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Teacher resources

#53: Colonization Trifold Brochure in Publisher

Create a trifold brochure in Publisher to go along with colonization or another unit of inquiry in the classroom. This project focuses on research and is more involved than #51 History Trifold. Students add lots of detail and lots of research on different colonization topics. Besides Publisher, students learn to research on the internet and copy-paste pictures from the internet

Lesson Plan

Use each panel in the trifold (there are six) to cover a different topic you’re discussing in class.

Click on each page of lesson plan.

You can also use a template in Google Docs, Google Presentations, or MS Word if you don’t have Publisher:

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Categories: Freebies/Discounts, History, Research, Teacher resources | Leave a comment

6 Tips I Wish I’d Known When I Started Blogging

blog-489506_640I’ve been blogging for about six years, some professionally (for my tech ed career) and others on topics of interest to me (writing, USNA, that sort). That first post–putting myself on the line, ignoring that I had no hits, wanting to approve comments from spammers because that would look like someone loved me–I thought that was the hard part. The second post was easier and so it went.

But somewhere around the twentieth post, I figured out I had to do blogging right. I couldn’t simply show up, spout off and slink away. There was a lot more to ‘blogging’. I could have quit–it was getting to be a lot like work–but I enjoyed the camaraderie with like-minded souls. I learned a lot about writing by doing it and could transfer those lessons to my students. So I honed my skill.

Now, years later, there are a few items I wished I’d known early rather than late. Let me share them with you so you don’t have the hard lessons I did:

  • only reblog 10% of someone else’s post. If you’re on WordPress and push the ‘reblog’ button, they take care of it for you. But if you copy someone’s post and give them attribution, you blew it. You have to get permission if you are reposting more than 10% of someone’s work. Where was I supposed to learn that?

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Categories: Blogging, Social media, Teacher resources, Teaching, Tech tips | Leave a comment

Subscribers: Your February Special is Available

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

This month:

18+ webinars on tech ed pedagogy

FREE

with coupon code FREEWEBINARS

Topics include:

  1. 6 Topics to teach every lesson
  2. 8 Tools that are going away (from the classroom)
  3. Assessment
  4. Class exit tickets
  5. Class warm-ups
  6. Differentiation—general
  7. Differentiation—How to teach the hard-to-teach class
  8. Digital citizenship I
  9. Digital citizenship II
  10. Digital note-taking
  11. Gamification of education
  12. Google Search and research
  13. Grading Technology
  14. Inquiry in the Classroom
  15. Problem solving
  16. Search and research
  17. The Flipped classroom
  18. Twitter in the classroom

Delivery: YT stream

How to Order: Publisher’s website only

Price: $9.99 value–this month: $0.00 (with coupon code FREEWEBINARS)

Categories: Freebies/Discounts, Subscriber special, Teacher resources | Leave a comment

3 Desk Organizers You Need

ideasWith a new year upon us, I want to share three items I’ve discovered that help organize my desk-related items like nothing else I’ve tried. I didn’t want these to be the ‘pencil caddy’ sort of ideas, but those that popped a light bulb over my head, significantly improving my ability to get the job done while sitting at my desk.

Here’s what I came up with. See what you think:

Computer Privacy Screen Protectors

Have you ever gotten that prickle in the back of your neck that someone is reading over your shoulder? Maybe you’re working on a sensitive email while students are in the classroom (during lunch break, say) and when you turn, you see a student standing there, politely and quietly waiting to ask a question. Or your computer screen–like mine–can be seen through your classroom window, which means anyone walking by can see what you’re doing on your screen, even if it’s grading student work.

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Categories: Classroom management, Teacher resources, Teaching, Web Tools | 4 Comments

What to do When Computers Are Down

sideways cat on laptopAll tech teachers have experienced a day when the computers don’t work. You jiggle the mouse and nothing. You reboot and the screens remain dark. You know how to tap dance when the internet won’t connect (use software instead) or a particular program refuses to load (go to your Symbaloo page of alternatives).
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But what happens when the computers themselves are down–a systemic virus, or a site-wide upgrade that went bad? What do you do with the eager faces who tumble across your threshold ready for their once-a-week computer time? You need something that ties into technology without using it.
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Here are some ideas:
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Discuss digital citizenship

This is a topic that needs to be discussed every year, repetitively. When I teach digital citizenship, it always includes lots of back-and-forth conversation and surprised faces. Students have no idea that the right to use online resources includes responsibilities. In getting that point across, I end up answering endless questions, many that revolve around, ‘But no one knows who I am’, ‘But how can I be caught‘.

