Mysimpleshow Keeps Getting Better

mysimpleshow, digital tool of choice in the explainer video market, has done it again. They’ve come out with a great change that will make their explainer videos even easier to use in a classroom. mysimpleshow “Classroom” offers the full variety of design functions with a focus on collaborative learning: Up to 50 students can create joint video projects that promote their creativity and teamwork. Previously, a price tag was attached but the creators of simpleshow have decided to make the “Classroom” free of charge, in addition to the free basic account.

Here’s an explainer video about the mysimpleshow Classroom:

About simpleshow: simpleshow is the market leader for professional explainer video production and so far has produced several thousand clips in more than 50 languages worldwide. With offices in Luxembourg, Berlin, Stuttgart, London, Zurich, Miami, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo, more than 150 employees serve customers around the globe. simpleshows explain complex topics in short, entertaining, and easy-to-understand videos; and its methodology is trusted by major blue-chip corporations worldwide. Today, the company offers a variety of formats, from simple online videos to innovative and interactive online courses, and its online video maker mysimpleshow.

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Remote Learning: Tips for Thriving in This Ecosystem

Anyone who attends online classes or any sort of remote learning knows it’s different from traditional classes. To thrive in this environment requires a mindset that appreciates the pros and adapts to the challenges. The folks over at  San Diego Virtual School (SDVS) have put together a list of quick productivity tips on how to excel in this increasingly-popular learning environment:

Remote Learning Productivity Tips

Studying and working from home will share a lot of overlap when it comes to staying productive. It’s a completely different environment than being in a traditional school and it will require a much different (and stronger) level of discipline to stay successful in your studies.

So what can you do to stay on top of your lessons and ensure that you’ll be productive throughout your years of education when going remote?

Use a Clean and Organized Study Space

Studying remotely means you get to customize your study space in any way you want. It’s important to have a space that you’re comfortable in, but you also want it to be as clean, organized and clutter-free as possible. This helps keep your mind clear, and allows you to avoid unwanted distractions.

If at all possible, try not to have anything on your desk that isn’t related to your studies.

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169 Tech Tip #78: Save a File so Everyone Can Read it

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #78–Save a File so Everyone Can Read it

Category: Google Apps

Sub-category: MS Office

Q: I need to make my document readable by colleagues that don’t have my software (such as I use MS Word and they don’t). What do I do?

A:  In both Google Apps and MS Office, you can save a document in a variety of formats, including the easy-to-read PDF. If you use Google Docs, you can also 1) share or 2) download in a variety of formations including PDF. This is also true of webtools that offer a wide variety of methods for saving and sharing. Pick the one best suited to the task, purpose, and audience.

In MS Office:

  • click ‘save as’ for your document
  • drop down the ‘save as type’ and select ‘PDF’
  • save

If the problem is that the recipient doesn’t have a current version of MS Word (say, you have 2010 and they have 2003), then save the doc as follows:

  • go to File-save as
  • select file type 97-2003 (see first inset below).

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Teacher Support in the Digital-Blended Classroom

Technology remains–still–a love-hate relationship between teachers and teaching. Yes, it enriches learning but at the price of too many problems, preparation required, and confusion. I like Felicia Zorn’s summary of how that go-nogo decision really has become ‘get with the program’.

Teacher Support in the Digital-Blended Classroom

Growing up, my generation did not use verbs like ‘Google’ or proper nouns such as ‘Siri’.  We were the pioneers of the digital era.  We played Oregon Trail, asked Jeeves questions for our research, and waited for hours while Napster downloaded our favorite songs.  Now, children are digital natives.  Children as young as two are utilizing tablets, exploring the apps on smartphones, and accessing knowledge via the internet.  How do we as educators keep up with this trailblazing generation who can navigate technology at breakneck speeds?  Or better yet, why should we integrate online learning into our classrooms?  There are countless strategies and resources at your fingertips, but this article will spotlight the importance of digital teacher support for your blended learning environment.

Digital resources can save teachers innumerable hours of planning, grading, assigning, and assessing in the classroom.  As online resources develop and create more curricula, teachers will transform classroom dynamics by devoting less time to lecturing and spending more time enriching and mentoring.  Rigorous, standards-aligned content is uploaded daily to educational websites, apps, and test banks.  Most online assignments are auto-graded and scores are sent directly to a digital gradebook for teachers.  Assessments can be altered with settings to meet the needs of all students with a few short clicks.

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10 Most Popular Tech Tips and Click-throughs in 2017

Because AATT is a resource blog, we share lots of tips our group comes across in their daily teaching as well as materials shared by others we think you’d like. Some you agree with; others, not so much. Here’s a run-down on what you thought were the most valuable in 2017:

Top 10 Tech Tips

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems which I share with you. Here are the Top Ten tech tips from 2017. Between these ten, they had over 174,000 visitors during the year.

  1. End-of-Year Maintenance: 19 Steps To A Speedier Computer
  2. 6 Ways to Make Classroom Typing Fun
  3. 67 K-8 Hour of Code Suggestions–by Grade Level
  4. 13 Reasons For and 3 Against Technology in the Classroom
  5. 22 Digital Tools You Must Have in Your Classroom
  6. Chromebooks in the Classrooms–Friend or Foe?
  7. 19 Topics to Teach in Digital Citizenship–and How
  8. What is the 21st Century Lesson Plan?
  9. How to Create a Curriculum Map
  10. What are Common Core keyboarding standards?

What changed this year? The favorite tips were more general in nature than specific. Where last year a lot of ‘how-tos’ made the top ten, this year there’s only one.

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Virtual Reality in the Classroom: It’s Easy to Get Started

virtual realityEvery teacher I know has virtual reality on their radar. It’s one of those short-listed disruptive technologies that kids want to be involved in and will change teaching for the better. I was thrilled when Amanda Ronan over at Teach.com suggested that she write a how-to for teachers on getting virtual reality started in their classrooms.  I think you’ll enjoy her thoughts:

Suddenly, virtual reality is everywhere. The technology lets you experience worlds you’ve never dreamed of visiting. You’ve seen people drop their phones into what look like small cardboard boxes and suddenly they’re transported back in time or to the moon.

As an educator, you probably look at those devices and wonder if you need a degree in computer science to figure out how to use them, let alone how to incorporate the tech into your classroom. But, we’re excited to let you in on the secret: VR is super easy to get started with.

Get Started with VR

Just follow these simple steps and you’ll be the hippest teacher around. Not to mention, your students will be totally engaged in the world, both real and virtual, around them. Set an example, and you might even get the whole school on board. Talk about leadership material.

1. Pick Your Equipment.

To use virtual reality in the classroom, all you need is a smartphone capable of downloading the VR apps or videos (more on those in a second) and a headset. The VR headset provides different screens, and therefore different images, for each eye. They also include sound and motion-sensors, so when you move your head, the image moves, too.

If your school has a BYOD (bring your own device) policy, you can ask for student volunteers willing to download the apps or videos onto their phones. You’ll only need enough phones with the apps as you have headsets. Teachers just getting started with VR usually start out by having groups share a headset.

One of the best ways to start out is with the Google Cardboard headset. There are a bunch of different options, but they start are $7.00 each. This keeps the tech affordable. If you order a few for your classroom and find yourself using VR more than you thought you would, order a few more. Or, if your students love the experience, you can possibly convince your district to invest in an account with Nearpod, an educational company that offers everything you need to do VR right, from the headsets, to standards-aligned lesson plans, to the opportunity to make and produce VR lessons yourself. Being a tech ambassador is a great way to influence change in your school on an organizational level so get excited and let your enthusiasm be contagious!

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2 Martin Luther King Day Lesson Plans and a Book

5th grade mlk nanoogo cover

Through my Teachers Pay Teachers store, I have two lesson plans help you plan Martin Luther King Day on January 15, 2018.

4th grade

Students interpret the words of Dr. Martin Luther King in their own words in a visual organizer. Great project that gets students thinking about the impact of words on history. Common Core aligned. 7-page booklet includes a sample, step-by-step projects, a rubric for assessment, and additional resources to enrich teaching.

5th grade

Students research events leading up to Dr. Martin Luther King’s impact on American history and share them with an Event Chain organized visually, including pictures and thought bubbles. Aligned with Common Core. 7-page booklet includes a sample, step-by-step projects, a rubric for assessment, and additional resources to enrich teaching.

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10 Hits and 10 Misses for 2017

Since we at Ask a Tech Teacher started this blog six years ago, we’ve had over 5.3 million visitors to the 1,797 articles on integrating technology into the classroom. This includes tech tips, website/app reviews, tech-in-ed pedagogy, how-tos, videos, and more. We have regular features like:

If you’ve just arrived at Ask a Tech Teacher, start here.

It always surprises us what readers find to be the most and least provocative. The latter is as likely to be a post one of us on the crew put heart and soul into, sure we were sharing Very Important Information, as the former. Talk about humility.

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:

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What You Might Have Missed in December

Here are the most-read posts for the month of December:

  1. End-of-Year Maintenance: 19 Steps To A Speedier Computer
  2. End-of-year Maintenance: Image and Back-up Digital Devices
  3. End of Year Maintenance: Update Your Online Presence
  4. New Year, New Mindset (my New Year resolutions)

If you’re planning ahead to Martin Luther King Day, here are two lesson plans I have on Teachers Pay Teachers that include research and background on this seminal American. You can get them for free if you check out January’s Subscriber Special (if you’re a subscriber).


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 18 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. She is also the author of the tech-thriller series, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days.

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Top 10 Websites and Apps of 2017

Throughout the year, I post websites and apps the Ask a Tech Teacher crew’s classes found useful, instructive, helpful in integrating technology into classroom lesson plans. Some, you agreed with us about; others not so much. Here, I’ll share which sites you-all thought were the most helpful in efforts to weave tech into the classroom experience. Between these, they had over 240,000 visitors during the year. See if you agree:

  1. 12 Websites to Teach Mouse Skills
  2. 16 Great Research Websites for Kids
  3. 10 Tech Tools for Your Math Class
  4. 67 K-8 Hour of Code Suggestions–by Grade Level
  5. 6 Ways to Make Classroom Typing Fun
  6. 16 Websites on Natural Disasters
  7. 9 Best-in-Class Digital Storytelling Tools
  8. 84 Math Websites for K-8
  9. Hour of Code Suggestions by Grade Level
  10. 13 Ways to Use Canva in Your Classroom

Have a wonderful 2018!

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