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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.

Pros

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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Create a Tech-based Curriculum With the SAMR Model

12 May

tech in edThis is a question I get often from teachers: How do I teach my state/national/international curriculum using technology? When I first addressed this issue about fifteen years ago, there weren’t any tools to make this happen. In fact, I ended up writing my own project-based technology curriculum (now in its fifth edition). I wanted a curriculum that scaffolded learning year-to-year, blended into the school academic program, could be re-formed to apply to any academic topic, differentiated for varied student learning style, and was age-appropriate for the needs of the digital natives populating my classroom. Everything I found through traditional sources was skills-based, undifferentiated, and relied on programs that have always been around rather than the ones that incited student passion.

The most difficult part was convincing colleagues that 2nd graders couldn’t write a book report in MS Word until they understood toolbars, keyboarding basics, enough digital citizenship to research effectively online, and how to solve the never-ending-but-repetitive tech problems they surely would face during their work.

Overall, it took a year to curate teacher needs, evaluate what skills were required to accomplish them, and then blend them into a tech program that optimized learning for the particular age group.

Before I disclose my secret formula, let’s assess where you are–right now–in your technology integration efforts. Dr. Ruben Puentedura developed the popular SAMR model as a way for teachers to evaluate how they are incorporating technology into their instructional practice. Here’s how it works:

Substitution

Tech acts as a direct tool substitute with no functional change.

This is a great starting point. Look at what you’re doing in your lesson plans and consider what tech tools could replace what you currently use. For example, if you make posters to discuss great inventors, could you use an online tech tool like Glogster or Canva?

Augmentation

Tech acts as a direct tool substitute with functional improvement.

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Great Series: Berger and Mitrie

11 May

berger and mitryMy latest addictive pleasure is the Berger and Mitry series (big thank you to Pat Garcia for the recommendation). It is eleven books and growing, detailing the love story between Des Mitrie, a Connecticut trooper in small-town Dorset, and Mitch Berger, a famous movie reviewer who ended up living in that tiny seaside community for reasons you’ll have to find out for yourself. These two meet during a murder, fall in love, and go through all the stuff newly-minted couples experience while solving local crimes with creative thinking, original ideas and a large scoop of teamwork. Just enough death to be considered murder-mystery, but not so much it ever feels gratuitous.

I’d call this a cozy mystery series , but I like Mitch’s description better–:

“Our own private version of a Normal Rockwell painting.”

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May is Military Appreciation Week

09 May

God bless my Navy daughter and my Army son. God bless all of our warriors.

Here’s a playlist of all the great songs saying thank you to our soldiers:


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 over one hundred resources on integrating tech into education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, adjunct professor in technology-in-education, a columnist for 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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6 Tips for Paranormal Writers

04 May

paranormal fictionOne of my writing gigs is as an Amazon Vine Voice. They send me free books (and other products) and I share my honest opinion. If you go to Amazon, you’ll find a label (Vine Voice) by my name, as you will with all of the other Vine reviewers. It just means we accept the responsibility to share our thoughts as objectively as possible.

When I log into my Vine account, I find a list of a couple hundred books to choose from. I can pick the genre so I don’t end up reading a travel book when I’d prefer a thriller, but, it’s not an exact science. More often than expected, I’ve been surprised. For example, Richard Bausch‘s fantastic new book that I’d consider more brainwork than I normally subscribe to is included under thrillers–which is usually reserved for plot-driven, non-stop action stories. This is my long way of explaining how I’ve stumbled on and enjoyed several paranormal novels which normally I would have skipped such as Heather Graham’s Krewe of Hunters series and Carsten Stroud’s Niceville trilogy.

WiseGeek defines paranormal this way:

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What You Might Have Missed in April on Ask a Tech Teacher

02 May

top monthly postsHere are the most-read posts for the month of April:

  1. 31Websites for Poetry Month
  2. 67 K-8 Hour of Code Suggestions–by Grade Level
  3. 23 Great Websites and Apps for Earth Day
  4. Do You Miss Kerpoof? Try These 31 Alternatives
  5. 16 Great Research Websites for Kids
  6. 17 Ways to Add Tech to your Lessons Without Adding Time to Your Day
  7. 7 Authentic Assessment Tools
  8. Chromebooks in the Classrooms–Friend or Foe?
  9. 13 Reasons For and 3 Against Technology in the Classroom
  10. 3 Comic Creators That Will Wow Your Students

..

And, just in time for summer, here are a few new technology-in-education products you may be interested in:

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What You Might Have Missed in April

01 May

top monthly postsHere are the most-read posts for the month of April:

  1. 31Websites for Poetry Month
  2. 67 K-8 Hour of Code Suggestions–by Grade Level
  3. 23 Great Websites and Apps for Earth Day
  4. Do You Miss Kerpoof? Try These 31 Alternatives
  5. 16 Great Research Websites for Kids
  6. 17 Ways to Add Tech to your Lessons Without Adding Time to Your Day
  7. 7 Authentic Assessment Tools
  8. Chromebooks in the Classrooms–Friend or Foe?
  9. 13 Reasons For and 3 Against Technology in the Classroom
  10. 3 Comic Creators That Will Wow Your Students

And, just in time for summer, here are a few new technology-in-education products you may be interested in:

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21 Ways to Describe Detectives

29 Apr

mysteryFor the next few months, I’m sharing word choice suggestions for categories of ideas. That includes:

  • colorful and original descriptions
  • pithy words and phrases
  • picture nouns and action verbs
  • writing that draws a reader in and addicts them to your voice

I keep a  collection of descriptions that have pulled me into the books. I’m fascinated how authors can–in just a few words–put me in the middle of their story and make me want to stay there. This one’s on how to describe detectives.

A note: These are for inspiration only. They can’t be copied because they’ve been pulled directly from an author’s copyrighted manuscript (intellectual property is immediately copyrighted when published).

General

  • No one drinks squad room coffee. You pour the stuff, let it sit and then dump it out and start over.
  • Run a trace on phones, credit cards
  • I don’t think, just follow the information. First thing we learn in PI school
  • Send picture of suspect to train depots, airports, toll plazas,  bus stations, police stations
  • Time would slow down for him now, so he arranged things in his shady nook to get some rest. Real sleep was not an option, not alone in hostile territory, but he could allow himself a light doze, just under the edge of total awareness, with his hand always on a weapon.
  • Buchanan’s security net had tracked Colonel Sims to Elmendorf
  • Watching where their arms were in relation to their bodies, watching for certain types of backpacks, watching for a gait that might reveal if they were carrying a weapon or an IED. Watching for pale jaws that suggested a newly shaved beard or a woman’s absent touch to her hair, possibly indicating her ill ease at being in public without a hijab for the first time

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