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Teacher resources

What a Typical Tech Lesson Looks Like

tech lessonIn the past few weeks, I’ve gotten several emails like this from teachers:

I am a tech teacher, going on my fifth year in the lab. Each year I plan to be more organized than the last, and most often I revert back to the “way things were.” I’m determined to run the lab just like I think it should be! … Could you please elaborate on how you run your class? I love the idea of having kids work independently, accomplishing to do lists, and working on different projects. You mention this in Volume I, but I want to hear more!

Currently, I see close to 700 students, grades 1-6. I want to break out of the routine (the “you listen, I speak, you do” routine), and your system seems like it would work well. Just hoping you can share some details.

I decided to jot down my typical (as if any planned lesson ever comes out the way it’s written–you know how that goes!) daily lesson. You can tweak it, depending upon the grade you teach. Here goes:

Typical 45-minute Lesson

Each lesson requires about 45 minutes of time, either in one sitting or spread throughout the week. Both are fine and will inform whether you unpack this lesson:

  • In the grade-level classroom
  • In the school’s tech lab

As you face a room full of eager faces, remember that you are a guide, not an autocrat. Use the Socratic Method—don’t take over the student’s mouse and click for them or type in a web address when they need to learn that skill. Even if it takes longer, guide them to the answer so they aren’t afraid of how they got there. If you’ve been doing this with students since kindergarten, you know it works. In fact, by the end of kindergarten, you saw remarkable results.

When talking with students, always use the correct domain-specific vocabulary. Emphasize it and expect students to understand it. (more…)

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

3 Apps to Help Brainstorm Next Year’s Lessons

lesson planLesson planning used to mean filling in boxes on a standard form with materials, goals, expectations, assessments–details like that. Certainly this is valuable information, but today’s lesson plans–like today’s lessons–demand less rote fill-in-the-blanks and more conceptualization, critical thinking, and collaboration. With the increased reliance on online resources, Skype interviews with professionals, and hands-on learning activities, lessons are no longer taught within four walls so they shouldn’t be planned that way. They need collaboration with all stakeholders from initial planning stage to revision and rewrite.

And that paper form that was copied in triplicate–now it’s an online tool that can be accessed, edited, appended, and viewed by everyone involved. In fact, it can be one of three tools, depending upon how your brain organizes ideas:

  • mindmap–for those who love to throw everything out there on a canvas and arrange
  • online planner–for those who fill in boxes with required information and want the lesson plan to appear fully formed from these ideas
  • spreadsheet–for those who like to build from the ground up and have the lesson plan detailed and scalable–in a structured way

I’ve tried all of these and have found three favorite tools, one from each category, that work for me. Read through these, try them out, and then add a comment with what you think:

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

17 Take-aways from Summer PD

summer pdSummer PD 2015 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, Common Core and tech, backchannels, digital citizenship, assessment, and more (12 topics in all). It was run like a flipped classroom where class members picked 60% of daily topics, then they read, tested and experimented. Failed and tried again. Asked questions. They shared with colleagues on discussion boards, blogs, Tweets.  Once a week we got together virtually (via Google Hangout or a TweetUp) to share ideas, answer questions,  and 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. They 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 the gamification of education.
  • They were problem solvers. I often heard, ‘if I tweak it here, I can solve this problem’.

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Categories: Education reform, Online education, Teacher resources | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

15 Take-aways from Online Grad School Classes

edtechMTI 562 (the Tech-infused Teacher) and MTI 563 (the Differentiated Teacher) just ended. More than a dozen of us–teachers, library media specialists, tech integrationists, lab teachers–gathered virtually for five weeks to experiment with some of the hottest tech tools available for the classroom–Google Apps, differentiation options, digital storytelling, visual learning, Twitter, blogs, backchannels, digital citizenship, assessment, and more. Sessions were run like a flipped classroom where attendees accessed daily topics, read/watched materials, tested their knowledge, and experimented with projects. In some cases, they failed and tried again–and shared with classmates what went wrong and how it was fixed–or how they attempted to fix it. They chatted with colleagues on discussion boards, blogs, and Twitter. They asked the class mentor (aka, guide or teacher) questions on class topics or any tech ed issue they needed help on.  Once a week, we got together virtually (Google Hangout or TweetUp) to share ideas, answer questions, and discuss nuances.

