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1st

Book Review: Savvy Cyberkids at Home

The Savvy Cyber Kids At HomeThe Savvy Cyber Kids At Home

by Ben Halpert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

It’s not often I find a successful fiction book that explains complicated adult ideas to children. The last one was Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure, a creative story that introduces math concepts like Pi, circumference and radius to young children. I’m not a math teacher, but I can relate that to computer concepts I teach to kindergarten and younger. As with geometry, it’s difficult to explain the concept of ‘internet safety’ to the newest users. Unlike geometry, it must be done as soon as they pick up a mouse and lock their eyes onto the glowing, scintillating screen. Every month, more and more children, younger and younger, play on websites like Jumpstart, Clifford and NickJr. They–of course–trust the adults who love them to keep them safe. Now, we have a tool to do that. (more…)

Categories: 1st, book review, Digital Citizenship | Leave a comment

Do Your Children Need Computers for School?

back to schoolThis is a question I get from parents all the time. Most parents want to get what their child needs as affordably as possible, and don’t want to save a few bucks at the expense of their child. If that sounds like you, here are suggestions on how to decide to get one, what type, and what to include:

  1. Talk to the classroom teacher. What are their expectations of the child? If they’re like the ones in my school, they will want him/her to have access to basic software and the internet for research, maybe email. That’s it.
  2. You’re wondering whether a laptop or desktop is best? There are lots of reasons why a laptop might be a good decision for your particular family dynamics, but in general terms, a desktop is fine for a younger child (K-5). They don’t need to take it to friend’s house for group projects much until they reach middle school, and I would not suggest gearing a more-expensive laptop decision around an occasional project. I guarantee, the teacher won’t.
  3. There are other reasons why a desktop is a good decision. It is more durable (it isn’t carried around, so can’t be dropped). If part breaks (the keyboard, mouse, monitor), you don’t have to replace the entire computer–just that part. Because children are tougher on electronics than experienced users (this should be expected), it will make these sorts of problems less dramatic and costly. And, a desktop has a larger hard drive, more memory, bigger screen, and more drives/ports for input devices. That makes it more adaptable to unexpected needs.
  4. Now you need to select which level of desktop your child requires. Does s/he need the basic $350 on sale version or the everything-in-it upgrade? Start simple. Basic. See what the child uses, what else s/he needs before making an expensive decision. Most kids are fine with the lower end of productivity. Some, though, want the works. You’ll know which is right for your child by the time you’re ready for an upgrade.

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, Parent resources | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Tech Ed Resources for your Classroom–K-8 Keyboard Curriculum

Overview

K-8 Keyboard Curriculum (four options plus one)–teacher handbook, student workbooks, companion videos–and help for homeschoolers

2-Volume Ultimate Guide to Keyboardingkeyboarding

K-5 (237 pages) and Middle School (80 pages), 100 images, 7 assessments

Digital delivery only (print coming)

Aligned with Student workbooks and student videos (free with licensed set of student workbooks)

__________________________________________________________________________

1-Volume Essential Guide to K-8 KeyboardingEssential Guide--KB Curriculum cover--small size

120 pages, dozens of images, 6 assessments

Great value!

Delivered print or digital

Doesn’t include: Student workbooks or videos

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, keyboarding | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Great (Free) Lesson Plans

39-aHere’s a list of over seventy-five lesson plans free for your use. They’re organized by:

  • subject
  • software/tool
  • grade

You just highlight the lesson, then copy-paste to a doc of your choice.

If you want them printed out on 8.5×11 sheets, they are available for purchase here.

Here’s a slideshow of some of the lessons:

[gallery type="slideshow" ids="2533,2503,2502,2501,2500,2474,2473,2472,2448,2447,2446,2445,2402,2401,2391,2390,2304,2303,2236,2235,2231,2230,2229,2155,2137,2136,2135,2132,2131,2128,2127,2123,2122,2104,2103,2102,2101,2100,2099,2098,2047,2046,2040,2039,1615,1612,1611,1610,1609,1608,1604,1603,1602,1601,1557,1556,1555,1531,1530,1525,1524,81"]

(more…)

Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, lesson plans | Leave a comment

20 Websites to Teach Mouse Skills

One of the most important pre-keyboarding skills is how to use the mouse. The mouse hold is not intuitive and if learned wrong, becomes a habit that’s difficult to break. Here are some images to assist you in setting up your newest computer aficionados:

[gallery type="square" ids="28323,28324"]

 

Here are 20 16 websites student will enjoy plus 3 you’ll like , including 3 for adults new to computers:

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Categories: 1st, kindergarten, mouse skills | Tags: | Leave a comment

8 Web Tools To Add Pizazz to the End of School

There is no end to the number of online tools available. I get inundated with them by friends (My child wants to use this website. What do you think?), fellow teachers (Would you check this web tool–does it work for literacy?), parents (My child loves this tool. Is it appropriate?). I am always thrilled because introductions through friends and colleagues are much more authentic than through online advertising or an ezine.

