Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day is annually held on the first Monday of September (this year, September 2nd). It was originally organized to celebrate various labor associations’ strengths of and contributions to the United States economy. It is largely a day of rest in modern times. Many people mark Labor Day as the end of the summer season and a last chance to make trips or hold outdoor events.

I’m going to repost an article I did last year with some updated (where necessary) websites for your kids while you work on dinner…

You’re bbq-ing. Friends are over. Life is good. Summer is ending, but that’s tomorrow. Not today. Today is about fun.

What do you do with the child who got sunburned so badly s/he can’t stay outside? Or those last fifteen minutes when the kids are hungry, tired, and completely disconnected with everything that they’ve been doing? Here’s a list of websites they’ll find irresistible:

Google Moongoogle moon

You can access this from the downloaded software for Google Earth (under the satellite tool) or directly from the internet (click the link above). The online version includes built-in tours of the moon which are fascinating, but doesn’t have the flight simulator that my students can’t get enough of. They fly all around our galaxy, to other planets, other stars. They think it’s pretty amazing to land on the Sun!

I get students to the website and leave the rest to their curiosity and the explorative side of human nature. From first grade on, they figure out what to do. A great student-led activity to teach about space, exploration, science.


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Subscribe to my Blog–Get Gifts Every Month

FREE tech stuffIf you subscribe to my blog, you are eligible for specials on tech ed books and ebooks every month. Here are some of the specials subscribers have received:

There’s one coming up in two days–be sure to subscribe so you are eligible.

Not only do you get great deals on tech ed resources, you get great free content. If you haven’t visited Ask a Tech Teacher regularly, here’s what you’ve missed:

Questions? Email me at askatechteacher at gmail dot com. I have lots of opinions!

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What’s Tomorrow’s Student Look Like

future studentJust as the teacher’s job has changed from ‘sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side’, so too has the student’s job. Take a peek into the near future at tomorrow’s student. Today, you’d call this child the ‘techie’ minority. Tomorrow, s/he’ll be the majority.

S/he is no longer a passive observer of his/her educational journey, expecting a teacher to impart knowledge that will shape his/her future. Tomorrow’s student takes charge of their learning, sifts through available options and selects what works for them, spirals up or down when required, asks for scaffolding when it’s lacking, accepts accountability for their progress as a stakeholder in the process, adapts to change as needed. They look for rigor in their learning environment and rise to the challenge when required.

These future students expect to collaborate, share, publish, contribute, and participate in a community of learners.

In some cases, the future has already arrived

What’s all that mean? Let’s add detail.

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Tech Tip #94: Shortkey for Find

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 week, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: Isn’t there a shortkey for searching a website?

A: There is. It’s Ctrl+F. It’s been around for, well, forever, but I’d forgotten about it until my efriend Sandy reminded me. As she posted on her blog, EdTechSandy, If you didn’t know about CTRL+F, don’t feel bad. …90% of folks don’t know about it.

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Need to Create Lesson Plans? Try Frolyc

lesson plansWhen I first looked at Frolyc  I thought it was a lesson planning tool. Somewhat like Khan Academy’s mashable lesson plans or Mentor Mob’s  playlist of activities–or Knowmia‘s carefully-crafted materials that can be shared throughout their communities. But the more I dug into it, the more I realized that I was selling Frolyc short. Yes, it can curate content–for me, more easily than these others–in preparation for a flipped classroom lesson or independent student study. I could quickly collect a wide variety of interactive materials and distribute them to students nicely grouped under a theme. Yes, it can deliver low-stakes testing to students while they work, to evaluate learning and determine if appropriate scaffolding has been provided to insure understanding. Teachers have adopted short and quick formative assessments to inform them about whether the lesson they’re teaching is achieving the desired results. Typically, this requires a separate student log-in through an add-on tool like Today’s Meet and Socrative. I liked that Frolyc integrated it into the platform–no need to go elsewhere.

But Frolyc could do more. The lesson plan I created could easily be differentiated to accommodate varied student learning styles by tweaking it before pushing it out to student accounts. When the student logs on to their iPad-based account, they get not a mass-produced lesson, one-size-fits-all, but one that addresses his/her range of knowledge, needs, and learning style. With a nominal amount of work on the teacher’s part, no two lesson plans need be the same, just as no two students are exactly alike.

Additionally with Frolyc, lesson plans became more than students passively consuming videos, text, websites–they included sharing ideas, comments, and collaboration.