Use tech downtime to delve into this topic. Gather in a circle and talk about concepts like ‘digital footprint’, ‘plagiarism’, and ‘digital privacy’. Common Sense has a great poster (see image below) that covers these through a discussion on when to put photos online. You can print it out or display it on the Smartscreen. Take your time. Solicit lots of input from students–like their experiences with online cyberbullies and Instagram, and what happens with their online-enabled Wii platforms. It can be their personal experience or siblings.

A note: The poster says it’s for middle and high school, but I use it with students as young as third grade by scaffolding and backfilling the discussion:

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Categories: Classroom management, Dear Otto, Lesson plans, Teacher resources | Tags: | 2 Comments

Did You Miss These Posts Over the Holidays?

ideasHere are five activities to get you ready for the demands of a new school year:

  1. End-of-year Tech Tips: Image and Back-up Your Computer
  2. End-of-Year Tips: 13 WaysTo Speed Up Your Computer
  3. End of Year Tips: Is Your Online Presence Up to Date?

Try them out–post a comment if you need help. I’ll be here.

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Categories: Blogging, Teacher resources | Tags: | Leave a comment

2015, I Resolve…

NY ResolutionsNew Years–a time for rest, rejuvenation and repair. A time to assess life. Do we settle into our routine, enjoy where it’s headed, or is it time to grab our purse, our iPhone, our car keys, and get out of there?

Here are my resolutions this year. Lots of them! This is actually more of a To Do list. I break it down into Fiction (for my novel writing), Non-fiction (for my tech ed writing), Blogs (for my four blogs) and Business (for marketing my myriad of books):

Fiction

  • Rewrite and publish To Hunt a Sub. This tech thriller series uses science to drive the plot. The science is current, not futuristic, with extrapolations on what can be accomplished. The characters are damaged, flawed, and heroic. The plot is fast-paced, non-stop (which I have to work on). At one point almost ten years ago, I called this book completed. Now, I’m glad I took a second look. I like it much better. I’ll be giving you updates over the next few months with a tentative plan to get it out before summer.
  • Rewrite the sequel to To Hunt a SubTwenty-Four Days. This is the second in the series and plays up the part of my AI Otto in solving mysteries. This, too, I called completed at one point. Then I edited and called it completed. Then my agent offered advice, I made changes and called it completed. Yikes! I’m getting sick of it! This time, I’ll go through it, fix problems, and self-pub! I need to move on. I won’t finish it this year, but I’ll get started, with a planned publication date of mid-next year.
  • I attended Richard Bausch’s amazing workshop last year on writing. 2014, I need to find another motivating class to enrich my writing. Any ideas?

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10 Hits and 10 Misses for 2014

top tenSince I started this blog five years ago, I’ve had over 3 million visitors to the 1,134 articles I’ve written on integrating technology into the classroom. They may be about how to use wikis or blogs in the classroom or what I’ve learned from my students as we got through another tech week. I have regular features like:

I post a lot of lesson plans that have worked for me and share my thoughts on other ideas that affect teachers trying to tech-ify their classrooms.

It always surprises me what readers find to be the most and least provocative. The latter is as likely to be a post I put heart and soul into, sure I was sharing Very Important Information, as the former. Talk about humility.

When you look at these articles, they aren’t required to have been written in 2014–just visited last year. Some of these articles were written a few years ago and still generate a lot of interest among aspiring authors.

Before you look at what statistics say are the most popular posts, tell me what your most popular categories are by voting in this poll:

[polldaddy poll=8383517]

Here they are–my top 10 and bottom 10 of 2014 (though I’ve skipped any that have to do with website reviews and tech tips. Those, I cover in other posts):

Top Ten Hits

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Categories: Blogging, Teacher resources | Tags: , | Leave a comment

End-of-Year Tips: 13 WaysTo Speed Up Your Computer

vector image of a bar of soapThis week, I’m providing tips for end-of-year technology maintenance. These are activities that could (or should) be done once a month if you’re active on your computer, but AT LEAST do them yearly.

