10 Tips for Using Images in Class

09 Oct

casey3Here are ten of the most-visited image-editing tips from the last few months:

  1. 10 Tips About Using Images in the Classroom You Don’t Want to Miss
  2. Image Copyright Do’s and Don’ts
  3. Photos For Class–Robust, Student-safe with built in citations
  4. Quick Search for Plagiarized Images
  5. 5 Image Apps for your Classroom
  6. My Picture’s a TIFF and the Program Needs a JPG
  7. What Online Images are Free?
  8. Where Can I Find Kid-safe Images?
  9. Drawing in Photoshop
  10. Easy Photo Editing in MS Word

More on image editing:

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8 Websites that Explain Elections

08 Oct

Yellow sign with VOTE HERE is standing by a line of people wating to get to the polls in Arizona

In about half the world’s nations–such as those ruled by socialism, communism, dictators, and autocracies–law and order are decided by government agencies, often people placed in power by those already in power. When America wrote its Democracy-based Constitution and Bill of Rights in the late 1700’s, we chose a different route. Called ‘the Grand Experiment’, the founders empowered ordinary citizens–farmers, shopkeepers, laborers, and seamstresses–to elect the individuals who would protect America’s shores, our freedoms, and our way of life. Fifty years after our inception, it was still unclear whether it would work. In fact, Abraham Lincoln warned:

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

A hundred years later, Gore Vidal bemoaned:

“Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.”

Still, every four years, Americans make a critical choice that will shape our nation’s path. Because decisions are made by the people rather than government agencies, citizens are expected to research their options and then vote for the Presidential candidate most qualified to fulfill the country’s goals.

With this most influential position up for grabs in just a few months, I’ve curated a list of eight websites to share with students as they prepare for the day they’ll be asked to cast their vote and decide the future. The first five explain elections in general and the next three teach the process through gamification.

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169 Tips That Easily and Quickly Integrate Tech into Your Class

30 Sep

tech tipsA decade ago, in an effort to buttress technology prowess in my classes and with colleagues, I started tracking how often I got the same tech questions from students, teachers, and even parents. Turns out, 70% of the time, it was the same finite group of problems.

That was a relief because—as you probably know–using technology in the classroom can be frightening, whether you’re a grade-level teacher or in charge of the lab. What if there’s a problem you don’t know how to solve, or a question you can’t answer? What if the computers break? What if they all break at once?  The truth that all of us who use tech in class know is: You only have to know the big stuff. The rest you can learn with students.

The result was my popular 98 Tech Tips and my weekly tech tip column from that book. I won’t share the link because I’ve retired that book.

Why? Here’s what’s happened to technology in education in the past decade. It’s no longer enough for teachers to know how to keep the hardware working. Now, they need to understand using tech as a tool, where and how to integrate it. Tech-in-ed has grown from a tool that substitutes technology for paper and pencil. Now, it’s about using tech to redesign and modify tasks (see my articles on the SAMR model here and here).  It has as much to do with the underlying pedagogy as the overarching skills.

Turns out–while that sounds complicated, it’s not. That’s what’s in 169 Tech TipsIn these tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to so many daily tech-infused education. For example: Often, the solution to a problem is either

reboot, restart …

… close-reopen …


Google it!

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17 Ways to Describe Work Spaces

28 Sep

For the next few months, weekly writing tips will include word choice suggestions. 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 work buildings.

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).


