16 Thanksgiving Sites, 2 Apps, and 2 Projects

Need a few websites and apps to fill in sponge time? Here are Thanksgiving websites that will keep students busy and still teach them:

  1. Canadian Thanksgiving
  2. Online/Offline Thanksgiving activities
  3. Plimoth Plantation
  4. Starfall–Silly Turkey
  5. Thanksgiving edu-websites–CybraryMan
  6. Thanksgiving Games
  7. Thanksgiving games and puzzles
  8. Thanksgiving games–Quia
  9. Thanksgiving information–history, more
  10. Thanksgiving Jigsaw
  11. Thanksgiving Jigsaw II
  12. Thanksgiving Lesson Plans
  13. Thanksgiving Tic-tac-toe
  14. Thanksgiving video–Brainpop
  15. Thanksgiving Wordsearch
  16. The First Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving Activities That Keep You in Charge of Learning

thanksgivingTeaching the days before big holidays is challenging. Students and teachers alike are ready for a break. Both struggle to pay attention regardless of how innovative and engaging are the lesson plans.

I’ve been there often. As a result, I’ve come up with fun ways to support learning while students power through the last few days of school. Here are seven I use during the pre-Thanksgiving season:

ASCII Art

Time required: Less than one class

ASCII Art is the graphic design technique of creating images by typing the letters, numbers, and symbols defined by ASCII Standards. Holiday examples include this Thanksgiving pumpkin and these holiday bells. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Open your word processing program (MS Word, Google Docs, or another).
  2. Add a watermark of a picture you’d like to use, preferably a single image rather than one that includes a background. Silhouettes are perfect for this sort of project.
  3. Type over the image with the letters, symbols, and numbers that best fit the outline. It’s fine to use one letter throughout (like an X).
  4. Add color by highlighting the letters, numbers, and symbols typed over the parts you’d like colored (such as the stem of a pumpkin or the bow on Christmas bells in the linked samples above).
  5. When you’ve covered the image with characters, delete the watermark. That leaves just your typing.
  6. Save, print, share, publish as is customary in your classes.

Tie-ins: Use this not only for holidays but any academic class by creating an artistic image of the topic being discussed. Click the link for an example of Abraham Lincoln to align with study of the American Civil War or this one of the American Revolution. This is also a fun and authentic way for students to practice keyboarding.

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Book Review: Repositioning Educational Leadership

education leadershipRepositioning Educational Leadership

by James Lytle et al

4/5

The idea of using inquiry to drive change is both inspired common sense and not entirely obvious. That’s why when I heard about Repositioning Educational Leadership: Practitioners Leading from an Inquiry Stance (Teachers College Press 2018), I was thrilled to read it. Teachers are familiar with the inquiry classroom but it doesn’t always filter up to administrators.

“…educational leadership for k12 schools is increasingly complicated, as demands on educational leaders and schools continue to escalate.”

 “Leaders need opportunities to learn from the ‘inside’ of other leaders’ experiences, doubts, and all. This volume addresses that need.”

The authors, James Lytle, Susan Lytle, and Michael Johanek, collected evidence from school leadership who used inquiry to solve recalcitrant problems in their schools. The result is this book with a simple rationale: Education leaders must position themselves as inquirers. They must lead from an inquiry stance.

The book is organized into three sections: Learning from and with Students, Collaborating with Teachers and the School Community, and Leading System-level Inquiry. Each chapter within the theme is written by a school leader and shares their story of how leading with inquiry solved a problem they faced. These range from struggling to serve diverse groups of students to addressing where the usual education practices were failing. I found all of them interesting and instructive, each resonating with some aspect of my own experience. In all of these, solutions included the application of inquiry–talking to students, to faculty, to groups, to parents. And listening.

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Measuring Up–the Key to Meeting State/National Standards

measuring upLast year, only 61 percent of high school students who took the ACT English achievement test were deemed college-ready. In math, it was 41 percent. We teachers recognize it is our fiduciary responsibility to fulfill state and national education standards that prepare students for college or career. Many of us find students benefit greatly when the school employs curriculum-based assessments to measure progress. Why? Because by teaching, assessing knowledge, tracking progress, and personalizing to student needs, we can determine if students are accomplishing what they must to complete the work of learning.

Unfortunately, most textbooks offer no easy way to measure overall progress toward completing state or national standards, nor do they backfill for a lack of knowledge. Both of these are critical pieces to the successful accomplishment of learning goals.

This is where Mastery Education’s Measuring Up can help.

What is Measuring Up?

Measuring Up is a suite of tools that supplements any classroom curriculum by offering standards-based instruction, practice, assessment, and reporting customized to many state or national standards–with the singular goal of assisting students in meeting English Language Arts, Mathematics, and/or Science standards.

