Subscriber Special: May

SUMMER learning online banner--robotask a tech teacher

Every month, subscribers to Ask a Tech Teacher get a free/discounted resource to help their tech teaching.

April 1st through May 15th:

10% Discount (use code SUMMERPD) on any of our Summer Learning online classes:

The Tech-infused Teacher

The Tech-infused Class (must take Tech-infused Teacher first or get approval of instructor)

Teach Writing with Tech

20 Webtools in 20 Days (space limited–sign up early)

Group discounts available

Want more information? Here you go:

The Tech-infused Teacher (formerly known as Summer PD)

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Categories: Online education, Subscriber special | Tags: | 2 Comments

Teacher Appreciation Week is May 2nd-May 6th

teacher in classroom with his little happy studentsTeacher Appreciation Week is May 2nd-May 8th. In honor of these tenacious, creative individuals, here are some of our favorite teacher appreciation articles:

10 Bits of Wisdom I Learned From a Computer

How to Talk to a Tech Teacher

18 Things Teachers Do Before 8am

A Website That Cleans Your Computer for You

Definition of ‘Teacher’

How to be a Tech Teacher

You’re a Geek Now

You Know You’re a Geek When…

10 Steps to Become a Better Geek

15 Ways to Get Your Geek On

21 Reasons Why You Know You’re a Teacher

You Know You’re a Techy Teacher When…

Just Another Day In Computer Lab

Dr. Seuss–Techie Style

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Categories: Humor, Teaching | Leave a comment

What You Might Have Missed in April

top monthly postsHere are the most-read posts for the month of April:

  1. 31Websites for Poetry Month
  2. 67 K-8 Hour of Code Suggestions–by Grade Level
  3. 23 Great Websites and Apps for Earth Day
  4. Do You Miss Kerpoof? Try These 31 Alternatives
  5. 16 Great Research Websites for Kids
  6. 17 Ways to Add Tech to your Lessons Without Adding Time to Your Day
  7. 7 Authentic Assessment Tools
  8. Chromebooks in the Classrooms–Friend or Foe?
  9. 13 Reasons For and 3 Against Technology in the Classroom
  10. 3 Comic Creators That Will Wow Your Students

And, just in time for summer, here are a few new technology-in-education products you may be interested in:

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Zap Zap Math–Clever, Robust Math App for K-6

Many of you are familiar with the award-winning free app called Zap Zap Math. I first learned about it through an email about their newly updated platform–

…addictive math games..

kids fall in love with math..

free, higher order thinking games…

I have to admit, I was intrigued. Not a lot of math apps can fulfill these claims. Could Zap Zap Math, with that zippy name, beautiful visual graphics, lively music, and the space theme, come through? I downloaded it and took it for a test drive. Here’s what I found: Fifty (at the date of this publication) free fast-paced K-6 interactive math games that are Common Core-aligned and suited for varied student learning styles, with activities that advance with student skills, and no internet connection required (though WiFi is required). Student activity is recorded to the teacher (or parent) dashboard, making it easy to focus on areas of difficulty. And parents are partners, having access to their child’s progress, right down to the minutiae of the skills they learned, like “knows the meaning of equal sign”.

Game categories include:

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Categories: Math, Reviews | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Summer Keyboarding Class for Students

Summer is coming, and so is Summer Keyboarding for Students! If your students are looking for a summer keyboarding class to smooth out their rough edges, prepare them for next year’s increased tech demands, or get them started, this is the program for them. It’s online, one hour a day M-F for three weeks, with a wide variety of activities that keep keyboarding fun and challenging. All the details are below.

Note: Early Bird special for those who sign up by May 15th. Use coupon code SUMMERPD to get 10% off!

Sign up now–

  • it’s all online, but includes 1:1 attention so space is limited
  • you get lots of the materials as soon as you sign up. Take from now until June 22nd to review them, use them in your end-of-year and next-year planning

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Categories: 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, 8th grade, Keyboarding | Leave a comment

A Helping Hand: Assistive Technology Tools for Writing

roseI don’t write enough about special needs so when Rose contacted me with an article idea, I was thrilled. Rose Scott is a literary teacher who is interested in making education comfortable for students with special needs. Her dream is to help students explore their talents and abilities. You can follow her on Twitter: @roserose_sc.

