own voice as an overlay (requires premium) for a how-to video or a digital storybook. Completed projects can be saved as jpgs or PDFs, and then shared via email, QR Code, social media, or embedded into blogs and websites.


I love that the site is easy enough for kindergartners, but sophisticated enough for teacher lesson planning. It’s the rare tool that blends simplicity with suave well enough that all stakeholders can feel proud of their work.

The site provides a library of prepared projects that teachers can use on everything from reading to math to science. Slide backgrounds include KWL charts, chalkboards, lined paper, calendars, desktop, outer space, and more. There are also a vast number of YouTube videos showing how to do many of the Buncee features (though most are simple enough, you won’t need the help).

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