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Archive for the ‘Ask a Tech Teacher’ Category

Differentiate with Tech–Starts July 18th!

17 Jul

How to Make Differentiation Fast and Easy with Tech

Starts Monday! Last chance to sign up. This Ask a Tech Teacher online class is only offered for college credit.

 

Why is the Supreme Court So Important — and How to Explain That

11 Jul

supreme court simulationWhen you think of the Supreme Court, you think of old people in black robes that dispassionately determine the fate of the country’s laws. That’s all true, but there’s more to maintaining law and order than a podium and a gavel. The Supreme Court is the apex of one of three branches in the American government:

  • The Legislative (the House and the Senate) passes laws
  • The Executive (the President) executes the laws
  • The Judicial (all the courts in the United States from the local courts to the Supreme Court) judges whether the laws and their execution abide by the nation’s Constitution

The Supreme Court consists of nine individuals who are nominated by the President and voted in by the Senate. Once approved, they serve for life, the hope being that this allows them to judge apolitically, based on the merits of the case rather than political leaning. These guidelines are not without controversy but are critical to a healthy, democratic environment.

But this year, an election year, is different. The death of Antonin Scalia leaves the court split evenly between those who lean Democrat and those who lean Republican. Rarely in our history has an outgoing president — in his last year — been tasked with selecting such a critical Supreme Court justice.

Really, it’s much more complicated than what I’ve described, but this isn’t the place to unravel what could become a Gordian knot of intrigue over the next few months. Suffice to say, this process will overwhelm the media and your students will want to know more about what is normally a dull and boring process and why it has become foundational to our future. This provides a rare opportunity to educate them on the court system in America.

Here’s a list of six websites to teach students about the Supreme Court. The first four provide an overview and the last two gamify the concepts.

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08 Jul

tech-infused classroom

Last chance–class starts Monday, July 11th!

Click to join

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10 Common Core Tips You Shouldn’t Miss

01 Jul

common core resourcesHere are ten of the top Common Core tips according to Ask a Tech Teacher readers:

  1. 13 Ways Blogs Teach Common Core
  2. Common Core Breathes Life into Keyboarding
  3. Common Core requires publishing. Technology makes that happen
  4. Dear Otto: What are Common Core keyboarding standards?
  5. 7 Ways Common Core Will Change Your Classroom
  6. 7 Common Core Ways to Assess Knowledge
  7. How to Align Technology with Common Core State Standards
  8. 11 Things I Love About Common Core
  9. Common Core Reading–What if Students Don’t Like Reading
  10. Common Core: A Lesson Plan for STEM (on Bridges)

More Common Core resources

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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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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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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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Summer Online Learning Questions We’ve Been Asked

22 Apr

In response to extensive interest from readers, Ask a Tech Teacher will be offering four Summer Learning classes:

1 of 4 Certificate classes

1 of 4 Certificate classes

summer online classes

1 of 4 Certificate classes

summer online classes

1 of 4 Certificate classes

summer classes

1 of 4 Certificate classes

June 20th through August 7th

3-4 weeks, lots of resources and hands-on help

You can find out more by clicking on the image. What I want to do today is go over the most common questions I’ve gotten regarding sign ups:

Q: What is the cost to register?

The full program is $249-$259.00. 20 Webtools in 20 Days is 4 weeks long so the price is a bit higher. You can enroll through the PayPal button on the website or with a school PO. If you attended before, or sign up really fast, you get a 10% discount. Use coupon code:

SUMMERPD

…when you check out.

If you have a group of five or more attending from your school, you qualify for a 20% discount. Email us for more information (askatechteacher at gmail dot com)

Q: I don’t know which class to take.

Here’s a quick checklist:

  • If you want a broad overview of integrating technology into your classroom, start with The Tech-infused Teacher. Follow that with the sequel, The Tech-infused Classroom (offered sequentially) if you have time.
  • If you took The Tech-infused Teacher last year and loved it, take The Tech-infused Classroom. It’s the sequel and lets you dig deeper into what you learned last year.
  • If you’re looking for specific help on tech tools, take 20 Webtools in 20 Days. This covers webtools teachers use most often in their classes, or want to use.
  • If you’re looking for help specifically with using technology to add creativity and zing to your writing lessons, take Teach Writing with Tech.

Q: What if I can’t figure out how to use some of the tools during the classes? I’m not very techie.

Email the instructor at askatechteacher at gmail dot com throughout the week and/or bring up your question at the weekend Google Hangout or TweetUp.  That’s what this class is for–to get you comfortable with tech tools you want to use in your class. We’ll even set up a separate GHO with you to walk you through it. Plus, you can chat with classmates through the Discussion Forum. They’ll be able to share personal experiences they’ve had with the tools.

Q: Who are the teachers for this PD? And what are their qualifications?

The Master Teacher is Jacqui Murray. She’s been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years and K-16 for 35 years. She’s an adjunct professor as well as a Master Teacher. She’s the author/editor of over a hundred tech-in-ed resources including a K-8 tech curriculum that’s used throughout the world. She will be joined as needed by other teachers from the Ask a Tech Teacher crew.

Q: I want to sign up with several other teachers from my school. Is there a group discount available?

Absolutely! Just email us with your group members at askatechteacher@gmail.com so we set your membership up correctly.

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10 Ways to Wrap Up the School Year

08 Apr

end of school yearIt’s the end of school. Everyone’s tired, including you. What you want for these last few weeks are activities that keep the learning going, but in a different way. You want to shake things up so students are excited and motivated and feel interested again.

Change your approach to teaching. Provide some games, simulations, student presentations–whatever you don’t normally do in your classroom. If you’re doing PowerPoints, use the last few weeks for presentations.  Make them special–invite teachers. Invite parents. If you never serve food in your lab, do it for these presentations.

Here are my favorite year-end Change-up activities:

6 Webtools in 6 Weeks

Give students a list of 10-15 webtools that are age-appropriate. I include Prezi, Google MapMaker, Scratch, Voice Thread, Glogster, ScribbleMap, and Tagxedo, These will be tools they don’t know how to use (and maybe you don’t either). They work in groups to learn the tool (using help files, how-to videos, and resources on the site), create a project using the tool (one that ties into something being discussed in class), and then teach classmates. Challenge students to notice similarities between their chosen tools and others that they know how to use. This takes about three weeks to prepare and another three weeks to present (each presentation takes 20ish minutes). Students will be buzzing with all the new material and eager to use it for summer school or the next year.

Instead of webtools, you may choose to have students play educational games and simulations online and teach them to classmates.

Designed for grades 3-12. Here’s a thorough lesson plan.

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