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Archive for the ‘Ask a Tech Teacher’ Category

Best-in-Category Tech Ed Awards

04 Jan

tech ed categoryWe hear from readers all the time about how much they rely on Ask a Tech Teacher for tech-in-ed resources. Weekly, we share favorite websites, apps, and pedagogy that make a difference in the classroom.

This year, for the first time, we’ll share which tools had the greatest impact on readers. To award this Best in Category badge, we looked for the uncommon resources (meaning: not the ones everyone knows about, like Khan Academy) most visited by our readers in each category. Then we looked for the following qualities:

  • how dependable is it
  • how versatile is it for time-strapped teachers
  • does it differentiate for the varied needs of students and teacher
  • do educators like it (fairly subjective, but there you have it)

Here are the Best-in-Category and Honorable Mentions for the following Categories: Read the rest of this entry »

 

How to Use Google Forms in the Classroom

09 Dec

google formsThere are lots of free survey and polling sites (two popular options are PollDaddy and Survey Monkey), but often they limit the number of surveys you can create or how many questions you can include without ‘leveling up’ to a premium version. Among the teachers I know who are always looking for ways to save their limited pennies, Google Forms is a run-away favorite. It is intuitive, flexible, professional, can be adapted to school colors and images, and can be shared as a link or an embed. You can work alone or with colleagues and there are a wide variety of options that tweak the form to your needs.

Using available templates, a customized form can be completed in under five minutes. Responses are collected to a Google Spreadsheet that can be private or shared with participants and can be sorted and analyzed like any other spreadsheet.

Google Forms integrates well with Google Apps for Education, Google Classroom and many LMSs such as Blackboard.

How to use it

Google Forms is simple to use. Just follow these steps:

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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.

 

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

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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!

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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:

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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:

Read the rest of this entry »

 
 
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