Archive for the ‘Ask a Tech Teacher’ Category

We Honor Veterans

11 Nov

In the USA, Veterans Day annually falls on November 11. This day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918. Veterans are thanked for their services to the United States on Veterans Day.


Humor that Inspires–for Teachers! Part V

09 Oct

funny quotesIf you liked the last Humor that Inspires (Part 1, and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4), here are more to kick-start your day:

  1. “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’, the idea must be feasible.”
    – A Yale University management professor in response to student Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
  2. “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”
    – H. M. Warner (1881-1958), founder of Warner Brothers, in 1927
  3. “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
    – Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962
  4. “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
    – Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899
  5. “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”
    – Mark Twain (1835-1910)
  6. “A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood.”
    – General George S. Patton (1885-1945)
  7. “After I’m dead I’d rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one.”
    – Cato the Elder (234-149 BC, AKA Marcus Porcius Cato)
  8. “He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.”
    – Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
  9. “Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.”
    – last words of Pancho Villa (1877-1923)
  10. “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”
    – Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935) Read the rest of this entry »

9/11… We Remember

11 Sep

America, we love you.


5 Top Ways to Integrate Technology into the New School Year

08 Sep

I was reading an article–Five Real Reasons Why Teachers Don’t Use Technology More–from eSchool News listing the reasons why teachers don’t use technology. Included were some that probably resonate with educators at your school–Portrait of Asian secretary sitting at desk

  • it keeps changing so how do you decide what to choose
  • too much to do, too little time
  • teachers are pulled in too many directions
  • unreliable technology
  • no respect for the teacher’s voice in this tech ed process

I was nodding, thinking of people the reasons fit perfectly–and then I noticed: The article was written in


That’s right–fifteen years ago and nothing’s changed.

Have you been giving the same reasons for fifteen years too, hoping the tech demons will just go away and leave you to teach in peace? Every June, do you say, I got through another year without this or that tech tool–and everything went well.

Read the rest of this entry »


A Day in the Life of a Tech Teacher

04 Sep

teacher-359311_640I love summer. I sit at home, reading, researching, chatting with friends. I make my own schedule, own my own time, start and finish a project without interruptions.

That is a massive high to me.

Why? I’m a tech teacher. That is like a teacher+. I teach–yes–but I’m also the first line of defense (sometimes offense) for colleagues as they struggle to use the digital devices populating their classrooms. From the moment I step foot on her home campus, life spins out of my control. Here’s a typical day I have–does it sound familiar:

6:45 arrive

6:47 a student arrives to use lab

6:48 I greet student with a friendly hi and begin work on a lesson plan

6:49 Student asks for help

7:00 Student finishes and leaves; I return to my lesson plan

7:02 Frantic teacher calls–her computer won’t boot up. She came in early to do some work and now what’s she supposed to do can I come right away

7:03 I arrive in teacher classroom to help

Read the rest of this entry »


11 Take-aways from Summer PD

07 Aug

summer pdSummer PD 2014 just ended. A couple dozen of us–teachers, library media specialists, tech integrationists, lab teachers–gathered virtually for three weeks to experiment with some of the hottest tech tools available for the classroom–Google Apps, differentiation tools, digital storytelling, visual learning, Twitter, blogs, backchannels, student as digital citizen, and more (30 topics in all). PD was run like a flipped classroom where attendees picked one of two daily topics, then they read. Tested. Experimented. Failed and tried again. Asked questions. They shared with colleagues on discussion boards, blogs, Tweets. Once a week we got together on a Google Hangout (well, two because GHO only allows 10 participants) to share ideas, answer questions, discuss nuances.

The class awarded a Certificate based on effort. Not end product. Here are my takeaways as moderator of this amazing group:

  • They are risk takers. Kept trying long beyond the recommended hour a day in some cases.
  • They were curious. They wanted to get it right, see how it worked.
  • They are life long learners. Some had been teaching for thirty years and still enthusiastically embraced everything from twitter to genius hour.
  • They were problem solvers. I often heard, ‘This will work with my students ‘if I tweak it here, I can solve this problem’.

Read the rest of this entry »


Subscribers: Here’s Your August Special

05 Aug

saleEvery month, subscribers to Ask a Tech Teacher get a free/discounted resource to help their tech teaching.

This month:

Companion Wikis

Free if you own the K-5 tech curriculum

Get 10% off if you want to purchase the membership (coupon code: AUGUSTSPECIAL)

Over 190 videos, spread throughout the school year, starting Week #1 and ending Week #32. One each for each K-5 lesson in the SL Tech Curriculum. Plus: Access to archives from prior years.

Delivery: video

Videos Start: Mid August, 2014 (order now–don’t miss any!)

How to Order: Publisher’s website only


3 Problems to Address Before Blogging at Your School

29 Jul

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Molly:

I really enjoyed your article on students blogging. It seems like a great way to get them writing willingly since they love to be online. I was wondering, what are some of the problems you have run into and how did you solve them? What pitfalls can teachers watch out for long-term?

