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Archive for the ‘Ask a Tech Teacher’ Category

8 Benefits of Getting An Online Tutor For Your Kids

10 Feb

online tutoringI got a great article from one of the Ask a Tech Teacher contributors on a topic of increasing interest to my readers: the efficacy of online tutoring. This give you eight solid reasons why online tutoring may work for you:

Gone are the days when you pick up your hard-wired phone to get a box of pizza delivered. Gone are the days when you put thick textbooks in your bag that made your back hurt. In the age of modern technology—of Uber and e-books and talking Siberian Huskies on Youtube—where almost everything is just a few clicks and taps away, some other great things have just been made possible.

Online tutoring is the hottest trend in town. Parents, especially those who are working, are lining up to get their children help online as this can mean their kids getting better grades and doing better in school. This could also be good news to working moms who do not want to leave their children unattended and get left behind in school. While they could no longer focus on tutoring their kids like they used to before, they took to another new method that works just as great, if not better.

If you are looking to get an online tutor anytime soon—for yourself or your child—we have listed a number of benefits you could get by doing so.

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How Students Access Twitter in the Classroom

05 Feb

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. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Paul:

We are considering the appropriate role for Twitter in schools and as part of my research I read your article “13 Reasons to Use Twitter in the Classroom.” While I understand the points that you are making in the article, one question I didn’t see answered is how students access Twitter — is this done on their personal devices; or is this something that is allowed on district equipment?

If schools are allowing twitter on district-/school-owned equipment, how do they deal with the risks involved with a completely open environment in which students could share anything (pornography, threats, etc.) with little ability of the school or district to monitor direct messages, etc.

I appreciate your perspectives and we continue to consider the best way to reach our digital native students.

Twitter can be a revolutionary tool for students, used correctly. It meets students where they wish to learn and energizes pretty much any activity that takes place on the stream.

Most schools do not let students set up or access Twitter accounts at school earlier than high school. I’ve seen Middle School, but this is for unique student groups, certainly with parent approval and administration knowledge and support. Younger, accounts are usually set up as private class accounts.

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Tech Tip #123: Quick Search for All Plagiarized Images

03 Feb

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I’m teaching a class on internet forensics–to drive home the point that the internet is a scary place for the uninformed. I know people who use facial recognition tools to search FB, Instagram and those sorts of picture curatators. Most of the programs I’ve found are expensive and complicated. Is there an easy one to share with my students:

There sure is–Google’s Image Search. Go to:

http://image.google.com

Upload an image you want to search for (or drag-drop it into the field), like this one:

child drawing

Google will find all the places it appears:

google image search

I use student work where possible. There always seems to be one child who’s already created a website and uploaded their original drawings or photography to share with friends.

This is a great way to warn students about misusing online images: It’s just too easy for the original creators to track them down.

Click to subscribe to tech tips.

More on images:

5 Image Apps for your Classroom

Dear Otto: What Online Images are Free?

Tech Tip #82: My Picture’s a TIFF and the Program Needs a JPG


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 six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, 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.

 

Keyboarding and the Scientific Method

28 Jan

scientific methodConvincing students–and teachers–of the importance of keyboarding can be daunting. Youngers find it painful (trying to find those 26 alphabet keys) and olders think their hunt-and-peck approach is just fine. Explaining why keyboarding is critical to their long-range goals is often an exercise in futility if they haven’t yet experienced it authentically so I’ve resorted to showing–let them see for themselves why they want to become fast and accurate typists. To do this, I rely on a system they already know (or will be learning): the Scientific Method.

Let me stop here and point out that there are many versions of the scientific method. Use the one popular at your school. The upcoming steps easily adapt to the pedagogy your science teacher recommends.

I start with a general discussion of this well-accepted approach to decision making and problem-solving. If students have discussed it in class, I have them share their thoughts. We will use it to address the question:

Is handwriting or keyboarding faster?

I post each step on the Smartscreen or whiteboard and show students how our experiment will work:

  • Ask a question: Is handwriting or keyboarding faster?
  • Do background research: Discuss why students think they handwrite faster/slower than they type. Curious students might even research the topic by Googling, Is keyboarding faster than handwriting?
  • Construct a hypothesis: Following the research, student states her/his informed conclusion: i.e.: Fifth graders in Mr. X’s class handwrite faster than they type.
  • Test hypothesis: Do an experiment to see if handwriting or typing is faster. Pass out a printed page from a book students are reading in class. Have them 1) handwrite it for three minutes, and then 2) type it for the same length of time. Each time, calculate the speed in words-per-minute.
  • Analyze data: Compare student personal handwriting speed to their typing speed. Which is faster? Discuss data. Why do some students type faster than they write and others slower? Or the reverse? What problems were faced in handwriting for three-five minutes:
    • pencil lead broke
    • eraser was missing
    • hand got tired
    • it got boring

Each student compares their results to classmates and to other grade levels. What was different? Or the same?