Like this week.

That’s right. It’s a new year, which means Pre-Spring Cleaning. Set aside the brushes and mops. Grab a comfortable chair, put on your problem-solving hat, and get started. The goal: To make your computer faster, more efficient, and more reliable for all the work you’ve promised to complete over the holiday break.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make sure your firewall is working. Windows comes with a built-in one. Maybe Mac does too. Leave it active. It’s under Control Panel>Administrative Tools. Sometimes, they seem to turn off by themselves (I have no idea why). Check to be sure it is active. This will keep viruses and malware out that slow your computer.
  2. Defrag your computer. To quote Windows, Fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work that can slow down your computer. Removable storage devices such as USBs can also become fragmented. Disk Defragmenter rearranges fragmented data so your disks and drives can work more efficiently. Never mind all that geek speak. Here’s what you need to know: Run Disc Defrag by going to Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Advanced Tools.
  3. Run Spybot or a similar spyware programs. Spybot is free, which is why I like it, and I’ve had good luck with it. Download.com says this about Spybot: The program checks your system against a comprehensive database of adware and other system invaders. The Immunize feature blocks a plethora of uninvited Web-borne flotsam before it reaches your computer.
  4. Run Ad-aware once a week to keep malware off your computer. It has a stellar reputation and is also free (although there’s an upgrade that you can pay for).
  5. Keep your antivirus software active. If you’re paranoid like me, run an antivirus scan weekly to be sure nothing is missed.
  6. Sort through your Documents and get rid of those you don’t need anymore. It’s intimidating, like a file cabinet that hasn’t been opened in months–or years and is covered with dust, even spider webs. Do it, though. If you don’t, every time you search, the computer must finger through those unused and worthless files. It doesn’t understand the difference between ‘unused’ and ‘important’.
  7. Back up your files to an external drive or cloud storage. If you have an automated system, skip this. If you don’t, consider getting Carbonite or similar. If you use Windows, try their backup program. It’s easy to find: Click the Start Button and search ‘backup’.
  8. Empty the trash. Don’t even look in it. If you haven’t missed a file by now, it won’t matter if you throw it out.
  9. Learn to use that program you’ve been promising you would or delete it. Evernote is a great example. Use it (and you won’t be sorry) or delete the email from your best friend exhorting you to try it. Move on.
  10. Go through your programs and delete the ones you no longer use. Here’s what you do:
    • go to Control Panel>Programs and Features
    • peruse the list and pick the programs you downloaded by mistake, meaning to use, or used to use and no longer do
    • uninstall
    • don’t look back
  11. Update any software that needs it. I don’t mean BUY a newer version. I mean click the free update that’s been nagging at you (Adobe Reader and Windows, for example)
  12. Clean the junk off your desktop. Put it in folders or create a folder for ‘Working on’. Don’t know how to create a desktop folder? Just right click on the desktop and select ‘New>folder’
  13. Clean up your Start Button. Remove shortkeys you no longer use (with a right click>delete). Add those that have become daily go-to sites

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End of Year Tips: Is Your Online Presence Up to Date?

2015This week, I’m providing tips for end-of-year technology maintenance. These are activities that could (or should) be done once a month if you’re active on your computer, but AT LEAST do them yearly.

Like today.

For most teachers I know, life zooms by, filled with lesson planning, meetings, classes, collaborations with their grade-level team, parent meetings, and thinking. There are few breaks to update/fix/maintain the tech tools that allow us to pursue our trade.

But, that must happen or they deteriorate and no longer accomplish what we need them to do. Cussing them out does no good. Buying new systems takes a long time and doesn’t fix the problem that the old one wasn’t kept up. If they aren’t taken care of, we are left wondering why our teacher blog or website isn’t accomplishing what it does for everyone else, why our social media Tweeple don’t generate activity, and why our TPT materials languish. There’s a short list of upkeep items that won’t take long to accomplish. The end of the calendar year is a good time to do these:

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Categories: Blogging, Digital Citizenship, Teacher resources | Tags: | Leave a comment