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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.

What You Might Have Missed in May

top monthly posts

Here are the most-read posts for the month of May:

  1. Why Blended Learning Fits Your Class, 3 Issues to Think About, and 5 Easy Ways to Begin
  2. 9 Must-have Tools for Ed Conferences
  3. ORIGO Stepping Stones 2.0–A Versatile, Easy-to-Use Math Program
  4. 19 Ways Students Keep Learning Fresh Over the Summer
  5. Studying for Finals: 5 Collaborative Online Methods to Try in Your Classroom
  6. 2 Webtools You Can Learn This Summer to Differentiate Lesson Plans
  7. Can an AI Save the World?
  8. How Great is MS Office Mix

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Differentiate with Tech–Starts June 12th!

How to Make Differentiation Fast and Easy with Tech

Starts Monday! Last chance to sign up. This Ask a Tech Teacher online class is only offered for college credit. Click the link above and select MTI 563.

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

15 Skills Teachers Can Learn this Summer and Use in Next Year’s Classroom

next year horizonIt’s summer, that time of rest and rejuvenation, ice cream and bonhomie. Like the American plains or the African savannas, it stretches endlessly to a far horizon that is the Next School Year. It represents so much time, you can do anything, accomplish the impossible, and prepare yourself quintessentially for upcoming students.

So what are the absolute basics you should learn this summer that will make a difference in your class in the Fall? Here are fifteen ideas that will still leave you time to enjoy sunsets and hang out with friends:

Learn how to handle basic tech problems

You probably know the most common tech problems faced last year (like hooking digital devices to the school WiFi, this list you might face running a tech-infused lesson, or this one students might face using technology). These are collected from students when they tried to use tech for class projects, parents when their children couldn’t finish their homework because of tech issues, and members of your grade-level team who wanted to use tech for a lesson plan but Something Happened. Know how to solve all of them. If you need help, add a comment at the bottom. I’ll give you some ideas.

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Looking for a Summer Volunteer Opportunity?

I have written in the past about mysimpleshow, an easy and clever way educators can create explainer videos. Mysimpleshow is aligned with simpleshow foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the world. This summer, in cooperation with the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC), they are participating in a summer volunteer program to encourage everyone to promote the United Nations 17 Global Goals in support of the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development:

In collaboration with the United Nations System Staff College, the simpleshow foundation has set up a volunteering program that aims to educate the world about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Using [the online tool] mysimpleshow, volunteers are encouraged to explain details and background of these 17 Global Goals of the Agenda 2030 in short and entertaining explainer videos. The program allows volunteers of all ages to gain a better grasp of the Agenda’s topics and help create a public understanding of the importance of these goals.

Volunteers can sign up at simpleshow-foundation.org

When you sign up, you choose a topic, access mysimpleshow, and create your explainer video.

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Categories: High School, News | Leave a comment

UWorld’s Unique SAT Prep Site

When I first visited UWorld’s College prep site, I expected what usually is included on free SAT/ACT prep sites–questions, answers, and a lot of cheerleading.

I should have known better. UWorld is a leading provider of question bank materials for professional licensing exams like USMLE, ABIM, and ABFM, considered by many to be the gold standard in test preparation. Now, UWorld has expanded into SAT prep (as well as ACT and AP prep). The site includes over 1200 questions written by experienced educators and designed to be similar to what students will find on the real SAT. With each question is a rigorous explanation, step-by-step instructions, and helpful images about the logic behind answers.

Features include:

  • Choose your difficulty level–low, medium, hard.
  • Get hints to help you find a starting point for the answer.
  • Customize practice tests to focus on mastering specific concepts within subjects.
  • Create your own flashcards for quick review.
  • Track your time and performance to improve your pace.
  • Monitor progress with reports and graphs.
  • Compare your results to peers as a gauge of performance. This includes questions they got correct, how much time they took answering individual questions, and the types of questions they are struggling with.
  • Identify weaknesses and improve strengths.
  • Flag questions that you’d like to review later.
  • Define difficult words from within the app (for reading prep).

Registered students can access questions at the pace they’d like, take full timed tests to build test-taking stamina, pause during testing, flag questions they want more work on, save generated tests to finish or retake later, and more.

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Categories: College, High School, Reviews | Tags: | 2 Comments

Zap Zap Math–Gamify any Math Curriculum

math curriculumZap Zap Math is a free gamified way to teach math skills that’s tied to many national and international standards (like Common Core).  Its format is colorful and engaging, music lively, and layout intuitive. The over 150 games are fast-paced and interactive, and cover over 180 math topics. Students direct their learning with a unique space-themed avatar (called a ‘mathling’) that identifies their work and keeps them engaged.

