Best-in-Category Winners for 2018

During the last month, Ask a Tech Teacher readers voted on which tech tools had the greatest impact on their teaching. For this Best in Category award, we asked them to look for the ones that made them say Wow and rush to share with colleagues everywhere.

Then we looked for the following qualities:

  • how dependable is it
  • how versatile is it for time-strapped teachers
  • does it differentiate for the varied needs of students and teacher
  • do educators like it (fairly subjective, but there you have it)
  • how did it work when exposed to your students
  • was it easy to use and intuitive to learn
  • did it fulfill promises and expectations
  • has it become a beloved tool in your classes or a failed experiment

Here are the 2018 Best-in-Category and Honorable Mentions for the following Categories: Read more »

Categories: Awards, Web Tools | Tags: | 1 Comment

Purpose Driven Learning: Myths, Problems, and Education Applications

purpose driven learningPurpose Driven Learning (or PDL) is a concept coined by Michael Matera and Adam Moreno to summarize the philosophy that each learner’s inner strengths can be unlocked by focusing with purpose and drive. By following the guidelines for Purpose Driven Learning, teachers avoid the biggest pitfall in many lesson plans  — that they are theoretic without meaning in the real world. With PDL, resources are relevant, lessons are personalized, and real-life connections are placed under a bright light. In the end, learning is changed from pedantic to powerful and students learn to reliably connect academic studies to the world outside the schoolhouse.

The Goal of PDL

In a phrase:

the goal of Purpose Driven Learning is NOT about a curriculum that lasts a year. It’s about creating life-long learners who fuel their future passionately with knowledge.

This applies to both 1) education pursued with the goal of college or career, and 2) the critical preparation of students to succeed in life. Purpose Driven Learning, faithfully delivered with buy-in from students, will result in students willingly participating in even the boring lesson pieces (like worksheets or podcasts) as well as exciting applications like simulations and student-devised projects.

Problems implementing Purpose Driven Learning

Engaging PDL in your classroom is seen by some as teaching students what they want to learn at the expense of what they need to learn but this isn’t true. Done right, students come to understand that real knowledge relies on a solid foundation of data upon which they build their personal interests. For example, students who want to join America’s proposed Space Force must first be grounded in the basics of science and math.

Educators who wish to use PDL often run into three roadblocks:

School Standards. Because state and national standards are often devised to serve the majority of students, they may not well-serve your students. But they do provide a necessary foundation without which the goals of your particular group can’t be met. That means that standards are taught first and additional learning is scaffolded afterward. Standards are in fact the foundation that underpins your students’ ability to achieve their PDL goals.

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Categories: Classroom management, Education reform, Teaching Strategies | Tags: | 1 Comment

Engineers Week — A Must for High School

Next week, February 17-23, 2019, is DiscoverE’s Engineers Week. Their tagline:

“A week-long event, a year-long commitment”

Do you wonder why anyone would be passionate about engineering? Forbes published three good reasons:

  • The U.S. has approximately 1.6 million engineering jobs that pay $42 per hour in median.
  • Job growth from 2010 to 2014 was in the double digits in several engineering occupations.
  • Since 2007, the number of engineering grads nationwide has shot up 33%.

What is Engineers Week?

For those not familiar with DiscoverE, sponsors of Engineers Week, they are a volunteer-driven online coalition of over one-hundred organizations committed to promoting engineering to the K-16 community. This includes the provision of resources, programs, in-person presentations, classroom assistance, training, activities, videos, books, technology programs, and more. The purpose of Engineers Week is as much to celebrate engineers as to increase public dialogue, in that way bringing them to life for kids, educators, and parents. With the national call for STEM resources and the popularity of programs such as Hour of Code, the talented professionals of DiscoverE are more in-demand than ever.

“93% of DiscoverE educators think an engineer’s presence helps STEM students.”

Read more »

Categories: High School, Reviews, Science, Websites | Tags: | 1 Comment

The Easy Way to Teach Internet Skills

internetEducation used to focus on the 3 R’s — reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. Without a doubt, those remain critical subjects but these days, they are just the beginning. What about history (because those who don’t understand history are forced to repeat it) and civics (so we understand how government works)? And the STEAM subjects — science, technology, engineering, arts, and math? No wonder it takes eight hours a day — and more — to learn what is required to thrive in the 21st-century world.

I need to add another topic to this list, one that is used daily and misunderstood just as often, one that intimidates some and confuses many, one where an introduction feels like drinking from a fire hose. If you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s the Internet. Let’s be honest: The Internet is a monster. You felt that way — probably called it worse — the last time you were hacked. Having your personal information stolen feels like your life swirling down the drain. In your lifetime, you will spend more time on the Internet than sleeping. It doesn’t care about your career, your favorite subject, or life goal. If we are defined by the choices we make, the Internet provides the biggest chance for an oops with the most devastating consequences.

Teenagers spend average nine hours a day on the Internet. It seems irresponsible to adopt the SODTI attitude — Some Other Dude Teaches It.

That’s the bad news: Internet safety must be taught and if not by you, by whom? The good news is, teaching about the Internet is easily blended into almost any subject, any topic. Let’s start with the biggest Internet topics most schools want to cover and I’ll show you how to do that.

Read more »

Categories: Classroom management, Computer skills, Digital Citizenship, Research, Web Tools | Leave a comment

15 President’s Day Activities

lincoln washingtonPresidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February–this year, February 19, 2018. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still unofficially called “Washington’s Birthday” by many. The holiday became known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. Several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other figures.