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What You Might Have Missed in October

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

  1. Halloween Projects, Websites, and Apps
  2. The Impact of VR on Student Education
  3. Is technology outpacing you?
  4. Differentiation Simplified with Study.com
  5. Resources for Digital Citizenship Week
  6. Engagement through Competition
  7. October is Dyslexia Awareness Month
  8. What Qualities Make an Effective Teacher?
  9. 9 Resources for National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 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, a Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and contributor to NEA Today and TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. Read Jacqui’s tech thriller series, Rowe-Delamagente.

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Subscriber Special: November

November 1st-8th:

Buy the K-8 curriculum; get the 55-page Hour of Code bundle for free

What’s in the Hour of Code bundle?

hour of code30 K-8 coding activities, organized by grade

138 images

aligned with ISTE and Common Core

lots of options to differentiate for student needs

Questions? Ask Jacqui Murray at askatechteacher at gmail dot com.

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Here’s a Preview of November

November is a short month, with a week off to celebrate the holiday. Here’s a preview of what’s coming up on Ask a Tech Teacher:

  • Book Review: Repositioning Educational Leadership
  • Hour of Code activities
  • Let’s talk about Measuring Up–from Mastery Education
  • Thanksgiving Activities That Keep You in Charge of Learning
  • The Power of Symbols–What does ‘Turkey’ mean?

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 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, a Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and contributor to NEA Today and TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. Read Jacqui’s tech thriller series, Rowe-Delamagente.

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Halloween Projects, Websites, and Apps

Three holidays are fast-approaching–Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. If you’re a teacher, that means lots of tie-ins to make school festive and relevant to students.

halloween

Here are ideas for Halloween projects, lesson plans, websites, and apps:

Projects

  1. ASCII Art–Computer Art for Everyone (a pumpkin–see inset)
  2. Lesson Plan: Halloween letter for grades 2-5
  3. Make a Holiday Card
  4. A Holiday Card
  5. A Holiday flier

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The Impact of VR on Student Education

Virtual Reality–VR–is the 2018 buzzword among students, teachers, and even parents. And rightfully deserved, VR has the ability to recreate so many of the rules that used to shape education. Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Sara Stringer, shares her opinion on the key factors that could affect the importance of VR to education:

Opinion: How VR Will Impact Student Education

Virtual reality (VR) is an exciting new concept that continues to shape how users see the world around them. It’s one of the few technologies that inspires students who have never known life without smartphones and the internet.virtual reality

The learning potential of VR is incredible. It offers new ways to inspire and engage students and will undoubtedly have a greater presence in education as the technology becomes more available. In particular, students who are enrolled in online charter schools can greatly benefit from these technological advances. However, to really predict the prevalence of virtual reality in the future of education, we have to take a look at three key factors.

Age Usage

One of the things that makes VR so universal is its ease of use for students of all ages.

Younger students—preschool to early elementary—typically learn through experience. Putting them into immersive environments can complement the learning they’re doing at home or in the classroom and extend their understanding of new concepts and ideas. Through VR, they can visit far-off places, see dinosaurs walk the earth, and observe wildlife in their natural habitats.

VR gives students more contextual information to what they’re learning. Reading or watching videos about the tides is one thing; being submerged in the ocean to witness the influence they have on sea life is another. It can also unlock students’ potential and keep them engaged no matter what subject they’re learning. They can gain new perspectives on the people, places, cultures, and subjects they’re studying. More complex subjects, like anatomy, can come to life for older students. Not only can they virtually visit a lab, but they can hold a heart in their hand.

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Is technology outpacing you?

technology in educationIn considering the question, Is technology outpacing you?, let’s first look at technology’s place in the current education landscape. True, it is touted as a magic wand that will fix all education woes. Sure, 73% of teachers use cell phones in their classrooms and 92% say the Internet has a “major impact” on their teaching. We gush over new hardware like iPads and Chromebooks. We spend millions on training teachers to blend tech into their lessons. We darkly predict that the day will soon arrive when technology erases the need for teachers.

But truthfully, technology is less a magic wand than a unicorn. It will never:

  • take over education. Using webtools and burying noses in digital devices won’t provide the interpersonal skills required to succeed in the working world. Any job students get post-school will require listening to real people, responding, and adapting when body language says you’ve confused the person in front of you.
  • replace teachers. The human piece to education can’t be overstated. The attention and care provided by a teacher — technology may measure it but can’t provide it.

Current research supports this:

“… among school-related factors, teachers matter most. … good teachers are irreplaceable assets for coaching and mentoring students, addressing the social and emotional factors affecting students’ learning, and providing students with expert feedback on complicated human skills such as critical thinking, creative problem solving, communication, and project management.” — RAND Education

What technology does, and does quite well, is make learning materials more accessible, more equitable, more up to date, and better suited to individuals. And importantly, it automates tedious tasks like roll call and grading so teachers have more time for students.

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