How Tech is Part of my Education, Through the Eyes of a Student

I had the pleasure of meeting Tyler, a fascinating and outgoing sophomore in Mitchell School District in Mitchell, South Dakota. He contacted me for help promoting his blog and I persuaded him to tell his story about the part technology has played in his education. I encourage all of you to read this, add your thoughts under comments, and then drop in on Tyler’s brand new blog to get him started.


Hello, everyone. My name is Tyler Wright, and I am a sophomore in high school. My website is, where I write book reviews over inspiring, nonfiction books. After you read this, feel free to take a look there. Just stopping by and reading one review helps me more than you would think.

Throughout all of my education, I have been exposed technology.

I was first “officially introduced” to computers shortly after learning how to read. In order to judge our reading comprehension, my classmates and I would take “AR tests” over the books we read. These tests were taken on the computer, and I never found them to be very challenging. The program itself was set up in a simple way that allowed elementary students to use them easily. Another way I used computers was through a program called “CCC,” I don’t remember what CCC stood for. Every week I would go into the computer room with my class, where we would learn at our own pace, on our own computers. Sitting in a dark room and staring at a computer for an hour wasn’t the easiest thing for a child that young, as I am sure you can imagine. There was one time, while I was in CCC, that I really had to go pee and my teacher didn’t believe me. That was the only time I wet myself in school.

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169 Tech Tip #117–How to Use an Internet Start Page

tech tipsIn these 169 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 daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #117–How to Use an Internet Start Page


Sub-category: Internet, Search/Research

Q: My students get distracted when they go on the internet by all the ads, bling, and websites that are not age-appropriate. What do I do?

When students open the internet, it should kick start their browsing experience, not leave them searching for a bookmark. As a teacher, you make this happen with what’s called an internet start page. It’s also your first line of defense in protecting students from the inherent dangers of using the internet because it focuses them on safe, age-appropriate sites that you have personally approved.

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Categories: Classroom management, Tech tips | Tags: | 2 Comments

What’s a Digipuzzle?

digital puzzlesNetherlands-based Digipuzzle is an online educational resource that offers hundreds of G-rated learning games for younger audiences, many in both Spanish and English.  Topics include math, animals, typing, geography, spelling, letter recognition, holidays, seasons, dinosaurs, USA, other games, and more.  Many of these are divided into subcategories — for example: Math includes games and counting, fractions, addition, subtraction, and multiplication. Digipuzzle even offers holiday games.  The site is easy to navigate, fun to use, and completely free. It is the labor of love from Marcel van de Wouw. It includes not only lots of themed puzzles, but Sudoku, line puzzles, search puzzles, dot-to-dot, tangrams, mosaics, and more.

You can use Digipuzzle on the web or as a mobile app.


Each game includes a sidebar with easy-to-understand icons that answer questions, access settings, and click you through available games.

Each game can be played at the level a student is comfortable — easy, normal, or hard — and can include audio or silent.

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Categories: Games/Simulations, Holidays, Language arts, Math | 2 Comments

169 Tech Tip #116–How to Take Screenshots

tech tipsIn these 169 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 daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #116–How to Take Screenshots


Sub-category: Keyboarding, PC, Mac, iPad, Chromebook

Here are the screenshot shortkeys for five platforms:

  • Windows: a tool included in Windows called the Snipping Tool
  • Chromebooks: Ctrl+Window Switcher key
  • Mac: Command Shift 3 for a full screenshot; Command Shift 4 for a partial screenshot
  • Surface tablet: hold down volume and Windowsbutton
  • iPad: hold Home button and power button simultaneously

There are also screenshot programs you can download like Jing and Printkey (the latter uses your keyboard’s Print Scr key) or use from your browser (like Nimbus or Snagit). Each has a different selection of annotation tools. You may find this works better for your needs.

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Edit and Share Videos Like a Rock Star

video in the classroomThe engine of learning is not always fueled by reading. In fact, knowledge is often acquired via audio, video, role-playing, and other approaches that address the varied learning styles of today’s students.

One communication method that has seriously grown up from even a generation ago is video. Where movies used to be considered babysitting — the activity of last resort for tired or unprepared teachers — that’s no longer true. Today, done well, they become real teaching tools that use optics to communicate ideas, unpack granular concepts,  and connect students to information.

For many teachers, though, there’s the rub: How do they use this tool to agilely and effectively deliver content? Let’s start with five clever video edit/format tools:


Edit, quizzify, and add your voice to any video. Pick a video, personalize it for your group, add your voice, and then track student understanding. You can even include quizzes.

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Categories: Multimedia, Videos, Web Tools | Leave a comment

An Introduction to Blended Learning Instruction

kiddomKiddom, a transformative approach to teaching and personalized learning, has a new guide available for teachers–and it’s free:
You can download it by clicking the link. Learn how to start a blended learning program in your classroom or at your school.
For more about Kiddom, see my review, What is Kiddom? Why is it right for you?

More on tech integration:

What parents should ask teachers about technology

How to Prepare for the SAT Essay

What is Google Keep and Why Use it in Your Classroom?

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19 Valentine Sites For Students

valentine-297033_640Here are some fun Valentine sites to fill those few minutes betwixt and between lessons, projects, bathroom breaks, lunch, and everything else:

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Do you have any I missed?

Holiday Lesson Plans

Looking for holiday lesson plans? Here’s my collection.

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Categories: Holidays, Websites | Leave a comment

Bring an expert to your classroom for Black History Month

One of my go-to sources for classroom speakers is Nepris. Not only do experts come to your class, but they interact with students and take their questions (see my review of Nepris). Here’s a great free event available for February’s Black History Month:

African presidential candidatesMeet an Expert on the History of African American Presidential Candidates

Students can meet and talk with an expert in American history during a free virtual chat on The History of African American Presidential Candidates hosted by Nepris on Friday, February 17 at 10:00 a.m. ET. Go to Nepris to sign up for free.

For 40 minutes, Matthew Drayton, a decorated combat veteran turned motivational speaker and author, will talk with students about prominent African Americans who have run for the nation’s highest executive office. Students will learn about history and politics and be able to ask questions.

Nepris brings this virtual chat and thousands of others to classrooms. Teachers can view archived sessions for free and participate in a limited number of free “industry offered” chats on topics from STEM to the Arts. Additional industry chats being offered include Drones and Facetime on March 16. Learn more at

More on virtual field trips:

16 Great Virtual Field Trips

9 Field Trips Free to Students

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Categories: History, News | Leave a comment

169 Tech Tip #115–Three-click Rule

tech tipsIn these 169 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 daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #115–Three-click Rule


Sub-category: Teaching

Q: Some websites require so many clicks, I get lost. What’s with that?

A: I hadn’t put a lot of thought to this until I read a discussion on a teacher forum about the oft-followed 3-click rule made popular by Web designer Jeffrey Zeldman in his book, Taking Your Talent to the Web. This claims that no piece of content should ever be more than three clicks away from the main page.

This applies to teaching tech to students, also. During my fifteen years of teaching tech, I discovered if I keep the geeky stuff to a max of three steps, students remember it, embrace it, and use it. More than three steps, I hear the sound of eyes glazing over.

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What parents should ask teachers about technology


‘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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Categories: Parents | Tags: | Leave a comment