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Happy Thanksgiving Week to All!

18 Nov

thanksgivingI’m taking next week off. I’ll be preparing for my daughter’s holiday visit from her home in DC and my son who’s visiting from El Paso TX. I am so excited to see both of them!

I’ll be back November 28th. Any emergencies–drop me a line at askatechteacher@gmail.com.


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

 

12 Surprises and 4 Take-aways I Found Marketing My Debut Novel, To Hunt a Sub

02 Nov

quirksMarketing To Hunt a Sub, my debut novel, is a whole lot different from my non-fiction pieces. In those, I could rely on my background, my expertise in the subject, and my network of professional friends to spread the word and sell my books. Fiction–not so much. For one thing, I don’t have prior fiction novels to buttress my reputation. So I did what I have always done when preparing for the unknown: I researched. I read everything I could find on how to market a novel, collected ideas, made my plan, and jumped in without a backward glance (see two of the books I devoured here).

Well, now that much of the marketing is done, there are a few pieces I wish I’d done differently:

  • I participated in the Kindle Scout to mentally kick-off my campaign. That took longer than I expected which set me back a few weeks.
  • Uploading my manuscript to Kindle was easy, but took more preparation than I’d planned. The preparation was along the line of ‘tedious’, not ‘complicated’. No brainpower required; just time.
  • Many fellow bloggers offered to help with my blog hop, and I wish I’d kept better track of that aspect. I did have a spreadsheet, but I didn’t include enough detail.
  • I wish I’d included interview questions in the blog hop articles. Several bloggers I follow did this, but I skipped it to save time. I wish I hadn’t.
  • I should have used Facebook and Twitter more. Here’s what Stephanie Faris, efriend and published author of the Piper Morgan series, says this about a Facebook account:

Facebook is where you’ll find your friends and relatives. You’ll also find your fourth-grade teacher, your kindergarten best friend, and pretty much everyone who has ever mattered in your life. These are the people who are most likely to buy your book and tell everyone they meet about it. All you have to do is post a picture of your book and your real supporters will ask where they can get a copy.

Stephanie actually suggests the same sort of approach for Twitter. I have a Twitter account, but I forgot to use it enough!

Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

Two Valuable Books on Marketing Your Newly-published Book

28 Oct

I have a plethora of books in my library on writing, but a dearth on marketing what I’ve written. That’s a mistake. Most authors I know end up spending as much time marketing their books as writing them. Why don’t we get professional guidance as often for the latter as the former?

One reason for me: I have trouble finding books that address the types of online marketing that are affordable (or free–that’s nice) and doable for an author who’d rather write than market. Recently, I found two books I think assist with marketing the newly-published book:

Online Marketing for Busy Authors: A Step-By-Step GuideOnline Marketing for Busy Authors: A Step-By-Step Guide

by Fauzia Burke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

I met Fauzia Burke when she was presenting at a San Diego writers conference and came away with no doubt she knew her stuff. I wasn’t surprised she has marketed books for some of my favorite authors (Jeffrey Archer, Dean Koontz, and Daniel Silva to name a few). When her how-to book, Online Marketing for Busy Authors (Berrett-Koehler Publishers 2016) became available on NetGalley, I grabbed it.

Based on what I’d seen at her presentation, I expected expert advice that would kickstart the online marketing campaign for my latest novel  in a down-to-earth voice with suggestions achievable even for the novice marketer. And that’s exactly what I got. It’s important to note: If you’re looking for a palette of marketing options that includes physical events such as book tours and radio interviews, this may not be the book for you. If you’re looking for online events you can participate in that are low-no cost and the payback on time spent is excellent, this is the right book. Fauzia specializes in showing authors how to use readily-available online tools to market their books such as blogs, websites, social media, and more.