  • Draw conclusions: Each student determines what can be decided based on their personal test results. Did they type faster or slower? Did this change from last year’s results? Did some classmates type faster than they handwrote? Did most students by a certain grade level type faster than they write?
  • Communicate results: Share results with other classes and other grade levels. At what grade level do students consistently type faster than they handwrite? In my classes, fourth graders write and type at about the same speed (22-28 wpm) and fifth graders generally type faster than they write. Are students surprised by the answer?

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Did You Miss These Posts Over the Holidays?

15 Jan

keyboardingHere are five activities to get you ready for the demands of a new school year:

  1. 10 Bits of Wisdom I Learned From a Computer
  2. End-of-Year Tips: 18 Steps To A Speedier Computer
  3. End of Year Tips: Update Your Online Presence
  4. 4 Collaborative Projects Students Will Love

Try them out–post a comment if you need help. I’ll be here.

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Learn to Blend Tech into Your Class; Get College Credit

08 Jan

hour of codeStarting January 18th, I’ll be teaching a class on blending technology into your classroom:

Click the link and scroll down to MTI 562 to sign up.

Here are the basics:

Course Description

The 21st Century lesson blends technology with teaching to build a collaborative, differentiated, and shared learning environment. In this course, teachers will use a suite of digital tools to make that possible while addressing overarching concepts like digital citizenship, internet search and research, authentic assessment, critical thinking, and immersive keyboarding. Teachers will actively collaborate, share knowledge, provide constructive feedback to classmates, and publish digitally. Classmates will become the core of the teacher’s ongoing Personal Learning Network. Assessment is project-based so participants should be prepared to be fully-involved and eager risk-takers.

Course Objectives

At the completion of this course, the teacher will be able to:

  1. Use blogs, wikis, Twitter, and Google Hangouts to collaborate and share.
  2. Guide students to safely and effectively search and research on the internet.
  3. Use technology to support teaching and achieve Common Core Standards.
  4. Blend keyboarding skills into classroom activities and prepare for yearly assessments.
  5. Assess student technology use organically.
  6. Use digital portfolios to store, share, and curate classwork.
  7. Rely on a Personal Learning Network.
  8. Solve common tech problems that arise in the classroom.993311 a studying female student with approved

What do students say?

At the beginning of the class, I had to contact Jacqui several times because I was so confused. I had no idea what a digital portfolio was, or how I was expected to create one. Throughout the course of the five weeks, I was able to take the knowledge that she instilled in me, and begin importing different assignment on my own into my digital portfolio using widgets (I did not even know what these were before this class!) and links.   I was able to participate in the “tweet-up” with my classmates and several Google Hang Outs with Jacqui. I completed daily and weekly goals by reading the assigned articles and lesson plans, as well as watching the videos that accompanied each topic. Reading all of the valuable information, creating a blog and a wiki, exploring different websites, creating projects, and creating a digital portfolio, will greatly benefit my students this year and in the years that follow.

LOVING all I’m learning!!

 To say I have learned a lot in the past five weeks of my online class is an understatement. I have attended Google Hangouts, learned about wikis, back channels, created a blog, and even tweeted!

I would like to close by saying how much I enjoyed this class. I truly learned so much. As a technology teacher I was not sure what to expect from this course. I found that much of what I currently do in the classroom has been validated. However and more importantly, I learned many new instruction and assessment strategies (along with some new tech tools) that I can now use and apply to improve the learning in my classroom. Thanks everyone!

As a technology teacher I wasn’t sure what to expect from this course. While this course validated much of what I already do in the classroom the The 21st Century Digitally-infused Teacher course also showed me ways in which I can improve and modify my instruction. I enjoyed the course format and feel the instructor was not only very knowledgeable but provided great resources as well. Thank you!

I loved this class! Jacqui was very knowledgeable and helpful whenever I was stuck.

“MTI 562 really opened my eyes and made me think about how to put technology into my lessons. Jacqui Murray encouraged me to be a tech-infused teacher! I can not wait to try these newly learned skills in August”

Click here for 15 take-aways from the last class.

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04 Dec

holidayHere are some great projects to keep your children tech-involved over the holidays. They take lots of critical thinking, problem-solving, and are worth the effort! Let me know how these go:

  1. 19 Holiday Websites For Your Students
  2. Holidays
  3. Book Review: 16 Holiday Projects
  4. Holiday Newsletter
  5. A Holiday Card in KidPix
  6. A Holiday Memory in Word or KidPix
  7. A Holiday Letter for Grades 2-6
  8.  Holiday Card in Publisher
  9.  Holiday Flier in Publisher
  10. A Holiday Story in MS Word for Grades 2-7
  11. A Holiday Newsletter in Publisher 
  12. A Holiday Calendar in MS Publisher 
  13. Weekend Website 40: NORAD Santa
  14. 5 Fabulous Last-minute Gifts
  15. here’d Christmas Come From
  16. 1 FREE Holiday Resources
  17. The Power of Symbols–What does the word ‘Turkey’ mean?

