Who would think the geeky cousin of math and science would become so popular? Thanks in equal parts to Khan Academy and Common Core, the fundamental core of programming–students as problem solvers–has moved from theory to practice. Common Core provides strategies in its Standards for Mathematical Practice and Khan Academy provides the mechanism in its highly-popular (free) computer programming courses.
This follows such worthy programming adventures like Scratch and Alice, originally geared for Middle School, but their immense popularity and intuitive approach inspired games like Tynker, Blockly and the wildly popular Robot Turtles for youngers, each more fun and simpler than the last. We’re not talking C++ or Fortran or DOS. These offerings are intuitive, forgiving, and emphasize observing, testing, thinking, trying, failing, and trying again.
Traditional programming, with formulas and symbols and frightening words like ‘algorithm’ and ‘script’, is mostly relegated to fifth grade and up.
“We are working on a tool that empowers children to become creators, and not just consumers within the digitalised world we live in. Programming is an incredible tool that empowers people, it changes the perspective on problem solving and logic in general. … Mastering logic from an early stage of learning creates the right mind set to assimilate more notion-related content. … Skills are mastered gradually. … Think of Primo as the very first step in a child’s programming education. Primo provides the very basic ABC of programming logic.”
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"]
20 16 websites student will enjoy plus 3 you’ll like , including 3 for adults new to computers:
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
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:
- Bees and Honey
- Click the square
- Jigsaw puzzles
- K-1 mouse practice
- More Mouse Skills
- Mouse and tech basics–video
- Mouse Click Skills—gorgeous
- Mouse exercises–for olders too
- Mouse movement–bomono
- Mouse practice
- Mouse practice—drag, click
- Mouse skills
- Mouse Song
- Mouse Use Video
- Mouse—Tidy the Classroom
- Mouse—Wack a Gopher
- Mousing around
- Tidy the classroom
- Wack-a-gopher (no gophers hurt in this)
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 Lois:
I’ve been teaching computer technology for 6 years now. The first four years, we worked with Microsoft Office – Word; Powerpoint; Excel. The last two years, we went to an Apple platform and now we use iWorks Suite: Pages; Keynote and Numbers. So far so good – but I feel like I have to “double teach” some things: use this for Word (at home) and this for Pages (at school). Students have not been able to work on projects at home because of the compatibility issue. Not much of an issue for my little ones – we don’t send home much homework – but I would love for them to take these skills and run with them while at home. I teach from the menu and do not introduce shortcuts so they are forced to learn the “mechanics” of a program. Now I’m being asked to use Google docs next year. I’m on the fence when it comes to google docs for several reasons: It requires a username and password and email (which we don’t introduce until middle school) so my young students will now spend more time just “logging in”. I’ve heard there are ways to have the “email” go to the teacher – but I’m not sure how this works. The other issue is that I feel like Google Docs is “restrictive” when it comes to formatting.
Over the years, I have taught file management and how to save documents to file folders with correct titles. Students learn how to take ownership of their work. Google Docs automatically saves work in a cloud. I’m wondering if they will work on google docs at school (and have their work saved automatically – a good thing) and then work on Word or Pages at home and forget to save (a bad thing).
While I review the ISTE standards, I have not come across cloud computing and I wonder if I would be negligent if I didn’t teach students how to properly save their work, or use a particular type of software that is prevalent in higher education and the workforce. Am I behind the times? I feel like I’m going from one issue to another. Should kindergarteners and first graders have email accounts (and the issues that come with that responsibility) but be capable using the cloud, or should I continue to focus on core software and file management?
I’m dancing as fast as I can…..
Great questions. Tech changes so rapidly, unlike most other core subjects. It’s quite a challenge for us to keep up. I sometimes wonder if Admin considers the repercussions and implementation needs of their latest ‘great’ idea.
by Structured Learning IT Teaching Team
I’m often asked what books I recommend for teaching technology in the classroom. Each year about this time, I do a series of reviews on my favorite tech ed books. If you want to fix some of last year’s problems, I suggest you consider the nine-volume K-8 technology curriculum series that’s used in hundreds of school districts across the country (and a few internationally). It’s skills-based, project-based, aligned with Common Core and NETS national standards and fully integratable into state core classroom standards.
The first in the series, the 132-page Kindergarten Technology: 32 Lessons Any Kindergartner Can Do (Structured Learning 2013), is available in print or digital, and perfect for Smartscreens, iPads, laptops, digital readers. It includes many age-appropriate samples, reproducibles, Web 2.0 connections, thematic websites, and how-to’s. Because I edited this book, I made sure it includes pieces that I as a teacher knew to be critical to the classroom:
I’ve spent a good chunk of time this summer updating my link collections so they are easier to wander through and reflect more topics you’re interested in. Here are 34 categories. K-MS are also subdivided by topics with age-appropriate links. The themed categories mix all ages together. I’m not sure which is better. It’s awfully difficult to differentiate by age considering the varied skill levels of students. Please forgive me if the grade-level categories don’t always hit the mark for you!
Remember: Any time students visit the internet, remind them of their rights and responsibilities, and the obligation to be good digital citizens.
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 week, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!
Q: Kids always get confused when I’m explaining directions that require the right mouse button. I’ve found an easy way to clarify:
“Right click with your mouse”
Student promptly clicks with their left mouse. I know–doesn’t make sense. It does to them. They’re happy to focus on the right hand and have no idea they need to go one level further. My comeback:
“The other right.”
- use the coupon code in the 5th edition of the SL curriculum book (the inside cover), or
- purchase a membership here. If you were a member using the 4th edition and don’t want to upgrade to 5th ed. (maybe your state isn’t following Common Core), this is the option for you. It’s a great deal for 32 weeks of guided tech instruction.