She calls this an introductory book but don’t let that confuse you. I consider myself pretty savvy with online marketing–I’ve published dozens of ebooks over a decade–and I found nuggets that I can make use of immediately. Fauzia organizes the book into three parts:

  • Getting organized
  • Turning Your Thinking Into Action
  • Staying the Course

Each has relevant subtopics like personal branding and know your reader, as well as worksheets to help writers organize their efforts around the specific topic. Here are some of my favorite ideas:

  • The best part about online marketing is that it levels the playing field.
  • How do you prevent your brand from getting lost in all the social media noise? The answer: Be uniquely you. Aim for authenticity. 
  • …building an effective brand is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Over the years, authors have told me interesting things when it comes to their audience. Most of the time it’s half the planet. “My audience is women…” [this is part of the chapter on knowing how to narrow your audience].
  • Develop a long-term relationship with your readers…
  • You don’t have to be an early adopter and chase every new social media tool. Use tools that have a track record for success.
  • When you look at all the different elements of online marketing, you may feel overwhelmed. But here’s the thing: You don’t have to do it all. You can start slow and small and grow gradually.
  • Double down on what’s working and ditch what’s not.
  • The bottom line is this: Don’t spam ever, on any network. Always show respect for others and their time.

Overall, this book is highly recommended to all authors who are trying to market their book and just need a few meaty suggestions to make that go well.


Your Book, Your Brand: The Step-By-Step Guide to Launching Your Book and Boosting Your SalesYour Book, Your Brand: The Step-By-Step Guide to Launching Your Book and Boosting Your Sales

by Dana Kaye

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

Dana Kaye’s Your Book, Your Brand: The Step-by-step Guide to Launching Your Book and Boosting Your Sales (Diversion Books 2016) came recommended by several friends when I was whining about the lack of success I was having marketing my latest novel. While Kaye doesn’t have even a decade of experience in publicity, she does have a fresh eye and addictive enthusiasm. Once I got started reading, it was easy to see why her ideas were so valuable to writers.

Rather than the linear approach to marketing in Fauzia Burke’s book above, Kaye writes about typical problems writers might have with marketing and how to fix them using both online and physical solutions. She includes topics such as branding, online media, pitching, social media, in-person branding, and promotions, often with worksheets so readers can determine how to fit the topics into their world. A nice inclusion is a sample campaign and a suggested timeline for events.

Here are some of my favorite suggestions:

  • Book promotion is more of an art than a science. What works for one author may not work for another…
  • The first step is to always write a good book.
  • All authors, regardless of audience, will need an author website. This serves as your online business card,
  • All websites should include the following: [and then Kaye tells you what the critical pieces are].
  • …always pay for your images through stock photo companies; never pull images from the web.
  • To stay focused, answer the following questions: Does your audience prefer print or e-books? Where do they get their information (TV, radio, websites)? What else do they read (newspapers, magazines, blogs)? Where do they buy their books (online, grocery stores, chain bookstores)? What social media platforms do they utilize (Facebook, Twitter…).
  • There are many companies that will charge you thousands of dollars to boost your SEO, not telling you about the many easy ways you can do it for yourself. One of those ways is securing online media coverage.
  • A press kit is like a highlight reel, an expansion on the one-sheet that encapsulates all aspects of you as an author. It should feature all your books, showcasing the most important titles, as well as a longer bio and more in-depth talking points. It can also include any or all of the following: [and then Kaye lists those for readers].”
  • …Google+ is less about social networking and more about search engine marketing.

Overall, this could be an important part of the professional library for authors who are new to marketing.

–I received free copies of both of these books from NetGalley in return for my honest reviews.

More books on the business end of writing:

29+ Ways to Market Your Book

4 Reasons You Want a PLN and 13 Ways to Build One

Top Ten Marketing Tips for Your Ebook


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.

 

10 Digital Citizenship Articles You Don’t Want to Miss

27 Oct

digital citizenshipHere are ten of the top digital citizenship resources according to Ask a Tech Teacher readers:

  1. 19 Topics to Teach in Digital Citizenship–and How
  2. Teach Digital Citizenship with … Minecraft
  3. How to Teach 3rd Graders About Digital Citizenship
  4. How the Internet Neighborhood is Like Any Other Community
  5. Image Copyright Do’s and Don’ts
  6. What a Teacher Can Do About Cyberbullying
  7. 120+ Digital Citizenship Links on 22 Topics
  8. Dear Otto: Should I stick with age limits on websites?
  9. How to Thrive as a Digital Citizen
  10. Book Review: Savvy Cyberkids at Home

Click for a K-8 digital citizenship curriculum

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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:

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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 …

or

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).

General

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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