Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m taking the next few weeks off. I’ll be preparing for…

I’ll be back November 30th.

–Comments are closed but feel free to contact me via Twitter (@askatechteacher).

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Should Coding be a Part of the Modern School’s Curriculum?

As educators struggle with the best way to teach critical thinking and problem solving, coding has proven to be an effective and flexible tool. Is it time to add ‘coding’ to the essential subjects taught at every school? Here’s a thoughtful addition to that conversation:

Should Coding be a Part of the Modern School’s Curriculum?

There’s no denying that coding is now regarded as an essential ability for learners. While most parents agree that it should be part of the modern school’s program, only a small percentage (about 40% of schools) teach coding. The number one reason cited by superintendents and principals for not offering this integral computer skill is time scarcity. They argue that the teaching focus needs to be on core subjects, which are often measured by standardized tests. But, should coding be taught in schools from an early age. Here’s what you need to know. Before we dive in too deep, let’s first understand what coding is like for kids.

How Does Coding for Kids Work?

Coding basically refers to giving instructions to the computer to obtain certain results, such as video games, apps, websites, and computer software. Although producing these results using computer programming isn’t an easy feat, coding is super simplified for kids. There are plenty of easy ways to teach kids how to code, such as using the fun hour of the code activities that are available online. As the name suggests, these activities only take one hour and give kids an excellent opportunity to learn necessary computer programming skills.

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16 Sites, 3 Apps, 7 Projects for Thanksgiving

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. Berenstein Bears Give Thanks (app)
  2. Canadian Thanksgiving
  3. Online/Offline Thanksgiving activities
  4. Plimoth Plantation–a field trip of a Pilgrim’s life. Included on this real-life site is a video of the Pilgrim’s crossing to the New World.
  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 video–Brainpop
  14. Thanksgiving Wordsearch
  15. The First Thanksgiving
  16. Turkey Templates — activities in Google Slides

If you’re an iPad school, try one of these:

  1. Berenstein Bears Give Thanks
  2. Primary Games–games, coloring books, more
  3. Thanksgiving coloring book

If you’re looking for projects, you’ll find two on Ask a Tech Teacher:

  1. A Holiday Card
  2. A Holiday Flier

For more, click here:

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Tech Tip #11: Four Stages of Keyboarding Growth

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: 4 Stages of Keyboarding Growth

Category: Keyboarding

Here’s a poster with the four stages you will follow as you teach students keyboarding. It starts with pre-keyboarding in K-1st and ends with touch typing in 4th/5th grade:

keyboarding stasges

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

–Comments are closed but feel free to contact me via Twitter (@askatechteacher).


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National STEM/STEAM Day Nov. 8th

National STEM Day is November 8 and the unofficial holiday celebrates science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education throughout the United States.

Here are some great ideas for celebrating:

Ten Ways to Celebrate National STEM Day with NASA | NASA

National STEM Day is November 8 and the unofficial holiday celebrates science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education throughout the United States. The day focuses on helping students advance in STEM fields, a priority of NASA as we continue to push the boundaries of exploration and soar into the future. In celebration of National STEM Day, we challenge you to engage and inspire the Artemis generation as we go forward to the Moon by 2024 and continue to innovate in the areas of Earth science and aeronautics. To help you join in on the festivities, here are 10 ways you can celebrate National STEM Day with us.

49 STEM Activities for Students 

On November 8th 2019, we will celebrate National STEM Day to get kids excited about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Together the STEM subjects represent some of the fastest-growing and most in-demand fields in the United States.

While STEM topics seem a natural fit in high schools and post-secondary curriculum, education experts are promoting a focus on STEM subjects for younger and younger children. You might be asking, what will a four or five-year-old student be able to understand about these subjects?

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How to Put Kindness in Your Classes

Image credit: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/

World Kindness Day 11/13

Kindness isn’t a natural instinct. In the continuum of nature vs. nurture, it’s well on the side of nurture. Kids aren’t born knowing the part community and friendship play in their lives. They learn this from family, friends, schoolmates, and life in general.

That means, among the topics that must be covered in school, kindness may be the most important.

What is kindness?

Kindness is exactly what it sounds like — being friendly, generous, and considerate to others whether or not you think they deserve it. It’s not a payoff to someone who treated you well; it’s an attitude that seeps into every action in a person’s life.

