Tech Tip #109: Five Second Back-up

As 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: I’m paranoid of losing lesson plans, report card comments, and other school work. I back up, but is that enough?

A: Truth, I am the most paranoid person I know about technology. I have an external hard drive for back up, Carbonite in the cloud, a 256-gig flash drive for my ‘important’ stuff (which turns out to be everything), and still I worry.

Here’s what else I do: Every time I work on a document I just can’t afford to lose (again, that’s pretty much everything), I email it to myself. If you’re using MS Office, that’s a snap. Other programs–just drag and drop the file into the email message. I set up a file on my email program called ‘Backups’. I store the email in there and it waits until I’m tearing my hair out. I’ve never had to go there, but it feels good knowing it’s available.

Read more »

Categories: Tech tips | Leave a comment

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

Overview

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

K-5–print/digital; Middle School–digital delivery only

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

Doesn’t include: Student workbooks or videos

__________________________________________________________________________

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

Read more »

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

Subscriber Special: August

savingsMulti-user licenses are going up in price October 1st. This includes licenses for:

If you’re planning to purchase one, save 25% (off the future increased price) by purchasing yours now:

Questions? Email askatechteacher@gmail.com or zeke.rowe@structuredlearning.net

Categories: AATT Classroom Materials, Subscriber special | Leave a comment

What a Typical Tech Lesson Looks Like

tech lessonIn the past few weeks, I’ve gotten several emails like this from teachers:

I am a tech teacher, going on my fifth year in the lab. Each year I plan to be more organized than the last, and most often I revert back to the “way things were.” I’m determined to run the lab just like I think it should be! … Could you please elaborate on how you run your class? I love the idea of having kids work independently, accomplishing to do lists, and working on different projects. You mention this in Volume I, but I want to hear more!

Currently, I see close to 700 students, grades 1-6. I want to break out of the routine (the “you listen, I speak, you do” routine), and your system seems like it would work well. Just hoping you can share some details.

I decided to jot down my typical (as if any planned lesson ever comes out the way it’s written–you know how that goes!) daily lesson. You can tweak it, depending upon the grade you teach. Here goes:

Typical 45-minute Lesson

Each lesson requires about 45 minutes of time, either in one sitting or spread throughout the week. Both are fine and will inform whether you unpack this lesson:

  • In the grade-level classroom
  • In the school’s tech lab

As you face a room full of eager faces, remember that you are a guide, not an autocrat. Use the Socratic Method—don’t take over the student’s mouse and click for them or type in a web address when they need to learn that skill. Even if it takes longer, guide them to the answer so they aren’t afraid of how they got there. If you’ve been doing this with students since kindergarten, you know it works. In fact, by the end of kindergarten, you saw remarkable results.

When talking with students, always use the correct domain-specific vocabulary. Emphasize it and expect students to understand it. Read more »

Categories: Classroom management, Dear Otto, Lesson plans, Teacher resources | 2 Comments

3 Apps to Help Brainstorm Next Year’s Lessons

lesson planLesson planning used to mean filling in boxes on a standard form with materials, goals, expectations, assessments–details like that. Certainly this is valuable information, but today’s lesson plans–like today’s lessons–demand less rote fill-in-the-blanks and more conceptualization, critical thinking, and collaboration. With the increased reliance on online resources, Skype interviews with professionals, and hands-on learning activities, lessons are no longer taught within four walls so they shouldn’t be planned that way. They need collaboration with all stakeholders from initial planning stage to revision and rewrite.

And that paper form that was copied in triplicate–now it’s an online tool that can be accessed, edited, appended, and viewed by everyone involved. In fact, it can be one of three tools, depending upon how your brain organizes ideas:

  • mindmap–for those who love to throw everything out there on a canvas and arrange
  • online planner–for those who fill in boxes with required information and want the lesson plan to appear fully formed from these ideas
  • spreadsheet–for those who like to build from the ground up and have the lesson plan detailed and scalable–in a structured way

I’ve tried all of these and have found three favorite tools, one from each category, that work for me. Read through these, try them out, and then add a comment with what you think:

Read more »

Categories: Classroom management, Lesson plans, Teacher resources | 2 Comments

Tech Tip #108: Got a Tech Problem? Google It!

