10 Digital Citizenship Articles You Don’t Want to Miss

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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8 Ways to Use Minecraft in Your Classroom (Now That it’s Free)

minecraft in educationMulti-award-winning Minecraft is a game of survival. You don’t ‘level up’; you build, explore, and survive whatever comes at you by placing blocks and going on adventures, either alone or with classmates. As you do, you explore, gather resources, craft, and fight for your survival.

At the core of every action is problem-solving: Minecraft encourages kids to tinker.

“You’re not complaining to get the corporate overlord to fix it — you just have to fix it yourself.”

It can be played on Linux, Mac, Windows, XBox, PlayStation, Wii, iOS, Android, Raspberry Pi, Kindle Fire, and probably a few more digital devices. It can run in a variety of modes. The default one — called ‘traditional’ mode– — includes six options:

  • Survival mode–players gather includes resources (such as wood and stone) found in the environment to craft survival items. Depending on the difficulty, monsters spawn in areas outside a certain radius of the character, requiring the player to build a shelter at night.
  • Hardcore mode–a variant of survival mode that differs primarily in that it is locked into the hardest gameplay setting. When a player dies on a server set to hardcore mode, the player is banned from that server.
  • Creative mode–players have access to all of the resources and items in the game through the inventory menu, and can place or remove them instantly. In this mode, players focus on building and creating large projects.
  • Adventure mode–designed specifically so that players can experience user-crafted custom maps and adventures.
  • Spectator mode–players can teleport to other players in the world.
  • Multiplayer–uses player-hosted and business-hosted servers and enables multiple players to interact and communicate with each other on a single world

“Never dig straight down.”

It can also be run in Story Mode (a narrative-driven adventure developed by Telltale Games where the decisions made by players influence adventures) or Realms (a simple way to enjoy an online Minecraft world with an approved set of friends–the owner of a Realm needs to pay a fee). Also available is Code.org’s Hour of Code Minecraft adventure.

“One does not simply play Minecraft for half an hour.”

There are over 100 million registered Minecraft players and it’s the third-best-­selling video game in history, after Tetris and Wii Sports. The great news, just out this summer: Now it’s free, courtesy of Microsoft.  Minecraft Education Edition is designed specifically for classroom use and gives teachers the tools they need to use Minecraft in their lessons.

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169 Tech Tips #160–14 Assessment Strategies

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 so many daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #160–14 Assessment Strategies


Sub-category: NA

These fourteen strategies are well-suited to formative assessment:

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The Importance of 3D Printing in Education

3d printerA topic I don’t cover enough is 3D printing. It’s relatively new on the education landscape and I have yet to reach a comfort level with it. Thankfully, Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Lisa Michaels, has lots of knowledge and experience on this topic. Here are her thoughts on the importance of 3D printing in education:

The range of possibilities which 3D printing provides is almost limitless. As the technology evolves, 3D printers are being used to create everything from simple plastic toys to automobile bodies, prosthetic limbs, replacement parts, and even gourmet dishes.

One area where 3D printing has yet to make a difference despite the potential of fulfilling many needs is within the educational systems. Elementary schools, high schools, universities and even vocational training courses are ideal places to incorporate 3D printing as part of the curriculum. 

A Revolutionized Classroom

The ability to produce almost any object in 3D is poised to revolutionize learning. Instead of using linear, two-dimensional teaching methods to transfer knowledge and teach concepts, you can facilitate the learning experience by providing hands-on three-dimensional models. Concepts that have been historically difficult to grasp can be directly demonstrated with 3D printed visual aids that help students learn and retain ideas more easily.

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10 Ways to Use Twitter in Class

twitter in educationFor anyone who missed the April announcement, Twitter switched its app category from ‘social media’ (where it consistently ranked in the top ten with Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Pinterest) to ‘news’ (now ranked #1, ahead of apps like CNN, Fox News, and Reddit). It makes sense; tweets and twitter streams have been part of hard-core news reports for years as an effective way for leaders and politicians to reach their constituents and pollsters to gauge what interests people. A good example is this series of tweets explaining the recent Brexit vote.

As an educator, I am thrilled. Twitter’s gossipy reputation among administrators and most parents negates its dynamic applications in the classroom. With the not-so-recent addition of audio and video files (easily embedded from sites like Instagram and Periscope), educators can easily use it as a student-friendly approach to everything from assessment to sharing notes.