It’s interesting that some variation of “kindness” is included in most non-academic measures of what students should learn in school, including Habits of Mind, a Growth Mindset, and Mindfulness (click links for further discussion).

Why is it important?

Kids learn by example. It’s unfortunate to note that some don’t see kindness in their homes. What they experience instead, they may think is the norm until you — their trusted teacher — shows them otherwise. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. You must always have your antenna up, noticing when you need to intervene to tweak actions. This could be gossip, mean words, (cyber)bullying, or even speech that is accepted by most because “doesn’t everyone think this way”.  Your job isn’t to stop whatever is going on but redirect and explain so students learn why what they’re doing isn’t kind.

Why teach this in school, you ask? The quick answer is that students spend half their waking hours in or around school. It has a huge impact on how they view their world and their lives. But it’s more than that. Establishing a kind school culture resonates in all parts of a child’s life:

“Positive school climate has been empirically linked to a number of favorable outcomes, notably, the promotion of feelings of safety; establishing and maintaining healthy relationships, reductions in misbehavior, increases in students’ academic, emotional, and behavioral success at school; teaching that is engaging and promotes learning, and improvements in the overall quality of schools.” (Measuring Kindness in School, John Tyler Binfet, 2015)

In short, if students see kindness modeled in school, they are more likely to duplicate that in their own lives and activities.

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Subscriber Special: November

Every month, subscribers to our newsletter get a free/discounted resource to help their tech teaching.


Coming soon: Discounts on Google Play products. Stay tuned!

If you aren’t a subscriber to our newsletter, sign up here. Then get your monthly freebies!
–Comments are closed but feel free to contact me via Twitter (@askatechteacher).

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-12 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, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

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What You Might Have Missed in October

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

  1. Inspire Young Writer’s with Young Writers Program
  2. October is Dyslexia Awareness Month
  3. Digital Citizenship Week–Oct. 19-23–Here’s What You Need
  4. 10 Best US Colleges for Computer Science
  5. How do I become a Web Designer?
  6. 7 Apps That Inspire Students
  7. A Geek is asked, “Who are you?”
  8. Halloween Projects, Websites, Apps, Books, and a Costume
  9. Long-needed and Welcome Table Tool From JotForm
  10. Why Game Based Learning Is the Right Choice for Remote Teaching

–Comments are closed but feel free to contact me via Twitter (@askatechteacher).

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Here’s a Preview of November


Here’s a preview of what’s coming up on Ask a Tech Teacher in November. It’s a short month and we wish you the best during your holiday celebrations:

  • How to Make Kindness Part of Your Classes
  • National STEM/STEAM Day
  • Tech Tips: 4 Stages of Keyboarding Growth
  • 16 Sites, 3 Apps, 7 Projects for Thanksgiving

–Comments are closed but feel free to contact me via Twitter (@askatechteacher).

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Why Game Based Learning Is the Right Choice for Remote Teaching

I don’t know many kids who aren’t excited to play games. Savvy educators have built lesson plans based on this interest for years. Today, because of the changes in education, the use of games to reinforce learning, to teach, and to engage students in their own education has become one of the most effective tools to bridge the gap between school-based and remote learning. Here’s what a joint study from Legends of Learning and Vanderbilt University found:

“…students who played the games outperformed their peers on standardized tests. Additionally, teachers saw dramatic increases in engagement and performance. “

In fact, 92% of teachers indicated they would like to use curriculum-based games in the future.

What is GBL

What is this magic wand? It’s called Game Based Learning (GBL). It simply means teachers include games in their lesson plans to teach curricular concepts. By using the games kids already love–want to play–GBL has an opportunity to turn students into lifelong learners who enjoy learning.

Good example of GBL: SplashLearn 

A good example of game based learning is the free-to-teachers program called SplashLearn. SplashLearn is an easy-to-use COPA-compliant, Common Core-aligned math curriculum for grades Kindergarten-5th that uses game-based learning to teach mathematical concepts. Students learn specific skills assigned by the teacher (to a group or individual) by playing age-appropriate, intuitive games based on appealing characters and fun interactions. These are welcome alternatives to the rote drill that many of us grew up on.

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