Here are fifteen ways to celebrate in your classroom including websites, games, activities, printables, quizzes, audios, songs, interactive maps,  crafts, flashcards, videos, webquests, books, posters, trading cards, lesson plans, word searches, puzzles, speeches, articles, animations, biographies, and more:

1. Activities

From Apples 4 the Teacher, a well-known resource site for teachers and homeschoolers, this site provides links to President-themed coloring pages, stories, biographies, word searches, word jumbles, puzzles, and book reviews that can be used to reinforce learning about all of America’s presidents.

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Categories: History, Holidays | Tags: | 1 Comment

How Wearable Technology is Changing Education and Easing Disabilities

Here’s an interesting piece from Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Jane Sandwood, on the explosion of wearable technology and its place in the education ecosystem:

wearable technologyHow Wearable Technology is Changing Education and Easing Disabilities

As of 2015, 94% of K-12 students had a computer in their home, with 61% of the same demographic having internet access as well. With the rapid and constant growth of technology combined with the myriad of ways that it’s permeated the lives of all of society, especially youth, there’s no place where technology is wholly absent. As a result of this, wearable technology has advanced farther than phones in pockets and can include things as advanced as virtual reality headsets that allow students to experience a completely different atmosphere.

Though it can feel easy to become overwhelmed by technology, the reality is that technology of all sorts and types is here to help us, and nowhere is this more true than in the field of education. The vast majority of students are inseparable from the technology that they carry with them daily. Because of this, education must look at ways to coexist and thrive with the technology rather than shun it.

Helping to Hear

Education doesn’t stop outside of the classroom. Utilizing modern audio technology allows an incredible amount of versatility to when lectures can be accessed. Oftentimes, lectures will be entirely delivered in audio, causing there to be little to no loss in learning from the loss of the visual aspect.

Audio technology is especially portable and non-intrusive to in-classroom lessons as well. Headphones can be used to hear the lesson more clearly if students are far from the instructor or hard of hearing. There are also countless well-made translator apps that can help students that don’t natively speak the language of the lesson to understand what they’re being taught.

Read more »

Categories: Education reform | Tags: , | 1 Comment

18 Valentine Sites For Students

valentine-297033_640Here are some fun Valentine sites to fill those few minutes betwixt and between lessons, projects, bathroom breaks, lunch, and everything else:

  1. Drag-and-drop
  2. Dress up the heart
  3. Google Drawings Magnetic Poetry from Ctrl Alt Achieve
  4. Games and puzzles
  5. Games and stories
  6. ‘I love you’ in languages Afrikaans to Zulu
  7. Line up the hearts
  8. Match
  9. Mouse skills
  10. Poem generator
  11. Puppy jigsaw
  12. Rebus game
  13. Rebuses
  14. Sudoku
  15. Tic-tac-toe
  16. Typing
  17. Unscramble
  18. Write in a heart

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Holiday Lesson Plans

Looking for holiday lesson plans? Here’s my collection.

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Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why is HUE HD a Must for your Classroom?

The award-winning HUE HD Pro USB camera and visualiser is one of the most versatile, flexible, affordable document cameras I’ve ever tested. It’s plug-and-play, quick to set up and put away, intuitive to use, and adapts to a variety of class screens and video applications (like Apple TV). The camera includes a flexible gooseneck, manual focusing ring, LED lighting, an integrated microphone, and a sturdy base. The resulting picture is easy to read from anywhere in the room and the sound is clear and crisp, never garbled. It can be plugged into a heavy base for free-standing use or directly into a laptop for greater mobility. Because the camera head is attached (firmly) to a flexible neck, you can bend or twist it to view difficult-to-reach places such as the back of a computer (to show students how to plug peripherals in) or to move around oddly-shaped items (like an ant farm).

Curious about the quality of the camera? Take a look:

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Categories: Reviews | 1 Comment

Questions Parents Ask

parents and educationI’ve been asked by a wonderful parent organization called Konstella to serve as an expert for parents on topics of technology in the classroom. They started by asking a series of questions that were on their minds. These are so relevant and authentic to what’s happening today at the juxtaposition of education and technology, I wanted to share them with you.

The Questions are in bold and my answers in italics:

I allow my kids to have “Friends” in Roblox or Instagram and only chat with friends. However, it’s very hard for me to determine who is an actual friend in real life since all the usernames are made up. How do I go about checking so many “friends” and “followers”? My kids are age 13 and 10.

As a general rule, unregulated online friends are a really really bad idea. Your role as a parent is critical to preparing your children to go online before using social media platforms. Who your children meet on the Internet is not the same as the kids in the neighborhood or at school or on a youth sports team. You don’t know their goals, intentions, or even if they’re kids. Always believe you have the right to manage your children’s online activities be it time online, websites they visit, privacy settings, or friends they make. You can make rules and expect them to be followed. You can check their browser history and who their friends are without feeling like you’re spying on them.

Remember this: Few social media websites are vetted for age-appropriateness. This includes those you mentioned. Most social media platforms do enforce age limits but these are self-monitored. For Roblox and Instagram, it is 13+ (in some states this will vary, usually to the upside).  WhatsApp has 16 as the minimum age (for EU users). Read the parental guidelines all social media platforms offer. Be transparent and show this to kids. Put your shine on as you help them understand that though this is not your decision, you agree with it and explain why.

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Subscriber Special: February

Feb. 10-14th

Buy a print book; get the pdf for free

Purchase any print book from Structured Learning. Send your Proof of Purchase to admin at structuredlearning dot net and we’ll send you the PDF. Our Valentine gift to you!

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