Dear Otto: Best Practices for New Teachers About Tech

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Lucia:

I currently teach an instructional technology class to undergraduate students preparing to be educators. Every semester I need to revise my course to reflect “updates” in current Ed Tech. I’m hoping you might give me some advice on “best practices” for teaching students who want to be teachers! I’ve learned so much from you…and I’m hoping you can give me a boost here! I’m truly appreciative of any advice you may have!

There are four topics considered ‘best practices’ by current teachers when using tech in education. Here they are with a link to resources to help teach them:

  • digital citizenship--show how to keep students safe as they are encouraged to go online for research, collaborating, sharing, perspective-taking, and more
  • problem solving–lots of new teachers are intimidated by technology in their classrooms. Besides that there are so many digital tools–how does anyone stay up to date on them–there’s a worse problem: What happens when students using technology in class have a problem with it? What’s the teacher do? There are lots of problems the teacher can solve herself, without slowing down class and while modeling problem-solving skills, that don’t require an IT Intervention. Here’s a collection of 98

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14 Action Items, 5 Take-aways and 3 Tidbits from the TpT Conference

tpt1.6 million teachers buy from Teachers Pay Teachers. Over 90,000,000 people visit the website monthly. If you’re a teacher, why wouldn’t you set up a free seller account (they take a percent of revenue, like Amazon does) and see if all those brainy ed ideas caroming through your brilliant brain will fund your weekly Starbucks bill (or in the case of Deanna Jumper and a growing group of teachers like her, bring in over $1 million dollars to pay a lot more than bills)?

I have a TpT store (Ask a Tech Teacher) so decided to attend the first-ever premium seller’s conference on how to TpT better, smarter, more effectively, while having more fun. I went with a girlfriend–a fellow teacher. Together we made the desert drive from Orange County, California to Las Vegas Nevada, prepared to learn how to make our online stores the best they could be. From beginning to end, every seminar I attended was packed:

tpt

Here are my action items and take-aways from this great conference:

How to improve sales

  1. Submit for Seller Spotlight in TpT newsletter
  2. Set up a custom category in tpt
  3. Before publishing, search to be sure the products is not already up there
  4. Use a title that can be found
  5.  Link products to other products in my store.
  6. Sponsor resources on the newsletter. I can do this for $50(something like that) which is taken out of my earnings.tpt13
  7. Send a note to followers once a month. Cross  post on Twitter and FB.
  8. Have blogging buddies–support each other
  9. Best practices for search optimization
    1. Keep titles simple
    2. Be descriptive not creative
    3. Most users search by subjects and themes
    4. Include key phrases at beginning of description
    5. Promote other products at the bottom of the description
    6. In title, mix subject grade month
    7. You can change title without messing up the links
    8.  The message: tracking your sales equates to more sales
  10. Add a terms of use and a copyrights page to each doc
  11. Add a page with related products
  12. Add a page with 10% off on products
  13. Morning work is popular
  14. Add a page with Contact info, social media

Take-Aways

  1. June is a slow month. As is July. Good to know since it has been for me. I’ll wait before giving up. August-December statistically have the biggest sales.
  2. They don’t recommend product covers as pins on Pinterest. I should have listened harder on that one
  3. Don’t self-promote! This is a common theme on anything to do with social media
  4. If you make less than $20,000, TpT doesn’t send a W9. Good to know
  5. Everyone there was happy, excited, exhilarated to be a teacher sharing knowledge. The overwhelming attitude: We can do this together

Interesting Tidbits

  1. Average to first sale is 161 days
  2. Education use isn’t necessarily fair use in the eyes of the copyright police   You must be a nonprofit ed institution
  3. Ideas cannot be protected by copyrights

More on this conference? Watch my slideshow:

And–check out Monica’s review here and the Flutter Girls review (wonderful presentation by these two ladies).
More on tech ed conferences:

5 Must-have tools for Ed Conferences

18 Take-aways from ISTE–Observations, Tips and Great Digital Tools


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of dozens of technology training books that integrate technology into education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a tech ed columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out next summer.

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Tech Ed Resources for your Classroom–Common Core Bundle

CC Article Bundle Cover(3)I 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: Common Core Bundle

Overview

In this bundle, you get 20 tech ed resources on how to use technology to achieve Common Core Standards–presented in a variety of ways including Lesson plans, webinars, and short but pithy articles. Included:

  • 5 books (including 70 lesson plans)
  • 8 webinars
  • 7 Hall of Fame articles addressing Common Core topics

Who needs this

K-8 class teacher, K-8 tech teachers, tech coordinators, library media specialists, curriculum specialists

Classroom grade level teachers if your tech teacher doesn’t cover basic tech skills.