When I review a website or app, I take 15-30 minutes to test it out, try to see it through the eyes of the age group that will use it. Here’s what I look for:smore

  • Does it have advertising? If so, it needs to be nominal and G-rated. I don’t want them to be overbearing or distracting. Worse is if they are inappropriate. I’ve seen great websites and online tools ruined by objectionable ads.
  • Is it intuitive? Students want to be able to figure the program out without being taught. An intuitive website and/or app 1) has an easy-to-understand start-up screen that clearly identifies how to use the tool, 2) the process for using the tool is similar to others the students is familiar with, and 3) the student can independently launch and operate the web tool or app without requiring an adult.
  • is it user-friendly? Does its design and layout make students want to accomplish the goals of the program? Are students engaged in the activity, motivated to use the web tool? Is it functional? Is it visually stimulating? Does it require only a nominal amount of reading?
  • Does the web tool differentiate for types of students and their unique needs? Sure, there are lots of good web tools appropriate for a certain standard classification of student. What I want is the web tool that can adapt to varying needs.
  • Is the tool challenging? Does it require sufficient critical thinking to keep the student engaged or do they get bored quickly?
  • Is the web tool compatible with most browsers, most computers? I don’t want it so old it won’t play well with the type of computer commonly used by students. I also don’t want it so specialized that students must buy extra equipment to use it.
  • Is the web tool free? That’s preferable. There are lots of good web tools that are free to a certain point and charge a fee after that. Depending upon what ‘point’ that kicks in, I’m OK with that
  • Does the web tool encourage higher-order thinking–creativity, evaluation, critical thinking, problem solving?
  • Is the web tool or app error-free? This means not only that it’s free of spelling and grammar errors, but that it doesn’t freeze, stall, shut down, or crash.
  • Does the web tool have educational applications? When students are at school, I want to focus on academic endeavors, leaving those more focused on ‘play’ to the home environment. So many fun programs are also educational, this isn’t a high hurdle.

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Categories: 1st, math, reading, Web Tools, writing | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Tech Ed Resources for your Classroom–Tech Curriculum

tech curriculumI 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.

The first review: the K-8 Technology Curriculum

Overview

The K-8 Technology Curriculum is Common Core and ISTE aligned, and outlines what should be taught when so students have the necessary scaffolding to use tech in the pursuit of grade level state standards and school curriculum.

Each book is between 130 and 260 pages and includes lesson plans, assessments, domain-specific vocabulary, problem solving tips, Big Idea, Essential Question,  options if primary tech tools not available, posters, reproducibles, samples, tips, enrichments, and teacher preparation. Lessons build on each other kindergarten through 5th grade. For Middle School, they are designed for the grading period time frame typical of those grade levels, with topics like programming, robotics, community service with tech.

Topics include keyboarding, digital citizenship, problem solving, domain-specific vocabulary, and more.

K-5 has a FREE companion wiki with FREE webinars on how to teach each lesson throughout the year and takes questions from anyone who has the curriculum. It’s used worldwide by public and private schools and homeschoolers.

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, book review, kindergarten, lesson plans | Tags: | Leave a comment

38 Art Websites for K-8

children-picture-184575_640If your children are eager to be creative this summer, but addicted to computers, try these wonderful art-oriented websites. For your youngers, start any visit to the internet with a conversation about safety, privacy, and good digital citizenship. Soon, they’ll know the rules and you won’t have to keep chatting about it:

Lots of art websites for K-8

  1. Art Online
  2. ASCII art picture generator–instant
  3. ASCII Art Text Generator
  4. BigHuge Labs
  5. Image edit exposure tool
  6. Image Edited? Check here
  7. PhotoCube

Avatars

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, art, kindergarten, websites | Leave a comment

Read Across America Day

stone-figure-10542_640Many people in the United States, particularly students, parents and teachers, join forces on Read Across America Day, annually held on March 2. This nationwide observance coincides with the birthday of Dr Seuss.

Here are some great reading websites for students K-5:

  1. Aesop Fables—no ads
  2. Aesop’s Fables
  3. Audio stories
  4. Childhood Stories
  5. Classic Fairy Tales
  6. Edutainment games and stories
  7. Fables—Aesop—nicely done
  8. Fables–beautiful
  9. Fairy Tales and Fables
  10. Interactive storybook collection
  11. Listen/read–Free non-fic audio books
  12. Magic Keys–stories for youngers
  13. Mighty Book
  14. Open Library
  15. PBS Stories–Between the Lions
  16. RAZ Kids–wide variety of reading levels, age groups, with teacher dashboards
  17. Signed stories
  18. Starfall
  19. Stories read by actors
  20. Stories to read
  21. Stories to read for youngsters
  22. Stories to read from PBS kids
  23. Stories to read–II
  24. Stories to read—International Library
  25. Stories—CircleTime—international
  26. Stories—MeeGenius—read/to me
  27. Stories—non-text
  28. Stories—Signed
  29. Story Scramble
  30. Story time–visual
  31. Storytime for me
  32. Teach your monster to read (free)
  33. Tumblebooks (fee)
  34. Ziggity Zoom Stories

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, holidays, reading, websites | Tags: | Leave a comment

Weekend Websites: Mouse Skills

Here are some of my favorite websites to teach mouse skills to kindergarten and 1st grade. It’s from my collection and is constantly updated here:

  1. Bees and Honey1183938_stylized_mouse
  2. Click the square
  3. Jigsaw puzzles
  4. Jigzone–puzzles
  5. K-1 mouse practice
  6. More Mouse Skills
  7. Mouse and tech basics–video
  8. Mouse Click Skills—gorgeous
  9. Mouse exercises–for olders too
  10. Mouse movement–bomono
  11. Mouse practice
  12. Mouse practice—drag, click
  13. Mouse skills
  14. Mouse Song
  15. Mouse Use Video
  16. Mouse—Tidy the Classroom
  17. Mouse—Wack a Gopher
  18. Mousing around
  19. Tidy the classroom
  20. Wack-a-gopher (no gophers hurt in this)

(more…)

Categories: 1st, kindergarten, mouse skills | Tags: | Leave a comment