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How I’m Doing on Twenty-four Days I

31 Jan

indie authorI’m getting close to launching my latest WIP, Twenty-four Days:

A former SEAL, a brilliant scientist, a love-besotted nerd, and a quirky AI have twenty-four days to stop a terrorist attack. The problems: They don’t know what it is, where it is, or who’s involved.

If you read To Hunt a Sub and loved the AI Otto, you’ll be pleased to know that Otto gets not only a voice but a body. Also: Eitan falls in love, the only bad thing that happens to Sandy (the Labrador) is he gets locked in a closet, and another fearless woman is tasked with saving the world.

Twenty-four Days was briefly represented by a wonderful agent who put an awful lot of work into editing and rewriting, making the story tighter and more exciting than when he first became involved. Ultimately, we parted ways, but I’ll always appreciate the time and effort he expended on me.

With a planned publication date of May-June, here’s how I’m doing.

  • I’ve completed substantive changes like checking timelines, plot points, and character development (thanks to my wonderful former agent).
  • I’m self-editing using Grammarly and Autocrit, in preparation for submittal to my editor. This includes spelling, grammar, word use, adverbs, dialogue tags, and more.
  • My cover folks are working on a spectacular cover, with an expected completion date in February (the cover on this blog page is simply a place-saver).
  • I’m having banners, logos, and that sort of marketing created, to be used as needed.
  • I’m getting pre-reviews that will inspire readers to purchase.
  • When the book is complete, I’ll submit it to Kindle Scout. Lucky winners there get free publication!
  • I’ll have a blog hop to officially release the book to the world in May/June. Want to help each other? I’d be happy to trade honest reviews when you promote your book.

If you have any steps that help you get your book out, please share in the comments. I just know I’m missing something.

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My Year in Books–from Goodreads

26 Jan

Love this graphic shared by Goodreads! It starts with a summary:

year-in-books-header-2016

…and then lists all the books.

To view this bigger:

  • click the  image
  • click ‘view full size’
  • click the resulting image

my-year-in-books-2016-goodreads

Did we read any of the same books?


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, is scheduled for Summer, 2017. Click to follow its progress.

 
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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.

 

Top 10 Book Reviews in 2016

06 Jan

top ten 2016There are two parts to this post:

  • my top ten favorite books I read in 2016
  • your (as reader) top ten favorite book reviews I wrote in 2016

My Top Ten Favorite Books

I read 198 books according to Goodreads–blasting through my goal of 162 books.

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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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My Research at the Library of Congress 

07 Dec

LIBRARY OF CONGRESSMy current WIP, Lucy, is complicated. It delves into the life of earliest man with all of its threats and dangers, as well as the inventions of those big brain ideas that changed the world (like stone tools and fire). I’ve read everything available on the topic from my local libraries and online. The big resource I hadn’t  yet plumbed was the US Library of Congress. It is the largest library in the world, with more than 162 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 38 million books and other print materials, 3.6 million recordings, 14 million photographs, 5.5 million maps, and 70 million manuscripts.  It’s had only 13 Librarians of Congress, the current one in that position for almost thirty years. In my case, I sought answers to questions like how did man discover music. How did s/he first organize a system of law? Who was the first person who thought, “I have free time not required to hunt and sleep. I think I’ll draw a picture.”

This is the sort of stuff that keeps me awake at night.

Many of the books are not digitized and none of them can be checked out (by non-Congressional folk) so in my recent trip to visit my daughter in DC, I spent a glorious day researching in this amazing building. You can tour the library as a visitor (which I did on a previous trip) but to use the books requires a library card. They’re easy to get, though you must go to a hidden room down a long hallway in a completely separate building. Once I found the right door, it took only about ten minutes to take my picture, input my data, and print the card.

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