3rd Grade Websites on Economics

economicsEconomics is an authentic topic that can be intimidating if not presented correctly. Here are 4 websites that do a good job of addressing this topic in 3rd grade terms.

  1. BrainPop—a basic introduction to money, in the user-friendly Brainpop way
  2. Coffeeshop Game–students leaarn the economic ins and outs of running a coffee shop
  3. Minyanland–Students learn how to thrive in a community as they make ans spend money. This is a step up in complexity from Moneyvills
  4. Moneyville–Students learn how to thrive in a community as they make ans spend money.

You can scale this up or down, depending upon the scaffolding your student group has for understanding this topic.

More discussion on economics:

Websites that Teach Your Kids About Money

Weekend Website #52: 7 Sites About Coin Counting

Weekend Websites: 52 Economics Websites

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18 Pluses, 5 Differences, and 9 Tips about Chromebooks in Your Classroom

Do you have chrome books in your school? They’re those lightweight thin laptops that cost almost nothing and are taking the ed world by storm. When asked, teachers don’t say, ‘I got a set of computers for my classroom’. It’s always, ‘I got Chromebooks’ much as they’d say ‘iPads’ to mean a digital device that’s more exciting, useful, and cutting edge than the boring old desktops.

Before I talk about what’s to like and not like about a Chromebook, let’s look at what it is. In the education world, there used to be a battle betwEducation Post It Note Shows Skills Learning And Improvementeen two types of desktop computers: Macs vs. PCs. They both did the same things, but in hugely different ways. And from that difference grew an avid love/hate among their devotees (especially Mac users).

Today, ‘desktop computers’ are only one of the digital devices in the education toolkit. Consider iPads with their focus on the visual, ease of use, engagement of users. Then Chromebooks arrived–able to do ‘most’ of what ‘most’ students need–but it must be through the Cloud.

That gives educators three options (desktops, iPads, Chromebooks) as they select tools to deliver education. The challenge is to understand the differences between these options and select based on personal criteria. That includes classroom needs, infrastructure, and–yes–money. What gives the most service for the least investment?

In this last, I think the debate is settled: Chromebooks win every measure of value for dollar.

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25 Techie Problems Every Student Can Fix–Update

problem solvingThe Number One reason–according to students–why their computer doesn’t work is… It’s broken. Can I move to a different computer??? Doesn’t matter why they’re wrong. My teacher job is to provide strategies so they can independently solve problems like these.

As a tech teacher, I know that half the problems that stop students short in their tech lessons are the same few. Once they’ve learned the following twenty-five trouble shooting solutions, they’ll be able to solve more than half of their ongoing problems.


In the three years since I first posted this, I haven’t changed my mind about these problems. These transcend platforms, curricula, and Standards. When your youngest students can’t double click that tiny little icon to open the program (because their fine motor skills aren’t up to it), teach them the ‘enter’ solution. When somehow (who knows how) the task bar disappears, show them how to bring it up with the ‘flying windows’ key. When their monitor doesn’t work, go through all possible solutions together (monitor power on, computer power on, plugged into duplex, etc.)

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How to Organize Your Classroom–the Movie

Last week, I shared ideas on how to set up your tech classroom. Today, I want to share a video:

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Tech Tip #22: Quick Exit from 97% of Programs

tech edAs 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: My child has a program on the computer and I can’t figure out how to get out of it. There’s no File-exit, no menu. What do I do?

A: Try the old standby from Windows’ earliest days–Alt+F4. It works on almost all programs. I use it on the kindergarten programs in my lab all the time.

More tips on Windows:

Tech Tip #74: The Gadgets Menu Bar

Tech Tip #69:Change Size of Desktop Icons

Tech Tip #48: Quickly Switch Between Windows

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9/11… We Remember

America, we love you.

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5 Top Ways to Integrate Technology into the New School Year

I was reading an article–Five Real Reasons Why Teachers Don’t Use Technology More–from eSchool News listing the reasons why teachers don’t use technology. Included were some that probably resonate with educators at your school–Portrait of Asian secretary sitting at desk

  • it keeps changing so how do you decide what to choose
  • too much to do, too little time
  • teachers are pulled in too many directions
  • unreliable technology
  • no respect for the teacher’s voice in this tech ed process

I was nodding, thinking of people the reasons fit perfectly–and then I noticed: The article was written in


That’s right–fifteen years ago and nothing’s changed.

Have you been giving the same reasons for fifteen years too, hoping the tech demons will just go away and leave you to teach in peace? Every June, do you say, I got through another year without this or that tech tool–and everything went well.

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How to set up your tech classroom

IMG_0103I’m reposting this for the start of a new school year–as a reminder to all my fellow tech teachers. Go geeks!

If you teach technology, you want to set the lab up so it’s inviting, non-intimidating, but doesn’t hide from the core ‘geek’ theme. In fact, from day one, exclaim that fact, be proud of your nerd roots. Even if you didn’t start out that way–say, you used to be a first grade teacher and suddenly your Admin in their infinite wisdom, moved you to the tech lab–you became a geek. You morphed into the go-to person for tech problems, computer quirks, crashes, and freezes. Your colleagues assumed you received an upload of data that allowed you to Know the answers to their every techie question. You are on a pedestal, their necks craned upward as they ask you, How do I get the Smartscreen to work? or We need the microphones working for a lesson I’m starting in three minutes. Can you please-please-please fix them?

As you organize your classroom, celebrate your geekiness. Flaunt it for students and colleagues. Play Minecraft. Use every new techie device you can get your hands on. That’s you now–you are sharp, quick-thinking. You tingle when you see an iPad. You wear a flash drive like jewelry. When your students walk into your class, they should start quivering with the excitement of, What new stuff will we experience today?

Here’s a summary of what happens your first day with a class. From this, you’ll figure out how to set up your classroom (no owl themes here. It’s all about bits and bytes):

  • Introduce yourself—establish your bona fides. Share your blog, your background, your awards. Give them website addresses or post them to the class internet start page. You want to be easy to find.
  • Tour the classroom with students. I walk K-2 around—they like getting out of their seats. Demystify any of the tech tools you will expect them to use—where they can get help in solving problems, what’s on the walls, where’s the printer/scanner/iPads/etc.

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Tech Tip #96: Open a Program Maximized

tech edAs 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: How do I open the internet maximized on my screen. For the younger students, clicking that tiny square in the upper right corner is often one step too many–not to mention that fine motor skills are still developing in the youngers.

A: I got this question from a reader. Here’s how you open the internet–or most programs–program maximized rather than that annoying smaller size that often makes it difficult for students to maneuver:

  • Right click on the program icon
  • Select Properties>Shortcuts
  • Select the dropdown menu by Run and choose Normal window

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12 Websites on Biomes

Here’s a great list I use with my fourth graders, but many can be adapted for other grades:biome

  1. Adventure Island
  2. Antarctica Environ—find the animals
  3. Biomes of the World
  4. Breathing earth–the environment
  5. Build a habitat
  6. Habitat Game
  7. Landform Detectives—cool game
  8. Observe Different Climate Zones
  9. Ocean Explorations—life
  10. Ocean Currents—video from NASA
  11. World’s Biomes
  12. Virtual tours

If some of the links don’t work (links go bad very quickly on the internet), click for the complete 4th grade list, then scroll to ‘Biomes’.

For more on biomes, check Calom’s Livebinder collection, and Quizlet‘s study guide on the topic.

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