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13 Ways Blogs Teach Common Core

bloggingIf you aren’t blogging with your students, you’re missing one of the most effective tools available for improving student literacy and math. Blogs are easy to use, fun for students, encourage creativity and problem-solving, allow for reflection and feedback, enable publishing and sharing of work, and fulfill many of the Common Core Standards you might be struggling to complete. Aside from math and literacy, Common Core wants students to become accomplished in a variety on intangible skills that promote learning and college and career readiness. Look at these 13 benefits of blogging and how they align with Common Core:

  1. provide and get feedback–building a community via comments is an integral part of blogging. If you didn’t want feedback, you’d publish a white paper or submit work the old fashioned hard copy way. When students publish their ideas in blogs, other students, teachers, parents can provide feedback, join the conversation, and learn from the student.
  2. write-edit-review-rewrite–teachers don’t expect students to get it right the first time. Part of the writing process is revising, editing, rewriting. This is easy with blogs. Students publish a topic, collect comments, incorporate these ideas into their own thinking, then edit their post.
  3. publish–the idea that student work is created for a grade then stuffed away in a corner of their closet is disappearing. Current educators want students to publish their work in a way that allows everyone to benefit from the student’s knowledge and work. There are many ways to do that–blogs are one of the easiest.
  4. share–just like publishing, students no longer create for a grade; they share with others. Blogs allow for sharing of not only writing, but artwork, photography, music, multimedia projects, pretty much anything the student can create.
  5. collaborate–blogs can easily be collaborative. Student groups can publish articles, comment on others, edit and rewrite. They can work together on one blog to cover a wider variety of topics and/or make its design attractive, appealing and enticing to readers.
  6. keyboarding–blogs are small doses of typing–300-500 words, a few dozen for comments. This is an authentic opportunity to practice the keyboarding skills students will need for Common Core Standards in 4th grade and up.
  7. demonstrate independence–blogs are about creativity. No two are alike. They offer lots of options for design and formatting so students can tweak it to their preference. Because they are open 24/7, students can do blog work when it suits them, not in the confines of a 50-minute class.
  8. build strong content knowledge–blog posts can be drafted as the student collects information, posted when the student is ready. Links can be included to provide evidence of student statements, as well as linkbacks for reference and deeper reading for interested students.
  9. respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline–Students can create their work in whatever digital tool fits the audience, task, purpose they are focused on, then embed it into their blog post. This is possible even in a simplified blogging platform like KidBlog. Most online tools (Voki, Wordle, Tagxedo) provide the html codes that can be easily placed in the blog post. Then, the student at their option can focus on presenting their ideas as music, art, photos, text, an infographic, a word cloud–whatever works for their purposes.
  10. comprehend as well as critique–student bloggers are expected to critique the posts of others by thoroughly reading the post and commenting based on evidence. If the reader doesn’t understand, they ask questions in the comments. This insures that when they evaluate the post, they have all the information required to reach a conclusion.
  11. value evidence–blogs make it easy to provide all the necessary evidence to support a point of view.  Students can link back to sources to provide credit and link to experts to provide credibility for statements. In fact, in the blogosphere, good bloggers are expected to do this as a means of building credibility for opinions they write
  12. use technology and digital media strategically and capably--certainly blogs are great for writing, but they’re also excellent as digital portfolios to display student work developed in a variety of places. Students pick the technology that fits what they’re expected to accomplish in a class, then publish it to the blog. Have you seen the movies students put together on a topic? Some are amazing.
  13. understand other perspectives and cultures–blogs are published to the internet. Even private blogs are accessed by many more people than possible with a hand-written paper. Students write knowing that people of all cultures and perspectives will read their material, knowing they can add comments that share their beliefs. This encourages students to develop the habit of thinking about perspective as they write.

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Tech Ed Resources for Your Classroom: Survival Kits

tech is easyI 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: Tech Survival Kits

Overview

Tech Survival Kits put everything a teacher needs to tech-ify their classroom into one package. This includes books, ebooks, articles, webinars, mentoring, and more.By purchasing as a Kit, you get a 10% discount on the included materials.

The specific resources depend upon your need:

  • K-5 tech teacher–what tech skills to teach when so students can use digital devices to granularly in their learning. Includes K-5 tech curriculum, Common Core tie-ins, tech problem solving, classroom posters, 60+ webinars, and 1:1 coaching
  • K-6 tech teacher--what tech skills to teach when so students can use digital devices to granularly in their learning. Includes K-6 tech curriculum, Common Core tie-ins, tech problem solving, classroom posters, 60+ webinars, and 1:1 coaching
  • Middle School tech teacher–how to use tech efficiently and effectively in the MS classroom. Includes grades 6-8 tech curriculum, Common Core tie-ins, tech problem solving, 26 themed webinars, and 1:1 coaching
  • Common Core–how to use tech to deliver the promise of Common Core. Includes 5 ebooks, 8 webinars, and 7 Hall of Fame articles
  • Non-tech teacher wants to integrate tech into inquiry–this includes materials to guide you in using tech as a tool to deliver classroom inquiry. Includes 9 books/ebooks (on digital citizenship, keyboarding, tech problem solving), 23 webinars (on Common Core and tech, pedagogy, more), 1:1 coaching via Skype/email/GHO, Q&A

Who needs this

Tech teachers, tech coordinators, library media specialists, curriculum specialists

Classroom grade level teachers if your tech teacher doesn’t cover basic tech skills.

How do you use it

If you’re the tech teacher and have dedicated technology time each week, this takes you through that 30-45 minutes, unpacking what needs to be taught when. If you’re a classroom teacher, integrate the lesson pieces into your regular curriculum. For example, where a project is required to learn a tech skill, pick one that supports your inquiry.