In this article, Rose writes about a little-known problem that students may unknowingly suffer from that may make it look like they are plagiarising when–to them–they aren’t.

Read on:

Many people have come to believe that plagiarism is intentional and evil, and all students whose works have text coincidences are shameless wrongdoers. While it may seem that the majority of plagiarists do turn out to be cheaters, there are exceptions. Have you ever heard of cryptomnesia?

Cryptomnesia, according to the Merriam-Webster medical dictionary, is “the appearance in consciousness of memory images which are not recognized as such but which appear as original creations.” In other words, a person says something for the first time (as he or she thinks), but in reality he/she has already mentioned it, and now just doesn’t remember the previous occurrence.

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Categories: Digital Citizenship, Guest post | Tags: | Leave a comment

3 Free/Freemium Tools for Rubrics

Rubrics are a well-accepted, even transformative tool for assessing student knowledge over a breadth of criteria. Their deep granular detail enables students to quickly understand what is expected of them, teachers to receive critical feedback on student learning, and both sides to benefit from an agile yet objective tool for measuring workflow competency.

But they are not without their problems. The pre-online versions weren’t dynamic or flexible, couldn’t be re-used, and few teachers had the time or energy to build these summative, purpose-built assessments. That changed with online rubrics. These webtools offer standard topical text that can be quickly personalized, saved for re-use in the future, and easily updated year-to-year to reflect changes in the curriculum and desired learning outcomes.

There are many online rubric creators, each with a little different twist on the norm. Here are three that fill different needs. Decide which works the best for you:

rubistarRubistar

Free

Rubistar is the gold standard of online rubric creators. It lets teachers personalize categories and qualifications, save, and then edit for another class. You can use the site rubric templates or modify them to better serve your particular needs. Rubrics can be created in English or Spanish, in ten different subject areas, with ten or more skill categories (this varies depending upon the subject chosen).

Here’s how it works:

  • Set up an account so you can save your rubrics, making them available to be re-used and edited for future needs. This is optional–rubrics can be created without registering.
  • Pick the subject category you wish to create a rubric for.
  • Start with a generic template or from scratch. Alternatively, search by keyword or topic for rubrics other Rubistar members have created and remix those.
  • Pick a grading scale–either numeric or descriptive.
  • Pick a category for each row from the drop-down list and the rubric automatically populates with language defining what the category would look like based on the rating.
  • Edit criteria so it perfectly fits your needs or accept the well-considered defaults.
  • When you’re done, submit.
  • Once the rubric is rendered, you can print, download, or make it available online to your account.

Educational applications

Rubistar is invaluable in creating personalized, quick rubrics that are easily edited for varied needs. For registered users, there’s a vast library of rubrics created by members that can be used. Teachers can also use the rubric to evaluate student performance. For example, if a third of students scored poorly on ‘Diagrams’ in the math rubric, the teacher knows immediately this is an area that requires review.

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Categories: Classroom management, Reviews | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Summer Online Learning Questions We’ve Gotten

In response to extensive interest from readers, Ask a Tech Teacher will be offering four Summer Learning classes:

1 of 4 Certificate classes

1 of 4 Certificate classes

summer online classes

1 of 4 Certificate classes

summer online classes

1 of 4 Certificate classes

summer classes

1 of 4 Certificate classes

June 20th through August 7th

3-4 weeks, lots of resources and hands-on help

You can find out more by clicking on the image. What I want to do today is go over the most common questions I’ve gotten regarding sign ups:

Q: What is the cost to register?

The full program is $249-$259.00. 20 Webtools in 20 Days is 4 weeks long so the price is a bit higher. You can enroll through the PayPal button on the website or with a school PO. If you attended before, or sign up really fast, you get a 10% discount. Use coupon code:

SUMMERPD

…when you check out.

If you have a group of five or more attending from your school, you qualify for a 20% discount. Email us for more information (askatechteacher at gmail dot com)

Q: I don’t know which class to take.