office descriptionsOffice

  • My office looks like IKEA threw up in it . . . except for my black Kathy Ireland computer armoire which houses stacks of paper and office supplies and a bunch of real estate contracts I haven’t filed yet. I have a brown-black IKEA corner desk with metal legs, a high-back leather chair, and a laser and ink jet printer on IKEA tables on the opposite wall. I have brown-black IKEA corner book shelves – one shelf has literature and the other side has textbooks from grad school and my degrees which are collecting lots of dust. I have a view of my deck and the woods in my back yard where deer and rabbits frequently romp. I can also see my crazy neighbor in his thermal underwear while he’s letting the dogs out. It’s not pretty…can’t wait until the leaves come in.
  • When you enter my office there is a dark walnut bookcase lining the entire left-hand wall. There is a leather sofa with a fur rug over the back and an Indian blanket draped over the arm. The far wall has a large fireplace and mantle dominating the center, with bookshelves lining it on either side. On the mantle, I have two antique clocks and a painting of three jazz musicians. There is a television on the shelf to the right, but I only use it for XM radio. In front of that shelf is an upright piano and bench in dark walnut. Hanging on the wall above the piano is an abstract painting of jazz musicians. There is a double door between my desk and the piano which leads out to the patio. The view through the door panes is a southern pine forest. This side of the door is my desk. It is a large walnut piece — rather imposing, with glass over the top. Think early 1900s. My chair is Captain style on wheels with leather seat and back. To the left behind me is another bookshelf atop a matching file cabinet. The ceiling fan keeps the air moving in an otherwise enclosed space.
  • If you leaned way back in the chair and cranked your neck hard over, you could see the sky from my office window, delft-blue and cloudless and so bright it looked solid.
  • Inside, the office was small and cold. Four cubicles shared an empty common area. The carpet was sea green. There was one window, vertical, narrow and fortified with chicken wire.
  • The office was cluttered with the detritus of scholarship. There were books piled everywhere, and manila folders on the top of a long mission oak table under the windows. A Macintosh word processor sat on a corner of her desk, hooked to a laser printer on a small end table beside her.
  • Surveyed the office: big messy desk, file cabinets, an old wooden wardrobe, a poster on one wall, a gruesome photographic blowup of a man’s face beside it.
  • A hive of activity
  • Cracking the door allowed me to squeeze into the room. eight by eight, with a lav half that size; all the charm of an MRI chamber
  • Knew what I would find inside—faded curtains, a limp buffet for breakfast, and a pair of potted palms clinging to life

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Image Copyright Do’s and Don’ts That Work

20 Sep

image copyrightsWhen I teach professional development classes, by far the topic that surprises teachers the most is the legal use of online images. And they’re not alone. On my blog, in educator forums, and in the virtual meetings I moderate, there’s lots of confusion about what can be grabbed for free from online sites and what must be cited with a linkback, credit, author’s name, public domain reference, or even as little as an email from the creator giving you permission. When I receive guest posts that include pictures, many contributors tell me the photo can be used because they include the linkback.

Not always true. In fact, the answer to the question…

“What online images can I use?”

typically starts with…

It depends…

Luckily, teaching it to K-8 students is simpler because most of them haven’t yet established the bad habits or misinformation we as adults operate under. But, to try to teach this topic in a thirty-minute set-aside dug out of the daily class inquiry is a prescription for failure. The only way to communicate the proper use of online images is exactly the way you teach kids not to take items from a store shelves just because they think they can get away with it: Say it often, in different ways, with the buy-in of stakeholders, and with logical consequence. Discuss online images with students every time it comes up in their online activities.

There are five topics to be reviewed when exploring the use of online images:

  • digital privacy
  • copyrights
  • digital law and plagiarism
  • hoaxes
  • writing with graphics

Here are suggestions on how to teach these to your students.

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How to Blend Depth of Knowledge into Lesson Plans without a Comprehensive Rewrite

14 Sep

depth of knowledgeI recently got a question from a reader asking how the lessons in my K-8 curriculum supported Dr. Norman Webb’s Depth of Knowledge philosophy — an integral concept to her school’s mission. It got me thinking about lesson plans in general — how far we’ve come from lecture-test-move on. Now, exemplary teachers focus on blending learning into the student’s life knowledge base with the goal of building happy, productive adults. There are several concepts that address this reform in teaching (such as Art Costa’s Habits of Mind, Bloom’s Taxonomy, the Hess Cognitive Rigor Matrix, or the tech-oriented SAMR Model). Depth of Knowledge (DoK) is arguably the most thorough with its four concise levels, each supported by a collection of words that contribute to delivering content at that level. Like the SAMR Model, involvement grows with each level from a basic recall of knowledge to the ability to use that information in new circumstances.

