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teacher resources

How to set up your tech classroom

IMG_0103I’m reposting this for the start of a new school year–as a reminder to all my fellow tech teachers. Go geeks!

If you teach technology, you want to set the lab up so it’s inviting, non-intimidating, but doesn’t hide from the core ‘geek’ theme. In fact, from day one, exclaim that fact, be proud of your nerd roots. Even if you didn’t start out that way–say, you used to be a first grade teacher and suddenly your Admin in their infinite wisdom, moved you to the tech lab–you became a geek. You morphed into the go-to person for tech problems, computer quirks, crashes, and freezes. Your colleagues assumed you received an upload of data that allowed you to Know the answers to their every techie question. You are on a pedestal, their necks craned upward as they ask you, How do I get the Smartscreen to work? or We need the microphones working for a lesson I’m starting in three minutes. Can you please-please-please fix them?

As you organize your classroom, celebrate your geekiness. Flaunt it for students and colleagues. Play Minecraft. Use every new techie device you can get your hands on. That’s you now–you are sharp, quick-thinking. You tingle when you see an iPad. You wear a flash drive like jewelry. When your students walk into your class, they should start quivering with the excitement of, What new stuff will we experience today?

Here’s a summary of what happens your first day with a class. From this, you’ll figure out how to set up your classroom (no owl themes here. It’s all about bits and bytes):

  • Introduce yourself—establish your bona fides. Share your blog, your background, your awards. Give them website addresses or post them to the class internet start page. You want to be easy to find.
  • Tour the classroom with students. I walk K-2 around—they like getting out of their seats. Demystify any of the tech tools you will expect them to use—where they can get help in solving problems, what’s on the walls, where’s the printer/scanner/iPads/etc.

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Categories: classroom management, teacher resources | Tags: | 2 Comments

Subscribers: Your September Special is Available

saleEvery month, subscribers to Ask a Tech Teacher get a free/discounted resource to help their tech teaching.

This month:

Freebies over at Structured Learning–check it out

Click the ‘Sale’ tab on their website then ‘Freebies’ and see what you find.

There are also Sale items and Discontinued items–until they run out!

Delivery: PDF format (Digital only)

How to Order: Publisher’s website only

Price?  FREE or discounted

Categories: lesson plans, subscriber special, teacher resources | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Subscribe to my Blog–Get Gifts Every Month

FREE tech stuffIf you subscribe to my blog, you are eligible for specials on tech ed books and ebooks every month. Here are some of the specials subscribers have received:

There’s one coming up in two days–be sure to subscribe so you are eligible.

Not only do you get great deals on tech ed resources, you get great free content. If you haven’t visited Ask a Tech Teacher regularly, here’s what you’ve missed:

Questions? Email me at askatechteacher at gmail dot com. I have lots of opinions!

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Need to Create Lesson Plans? Try Frolyc

lesson plansWhen I first looked at Frolyc  I thought it was a lesson planning tool. Somewhat like Khan Academy’s mashable lesson plans or Mentor Mob’s  playlist of activities–or Knowmia‘s carefully-crafted materials that can be shared throughout their communities. But the more I dug into it, the more I realized that I was selling Frolyc short. Yes, it can curate content–for me, more easily than these others–in preparation for a flipped classroom lesson or independent student study. I could quickly collect a wide variety of interactive materials and distribute them to students nicely grouped under a theme. Yes, it can deliver low-stakes testing to students while they work, to evaluate learning and determine if appropriate scaffolding has been provided to insure understanding. Teachers have adopted short and quick formative assessments to inform them about whether the lesson they’re teaching is achieving the desired results. Typically, this requires a separate student log-in through an add-on tool like Today’s Meet and Socrative. I liked that Frolyc integrated it into the platform–no need to go elsewhere.

But Frolyc could do more. The lesson plan I created could easily be differentiated to accommodate varied student learning styles by tweaking it before pushing it out to student accounts. When the student logs on to their iPad-based account, they get not a mass-produced lesson, one-size-fits-all, but one that addresses his/her range of knowledge, needs, and learning style. With a nominal amount of work on the teacher’s part, no two lesson plans need be the same, just as no two students are exactly alike.

Additionally with Frolyc, lesson plans became more than students passively consuming videos, text, websites–they included sharing ideas, comments, and collaboration.

Here’s how it works:

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Categories: classroom management, lesson plans, teacher resources, websites | Tags: | Leave a comment

Tech Ed Resources for your Classroom–Organize Your Classroom

digital classroomI get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m taking 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.

Today: Organizing your classroom

Overview

13 videos (more added as they become available), approx. 30 minutes per webinar, show how to set up your classroom to be tech-infused.

What’s Included

Do you wonder how to set up an effective, exciting, motivating classroom to teach tech? It’s not difficult–but there are steps you must take that are different from a grade-level or subject-specific classroom. Watch these videos at the start of school and often throughout the year to understand how to integrate tech into your classes and how to help students use tech to get the most from their education adventure. Webinars included:

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Categories: classroom management, education reform, teacher resources | Leave a comment

Curriculum Companions Start August 18th–Are You Ready?

curriculum companionK-5, 32 webinars per grade (192 webinars), 9 months, 3 companion wikis

Start date for the 2014-15 school year: August, 18, 2014

Curriculum Companion Wikis (K-5 only) follow a tech professional as s/he teaches each lesson in the SL K-5 curriculum textbooks.  Presented this year via videos (10-15 minutes each), you can ask questions as the lesson is presented, start a discussion with other teachers using the curriculum, access additional resources. It’s your mentor, your sidekick, your best friend in the tech ed field.