As 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: Sometimes, I just can’t remember how to accomplish a task. Often, I know it’s simple. Maybe I’ve done it before–or even learned it before–and it’s lost in my brain. What do I do?

A: One of the best gifts I have for students and colleagues alike is how to solve this sort of problem. Before you call your IT guy, or the tech teacher, or dig through those emails where someone sent you the directions, here’s what you do:

Google it.

Read more »

Categories: Classroom management, Problem solving, Tech tips | Tags: | Leave a comment

17 Take-aways from Summer PD

summer pdSummer PD 2015 just ended. A couple dozen of us–teachers, library media specialists, tech integrationists, lab teachers–gathered virtually for three weeks to experiment with some of the hottest tech tools available for the classroom–Google Apps, differentiation tools, digital storytelling, visual learning, Twitter, blogs, Common Core and tech, backchannels, digital citizenship, assessment, and more (12 topics in all). It was run like a flipped classroom where class members picked 60% of daily topics, then they read, tested and experimented. Failed and tried again. Asked questions. They shared with colleagues on discussion boards, blogs, Tweets.  Once a week we got together virtually (via Google Hangout or a TweetUp) to share ideas, answer questions,  and discuss nuances.

The class awarded a Certificate based on effort, not end product. Here are my takeaways as moderator of this amazing group:

  • They are risk takers. They kept trying long beyond the recommended hour a day in some cases.
  • They were curious. They wanted to get it right, see how it worked.
  • They are life long learners. Some had been teaching for thirty years and still enthusiastically embraced everything from twitter to the gamification of education.
  • They were problem solvers. I often heard, ‘if I tweak it here, I can solve this problem’.

Read more »

Categories: Education reform, Online education, Teacher resources | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Tech Ed Resources for your Class–Digital Citizenship Curriculum

digital citizenshipI get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m going to take a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum

Overview

K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum–9 grade levels. 17 topics. 46 lessons. 46 projects. A year-long digital citizenship curriculum that covers everything you need to discuss on internet safety and efficiency, delivered in the time you have in the classroom.

Digital Citizenship–probably one of the most important topics students will learn between kindergarten and 8th and too often, teachers are thrown into it without a roadmap. This book is your guide to what children must know at what age to thrive in the community called the internet. It blends all pieces into a cohesive, effective student-directed cyber-learning experience that accomplishes ISTE’s general goals to:

  • Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology
  • Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
  • Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning
  • Exhibit leadership for digital citizenship

Read more »

Categories: AATT Classroom Materials, Digital Citizenship, Reviews | Tags: | Leave a comment

16 Websites on Natural Disasters

floodsNatural disasters is  a related discussion to any number of topics–geography, ecology, Earth Day, even problem solving. Here are 16 websites that bring the power of these natural forces to students:

  1. Avalanches
  2. Earthquake simulations
  3. Earthquakes
  4. Earthquakes for Kids
  5. Earthquakes–USGS
  6. Hurricanes
  7. Natural disaster videos
  8. Natural disasters—National Geographic
  9. Natural disasters–resources
  10. Storm Chasing
  11. Tornadoes
  12. Tornadoes II
  13. Tsunamis
  14. Volcano Underwater
  15. Volcano videos
  16. Volcanoes

Read more »

Categories: Science, Websites | Tags: | Leave a comment

7 Skills Students Need for Today’s Classwork

vocabularyClassrooms are infused with technology. You rarely see a lesson that doesn’t ask for online this or digital that. Students are expected to collaborate and share online as young as kindergarten when they read digital books or draw pictures using iPad apps. By middle school, they work in online groups through forums, wikis, and Google Apps.

Accomplishing this so it serves educational goals isn’t as much about knowing how to use the tools as constructing knowledge in an organic, scalable way. Doing a project that uses Google Docs or MS Word doesn’t mean students will apply that knowledge to the year-end PARCC and SB tests. Creating an online graphic organizer on the animal kingdom doesn’t necessarily conflate with knowing how to compare-contrast (a skill mentioned thirty-eight times by Common Core between kindergarten and eighth grade).

To prepare students to make the cerebral leap between tools used for a particular project and tools available as-needed requires preparation in eight areas:

Read more »

Categories: Digital Citizenship, Education reform, Keyboarding | 1 Comment