Before unpacking Twitter in your classroom, here are a few guidelines:

  • Clear its use with your administration. Be prepared to educate them on why what seems to be social media is actually educational.
  • Inform parents that their children will be using Twitter to collaborate, share information, study for tests, and other uses specific to your program. Again, as with your administration, be prepared to explain the benefits of a Twitter-powered class.
  • Twitter doesn’t have a lower age limit, but does reference ‘thirteen’ as a suggested minimum age. You decide what fits your group. You may also decide that setting the Twitter stream as private (called ‘protected Tweets’) is a good educational decision.
  • Demonstrate how to use Twitter and what the symbols mean (tie this into a class discussion on math symbols).
  • Establish rules for Twitter use. Remind students it is for educational uses only; chatting and socializing must be done through other means. Then enforce it by suspending privileges, warning abusers, or whatever works best in your classroom climate.
  • Check out the Twitter streams of other educators before starting. Here’s one for a first-grade class to get you started. The visual of how they use it to enhance education is powerful.

Here are my ten favorite uses of Twitter in my classroom:

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Office Hours–Questions? Let’s Talk

tech ed helpIf you are using the SL K-5 Technology Curriculum, you’ll love this free service. Every Sunday, Ask a Tech Teacher will offer online, virtual Office Hours to answers questions about the curriculum. Any questions you have about how to unpack lessons, teach a skill, or tie into class inquiry can be asked at this weekly real-time Google Hangout:

Sundays, 2pm PDT

Just like your college professor, doors are open to whoever shows up. Here’s how it works:

  • Sign up for the Companion Wikis (for grades K-5)
  • Fill out the form at this link or below with the dates you would like to attend and the topic you’d like to discuss.
  • Sundays, you’ll get an invitation to the Google Hangout. Click it. If you aren’t familiar with Google Hangouts, check the Skills tab on the wiki, under ‘Google Hangouts’ for guidance
  • Join in!

Interested? Here’s the sign-up sheet:

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11 Webtools That Make Images Talk

Not only does image annotation combine the best of text and pictures, but kids love it. Adding their own thoughts to a picture or even better, having the picture talk, inspires them to a creative level that’s difficult to achieve with most other communication tools. With the breadth of tech tools available, this is not only easy to accomplish but fits most school budgets.

Here are eleven of my favorite image annotation tools. I think you’ll find many that suit your purposes.



Created by Duck Duck Moose, in this popular free app, students take a photo, draw a line on it to make a mouth, and record their voice. Then, the photo ‘talks’ the recording through the mouth. Add a border, decorations, and text, then share with friends as an MP4 video via email or YouTube.

This is a great tool for quick digital stories, academic feedback, or a get-to-know-you activity for the start of school.

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Halloween Projects, Lesson Plans, Websites, Apps, and a Costume

halloweenThree holidays are fast-approaching–Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. If you’re a teacher, that means lots of tie-ins to make school festive and relevant to students.

Here are ideas for you for Halloween projects, lesson plans, websites, apps:


  1. ASCII Art–Computer Art for Everyone (a pumpkin–see inset)
  2. Lesson Plan: Halloween letter for grades 2-5
  3. Make a Holiday Card
  4. A Holiday Card  (with Publisher)
  5. A Holiday flier

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Categories: Holidays, Lesson plans | 2 Comments

10 Articles on Using Tech to Teach Math

math and techHere are ten of the top Math-and-tech tips according to Ask a Tech Teacher readers:

  1. C-STEM Studio — A Great Way to Blend Math and Robotics
  2. 10 Tech Tools for Your Math Class
  3. Zap Zap Math–Clever, Robust Math App for K-6
  4. Celebrate Pi With Your Students
  5. How to Interest the Next Generation of Great Minds to Work in STEM Fields
  6. 32 Websites to Support Math Automaticity in K-5
  7. 3 Websites to Gamify Your Math Class
  8. Website Review: ProdigyGame.com
  9. How to Teach Students to Solve Problems
  10. Math Books for Elementary Grades

Lesson plans about math and tech:

How to Achieve Common Core with Tech: the Math Strand

Bundle of lesson plans mixing math and tech

How to Use Khan Academy (free lesson plan)

Hour of Code lesson bundle

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169 Tech Tip #151: 8 Popular Year-long Assessments

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 so many daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #151–8 Popular Year-long Assessments


Sub-category: Classroom management

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