If you own any or all of K-5 Structured Learning technology curriculum (5th edition), you have free access to the grade-level wiki. Just look on the front page of the book for a code. If you don’t own the curriculum, you can purchase access on a yearly basis here.

Detail

  • Digital access: via video
  • Language: English
  • Length of time: one year
  • Access: Yearly fee covers K-5 (no discount for single wiki)

Use coupon code in each K-5 curriculum text to join for free. Or, click here to purchase.

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Categories: classroom management, Freebies/Discounts, teacher resources | Leave a comment

11 Take-aways from Summer PD

summer pdSummer PD 2014 just ended. A couple dozen of us–teachers, library media specialists, tech integrationists, lab teachers–gathered virtually for three weeks to experiment with some of the hottest tech tools available for the classroom–Google Apps, differentiation tools, digital storytelling, visual learning, Twitter, blogs, backchannels, student as digital citizen, and more (30 topics in all). PD was run like a flipped classroom where attendees picked one of two daily topics, then they read. Tested. Experimented. Failed and tried again. Asked questions. They shared with colleagues on discussion boards, blogs, Tweets.  Once a week we got together on a Google Hangout (well, two because GHO only allows 10 participants) to share ideas, answer questions, discuss nuances.

The class awarded a Certificate based on effort. Not end product. Here are my takeaways as moderator of this amazing group:

  • They are risk takers. Kept trying long beyond the recommended hour a day in some cases.
  • They were curious. They wanted to get it right, see how it worked.
  • They are life long learners. Some had been teaching for thirty years and still enthusiastically embraced everything from twitter to genius hour.
  • They were problem solvers. I often heard, ‘This will work with my students ‘if I tweak it here, I can solve this problem’.

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Categories: education reform, online education, teacher resources | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Tech Ed Resources for your Classroom–Lesson Plans

lesson plansI 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.

Today: Lesson Plans

There are lots of different bundles of lesson plans–by theme, by software, by topic, by standard. Let me review a few with you:

  • bundles of 5 lesson plans–These are great when you want to cover a software program, a tool, a grade, or a standard. Pick the one that fits your need. They’re affordable, focused, and often completed in just a few class sessions
  • bundles of bundles, so that’s 15 for about $20 (less if you use a discount coupon)–This lets you get a discount when you stock up. Buy three bundles of five lessons–to cover a wide-range of needs.
  • 30 Common Core-aligned lessons–5 per grade level, K-5
  • 110 lesson plans–integrate tech into different grades, subjects, by difficulty level–These cover everything and are discounted this month. Check them out. They could be exactly what you need.
  • singles–for as low as $1.99 each. Genius Hour, Google Apps, Khan Academy, etc
  • Holiday projects–16 lesson plans that theme to holidays (varied) and keep students in the spirit while learning new tools

Who needs this

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Categories: classroom management, lesson plans, teacher resources | Tags: | 1 Comment

Tech Ed Resources for your Classroom–Webinars

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.

Today: Webinars

Overview

Webinars are short video presentations themed to a variety of tech ed topics. That includes:

  • Common Core–don’t let anyone tell you Common Core is additional material that must be taught by layering on top of an already overcrowded curriculum. Common Core is a method of teaching what you already teach–just faster and more effectively. These webinars give you lots of ideas.
  • K-5 tech curriculum–32 webinars per grade level delivered one per week throughout the school year. These are free as the companion webinars for those who own the K-5 tech ed curriculum–5th ed. If you don’t own the curriculum, they can be purchased separately.
  • Organize your classroom for tech–there are a lot of classroom design details that morph tech into a learning tool rather than a set-aside like music or PE. These webinars get you started.
  • Pedagogy–technology is the poster child for education reform, especially with the gauntlet thrown down by Common Core Standards. No longer is the excuse, That’s not how I teach, acceptable. Now–tech is how we all teach. Because it’s a better way.

Who needs these

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Categories: classroom management, teacher resources | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

22 Tips on How to Work Remotely

remote workI first considered this topic at a presentation I attended through WordCamp Orange County 2014. I had several trips coming up and decided to see how I addressed issues of being away from my writing hub. Usually, that’s when I realize I can’t do/find something and say, “If only…”

I am finally back from three conferences and a busy visit from my son–all of which challenged me to take care of business on the road and on the fly.

Truth is, life often interferes with work. Vacations, conferences, PD–all these take us away from our primary functions and the environment where we are most comfortable delivering our best work. I first thought about this when I read an article by a technical subject teacher(math, I think)  pulled away from his class for a conference. Often in science/math/IT/foreign languages, subs aren’t as capable (not their fault; I’d capitulate if you stuck me in a Latin language class). He set up a video with links for classwork and a realtime feed where he could be available and check in on the class. As a result, students–and the sub–barely missed him. Another example of teaching remotely dealt with schools this past winter struggling with the unusually high number of snow days. So many, in fact, that they were either going to have to extend the school year or lose funding. Their solution: Have teachers deliver content from their homes to student homes via a set-up like Google Hangouts (but one that takes more than 10-15 participants at a time).

All it took to get these systems in place was a problem that required a solution and flexible risk-taking stakeholders who came up with answers.

Why can’t I work from the road? In fact, I watched a fascinating presentation from Wandering Jon at the Word Camp Orange County 2014 where he shared how he does exactly that. John designs websites and solves IT problems from wherever he happens to be that day–a beach in Thailand, the mountains in Tibet or his own backyard. Where he is no longer impacts the way he delivers on workplace promises.

Here’s what I came up with that I either currently use or am going to arrange:

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Categories: international, online education, teacher resources | Tags: , , | 2 Comments