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.
These are my 120 favorite kindergarten websites. I sprinkle them in throughout the year, adding several each week to the class internet start page, deleting others. I make sure I have 3-4 each week that integrate with classroom inquiry, 3-4 that deal with technology skills and a few that simply excite students about tech.
Here’s the list:
Cheryl Lyman has 12 years experience teaching K-12 computer science, most recently at McDonald Elementary in Pennsylvania as Instructional Technology Specialist. Awards include Classrooms of the Future Coach, Ed Tech Leader of the Year Semifinalist, PA Keystone Technology Integrator, PA State Peer Reviewer, and Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Semi-finalist. We look forward to her knowledgeable insights in curriculum development and technology integration into the classroom.
The Importance of Literacy In K-5 Classrooms
I recently completed a literacy course through the University of Pennsylvania. This course was predominately geared towards secondary classes. However, it provided me with insight to the importance of literacy at a very early age and how I have the power to promote literacy as a teacher of technology.
By third grade, students can begin to lose interest in literacy. In some cases, that interest will never be sparked again. Many schools stop teaching reading in middle school at a time when higher level literacy skills are just beginning to emerge. It is assumed that if you can sound a word, you can read and reading skills and strategies are ignored. Is it no wonder that our student achievement scores have not improved in the last thirty years?
As teachers who embrace the use of technology in our classrooms, we have the power to keep the literacy embers burning and possibly ignite them for a lifetime for our students. Each day we have the opportunity to use technology with our students to keep them engaged in reading and writing. Keep in mind that we can be very creative in how we use our tools so students are immersed in literacy and they don’t even know it!
We can help students to annotate passages, take notes, look up words in online dictionaries they do not understand, develop creative thinking and problem solving skills –the list is endless for us to show our students how literacy will open doors for them.
What is a parent’s greatest fear that first day they drop their precious child at kindergarten? You might think it’s whether they’ll get along with new friends or handle academic pressures. Or even that their eyes will be opened to the vastness of the Universe and no longer see their parents as the Answer to Everything.
Those are frightening, and might be ranked in the top ten–or even five–but today, the biggest concern is how to protect an innocent from the pernicious onslaught of the technology that grows like mold over every part of the education landscape. Will that trusting child be cyberbullied? Will they see stuff they shouldn’t on school websites? Will a predator find them from a naive contact online? And what about classmates–will they share bad websites found by older siblings?
It may surprise you that this scenario also keeps teachers awake at night, especially new teachers. What if they fail to protect their charges from this violent, dark online world? I remember second grade life cycle reports. I taught students how to search online images for pictures of each stage in a bug’s development, save them to student network folders, and then proudly insert them in the report. Students would find authentic and exciting pictures of ‘ladybugs’ and ‘pupae’ and ‘preying mantis larvae’ and ‘chicks’–
Chicks! That turned out to be a lousy search term. I’d warn students to search ‘baby chickens’ instead, but always, for one child each year, it wouldn’t work and–according to their parents–were permanently damaged by the pictures that popped up. They’d have nightmares. Their personalities would forever tilt to the dark side because of that picture–at least.
Truth, all stakeholders do their best, but stuff happens. If not in the classroom, at a friend’s house whose parents aren’t as vigilant as they could be, or on an iPad during library time. Educational best practices used to insist on protecting children from those eventualities, minimize exposure by unplugging kids as much as possible. That’s not the case any more. Even if we unplug them at the school house door, they plug right back in the moment they are away from the classroom. Our job as educators is to stare into the abyss of the unknown and educate: Teach these digital natives how to not just survive but thrive in the digital world.
- A Plus Math
- Adding Decimals
- Alien Addition
- Be Your Own Boss
- Build a bug math game
- Cool Math – Coffee Shop
- Cool Math for Kids
- Count us in—variety of math practice
- Dimension U—math team play
- Flashcards only
- Flashcards or Worksheets
- Game-oriented math learning
- Graphing stories
- Graphs-cells—Hidden Ships
- Interactive Algebra
I have just started working with an online teacher training group called Curriculum Study Group. We offer online training to teachers via Google Hangouts, YouTube, instant feedback, and lots of collaborative learning. I am very excited to be part of this venture…
…but I must confess, before I joined, I wondered if teachers would be comfortable hanging out with like-minded professionals for an hour a week? Well, my good friend Amy over at CSG sent me this survey run by Project Tomorrow, a nonprofit group based in Irvine, Calif (my backyard). It seems they had the same question so did a poll. Here are the results:
What’s the take-away: Yes, across the board, principals and teachers are comfortable with online training.
K-8 Keyboard Curriculum: The Essential Guide to Teaching Keyboarding in 45 Minutes a Week
You may think it impossible to find an effective keyboarding curriculum for the skimpy forty-five minutes a week you can devote to keyboarding. You teach what you can, but it always seems to be the same lessons—hands on home row, good posture, eyes on the copy. You wonder if it’s making a difference, or if it matters.
Yes, it does and there is a way. It requires a plan, faithfully executed, with your eye relentlessly on the goal, but if you commit, it works. In this book, The Essential Guide to Teaching Keyboarding in 45 Minutes a Week: a K-8 Curriculum, I’ll share a unique keyboarding curriculum for K-8 that I’ve seen work on thousands of students. The book includes:
- A summary of the literature
- Answers to the most-asked questions like ‘Can youngers learn to keyboard—and should they?’
- The importance of the teacher to early keyboarders
The K-8 curriculum includes a lot more variety than keyboard exercises on installed software. Here’s a rundown of the pieces used: