What’s Changed in Lesson Planning

Technology and the connected world put a fork in the old model of teaching–instructor in front of the class, sage on the stage, students madly taking notes, textbooks opened, homework as worksheets, and tests regurgitating facts.

Did I miss anything?

This model is outdated not because it didn’t work (many statistics show students ranked higher on global testing years ago than they do now), but because the world changed. Our classrooms are more diverse. Students are digital natives, in the habit of learning via technology. The ‘college or career’ students are preparing for isn’t that of their mothers.

What is slow to adjust is the venerable lesson plan. When I first wrote these teaching maps, they concentrated on aligning with standards and ticking off required skills. Now, with a clear-eyed focus on where students need to be before graduation, they must build on the habits of mind that allow success not only in school but life.

Here are seventeen concepts you may not think about—but should–as you prepare lesson plans:

Read more »

Categories: Classroom management | Leave a comment

What’s all the buzz about Messenger Kids?

When preteen kids see parents and older siblings thumbing away at social media accounts, they want to do it. They don’t understand when told they are too young. There have been a few efforts to extend social communication tools to younger kids but mostly, kids don’t like them so end up on apps designed for teens or adults, like Snapchat or Instagram.

Until the iconic Facebook platform came up with what they call Messenger Kids.

What is Messenger Kids

Messenger Kids is a free video calling and messaging app designed for kids under thirteen to connect with others from their tablet or smartphone. These are the kids who love digitally chatting on parent cellphones (or other digital devices) but aren’t old enough for the nuances and maturity required of popular 13+ messaging platforms. Messenger Kids provides them with a safe, free environment to chat with friends who have moved away, stay in touch with family who doesn’t live nearby, and get questions answered by parents they aren’t with at the moment.

Here’s what it’s not. First and foremost:

Messenger Kids is not a social media app. It is a messaging app.

Here’s a peak into the app:

Read more »

Categories: Reviews, Social media | Tags: | Leave a comment

7 Tech Tools for PE Teachers

pe classTechnology is a natural education fit in everything from math to Spanish to literacy. The one corner of K-12 learning that is not so obvious is PE — Physical Education. In that class, we think of physical stuff — not digital — like running and exercising.

But kids love technology’s apps and software. Is there a way to use these to encourage physical fitness? After all, the tie-in between physical conditioning and learning is well-accepted. Here’s what the NY Times reports:

Better fitness proved to be linked to significantly higher achievement scores — a 2013 study reported in PubMed.org.

But, how can teachers use the technology students love to encourage physical education? Here are my favorite websites and apps:

AnatomyYou

iOS, Android

Freemium

This is a stunningly visual app that takes students right into the human body via virtual reality. Viewers travel down the gastrointestinal tract, the small intestine, the circulatory system, and three other systems. With 360-degree navigation, it is fully interactive, including even tags for important parts. Students can stop and observe while exploring the hotspots. Watch this video—you really won’t believe it.

Read more »

Categories: Health, High School, Web Tools | Tags: | Leave a comment

Smartphones in the classroom

In my summer digital citizenship classes, the biggest question I get is how to control student cell phone usage. Luckily, Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Andrew Carroll, former High School teacher, has a great analysis of the problem and discussion of solutions below:

How to control smartphone usage in classroom?

Shoulders slouched and eyes down—you guessed it right! It’s a smartphone that your students are using.

Digital devices, especially smartphones and tablets, have become an appendage for schools. In the presence of a smartphone, children don’t pay attention to the lesson being taught. Instead, they would rather stick their heads into their smartphones and stay glued to social media or texting their friends.

But it is not their fault. In a time where digital devices are ever-present, it is difficult for kids to not be influenced by them. Smartphone are making it impossible for our children to focus on anything else, least of all their studies. And it has adverse effects on their health as well. We are all aware of the negative impacts of smartphones. It is known for causing depression and anxiety among adults and children alike. Owning a smartphone may make students prone to cyberbullies, which can bring its own trauma.

In a classroom, on average, children check on their phones 11 times a day. Distractions from cell phone cause students to get behind lessons and ultimately get poor grades. Text messaging between students, in a classroom, disturbs the atmosphere. Like a ripple effect, one student using a cell phone disturbs other students as well. This leads to inattentiveness and lack of class participation. Hence, some students are left way behind than others.

Read more »

Categories: Classroom management, Digital Devices | 1 Comment

11 Bits of Wisdom I Learned From a Computer

As a teacher-author who relies on technology to bring my dreams to life, even I am surprised by how often technology can be applied to life. I share these humorous gems with efriends, post them on forums, and incorporate them into conversations with colleagues. My goal is to demystify technology, a topic that remains for many confusing and intimidating. If fellow writers learn to approach it light-heartedly, they’ll be more likely to accept it. Here are eleven tech terms I find myself applying daily to many of life’s quirks:

#1: Your short-term memory experienced a denial of service attack

A Denial of Service — a DoS – is defined as: “…an interruption in an authorized user’s access to a computer network…” If I’m the “authorized user” and my brain is the “computer network”, this happens to me often. Laypeople call it a “brain freeze” and it is characterized as an event, a name, or an appointment that should be remembered but isn’t. I simply explain to the class full of curious upturned faces (or colleagues at a staff meeting) that I am experiencing a DoS and ask that they please stand by. Read more »

Categories: Humor, Writing | Leave a comment

Tech Ed Resources for your Class–Digital Citizenship Curriculum

digital citizenshipI 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: K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum

Overview

K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum–9 grade levels. 17 topics. 46 lessons. 46 projects. A year-long digital citizenship curriculum that covers everything you need to discuss on internet safety and efficiency, delivered in the time you have in the classroom.

Digital Citizenship–probably one of the most important topics students will learn between kindergarten and 8th and too often, teachers are thrown into it without a road map. This book is your guide to what children must know at what age to thrive in the community called the internet. It blends all pieces into a cohesive, effective student-directed cyber-learning experience that accomplishes ISTE’s general goals to:

  • Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology
  • Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
  • Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning
  • Exhibit leadership for digital citizenship

Read more »

Categories: AATT Materials, Digital Citizenship, Reviews | Tags: | Leave a comment

Using Technology To Teach Kids About Troubleshooting Vehicle Problems

This is not a topic I’ve thought much about. I have a nice collection of driver’s ed websites and videos for high school students so really should have considered this essential skill. Thanks to Jane Sandwood, Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, for coming up with this article.

U.S. adults consistently perform worse in digital problem solving compared to their counterparts in other nations, according to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics. This nature of affairs is possibly, in part, due to the limited emphasis on teaching problem-solving skills in school. Our lives are inextricably intertwined with cars, and at some point, our kids have to be introduced to concepts of operating and maintaining them. Not all children will grow up to become mechanics, but most of them will likely need to drive a car. Teaching them basic concepts about car maintenance will not only help satisfy their curiosity, but can also help them in the future when they are encountering problems with their cars. Tech tools have simplified the process of diagnosing car problems to the extent that children can be taught this essential aspect of car maintenance.

Start With The Basics

Because car maintenance is not on the curricula for most schools, a car diagnostics project can best be handled as homework, after-school program, or as part of evening/weekend classes. The goal is to help them to improve their problem-solving skills. Before using technology tools to diagnose car problems, it is only fair to teach the child how the different parts of the car work. A demonstration of the location of the engine, battery, breaks, gearbox, and other essential car parts may be a good way to get things started. Then you can explain how the different car parts work together and throw in a lesson on basic car maintenance. This can include demonstrations on how to change car tires and how to replace car fluids like engine oil, radiator coolant, windscreen solutions, and brake fluid.

General Car Diagnostics

The child can now be introduced to the principles of identifying the cause of car problems. To help the child to remember the concepts, it might be useful to state generalized formulas for possible causes for common car problems. For example, you may explain that a car failing to start may indicate a problem with the battery, spark plugs, or the car fuel system. A burning rubber smell may signal a problem with the brakes, oil leak, or an electrical fault. Then, depending on the child’s age and cognitive abilities, you may delve deeper into the peculiar characteristics of each problem.

Read more »

Categories: High School | Leave a comment

10 Books You’ll Want to Read This Summer

Summer is a great time to reset your personal pedagogy to an education-friendly mindset and catch up on what’s been changing in the ed world while you were teaching eight ten hours a day. My Twitter friends, folks like @mrhowardedu and @Coachadamspe, gave me great suggestions on books to read that I want to share with you but first:

A comment on the selections: I did get more suggestions than I could possibly list so I focused on books that were positive and uplifting rather than dark and foreboding. Yes, there is a lot wrong with education around the world but I wanted a selection of books that would send me — and you —  back to teaching in the fall with a can-do attitude for how to accomplish miracles with your next class of students.

Having said that, here’s a granular list of teacher-approved books to keep you busy this summer:

Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times

by Eric C. Sheninger

Digital Leadership defines a strategic mindset and set of behaviors that leverage resources to create a meaningful, transparent, and engaging school culture. It takes into account recent changes such as connectivity, open-source technology, mobile devices, and personalization of learning to dramatically shift how schools have been run for over a century.

Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns

by Clayton M. Christensen

Selected as one of Business Week’s Best Books on Innovation in 2008, Disrupting Class is filled with fascinating case studies, scientific findings, and insights into how managed innovation can unleash education. As important today as it was a decade ago, Disrupting Class will open your eyes to new possibilities and evolve your thinking. For more detail, read my review, Disrupting Class.

Read more »

Categories: Classroom management, Reviews, Teacher resources | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Looking for Trusted Advisers? Look No Further

Summer is the push-pull of regeneration and rejuvenation: Should I spend my summer weeks learning my craft or relaxing? Me, I have no regular winner but the more convenient learning is, the more likely I’ll squeeze a  goodly quantity of learning into my vacation that serves me in the long run. Where years ago, that used to be attending a conference at an out-of-town hotel that required traveling expenses, now, I’m more likely to pick online classes. In fact, I’ve talked about these choices in other posts. Today, I want to talk about podcasts, webinars, and screencasts of knowledgeable educators who quickly can become your trusted advisors on a wide variety of education topics.

Here are my favorites:

alice keelerAlice Keeler

Blog: Teacher Tech with Alice Keeler

Books: Get Started with Google Classroom, Ditch That Homework, and more

Training: Go Slow Online Workshops, CoffeeEdu, and more

Social Media: @alicekeeler, YouTube

Alice Keeler is a Google Certified Teacher, New Media Consortium K12 Ambassador, Microsoft Innovative Educator and LEC Admin & Online and Blended certified. Professor of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology at California State University Fresno and Teacher on Special Assignment at ACEL Charter High school. She has developed and taught online K12 courses as well as the Innovative Educator Advanced Studies Certificate (cue.org/ieasc). Her goal: to inspire and help teachers to try something new. With a boatload of accolades, certifications, and followers, she is often a keynote or presenter at ISTE and CUE conferences and is the number one choice for those interested in anything Google.

Read more »

Categories: Teacher resources | Tags: | Leave a comment

Tech Ed Resources–Mentoring and Online 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: Mentoring and Classes

Mentoring

Tech coaching/mentoring is available from experts who work with you via email or virtual meetings to prepare lesson plans, teach to standards, integrate tech into core classroom time. If you’re new to tech education and wonder how to teach kindergartners to use the mouse, first graders to keyboard, third graders to sagely search the internet, pick the brains of our seasoned team of technology teachers.

Note: If your District has purchased a license, you get some coaching for free. Check on that before signing up.

  • How do you start kindergartners who don’t know what ‘enter’, ‘spacebar’, ‘click’ or any of those other techie words mean?
  • What do you do with third graders who join your class and haven’t had formal technology classes before?
  • You’ve been thrown into the technology teacher position and you’ve never done it before. How do you start? What do you introduce when?
  • You’ve been teaching for twenty years, but now your Principal wants technology integrated into your classroom. Where do you start?
  • How do you differentiate instruction between student geeks and students who wonder what the right mouse button is for?
  • How do you create a Technology Use Plan for your school?
  • How do you create a Curriculum Map?
  • As an edtech professional, what’s your career path?

For more information or to sign up, click here.

 

Read more »

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