Here are general details about Webb’s DoK:

  • With Webb’s DoK chart, not only can you figure out how to teach a subject more deeply and expect students to demonstrate complex understanding, but teachers can evaluate where students are in the four-step process starting at the rote application of knowledge to its synthesization from various sources that is then transferred to other uses.
  • Level One: Identify details in the text, specific facts that result in a ‘right’ answer. Tasks that require Level One thinking include words like memorize, state, and recognize.
  • Level Two: Show a relationship between an idea in the text and other events. ‘How’ and ‘why’ are good questions to bump an activity into Level Two. Tasks that require Level Two thinking include words like compare, infer, and interpret.
  • Level Three: Analyze and draw conclusions about the text. Support conclusions with details. Use a voice that is appropriate to the purpose, task, and audience. Tasks that require Level Three thinking include words like hypothesize, differentiate, and investigate.
  • Level Four: Extend conclusions and analysis (which might be the result of Level three) to new situations. Use other sources to analyze and draw conclusions. Tasks that require Level Four thinking include words like connect, analyze, and prove.
  • As Dr. Karin Hess says, DoK is not about difficulty, it’s about complexity. Level  One may be difficult for some students, but it isn’t complex. They may memorize a calculus formula (which I’ll stipulate is beyond difficult), but it doesn’t represent rigorous thinking. That happens in Level Four’s application to the real world.
  • For DoK’s Level One and Two, there are usually right answers. That’s not true in Levels Three and Four.There, it’s about higher-order thinking.
  • DoK is not a taxonomy (like Bloom’s). Rather, it itemizes ways students interact with knowledge.
  • To work at a Level Three or Four requires foundation. Show students how to accomplish Level One and Two goals first.

With that in mind, here are seven steps to transform your current lesson plan into one aligned with DoK guidelines:

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We Remember

11 Sep

America, we love you.

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, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.


15 Back-to-School Posts

04 Sep

26551959 Couple Of Students With Laptop In Library

I read recently that 70% of millennials get their news from Facebook. Really? Isn’t Facebook a place to share personal information, stay in touch with friends and families, post pictures of weddings and birthdays? So why do students turn to it for news? And then, not two days later, I heard Twitter has reclassified their app as a news  purveyor rather than a social media device. Once again: Who gets news from Twitter? Apparently a lot of adults. No surprise news shows are littered with references to listener’s tweets and presidential candidates break stories via their Twitter stream.

One more stat — which may explain the whole social-media-as-news-trend — and then I’ll connect these dots: 60% of people don’t trust traditional news sources. That’s newspapers, evening news, and anything considered ‘mainstream media’. They prefer blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.

So when it comes to research, are you still directing kids toward your grandmother’s resources — encyclopedias, reference books, and museums? No doubt, these are excellent sources, but if students aren’t motivated by them, they won’t get a lot out of them. I have a list of eight research sites that walk the line between stodgy (textbooks) and out-there (Twitter and Facebook), designed by their developers with an eye toward enticing students in and then keeping their interest. It’s notable that most are free, but include advertising. The exception is BrainPOP — there are no ads, but it requires a hefty annual fee:

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Subscriber Special: September

01 Sep

Every month, subscribers get a free/discounted resource to help their tech teaching.

September 1st-30th:

K-8 Technology Curriculum Student Workbooks

We’ll credit your K-8 teacher manual purchase against the student workbook price–if it’s the 6th edition

That’s up to 25% off the Room License (1:1 school: Here’s info for the School License) Read the rest of this entry »


Book Reviews from New Indie Authors

31 Aug

This week, I have three Indie books (in Carrie Rubin’s case, she has a micro-publisher) that stand out in that crowded field:

  • Conflicted Hearts is the story of a damaged child who struggles as an adult to make sense of a childhood where she always seemed to be the problem
  • Brothers in Arms is a futuristic science fiction story about a world where men and women are brothers in arms, both struggling for the same goals, be it personal or national.
  • Eating Bull is a medical thriller about one obese teen’s struggle to fight the food industry, even when he becomes the target of a madman

Conflicted Hearts: A Daughter's Quest for Solace from Emotional GuiltConflicted Hearts: A Daughter’s Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt

by D.G. Kaye

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The preview for the book reads: A lifetime of guilt — What does it take to finally break free? And that’s exactly what this story is. A young woman’s guilt over parents who couldn’t love her, a childhood that included none of the nurturing events so critical to children, and mistakes made by the child–because she was a child–which she believed caused her parents to be distant and uncaring. Add to this horrible mix heartbreak, abuse, an incurable immune-deficiency disease, and almost losing the love of her life.– thank God children are resilient. You will want to hug this child and tell her it’s just not her fault.

Told with DG Kaye’s typical honesty and openness, and a writing style that draws readers right into the emotion. Plan to give this book to anyone suffering from childhood issues that simply aren’t their fault and they can’t fix.

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