Three big–not necessarily ‘problems’ as much as issues to address:

Digital rights and responsibilities

You don’t want to roll out blogging in your classroom without a sturdy program educating students on digital citizenship–privacy, profiles, footprints, safety, fair use/copyrights. I have lots of information on those topics on my blog. Another good resource is Common Sense Media.

Read the rest of this entry »


22 Tips on How to Work Remotely

24 Jul

remote workI first considered this topic at a presentation I attended through WordCamp Orange County 2014. I had several trips coming up and decided to see how I addressed issues of being away from my writing hub. Usually, that’s when I realize I can’t do/find something and say, “If only…”

I am finally back from three conferences and a busy visit from my son–all of which challenged me to take care of business on the road and on the fly.

Truth is, life often interferes with work. Vacations, conferences, PD–all these take us away from our primary functions and the environment where we are most comfortable delivering our best work. I first thought about this when I read an article by a technical subject teacher(math, I think) pulled away from his class for a conference. Often in science/math/IT/foreign languages, subs aren’t as capable (not their fault; I’d capitulate if you stuck me in a Latin language class). He set up a video with links for classwork and a realtime feed where he could be available and check in on the class. As a result, students–and the sub–barely missed him. Another example of teaching remotely dealt with schools this past winter struggling with the unusually high number of snow days. So many, in fact, that they were either going to have to extend the school year or lose funding. Their solution: Have teachers deliver content from their homes to student homes via a set-up like Google Hangouts (but one that takes more than 10-15 participants at a time).

All it took to get these systems in place was a problem that required a solution and flexible risk-taking stakeholders who came up with answers.

Why can’t I work from the road? In fact, I watched a fascinating presentation from Wandering Jon at the Word Camp Orange County 2014 where he shared how he does exactly that. John designs websites and solves IT problems from wherever he happens to be that day–a beach in Thailand, the mountains in Tibet or his own backyard. Where he is no longer impacts the way he delivers on workplace promises.

Here’s what I came up with that I either currently use or am going to arrange:

Read the rest of this entry »


14 Action Items, 5 Take-aways and 3 Tidbits from the TpT Conference

21 Jul

tpt1.6 million teachers buy from Teachers Pay Teachers. Over 90,000,000 people visit the website monthly. If you’re a teacher, why wouldn’t you set up a free seller account (they take a percent of revenue, like Amazon does) and see if all those brainy ed ideas caroming through your brilliant brain will fund your weekly Starbucks bill (or in the case of Deanna Jumper and a growing group of teachers like her, bring in over $1 million dollars to pay a lot more than bills)?

I have a TpT store (Ask a Tech Teacher) so decided to attend the first-ever premium seller’s conference on how to TpT better, smarter, more effectively, while having more fun. I went with a girlfriend–a fellow teacher. Together we made the desert drive from Orange County, California to Las Vegas Nevada, prepared to learn how to make our online stores the best they could be. From beginning to end, every seminar I attended was packed:


Here are my action items and take-aways from this great conference:

How to improve sales

  1. Submit for Seller Spotlight in TpT newsletter
  2. Set up a custom category in tpt
  3. Before publishing, search to be sure the products is not already up there
  4. Use a title that can be found
  5. Link products to other products in my store.
  6. Sponsor resources on the newsletter. I can do this for $50(something like that) which is taken out of my earnings.tpt13
  7. Send a note to followers once a month. Cross post on Twitter and FB.
  8. Have blogging buddies–support each other
  9. Best practices for search optimization
    1. Keep titles simple
    2. Be descriptive not creative
    3. Most users search by subjects and themes
    4. Include key phrases at beginning of description
    5. Promote other products at the bottom of the description
    6. In title, mix subject grade month
    7. You can change title without messing up the links
    8. The message: tracking your sales equates to more sales
  10. Add a terms of use and a copyrights page to each doc
  11. Add a page with related products
  12. Add a page with 10% off on products
  13. Morning work is popular
  14. Add a page with Contact info, social media


  1. June is a slow month. As is July. Good to know since it has been for me. I’ll wait before giving up. August-December statistically have the biggest sales.
  2. They don’t recommend product covers as pins on Pinterest. I should have listened harder on that one
  3. Don’t self-promote! This is a common theme on anything to do with social media
  4. If you make less than $20,000, TpT doesn’t send a W9. Good to know
  5. Everyone there was happy, excited, exhilarated to be a teacher sharing knowledge. The overwhelming attitude: We can do this together

Interesting Tidbits

  1. Average to first sale is 161 days
  2. Education use isn’t necessarily fair use in the eyes of the copyright police You must be a nonprofit ed institution
  3. Ideas cannot be protected by copyrights
And–check out Monica’s review here and the Flutter Girls review (wonderful presentation by these two ladies).
More on tech ed conferences:

5 Must-have tools for Ed Conferences

18 Take-aways from ISTE–Observations, Tips and Great Digital Tools

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of dozens of technology training books that integrate technology into education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a tech ed columnist for, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out next summer.

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