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Read the most popular articles

Find favorite articles in one spot–the Ask a Tech Teacher Hall of Fame. These are the ones we heard about the most from you, were reposted and referenced, 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.

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Is the Socratic Method Right for Your Class?

UWASocrates gobeirne croppedHave you ever walked into a classroom where students were engaged in serious on-topic discussion, debating ideas and challenging each other to provide evidence of their statements? And when you looked around for the teacher, s/he was calmly sitting in the back, observing, taking it all in but not participating?

Chances are, you entered a classroom using a discussion method known as Socratic Debate, aka Socratic Method, Socratic Circle, or Socratic Inquiry. Many teachers try this approach when they realize lecturing doesn’t engage students anymore. Sure, class members can memorize facts but too often the critical thinking required to analyze cause and effect — say, how a specific river encouraged ancient trade — eludes them unless the teacher spells it out, telling them the “right” answer.

In a traditional classroom, asking and answering questions is stressful to many students who are afraid their answer will be wrong. This is where the student-directed, no-right-wrong-answer Socratic Method shines.

What is it

It all started with this (supposed) quote from the iconic Greek thinker, Socrates:

“Let us examine the question together, my friend, and if you can contradict anything I say, do so and I will be persuaded.”

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Categories: Classroom management | Tags: , | 6 Comments

New from Origo Stepping Stones for This Summer

Stepping Stones

ORIGO Stepping Stones (see my review here), a comprehensive print and digital math program, has a variety of free math resources available for summer learning. Check these out:

  • Access a library of over thirty ORIGO 1 videos (and growing) through YouTube (search ORIGO Education) and on their Vimeo Channel  www.vimeo.com/channels/ORIGO1 with strategies and models to build fluency and understanding.  Topics include strategies for all four operations, using the number line, fractions, the counting principles, and more!  Be sure to check these out and subscribe to the channels.
  • Join a new learning community called Mathematics for Young Learners on edWeb.net –  www.edweb.net/mathlearners   to get access to live and recorded webinars on relevant math topics.
  • Sign up for the next math webinar, like this one called The Number Line: More on Making the Most of Math Models.
If you’re not familiar with ORIGO Stepping Stones, briefly, it:
  • Builds conceptual understanding through language and discourse, powerful visual models, and engaging activities that foster student thinking.
  • Drives the connections between and across concepts.
  • Supports computational fluency with extendable strategies and meaningful practice.
  • Incorporates rich problem solving, practical application, and open investigation.
You can visit their website www.origoeducation.com  to learn more.

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Categories: Math, News | Tags: | Leave a comment

3 Important Books for Kids

Summer’s approaching. Kids love playing outside, visiting friends–and reading! To encourage that last activity, here are three great books that will entertain, motivate, and educate–all in one fun experience.

  • Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Dough Bees Story and Cookbook — a clever blend of baking and reading. This is one of several Robby Cheadle and family have written
  • Why are There Bullies and What Can You Do About Them — an interactive Q&A about bullying and its solutions
  • The Piper Morgan Series — addresses issues youngsters are curious about, told in first person through the eyes of delightful Piper Morgan

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Categories: Reading, Reviews | Tags: | 10 Comments

11 Classroom Blogging Tips You Don’t Want to Miss

Here are eleven of the top classroom blogging tips according to Ask a Tech Teacher readers:teacher blogs

  1. Can We Eliminate Blogs–Teachers Hate Them!
  2. 6 Tips I Wish I’d Known When I Started Blogging
  3. 3 Problems to Address Before Blogging at Your School
  4. 7–no 10, wait 12–OK, 13 Skills I Teach With Blogging
  5. Once a Year Blog Maintenance–Are You Up to Date?
  6. 5 Great Tech Ed Blogs You May Not Have Heard Of
  7. What Are Good Guidelines for Younger Bloggers?
  8. Internet Skills for K-8: Blogs
  9. How Blogs Make Kids Better Writers
  10. What’s it Like to Be a Blogger?
  11. How to Use Blogs in Your Classroom

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

Subscriber Special: June

Last Chance:

Summer Learning Classes

BOGO — Buy one class; get a friend in for free

June 14-June 17 only

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Categories: Online education, Teacher resources | Tags: , | Leave a comment

How the Frayer Model Helps Thousands Learn Vocabulary

Frayer Model flowchartIn a perfect world, vocabulary is learned in context: The phrases and sentences around the unknown word define the meaning. If that isn’t sufficient, students use affixes — prefixes, suffixes, and roots — to decode meaning. But because the world isn’t always that pristine,  Dorothy Frayer and her colleagues at the University of West Virginia came up with a vocabulary teaching tool that has come to be known as “the Frayer Model”. Now used by thousands of educators, this approach to word study relies on analyzing words rather than memorizing definitions. Somewhat like Concept Circles, the Frayer Model uses a graphical organizer that asks students to describe words by much more than a memorized definition. They must:

  • define the term
  • describe essential characteristics
  • provide examples
  • provide non-examples

Because the Frayer Model digs deeply into understanding the word, it promotes critical thinking and a granular familiarity with unfamiliar vocabulary. It draws on a student’s prior knowledge to build connections among new concepts and creates a visual reference by which students learn to compare attributes and examples.

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Categories: Critical thinking, Word study/Vocabulary | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Need a New Job? Here’s What You Do

teacher job huntingYou’ve been teaching for five years and love what you’re doing. You consider yourself darn lucky to be working with colleagues that are friends and a boss who always puts your needs first. Most of the teachers at your school have been there years — even decades — and you have no doubt that, too, will be you. So, you don’t bother to keep your resume up-to-date or expand your teaching skills other than what is required for your position. In short, you found the square hole that fits your square peg.

Until the day that changes. There are dozens of reasons, from new bosses who want to shake things up to your husband gets a job in a different state. The only good news: Your boss told you already, giving you time to job hunt for the new school year. For many schools, if they’re going to make staffing changes, early Spring is when they start looking for the new people. For you as a job hunting educator, this becomes the best time of year to find a job.

Digital portfolio sites

Rather than a two-page printed document that can be lost and serves only one user, a digital portfolio posts your resume online, in an easy-to-understand format. This makes it more available, transparent, robust, and quickly updated. This is the modern resume, tells future bosses you can use technology as a tool, and can give you an edge in a competitive job market. It organizes your qualifications, evidence, and background in one easy-to-reach online location. Interested parties can check it without bothering you and decide if the fit is good. You do nothing — which can save the disappoint of sending out a resume and getting nothing but silence back.

Here are suggestions for digital portfolio sites:

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Categories: Teacher resources, Teaching | 2 Comments

Teachers: Already planning next year? Here are 4 ideas

Here are 4 Ways Teachers Can Better Prepare for the Next School Year, thanks to Kiddom, the online platform with a mission to make your lessons easier to plan, assess, and analyze:

Put Time Back in Your School Day

Time is precious. As this school year ends, learn how to save time and plan effectively for next year with these four strategies using Kiddom.

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6 Tech Activities for Your Summer School Program

With the growing interest in coding comes a call for after school tech camps that supersize student enthusiasm for technology. If you’ve been tasked (or volunteered) to run this activity, here are five activities that will tech-infuse participants:

  • Debate
  • Write an ebook
  • Genius Hour
  • Service Learning
  • 15 Digital Tools in 15 Days
  • Khan Academy

Debate

Working in groups, students research opposite sides of an issue, then debate it in front of class. They tie arguments to class reading, general knowledge as well as evidence from research. They take evidence-based questions and look for information that will convince them which side is right. This is an exercise as much for presenters as audience, and is graded on reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

Debates help students grasp critical thinking and presentation skills, including:

  • abstract thinkingsummer school
  • analytical thinking
  • citizenship/ethics/etiquette
  • clarity
  • critical thinking
  • distinguishing fact from opinion
  • establishing/defending point of view
  • identifying bias
  • language usage
  • organization
  • perspective-taking
  • persuasion
  • public speaking
  • teamwork
  • thinking on their feet—if evidence is refuted, students must ‘get back into game’
  • using research authentically

Basics

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Categories: After school, Lesson plans | Tags: , , | 2 Comments