My favorite characteristics of Zap Zap Math include:

  • Math topics are delivered in a module-oriented manner. Topics include:

– Addition
– Subtraction
– Fractions
– Ratio
– Multiplication
– Geometry
– Coordinates
– Measurements
– Angles
– Time
– Pre-school Math

  • Each math topic is divided into four skills: Training, Accuracy, Speed and Mission, with appropriate games to support each goal.
  • Games advance as the child progresses.
  • Games are more than rote drills, intended to train critical thinking, problem-solving, and promote logic in decisions.
  • Games can be played offline, in multiple languages (with more planned before the end of the year).
  • Teachers can add quizzes that assess student math knowledge by selecting the grade, the topic, one of the suggested Zap Zap Math games, and the duration.
  • Teachers (or homeschooling parents) can track the progress of up to thirty students organized into a class where they are able to gauge learning outcomes via a web-based Learning Analytics Dashboard. Each child’s progress can be viewed remotely as they play Zap Zap Math.
  • The Education account includes a student report card so all stakeholders can track student progress.
  • Zap Zap Math can be played as an app or on a PC via a download.
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What’s changed

About a year ago, I reviewed Zap Zap Math, but a lot has changed! These folks constantly respond to customer inquiries and the evolving math education environment. Here are four of their most recent updates:

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Categories: Games/Simulations, Math, Reviews | Tags: | 5 Comments

Happy Memorial Day!

I’m taking Memorial Day to honor our soldiers. Hang the American flag and call my two soldier children. Say hi, how are you. When are you coming home to visit? (more…)

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Last Chance for this College-credit Class

MTI 562: The Tech-infused Teacher

MTI 562 starts in one week–Monday, June 5th! Last chance to sign up. Click this link; scroll down to MTI 562 and click for more information and to sign up.

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Categories: Online education, Teacher resources | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Why Blended Learning Fits Your Class, 3 Issues to Think About, and 5 Easy Ways to Begin

For years, my teaching revolved around textbooks as my resources. When the Internet arrived, I — as did my colleagues — adopted it mostly for two reasons: 1) research — in place of the library, and 2) rote drills, such as supporting math practice. But that has changed. Using the Internet in classrooms has morphed from optional to organic. In fact, it’s transformed 21st-century education, offering a normative tool for adapting to varied student needs, a scalable approach to differentiating for student learning styles, and a collaborative must-have with its vast offering of virtual meeting and storage options. It is regularly called the “present and future of education”, “one of the central features of modern school reform”, and “the newest way to personalize education”.

For many teachers, it’s fundamental to a style of teaching called “blended learning” (sometimes referred to as “hybrid learning” or even “flipped classroom”). Blended learning occurs when an education program combines Internet-based media with traditional classroom methods. For example, a unit on space is supported by a virtual chat with an astronaut from the space station or his Houston training facility.  What used to require school buses and lots of time now is accomplished more effectively for less money through the Internet.

But blended learning is more than simply replacing lectures and books with web-based technology. If you follow the SAMR model, this type of substitution is the lowest level of the pyramid. When technology is mixed agilely with traditional teaching methods to deliver a more rigorous, more purpose-built program, it moves your class to the top SAMR levels —  Modification and Redefinition — by replacing less-effective approaches (like pictures) with more-authentic methods (like a virtual visit to a zoo).

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Categories: Classroom management, Education reform | Tags: | 4 Comments

9 Must-have Tools for Ed Conferences

digital note-takingIt’s summer, time for teachers to recharge their cerebral batteries. That could mean reading, going on field trips, spending time with online PLNs, or taking calls from family members who usually end up at voice mail. For many, it means attending conferences like ISTE and NEA to learn how the heck to integrate technology into their lesson plans. If you aren’t a veteran conference attendee, you may wonder what you should bring. That’s a fair question considering learning is no longer done sitting in auditoriums nodding off to the wisdom of a guest speaker behind a podium. These days, you might be asked to scan a QR code and visit a website, access meeting documents online, interact digitally, or use a backchannel device to share your real-time thoughts with the presenter. Besides a toothbrush and aspirin, what should you take to your upcoming conference? Here are five tools that will make you look and act like the Diva of Digital:

Besides a toothbrush and aspirin, what should you take to your upcoming conference? Here are five tools that will make you look and act like the Diva of Digital:

Google Maps

Some conferences take multiple buildings spread out over several blocks, and depending upon the number of attendees, your hotel may not be around the corner from the Hall. Bring the latest version of Google Maps on your smartphone or iPad, complete with audio directions. All you do is tell it where you’re going, ask for directions, and Siri (the voice behind the iPhone) will lock into your GPS and hold your hand the entire way. If friends are looking for a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts near the conference, Google Maps will find one. If you want Chinese, use an app like Yelp to find one patrons like (although I’m becoming a tad leery about Yelp. Anyone have a good alternative?)

Conference App

Most educational conferences have one. I find these more useful than the conference website. They are geared for people who are manipulating a digital device one-handed, half their attention on the phone and the rest on traffic, meaning: they’re simple and straightforward. Test drive it so you know where the buttons are, then use it to find meeting rooms, changes in schedules, and updates.

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