Subscriber Special: September

savingsThis special on site licenses has been extended a month. When September ends, prices increase for the first time since we’ve offered multi-user licenses.

Let me step back. What are site licenses?

  • They are for multiple users rather than just the teacher–students, other teachers, even parents
  • They offer grade-level student workbooks (in PDF format) for the SL tech curriculum and keyboarding curriculum
  • They include the grade-level teacher manual for free
  • Also free: weekly videos showing how to teach the lesson
  • New this year: Office Hours. This is a weekly Google Hangouts anyone using the curriculum can attend and talk real time with a teacher using the curriculum

Why are prices going up? During the beta phase, we priced site licenses low while we worked out bugs. The price increase applies to licenses for:

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

If you already purchased a teacher manual and want to trade it for the site license, just provide a receipt showing you purchased in the last six months.

Questions? Email askatechteacher@gmail.com or zeke.rowe@structuredlearning.net. The slideshow below includes samples of site license products:

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Tech Tip #113: Back up Your Blog!

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: I’m paranoid of losing my documents so I back them up to an external drive, a flash drive, and in the cloud. My blog, though–It’s become an important cog in my teacher PLN. If it blew up, I’d be lost. What do I do about backing it up?

A: If you use WordPress, it’s easy, they provide a native tool for that. Here’s what you do:

  • Go to Tools>Export
  • Select the bubble for ‘all’
  • It’ll back it up as an XML file (you don’t have to understand what that is. Just know it’s the file that will save you if WordPress crashes)
  • Save that backup file somewhere safe in case you need it. Preferably where your Cloud automatic back-up will grab it (assuming you have one of those. If you use Carbonite, you do)
  • Do this once a month–or a week if you’re active

This will back up your posts, pages, comments, categories, and tags. For the entirety of the blog–similar to a time machine, where you can restore the entire website–you’ll need an external service. My WordPress.org blog is hosted by WPEngine. Part of that service is a back-up of the blog. It’s worth it to me to pay a bit extra for that function.

That’s it. Now you’re safe.

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Categories: Blogging, Tech tips | Leave a comment

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.

There are five Survival Kits. The specific resources depend upon your need:

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, AATT Classroom Materials, Reviews | Tags: , | Leave a comment

30 Great Research Websites for Kids

5880711 process cycle diagramHere are quick, safe spots to send students for research:

  1. BrainPop
  2. Citation Machine
  3. CoolKidFacts–kid-friendly videos, pictures, info, and quizzes–all 100% suitable for children
  4. CyberSleuth Kids
  5. Dictionary
  6. Digital Vaults–research a topic, curate resources
  7. Encyclopedia Interactica–visual encyclopedias
  8. Fact Monster
  9. Fun Brain
  10. How Stuff Works
  11. I Know That!
  12. Info Please
  13. Insta-Grok
  14. Internet Library
  15. Internet Public Library (IPL)
  16. Kid Rex
  17. KidsConnect–Kids research
  18. Let me Google that for you–all those questions people ask, they could have answered themselves? Here’s a site. They even have stickers
  19. Library Spot
  20. National Geographic for Kids
  21. Nova video programs
  22. SchoolsWorld.TV--educational videos
  23. Smithsonian Quest–sign up your class; student research/explore with the Smithsonian
  24. SqoolTube Videos
  25. TagGalaxy–search using a cloud
  26. Thesaurus.net
  27. Websites by kids and teens
  28. World Almanac for Kids
  29. World Book
  30. Zanran–statistics and data research

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for six blogs, anAmazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Categories: 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, Research, Reviews, Teacher resources, Websites | Tags: | Leave a comment

Subscribe to Ask a Tech Teacher–Get Monthly Gifts

FREE tech stuffIf you subscribe to Ask a Tech Teacher, 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 a week–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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Tech Tip #112: How to Open 2 Gmail Accounts at Once

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: I have a home Gmail account and a school one. How do I open both at once so I can keep track of what my kids/home business/etc is doing while at my teaching job?

A: The quick answer I got from e-friend and tech guru Chris Hoffman is: Open each account in a separate browser (in my case, I use Firefox and Chrome). Click here to get all the details why this works. It has to do with each browser keeping its own cookie.