Some of the problems students faced down:

  • How to use twitter
  • How to use GHO
  • How to make a tagxedo interactive
  • How to work tech tools into their unique student groups
  • How to create screencasts and screenshots
  • How to create professional blogs
  • How to embed materials into digital portfolios
  • How to create a vibrant, healthy Personal Learning Network

Now as I wave goodbye to these students I’ve only known five weeks but feel quite close to, here are my takeaways:

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Categories: Online education, Teacher resources | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Tech Ed Resources–Classes

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: Classes

Overview

Ask a Tech Teacher offers a variety of classes throughout the year. All are online, hands-on, with an authentic use of tools you’ll want for your classroom.

Diffeentiated TeacherDifferentiation: How Technology Makes Differentiation Fast and Easy

College credit (MTI 563)

Next class: August 10, 2015

(email askatechteacher@gmail.com for more information)

Differentiation in the classroom means meeting students where they are most capable of learning. It is not an extra layer of work, rather a habit of mind for both teacher and student. Learn granular approaches to infusing differentiation into all of your lesson plans, whether you’re a Common Core school or not, with this hands-on, interactive class. Ideas include visual, audio, video, mindmaps, infographics, graphic organizers, charts and tables, screenshots, screencasts, images, games and simulations, webtools, and hybrid assessments.

Assessment is based on effort, interaction with classmates, and completion of projects, so be prepared to be fully-involved and an eager risk-taker.


tech-infused teacherThe Tech-infused Teacher: The 21st Century Digitally-infused Teacher

College credit (MTI 562)

Next class: July 27th, 2015

Next: Sept. 21st, 2015

(email askatechteacher@gmail.com for more information)

The 21st Century lesson blends technology with teaching to build a collaborative, differentiated, and shared learning environment. In this course, you will use a suite of digital tools to make that possible while addressing overarching concepts like digital citizenship, internet search and research, authentic assessment, digital publishing, and immersive keyboarding. You will actively collaborate, share knowledge, provide constructive feedback to classmates, and publish digitally. Classmates will become the core of your ongoing Personal Learning Network.

Assessment is based on effort, interaction with classmates, and completion of projects, so be prepared to be fully-involved and an eager risk-taker.


webtools for education20 Webtools in 25 Days (How to Find Webtools that Serve Your Classroom)

College credit

Next class: September, 2015

(email askatechteacher@gmail.com for more information)

Participants will explore twenty popular digital tools educators are using in their classrooms to extend learning and differentiate for student needs. Participants will review between one and four during the five-week class (by themselves or in groups) and present their review to classmates in a weekly Google Hangout. Participants will respond to the reviews of their classmates with comments, suggestions, personal experience, and questions. Both curations can be used as resource tools in the participant’s upcoming school year.

Assessment is project-based so participants should be prepared to be fully-involved and eager risk-takers.


summer pdThe Tech-infused Teacher: Summer PD

Certificate

Next class: Summer, 2016

(email askatechteacher@gmail.com for more information)

The 21st Century lesson blends technology with teaching to build a collaborative, differentiated, and shared learning environment. In this course, you will use a suite of digital tools to make that possible while addressing overarching concepts like digital citizenship, internet search and research, authentic assessment, digital publishing, and immersive keyboarding. You will actively collaborate, share knowledge, provide constructive feedback to classmates, publish digitally, and differentiate for unique needs. Classmates will become the core of your ongoing Personal Learning Network.

Assessment is project-based so be prepared to be fully-involved and an eager risk-taker.


 

Who needs these

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Categories: AATT Classroom Materials, Classroom management, Online education, Teacher resources, Videos | Tags: , | Leave a comment

What’s a Tech Teacher Do With Their Summer Off?

summerSchool’s been out for at least a few weeks and I just finished up three online classes that started in June. Next week, I’ll feel like I have an endless span of hours to do all the activities that got sidelined by grading,  projects, training, and general ‘school’ stuff. Once I get through reading until I’m bored (or  I run out of food) and straightening up the house (I won’t get carried away), I’ll start on the meat of my summer activities. Truth, that list is more of an overstuffed file cabinet than a carefully-constructed To Do page, but here’s what it looks like:

  1. Finish a tech thriller I’ve been working on this for four years. I’m 99% there (10% to go). Of course, it has lots of cutting edge technology and a quirky AI named Otto (a palindrome). If you follow my blog, you know this is on my list every summer, as predictable as the Golf Channel. This time, I’m doing it!
  2. Under the file folder, “The world doesn’t change in front of your eyes; it changes behind your back,” I realize a few tech trends are passing me by. This includes 3D printing, Maker Spaces, and Google Classroom for starters. They are seeping into tech conversations regularly on my social media and there’s little I can contribute other than questions. I need to fix that this summer. Any suggestions?
  3. Learn a new tech tool every week. This also I do every summer. I’ll share a video, a project, and academic tie-in each week.
  4. Get back to my inquisitive, curious roots. I used to spend hours figuring out how to solve problems, find solutions, determine what made something tick. Now, I’m too busy. I can feel the rift in my spirit, my sapped energy, my fuzzy brain. This summer, I’m getting back to that. Here’s my promise:

When I see something techie I don’t understand, I’ll ask:

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Categories: Teacher resources | Tags: , | 3 Comments

What’s Trending on Ask a Tech Teacher

In the past six months, I’ve posted over 140 articles on topics ranging from tech ed trends to how-tos, problem solving, and pedagogic discussions. I like to step back a few times a year and determine what readers are most interested in. WordPress makes that easy with their statistics.

I calculate what’s trending on my blog by which of my posts are popular in a particular time period. Here’s the run-down so far this year:

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Categories: Computer Wisdom, Teacher resources, Websites | Leave a comment

Get Your Summer Started with Ask a Tech Teacher

digital devicesNew to Ask a Tech Teacher? Here’s what you do:

Subscribe to the site

We publish 5-6 articles a week on a wide variety of tech-in-ed topics. Don’t miss out on the latest about:

Grade-level specific (K-12) tools and information

Subject-specific tools and information

The 21st Century classroom

Tech tools for the classroom

Reviews of tech ed books, products, websites, apps

Keyboarding

Digital Citizenship

Common Core

Lots more

Sign up for one of our newslettersedtech

We offer three:

Weekly Websites

Weekly tech tips

Tech-in-ed resources

When you’re signing up, we’ll ask if you need specific help. Fill that out. I’ll contact you and we’ll see where I can best serve your needs.

Check out Hall of Fame articles.

These are favorite articles rated by readers on Ask a Tech Teacher–the Ask a Tech Teacher Hall of Fame. These articles were read and reposted the most often, and had the biggest impact on your classrooms. The list includes topics on classroom management, digital citizenship, the future of education, how technology blends into the classroom, and more.

Do you own the K-5 curriculum?

Join the K-5 Companion wikis. Get FREE help on questions, extensions, or anything that impacts how you teach a lesson. Every week, we teach the lesson with you. You can see an example here.

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Categories: AATT Classroom Materials, Teacher resources | Tags: , | Leave a comment

How to Build Your PLN

plnWhen a colleague tells you she heard about a new tech tool from someone in her PLN, do you first wonder what she’s talking about–not the tool but the three-letter acronym? Or maybe you think, ‘Of course  [Amanda] has a PLN. She’s a geek.’ You might even understand the purpose of a PLN–to provide educators with a collaborative learning environment–but think you don’t need one, or staff development provided by your school is all you can handle.

What is a PLN

According to D. Johnson (2013), a PLN is:
..
“a self-created set of experts, colleagues, and resources…that meet one’s daily learning needs.”

More simply, it’s:

…an extended group of knowledgeable people you reach out to for answers, and trust to guide your learning.

These individuals can be anywhere in the world, but are always carefully selected by you for their expertise in your subject area. It doesn’t mean they have all the answers. It means that when you have questions, you trust them to inform your thinking, guide your research, and provide answers and directions scaffolded from their personal experience. You may never meet them in person, though you likely collaborate through Google Hangouts, Skypes, or pre-arranged TweetUps.

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Categories: Teacher resources, Teaching | 3 Comments

Last Chance to Join Summer PD

summer pdLast chance–class starts Monday, June 22nd!

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Categories: Teacher resources, Web Tools | Tags: , | Leave a comment