Authors

The Ask a Tech Teacher crew

Stuff that goes nicely with this

When you buy this Survival Kit, you get free weekly webinar training via a companion wiki, access to a Master Teacher to address your questions. So don’t buy those.

What else do you need?  Hmmm….. Anything else would be for a different need. This is all the basics–which is why it’s called a Survival Kit!

Where do you get it

Available in print/digital as a single or multi-user license

Pay via PayPal or school PO

Sold directly from the Publisher

Screenshots from materials include:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of dozens of technology training books that integrate technology into education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a tech ed columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out next summer.

 

 

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Weekend Websites: 31 Keyboarding Websites

keyboardingIf summer is when your children are absolutely positively going to catch up on keyboarding, here’s a list of 32 keyboarding websites for all ages (be sure to view the full post–I have a free poster for you):

  1. ABCYa–Keyboard challenge—grade level
  2. Alphabet rain game
  3. Barracuda game
  4. Big Brown Bear
  5. Bubbles game
  6. Dance Mat Typing
  7. Finger jig practice game
  8. Free typing tutor
  9. GoodTyping.com
  10. Keyboard lessons—16—video, etc
  11. Keyboard practice—quick start
  12. Keyboarding practice
  13. Keyboarding—games
  14. Keyboarding—lessons
  15. Keyboarding—more lessons
  16. Keyboarding—must sign up, but free
  17. Keyboarding—quick start
  18. Keyboarding—speed quiz
  19. Keybr–Online practice
  20. Krazy keyboarding for kids
  21. NitroTyping
  22. Online keyboarding course
  23. Online typing lessons — more
  24. Sensalang typing and quizzes
  25. Touch Typing Progressive Program
  26. TuxTyping
  27. Typing Club
  28. Typing Defense—fun word practice
  29. TypingTest.com
  30. TypingWeb.com—a graduated course
  31. Web Institute Keyboarding for Kids

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Twitter in the Classroom

In my webinars for educators, administrators, pre-service professionals, I share a summary of the class not only as a video, but as a tech tool. This one is on Twitter. The web  tool is Tackk:

 

More on Twitter and Tackk:

15 Webtools in 15 Minutes

10 Ways Twitter Makes You a Better Writer

13 ways Twitter Improves Education

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of dozens of technology training books that integrate technology into education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a tech ed columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out next summer.

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How to Teach Students to Solve Problems

tech tipsOf all the skills students learn in school, problem solving arguably is the most valuable and the hardest to learn. It’s fraught with uncertainty–what if the student looks stupid as he tries? What if everyone’s watching and he can’t do it–isn’t it better not to try? What if it works, but not the way Everyone wants it to? When you’re a student, it’s understandable when they decide to let someone tell them what to do.

But this isn’t the type of learner we want to build. We want risk-takers, those willing to be the load-bearing pillar of the class. And truthfully, by a certain age , kids want to make up their own mind. Our job as teachers is to provide the skills necessary for them to make wise, effective decisions.

It’s not a stand-alone subject. It starts with a habit of inquiry in all classes–math, LA, history, science, any of them. I constantly ask students questions, get them to think and evaluate, provide evidence that supports process as well as product. Whether they’re writing, reading, or creating an art project, I want them thinking what they’re doing and why.

Common Core puts problem solving front and center. It comes up in ELA (“Students will be challenged and asked questions that push them to refer back to what they’ve read. This stresses critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills that are required for success in college, career, and life.”), but is inescapable in Math. In fact, students cannot fully meet the Math Standards without understanding how to effectively approach the unknown. Consider the Standards for Mathematical Practice that overlay all grade levels K-12:

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18 Take-aways from ISTE–Observations, Tips and Great Digital Tools

ISTE was everything I expected–energizing, motivating, collegial and crowded. Very very crowded. Lots of events were packed–if you didn’t get there early, you weren’t getting in. There were surprisingly many that charged a fee or required a ticket. Sure, in a perfect world, I’d have been organized enough to request tickets a week before, but perfection has never inhabited my world so I didn’t. There were so many events, I had no trouble finding alternatives.

I have lots of observations, tips, notes, and takeaways to share with you, so let me get started:

Observations

  • ISTE was extremely well-organized. There were lots of people to ehlp attendees find their way, understand materials, figure problems out. Me, I tried to be prepared, but it ended up a losing effort:

photo1

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Tech Tip #91: Internet Problem? Switch Browsers (copy)

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!

I’ve been having more than usual problems with my browser, Firefox. Often, I can fix things by switching to Chrome. Sometimes, it’s the reverse, so I wanted to repost this tip as a reminder at the start of our new school year:

Q: I’m trying to use a website and it keeps telling me Flash isn’t installed. I know it is. I even re-installed it and it wouldn’t work. What do I do?

A: Change browsers. I have this problem more often with Firefox than Chrome in my lab. When students try to use one of the websites on our internet start page and find it won’t run correctly, the first thing I check is which browser they’re in. If it’s Firefox, I switch to Chrome or IE. That often fixes it.

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