Why do you need this:

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Categories: Tech tips | Tags: | 1 Comment

Tech Ed Resources for your Class–Lesson Plans

lesson plansI 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: Lesson Plans

There are lots of bundles of lesson plans available–by theme, by software, by topic, by standard. Let me review a few:

  • bundles of 5 lesson plans–These are great when you want to cover a software program, a tool, a grade, or a standard. Each calls out the higher order thinking skill engaged. Pick the one that fits your need. They’re affordable, focused, and often completed in just a few class sessions.
  • bundles of bundles–15 for about $20 (less if you use a discount coupon). Stock up! Buy three bundles of five lessons to cover a wide-range of needs.
  • 30 K-5 Common Core-aligned lessons–5 per grade level
  • 110 lesson plans–integrate tech into different grades, subjects, by difficulty level, and call out higher-order thinking skills. These cover everything and are discounted this month. Check them out. They could be exactly what you need.
  • singles–for as low as $1.99 each. Genius Hour, Google Apps, Khan Academy, and more.
  • Holiday projects–16 lesson plans that theme to holidays and keep students in the spirit while learning new tools.

Who needs this

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Categories: AATT Classroom Materials, Classroom management, Lesson plans, Teacher resources | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Teach Financial Literacy with Banzai

banzai1When kids read that America’s $18 trillion+ debt is accepted by many experts as ‘business as usual’, I wonder how that news will affect their own personal finance decisions. Do they understand the consequences of unbalanced budgets? The quandary of infinite wants vs. finite dollars? Or do they think money grows on some fiscal tree that always blooms? The good news is: Half of the nation’s schools require a financial literacy course. The bad new is: Only half require a financial literacy course.

Banzai is a personal finance curriculum that teaches high school and middle school students how to prioritize spending decisions through real-life scenarios and choose-your-own adventure (kind of) role playing. Students start the course with a pre-test to determine a baseline for their financial literacy. They then engage in 32 life-based interactive scenarios covering everything from balancing a budget to adjusting for unexpected bills like car trouble or health problems. Once they’ve completed these exercises, they are dropped into a scenario where they have just graduated from high school, have a job, and must save $2,000 to start college. They are constantly tempted to mis-spend their income and then face the consequences of those actions, basing their decisions on what they learned in the 32 scenarios. Along the way, students learn to handle rent, gas, groceries, taxes, car payments, and life’s ever-present emergencies. When they finish, they take a post-test to measure improvement in their financial literacy.

Teachers register as many classes as necessary. Their dashboard lists all students in each class and a summary of which activities they have finished. Student work is graded by the website and updated on the teacher dashboard.

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Categories: 8th grade, Economics, High School, Reviews | Tags: | 2 Comments

5 Tools To Shake up the New Year

One thing we can all agree on is that there are tons of free tech tools available that enrich learning. I can’t keep up with them. I belong to several Tech Teacher forums, FB groups, G+ Communities, and every day I find more great tools I can’t wait to use in my classroom. Like many of you, this summer I attended several professional development conferences (ISTE, Teachers Pay Teachers, WordPress, Summer PD)–that bumped my total up to about a gazillion.

With school just around the corner, I needed to figure out which tools should be immediately integrated into my teaching. This was difficult, but I sorted, shook, noodled, experimented, sifted, and whittled my list down based on tools that differentiate for student needs, simplify the teacher’s job, and entice students to use technology in learning. Here are my top five:

Newsela

This is a useful tool for rewording news stories to fit up to five different reading levels. The ‘max’ level is the original article while the next four are adapted to lower student Lexile levels. The purpose: To encourage students to read the non-fiction writing that prepares them for college and career. It reminds me of the Suzuki music method, where famous classical pieces were placed within reach of beginning musicians by simple rewrites to the more basic level. As a result, many children who might not have been excited about music changed their minds.

Newsela is free and add-free. Teacher ‘Pro’ accounts are available so educators can track student reading, assign articles, and offer quizzes. Here a graphic of it’s start page:

newsela

How does this blend into the classroom: Newsela develops student interest in non-fiction, deep reading, and inquiry with focused articles written to their reading level.

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Categories: Web Tools, Websites | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Tech Tip #111: Quick Internet Fix

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: The internet website is quirky. Stuff I know should work doesn’t. Is there any quick way to fix that without having to reboot?

A: Here are four steps you can take before rebooting your entire computer:

  1. Refresh the webpage with the ‘reload current page’ tool. About half the time, that works.
  2. Next, close the internet down and re-open.
  3. Unplug the modem (or router–or both), wait ten seconds, and replug
  4. Try a different browser.

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