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Author Archives: Jacqui

About Jacqui

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 four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, 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.

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–Themed; 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.
  • bundle of bundles–15 for about $15 (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 $.99 each. Genius Hour, Google Apps, Khan Academy, Robotics, STEM, Coding, 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 Materials, Classroom management, Lesson plans, Teacher resources | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Energize Your Math Program with Thinkster Math

Thinkster Math is an iPad based math tutorial program for K-8, aligned with Common Core and based on well-known international math programs such as Singapore Math. Offered in thirty countries and used by thousands of students, it teaches via digital worksheets, video tutorials, feedback from real (human) coaches, and a long-term plan developed with the student that encourages students to learn at their own pace, wherever they are, on a device (the iPad) that they love.

That last item is important — learn at their own pace. Research shows that often students succeed better when their learning is self-directed and self-paced. With Thinkster, students complete their math assignments wherever, whenever, and however it best fits their needs. They receive feedback from a personal tutor, badges for completed activities, game options to keep learning fresh, and prizes for achieving agreed-upon goals.

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Categories: Math, Reviews | Tags: | 2 Comments

ORIGO Education Partners with Lakeshore

Lakeshore has long been a staple for preschool to sixth grade teachers looking for classroom supplies. Many education conferences I have attended, they were there, sharing their resources. Now, ORIGO Education is partnering with them to deliver their industry-leading math curricula. Read on:

ORIGO Education, a leading provider of mathematic curriculum programs for Pre-K–6 grades, and Lakeshore Learning Materials, a nationwide supplier of educational resources, announce their partnership to offer classroom resources for elementary mathematics teachers. The manipulative kits are paired with ORIGO’s Stepping Stones 2.0 comprehensive mathematics education program and help foster a better understanding of concrete math skills at an early learning stage.

Content specialists from ORIGO and Lakeshore created unique grade level kits that align with and support the newest edition of Stepping Stones for Pre-K through grade 5 classrooms. Manipulative kits contain visual and tactile objects to support coherent mathematics learning. For example, Kinetic Sensory Sand, developed by Lakeshore, and colorful teddy bear counters are two of 19 items found in the Pre-K classroom kit. Older grade kits incorporate geoboards, base-ten blocks, and geometric shape pattern blocks.

All orders will be fulfilled through Lakeshore. Stepping Stones catalogs may be requested by contacting Lakeshore at lakeshoresolutions@lakeshorelearning.com.

One more for you before you go: ORIGO has a great collection of math videos called One-Minute Mathematics. Here’s one that’s so simple, it’s immensely clever:

More on ORIGO Education:

ORIGO Stepping Stones 2.0–A Versatile, Easy-to-Use Math Program

New from Origo Stepping Stones for This Summer

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Categories: Math, News | Leave a comment

Kiddom Planner: A Highly-effective Tool for your Classes

As a teacher, I spend a lot of time preparing lesson plans. Most don’t survive the first five minutes in front of my students but still I go through this preparatory exercise. Over the decades, I’ve come to realize that the product (a completed lesson plan) is less important than the process of organizing my thoughts, thinking about the needs of the students, searching for the right resources, and figuring out the best way to help students achieve goals. Scholastic has eight questions to help teachers plan their lessons:

  1. Students: What are the academic, social, physical, personal, and emotional needs of students?
  2. Strategies: Which teaching strategies will best facilitate student learning?
  3. Grouping: Should I group heterogeneously or homogeneously? What size should groups be?
  4. Timing: When is the best time to do this lesson? Are there prerequisites students should master?
  5. Materials: What materials do I need for the lesson to be successful?
  6. Success: Was the lesson successful? Were students interested? Did students learn? What didn’t work? What will I do differently next time?
  7. Sequence: What can I do next to build upon this lesson? How can I make it flow?
  8. Rationale: What is the reason for doing this? What objectives will be accomplished?

What lesson planning normally looks like

That’s a lot to prepare! Normally, I’d create a template or use one provided by my Principal that included these characteristics as well as school-specific ones like Standards Met, Time required, Steps Required, and Collaborations with Colleagues. I’d take a few hours (per lesson) to collect what I needed, visit with co-teachers, update the lesson plan from prior years, and then think how to make it relevant to the learning style of each child I will be teaching. Often — too often — I wouldn’t be able to find the resources I’d carefully stored last year or I would belatedly remember that the plan didn’t work well last year and needed a complete rework. More often than I want to admit, I would run out of time before getting to the part where I differentiate for each student’s needs (I can do that on the fly, can’t I?).

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Categories: Lesson plans, News | Tags: | Leave a comment

Tech Ed Resources–Organize Your Class

digital classroomI get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m taking 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: Organizing your classroom

Overview

18 webinars (more added as they become available), approx. 30 minutes each, show how to set up your classroom to be tech-infused.

What’s Included

Do you wonder how to set up an effective, exciting, motivating classroom to teach tech? It’s not difficult–but there are steps you must take that are different from a grade-level or subject-specific classroom. Watch these videos at the start of school and often throughout the year to understand how to integrate tech into your classes and how to help students use tech to get the most from their education adventure. Webinars included:

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

Is Whole Brain Teaching Right for Me?

