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Archive for the ‘Ask a Tech Teacher’ Category

What parents should ask teachers about technology

24 Jan

parent-teacher

‘Technology in education’ has become the buzz phrase for cutting edge classes that are plugged into the latest education trends. Not surprisingly, it takes a lot more than a room full of computers, iPads, and apps to turn “tech ed” from marketing to mainstream.

For parents, where schools fall on that continuum — mostly marketing hype or taking the necessary steps to integrate tech — is critical. When you start at a new school (or classroom, or teacher), it’s important to understand the part technology will take to improve educational experiences for your child. Here are fourteen question you can expect stakeholders to answer — in depth:

Who teaches students to use class digital tools?

Many teachers (too many) think students arrive at school as digital natives, with all necessary digital knowledge downloaded into their brains. This myth exploded when students taking the year-end online tests didn’t know basic tech skills like copy-paste, keyboarding, using dialogue boxes, and more. So it’s a legitimate question: Who teaches students how to use the school’s digital devices and what training do they get to support that responsibility? Is it a one-off PD day or ongoing? Is there a tech ed curriculum to ensure topic coverage and that teaching is done “the right way” or is it up to the teacher? How does the school handle an unexpected tech need — say, programming for December’s Hour of Code?

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10 Websites + 4 Apps that Make Geography Fun

17 Jan

geographyOne of the hardest challenges for teachers is how to engage students in core subjects such as geography. It’s about mountains and rocks and valleys that haven’t changed for thousands of years. Why is that interesting? If you aren’t a geography buff, you’re probably nodding. You know what I mean. But watch how quickly the fourteen resources  below morph geography from dusty to dynamic:

2-minute Geology

2-minute Geology is a collection of two-minute videos that address the geology of locations around the world. The presenter is clever, the taping professional, and the experience mesmerizing as students are immersed in the importance of geology around the world–in just two minutes.

Continents Explained

Continents Explained is a four-minute humorous video that discusses the difficulty of defining continents on our planet (with a brief cameo from a Minecraft-like character). I came away scratching my head, wondering how the heck the experts ended up with the seven continents we all accept rather than four–or twelve. The video is engaging, energizing, and informative. This is a must for any discussion on continents.

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Did you miss these posts over the holidays?

11 Jan

ideasHere are four articles to get you ready for the demands of a new school year:

  1. End-of-year Tech Tips: Update Your Online Presence
  2. End-of-Year Tips: Image and Backup Digital Devices
  3. End of Year Tips: 22 Steps to a Speedier Computer
  4. How to Teach with Videos

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

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New Year Brings Changes

10 Jan

I’ve noticed that the same people subscribe to both my weekly newsletter on Tech Tips and Websites. That means they get two emails a week in their email box from me, in what is probably already a cluttered, overcrowded bit of virtual real estate. That inspired me to make a change.

I’m going to merge the two lists and send one email a week that includes both a Weekly Tech Tip and a Weekly Website. No need to resubscribe though you may get a notification that you’ve been added to a list that will sound something like “Weekly Tech Tips and Websites”.  Here’s the new link:

tech tips

I’ll still have a separate newsletter for resource announcements. Here’s that link:

structured learning

Here’s to a wonderful, busy, productive, fulfilling new year!


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.

 

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:

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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.

 

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:

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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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