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The Power of Symbols–What does the word ‘Turkey’ mean?

19 Nov

Last year, I did a poll on the meaning of the word ‘turkey’. This was to demonstrate how powerful symbols are to your students and do so with an authentic use of technology to support discussion on math, language standards, and the holidays. As a summation to your discussion with students on symbols, idiomatic expressions, geography, farms, or another topic, post this on your Smartscreen. The poll includes lots of definitions for the word ‘turkey’. Have each student come up some time during the day (or class) and make their choice.

Did your students come up with other definitions I didn’t list?

More on Thanksgiving:

18 Thanksgiving Sites For Your Students

A Holiday Flier in Publisher

16 Holiday Projects


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 six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, 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.

 

Hour of Code–the Series

04 Nov

Coding–that mystical geeky subject that confounds students and teachers alike. Confess, when you think of coding, you see:

coding

…when you should see

coding

December 7-13, Computer Science Education will host the Hour Of Code–a one hour introduction to coding, programming, and why students should love it. It’s designed to demystify “code” and show that anyone can learn the basics to be a maker, a creator, and an innovator.

They provide a variety of self-guided tutorials that say “anybody can do this on a browser, tablet, or smartphone”. They even have unplugged tutorials for classrooms without computers. No experience needed.

Coding is a great tie-in to Common Core math Standards. Any time I can show students how to complete math skills without doing math, it’s a plus (because it surprises them. They don’t expect a discussion on problem solving or Minecraft to help them with math).

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share eight ideas that will energize your Hour of Code. They include (if the link doesn’t work, it’s because the article hasn’t posted yet):

  1. Hour of Code: Why Not?
  2. Hour of Code Suggestions by Grade Level
  3. Program with Alt Codes
  4. Programming Shortkeys
  5. Scratch Jr: Website Review
  6. Hour of Code: Minecraft
  7. Programming a Macro in five minutes
  8. Build a Website

Here are Code.org’s suggestions on teaching Hour of Code in your classroom. If you have a favorite tool, they likely will guide you in using it for this amazing week. Check out this list:

More Hour of Code resources

3D Tin website review

Hour of Code: Primo–Programming

20 K-8 General Programming Websites 

K-8 Lesson bundle of coding projects


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 six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, 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.

 

8 Websites on Financial Literacy

30 Oct

balanceWhen kids read that America’s $18 trillion+ debt is accepted by many experts as ‘business as usual’, I wonder how that news will affect their future personal finance decisions. Do they understand the consequences of unbalanced budgets? The quandary of infinite wants vs. finite dollars? Or do they think money grows on some fiscal tree that always blooms? The good news is: Half of the nation’s schools require a financial literacy course. The bad new is: Only half require a financial literacy course.

If your school doesn’t teach a course about personal economics, there are many online sites that address the topic as mini-lessons. Some are narrative; others games. Here are eight I like. See if one suits you:

Banzai

Banzai is a personal finance curriculum that teaches high school and middle school students how to prioritize spending decisions through real-life scenarios and choose-your-own adventure (kind of) role playing. Students start the course with a pre-test to determine a baseline for their financial literacy. They then engage in 32 life-based interactive scenarios covering everything from balancing a budget to adjusting for unexpected bills like car trouble or health problems. Once they’ve completed these exercises, they pretend that they have just graduated from high school, have a job, and must save $2,000 to start college. They are constantly tempted to mis-spend their limited income and then must face the consequences of those actions, basing decisions on what they learned in the 32 scenarios. Along the way, students juggle rent, gas, groceries, taxes, car payments, and life’s ever-present emergencies. At the end, they take a post-test to measure improvement in their financial literacy.

The program is free, takes about eight hours (depending upon the student), and can include printed materials as well as digital.

Rich Kid, Smart Kid

Rich Kid Smart Kid is a collection of four games where three children–Ima, Jesse, and Reno–struggle with real-life scenarios such as running an ice cream stand, raising money for a personal goal, the importance of allocating earned money to varied needs, (such as charity, investments, and savings), and  the difference between good debt and bad debt. Games are leveled for age groups from Kindergarten to high school. They include thorough lesson plans, learning objectives, classroom activities, and discussion questions, as well as companion websites with more resources.

The program is free, online, and can be completed in four sessions–one for each game. There are also add-on low-tech options like board games.

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