This 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
K-8 Keyboard Curriculum (four options plus one)–teacher handbook, student workbooks, companion videos–and help for homeschoolers
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)
120 pages, dozens of images, 6 assessments
Delivered print or digital
Doesn’t include: Student workbooks or videos
Here’s a list of over seventy-five lesson plans free for your use. They’re organized by:
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"]
I 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
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.
If 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
- Art Online
- ASCII art picture generator–instant
- ASCII Art Text Generator
- BigHuge Labs
- Image edit exposure tool
- Image Edited? Check here
Drop by every Friday to discover what wonderful website my classes, teachers and parents loved this week. I think you’ll find they’ll be a favorite of yours as they are of mine.
Elementary school, Middle school
I get this question a lot so wanted to repost this review. Well, that was my plan. Then I started editing, so now it’s pretty different.
Many 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:
- Aesop Fables—no ads
- Aesop’s Fables
- Audio stories
- Childhood Stories
- Classic Fairy Tales
- Edutainment games and stories
- Fables—Aesop—nicely done
- Fairy Tales and Fables
- Interactive storybook collection
- Listen/read–Free non-fic audio books
- Magic Keys–stories for youngers
- Mighty Book
- Open Library
- PBS Stories–Between the Lions
- RAZ Kids–wide variety of reading levels, age groups, with teacher dashboards
- Signed stories
- Stories read by actors
- Stories to read
- Stories to read for youngsters
- Stories to read from PBS kids
- Stories to read–II
- Stories to read—International Library
- Stories—MeeGenius—read/to me
- Story Scramble
- Story time–visual
- Storytime for me
- Teach your monster to read (free)
- Tumblebooks (fee)
- Ziggity Zoom Stories
Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.
Here’s a great question I got from Barbara, a principal at a local school:
There isn’t a lot of research on the topic of grading tech classes. Anecdotally, it seems to be all over the board–whether teachers grade or not, and if they do–how. The short answer to this question is: It depends upon your expectations of the tech class. If it’s fully integrated into the classroom, treated more as a tool than a ‘special’ class (some call them ‘exploratories’, akin to PE, Spanish, music), then you probably want to hold it rigorously to the grading scale used in the classroom. The projects created will be evidence of learning, more like summative (or formative) assessments of academic work than tech skills.
Each week of the school year, I post what I’m teaching on a grade-specific wiki. It tells viewers what lesson I’m teaching in the SL K-5 curriculum(sorry, this isn’t available for 6th-8th grade) and how I blend the authentic tasks, essential questions, big ideas, and student-centered projects into my class. I also include add-on lessons sparked by the skills learned in the curriculum, student resources, parent resources, favorite links, and whatever extras helped students provide evidence of learning in this particular week. Through the Discussion tab, wiki members can ask questions as they prepare for their students.
Here are the links to my wikis, by grade level:
They’re private, so to view the material requires a log-in. Why?
- I want you to be comfortable asking questions
- I want you to be able to chat with others who are also following the SL technology curriculum, see how they address prickly parts