If you have challenging students in your classes, there’s a good chance someone has suggested that you look into Whole Brain Teaching (WBT). Whole Brain Teaching is an active teaching method designed to maximize student engagement in lessons, positive interactions with classmates, and educational fun. Instruction includes vocal directions mixed with hand gestures, inflections, full body movement, head motions,  and chants. Studies show that this multi-sensory approach is how the brain is intended to learn and will result in a much greater probability of reaching teaching goals.

Where it might have originally been intended for challenging classes — much like Orton-Gillingham started as a multi-sensory learning system for dyslexics — WBT has matured into a strategy that works for lots of learners, even the quiet ones. It uses “model and repeat” as ways to join the right and left sides of the brain (such as the hippocampus, the prefrontal cortex,  and the motor cortex) in student learning with the idea that if the entire brain is engaged in learning, there is nothing left over for misbehavior or distraction. For many K-12 teachers, WBT has become their primary teaching strategy.

WBT is based on four core components (called Core Four — part of a longer list of techniques):

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Categories: Classroom management, Teacher resources, Teaching Strategies | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Moodle: The Unsung Hero of LMS Options

moodleA Learning Management System (what is often called an LMS) has become foundational to blending technology into education experiences. Without its one-stop curation of class management activities such as attendance, homework, grading, discussions, resources, and more, each with their own separate website, login, and password, technology use in education would be defined by chaos. There are many LMSs to choose from, but none as flexible, scalable, feature-rich, and affordable as the open source ecosystem of Moodle.

Moodle got its start years ago as a method to organize blended learning and online classes. Now, it provides over 90 million educators, administrators, and learners in over 200 countries with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalized learning environments. Besides thousands of K-12 schools, users include the State University of New York, Microsoft and the Open University, and the London School of Economics. Because it’s Open Source and platform-agnostic, it has few limitations, but this flexibility and scalability comes with a price. Setup and use are reputed to be more challenging than other LMSs. In fact, I can attest to that from experience.

There is help, though. Following “How to get started” (the next section), I’ll share an easy way to unpack Moodle in your school.

How to get started

With a reminder that Moodle is Open Source, which means the basic framework can be augmented with just about any addition conceivable (as you’ll see in the section, “23 Ways to use Moodle”), here’s how to start:

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Categories: Classroom management, Online education, Teacher resources | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Sown To Grow: Easily Blend Goal-setting and Reflection into Classwork

Many of the existential guides for teaching (such as Habits of Mind, the Socrative Method, and Mindfulness) promote a student-driven growth mindset as fundamental to successful learning. This means students take an active part in achieving education and personal goals. The problem is how to persuade students to voluntarily reflect on their progress, rethink goals, and make the required adjustments to achieve success? There’s also the problem of assessing this sort of non-metric thinking. Students and teachers are accustomed to checklists and grading scales. Few have the background to include subjective traits.

I found a solution: Sown To Grow. It is an online student-driven performance tracker that uses the metrics of goal-setting and reflection to assess progress. The expectation is that students learn how to learn by assessing their own educational experiences as a way to determine their best strategies to become lifelong learners. Students set their goals, track their progress, and ultimately see what worked and what didn’t. Because this is entirely student-driven, students care more about their work and doing their best. For example, if notetaking worked well as a method of achieving goals in one instance, they can transfer that successful experience to other academic endeavors.

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Categories: Classroom management, Reviews, Web Tools | Tags: | 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 Materials, Reviews | Tags: , | Leave a comment

2017 Teachers Pay Teachers Conference: Notes from Sessions

One of the largest online marketplace for teachers is Teachers Pay Teachers. If you haven’t heard of this store, you are either new to teaching or long since retired. This vibrant educator community hosts teacher-authors who wish to sell their original lessons and ideas to other teachers, homeschoolers, and unschoolers. Since its start in 2006 by a former teacher, it’s grown to over 3.4 million teachers buying or selling over 2.7 million education-oriented Pre-K through High School lesson plans, curricula, videos, classroom activities, assessments, books, bulletin board ideas, classroom decorations, interactive notebooks, task cards, Common Core resources, and more. Teacher-authors have earned more than $330 million since TpT opened its doors with about a dozen making over $1 million dollars and nearly 300 earning more than $100,000. There’s no set-up charge, no cost to join, and no annual fee unless you choose to become what’s called a Premium seller.

My general observations and To Do list from the conference can be found here (if the link doesn’t work, that means it’s not live yet. Check back later!). I didn’t want to overwhelm you-all by including my thoughts on the sessions I attended so I saved them for this post. I start with a schedule of seminars for the three days (only those I attended). Then, I post my notes and screenshots from the sessions. These aren’t exhaustive by any means, just an idea of what was included. For the real thing, you’ll have to attend next year’s event!

Copyrights

One of TpT’s attorneys talked about the importance of using only media that you have permission to use or created yourself.

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Categories: Teacher resources, Websites | Tags: | 1 Comment