Here’s how it works:

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Dear Otto: I need year-long assessments

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please contact me at askatechteacher at gmail dot com and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Mary:

We are required to create 2 measurable Student Learning Objectives this year. Last year was our first year having this requirement so mine centered around 6th grade and their mastery of technology vocabulary. They didn’t fare so well. I need suggestions of what specific skills I could include this year. We are required to have pretest data, midyear data and end of the year data to show gains. I thought about assessing keyboarding but most of it is assigned outside of class as I only see each group an hour a week so honestly gains would be minimal there as well. Ugh. Any suggestions??

Hi Marykeyboarding

I think keyboarding is a good assessment choice. Especially by 6th grade, students should be improving their keyboarding as much by authentic use in classroom projects and communications as through drill–or more so. Let students know the correct way to keyboard (posture, habits, do it right every time they sit at a computer–that sort–there’s a lot of information on that in my keyboarding book here). Share this with other grade-level teachers, parents, even the library media specialist. Make it clear to students that wherever they use a computer, they use good habits. Then, assess them regularly to track progress.

The fact that you only see students an hour a week is fine. Technology should be a tool that students use outside of your hour a week with them–in their core classes, for homework, for projects, in their family life. This brings up another good assessment–tech use. Students can start the year with a blog (Kidblog, Edublog, GAFE’s built-in Blogger). Their first post can be a discussion of how they use technology. Then, ask them to post once a week (or a couple times a month) on how they use technology in their life. It could be for a class project, communicating with friends, reflecting. It must be evidence-based and include a sample of whatever they used technology in (via an embed or a screenshot). Then, ask them to comment on the posts of friends–use suggestions from friends in a future project. Assess this activity based on how they use technology and share their knowledge–not the perfection of the project.

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Tech Ed Resources for your Classroom–K-8 Keyboard Curriculum


K-8 Keyboard Curriculum (four options plus one)–teacher handbook, student workbooks, companion videos–and help for homeschoolers

2-Volume Ultimate Guide to Keyboardingkeyboarding

K-5 (237 pages) and Middle School (80 pages), 100 images, 7 assessments

Digital delivery only (print coming)

Aligned with Student workbooks and student videos (free with licensed set of student workbooks)


1-Volume Essential Guide to K-8 KeyboardingEssential Guide--KB Curriculum cover--small size

120 pages, dozens of images, 6 assessments

Great value!

Delivered print or digital

Doesn’t include: Student workbooks or videos

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, keyboarding | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Great (Free) Lesson Plans

39-aHere’s a list of over seventy-five lesson plans free for your use. They’re organized by:

  • subject
  • software/tool
  • grade

You just highlight the lesson, then copy-paste to a doc of your choice.

If you want them printed out on 8.5×11 sheets, they are available for purchase here.

Here’s a slideshow of some of the lessons:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Humor that Inspires–for Teachers! Part IV

funny quotesIf you liked the last Humor that Inspires (Part 1, and Part 2 and Part 3), here are more to kick-start your day:

  1. “It is time I stepped aside for a less experienced and less able man.”
    - Professor Scott Elledge on his retirement from Cornell
  2. “Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work.”
    - Robert Orben
  3. “The cynics are right nine times out of ten.”
    - Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)
  4. “There are some experiences in life which should not be demanded twice from any man, and one of them is listening to the Brahms Requiem.”
    - George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
  5. “Attention to health is life’s greatest hindrance.”
    - Plato (427-347 B.C.)
  6. “Plato was a bore.”
    - Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
  7. “Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal.”
    - Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
  8. “I’m not going to get into the ring with Tolstoy.”
    - Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
  9. “Hemingway was a jerk.”
    - Harold Robbins
  10. “Men are not disturbed by things, but the view they take of things.”
    - Epictetus (55-135 A.D.)
  11. “What about things like bullets?”
    - Herb Kimmel, Behavioralist, Professor of Psychology, upon hearing the above quote (1981)
  12. “How can I lose to such an idiot?”
    - A shout from chessmaster Aaron Nimzovich (1886-1935)
  13. “Not only is there no God, but try finding a plumber on Sunday.”
    - Woody Allen (1935-) Read more »
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Tech Tip #93: Auto-fill for Internet Addresses

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: Is there a faster way to type internet addresses? All that h-t-t-p stuff–I keep making typos.

A. In fact, there is. Get the main part of the address in, say ‘google’ or ‘spellingcity’, then press Ctrl+enter and the browser will auto-fill the rest. What a time saver!

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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