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teacher resources

Ask a Tech Teacher Hall of Fame–Check These Out

hall of fameWe’ve finally collected all of your favorite articles into one spot–the Ask a Tech Teacher Hall of Fame. These are articles we heard about the most from you, were reposted and referenced the most, and had the biggest impact on your classrooms.  It includes topics on classroom management, digital citizenship, the future of education, how technology blends into the classroom, and more.

Articles include:

  • 5 Strategies to Assess Student Knowledge
  • 7 Education Trends You Don’t Want to Miss
  • 7 Ways Common Core Will Change Your Classroom
  • 11 Ways to Make an Inquiry based Classroom
  • 12 Tips on Handling Hard-to-teach Classes
  • 13 ways Twitter Improves Education
  • How to Instill Digital Citizenship in Students
  • How to Pick iPad Apps for your Classroom
  • Literacy In K-5 Classrooms
  • Teach Digital Citizenship with … Minecraft
  • Which is better for schools: iPads or laptops?
  • Will Texting Destroy Writing Skills?

Please click here to check them out. Let me know if I’ve missed any!

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a columnist for, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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18 Things You Know If You’ve Been Reading This Blog

computer skillsComputer technology isn’t as hard as it sounds, but it does require consistent use. You can’t learn a skill and stick it on a shelf for three months without it molding. Here’s how you do that: Read this blog. I cover the stuff you will use daily. It won’t get stale. Take my test. Try these eighteen:


Common Core Basics


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Subscriber Special–Summer Tech Camp–Everything You Need

summer tech camp

by AATT banner

Summer Tech Camp Survival Kit

From Ask a Tech Teacher

Build Your Own Tech Camp Adventure

$230 value for $179


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Summer PD–Help Us Plan it

tech training

Tech training… for you… for students

If you’re planning summer PD, ASK A TECH TEACHER has a few ideas:

  • Summer keyboarding–designed for students perfect for you. . And: You get free K-8 Keyboarding curriculum ebook.
  • Summer Tech camp–if you’re teaching Summer Tech Camp for students, we’ll lay it out for you. Stay tuned.
  • Summer PD–Teachers only! Spend three weeks with us. What would you like to learn (see below)

Want more? We’ll announce it here first. Until then…



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Dear Otto: How do I use avatars?

tech questionsDear 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 Karela:

I would like something funny. I saw the site about making avatars. It is good for students above first grade but, how can they use those avatars later? I just saw a BUY option.

Avatars are great. They inform an overarching discussion on digital citizenship, privacy, and online safety. After all, why do we use avatars? I take every opportunity to use and discuss avatars with students, even if they show up on a website we’re using rather than as a student-directed project.

A few ideas on how to incorporate them into your curriculum and teaching:


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I Can Solve That Problem…

problem solving

I love teaching problem solving in the classroom. It’s authentic, rigorous, and often amazing to students. They think the first resource when at school is the teacher.


So I start in kindergarten and bang away at the same theme for the nine years I have them: You (dear student) are your best resource.

Here are some inspiring quotes from men who laugh at problems, shake their fist at adversity, revel at the idea that some consider a problem impossible to solve:

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

—Winston Churchill

In times like these, it is good to remember that there have always been times like these.

— Paul Harvey Broadcaster

Never try to solve all the problems at once — make them line up for you one-by-one.

— Richard Sloma

Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well-informed just to be undecided about them.

— Laurence J. Peter


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4 myths to bust about game-based learning

minecraftThis is a hot topic with many of my teacher friends. Recently, I spent a wonderful hour chatting with efriend, Lindsey Hill (see her bio at the end) and found she had interesting ideas on game-based learning. I’ve been a fan of games in education since discovering Mission US (where students become actors in the American Revolution) and being schooled by students on the value of Minecraft. Lindsey shares my enthusiasm and took it a step further–facing head on the issues that are stopping teachers from using games in education. I think you’ll find her ideas fascinating:

Teachers have many hurdles to jump to begin using digital learning in their classrooms. One thing, among many, that we know about teachers is they don’t give up easily. As a veteran teacher of 14 years and current lead for reading engagement initiatives at Evanced Solutions, I’ve had numerous discussions with educators on best practices for today’s tech-savvy kids. They want to try game-based learning, but it has been stigmatized as “mindless” fun. Critics of game-based learning are unaware that the touchscreen taps, mouse clicks and joystick jiggles can help sharpen cognitive skills.

Integrating the right kinds of games in the classroom helps kids have fun while simultaneously engaging in the process. Yet, teachers are often criticized for pushing more screen time on today’s techno-obsessed children. That’s why I suggest this simple “A.P.E.” principle to help combat four common myths about the use of e-games in the classroom.

A: Authentic Integration

P: Purpose-Driven Usability

E: Engagement

Myth #1: Game-based learning does not meet Common Core State Standards and is difficult to assess.


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Definition of ‘Teacher’

990536_class_roomI heard from several friends at a non-denominational school I’m close to that rules regarding prayer in the classroom have changed. Now, teachers may not have the morning prayer that has started their day for over twenty years. Times change and Admin decided that was no longer the direction the school was going. They continue to have organized fellowship–just not under the direction of an individual teacher, in his/her classroom.

Serendipity brought the following to my inbox. Thought I’d share:

After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:

‘Let me see if I’ve got this right.

‘You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.

‘You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.

‘You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.


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Subscribers: Your Special is Available

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

This month:

All lesson plan bundles (up to 5 lessons in each) only $7.99

That’s a 20% discount! (on most)

Carried over from January, this special includes:

  • All Common Core bundles for K-5
  • All curriculum extension bundles for K-6
  • All grade-specific bundles for K-8
  • All themed bundles
    • Google Earth
    • Art
    • Geography
    • Math
    • Science
    • Writing
    • Reading

Delivery: PDF format (Digital only)

How to Order: Publisher’s website only


$7.99 each


3 bundles for $20.99

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Dear Otto: How do I grade technology in my school?

tech questions

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:

Dear Otto,
May I ask your thoughts on giving grades in Computer Class? I can’t find research on this topic.


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.


Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, Dear Otto, education reform, teacher resources | Tags: | 2 Comments