Here’s a quick checklist:

  • If you want a broad overview of integrating technology into your classroom, start with The Tech-infused Teacher. Follow that with the sequel, The Tech-infused Classroom (offered sequentially) if you have time.
  • If you took The Tech-infused Teacher last year and loved it, take The Tech-infused Classroom. It’s the sequel and lets you dig deeper into what you learned last year.
  • If you’re looking for specific help on tech tools, take 20 Webtools in 20 Days. This covers webtools teachers use most often in their classes, or want to use.
  • If you’re looking for help specifically with using technology to add creativity and zing to your writing lessons, take Teach Writing with Tech.

Q: What if I can’t figure out how to use some of the tools during the classes? I’m not very techie.

Email the instructor at askatechteacher at gmail dot com throughout the week and/or bring up your question at the weekend Google Hangout or TweetUp.  That’s what this class is for–to get you comfortable with tech tools you want to use in your class. We’ll even set up a separate GHO with you to walk you through it. Plus, you can chat with classmates through the Discussion Forum. They’ll be able to share personal experiences they’ve had with the tools.

Q: Who are the teachers for this PD? And what are their qualifications?

The Master Teacher is Jacqui Murray. She’s been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years and K-16 for 35 years. She’s an adjunct professor as well as a Master Teacher. She’s the author/editor of over a hundred tech-in-ed resources including a K-8 tech curriculum that’s used throughout the world. She will be joined as needed by other teachers from the Ask a Tech Teacher crew.

Q: I want to sign up with several other teachers from my school. Is there a group discount available?

Absolutely! Just email us with your group members at askatechteacher@gmail.com so we set your membership up correctly.

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Categories: Teacher resources, Web Tools | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

7 Tips for Using Social Media for Professional Development

professional learning networkTell me if this sounds familiar:

With the 2016 New Year, you resolved to build your Professional Learning Network–finally, to stop living in the 20th century where your world revolved around a sticks-and-bricks building, a landline phone, and the mailbox. You joined all the big social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, blogging–just for starters). The plan was to connect with the movers and shakers in education, learn from them, and have them as a resource for those times you needed help on a lesson plan or to select the perfect webtool for a project. You committed hours to it, and then days, eager to make this work because everyone you know talks about how much they learn from social media. Now, six months into it, you know too much about your followers’ lunch plans and almost nothing about their educational pedagogy. You’re frustrated, angry, and ready to give this whole failed effort up.

Without knowing anything about you other than that paragraph above, I’m going to predict that you didn’t manage your social media, got intimidated by the words ‘friend’ and ‘defriend’, and quickly became overwhelmed by the volume of information that flooded your inbox every day. The purpose of a social media-based PLN is to extend your reach beyond the narrow confines of the bubble you live in, but that isn’t what happened for you.

Before you unplug from the virtual world, try these seven steps. They’ll clean up the clutter, smooth out the wrinkles, and put you back in the driver’s seat of your online life:

Keep your stream pure

Only accept or seek friends who are in your professional area of interest. This is less like a speed-dating party and more like a job application. When you come across a promising educator, visit their social media, pass judgment on whether they fit your needs, and then make a decision.

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17 Ways to Add Tech to your Lessons Without Adding Time to Your Day

tech in edBecause I teach graduate classes for educators, I talk to lots of teachers all over the country. It’s become clear to me that for most of them, adding technology to their lessons means layering more work on top of their already overburdened lesson plans. Despite the claims of tech gurus that technology makes the job of teaching easier, few educators see it that way. Even the ones who love it put in lots of extra time to do one or more of the following:

  • learn tech tools and then teach their students
  • learn tech tools only to discover it’s not what they need
  • learn a tech tool they love only to have it either disappear or switch to a fee-based program
  • rework existing lesson plans in the school’s mandated digital program that too often, changes every year. This means they have to re-enter the lesson plan in a new format for a new LMS
  • find a tool they love, but no one else in their teaching team agrees, understands it, or cares
  • the tool won’t work on the Big Day of the lesson and nothing will bring it back to life
  • the digital devices–computer or Chromebooks or iPads–won’t work on the Big Day

But the biggest reason is this: Students don’t know the technology, so their projects become rudimentary displays of their knowledge rather than anything resembling the higher order thinking we teachers aspire to. I’d put it at S- in the SAMR Model (if you don’t know what that is, click to get a brief primer).

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Categories: Classroom management, Education reform, Teacher resources | Tags: | 2 Comments