teacher appreciation week

How to Thank a Teacher

I found this article in my mailbox the other day, from The Tech Edvocate. This has been such a trying time for parents, students, and our teachers. Check out these great ways to say thank you that anyone can do:


No matter what you do for a career or how successful you are, chances are you would not be where you are today if you had not obtained a K-12 education. Without a question, great educators are important. However, in the last year or two, educators around the country have gone on strike and protested for better salaries and working conditions.

Read more…

If none of these resonate with you, check out these ideas on Ask a Tech Teacher:


Tech Ed Resources–Online Classes and Coaching

tech ed helpI get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m going to take a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: Classes

Ask a Tech Teacher offers a variety of classes throughout the year. These can be taught individually (through coaching or mentoring), in small groups (of at least five), or as school PD. Some are for certificates; others for college credit. All are online, hands-on, with an authentic use of tools you’ll want for your class.

Click the course titles for more information.

online classesThe Tech-infused Teacher


Group enrollment

The 21st Century teacher blends technology with teaching to build a collaborative, differentiated, and shared learning environment. In this course, you will use a suite of digital tools while addressing overarching concepts like digital citizenship, internet search and research, authentic assessment, digital publishing, and immersive keyboarding. You will actively collaborate, share knowledge, provide constructive feedback to classmates, publish digitally, and differentiate for unique needs. Classmates will become the core of your ongoing Personal Learning Network.

Assessment is project-based so be prepared to be fully-involved and an eager risk-taker.


How to Showcase Your Skills when Applying for Your First Job

This article is for recent graduates, either from high school or college, ready to look for a first job. Here are some great tips on preparing your resume and spotlighting skills that will make you interesting to employers:

You’ve been in school for the longest time, but you are now done with college, and it’s time to look for a new job. Unfortunately, with so many candidates in search of the same job as you, you’re so anxious, wondering if you will ever get a working opportunity. Again, when looking for a new job, you are very likely to encounter job descriptions that you fear might not have the needed requirements. But the good thing is that employers might consider some skills over others.

If we are being completely honest with ourselves, your skills and potential can land you the job you want, rather than your specific background or the degree you’re holding. Employers these days are valuing soft skills. They are also willing to invest in developing their employees’ technical or hard skills after hiring them.

This is why you need to know how to showcase your skills when applying for a new job. This will help you be considered over other candidates in the same boat as you are and get offered a chance to work.

Consider going through the following points on how to showcase your skills when you are applying for a first-time job:


What You Might Have Missed in July–What’s up in August

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

  1. 9 Ways to Add Tech to your Lessons Without Adding Time to Your Day
  2. Tech Ed Resources–Lesson Plans
  3. 25 Websites for Lesson Planning
  4. Tech Ed Resources for your Class–K-8 Keyboard Curriculum
  5. 40 Websites to Teach Keyboarding
  6. EdTech’s Top Blogs to Follow–Yep, We’re On It
  7. Tech Ed Resources for your Class–Digital Citizenship
  8. We Landed on the Moon July 20 1969
  9. HS Financial Training Classes
  10. Here’s How to Get Started with Ask a Tech Teacher
  11. The Case for PDFs in Class Revisited

Here’s a preview of what’s coming up in August:

  • What to know before studying abroad in the US
  • How to showcase your skills when applying for your first job
  • Tech Ed Resources–online classes
  • Tech Ed Resources–Mentoring and coaching
  • Free posters
  • Habits of Mind


Here’s What to Know Before Studying Abroad in the US

While it’s become common for US students to study abroad, it is just as common for non-Americans to spend time studying in the US. If you live outside the US and are interested in study in America, here are some hints for how to make it happen, from one of our Ask a Tech Teacher contributors:

  • Where to apply
  • What to study
  • Type of Student Visa
  • Working while studying
  • Wrap up

Things to Know Before Studying Abroad in the U.S.

The United States is one the most popular study destinations for overseas students, boasting academic prowess and cultural richness. Since America is so broad and diverse, it is a perfect place for overseas students. 

You will be incorporated into a welcoming environment and will have the opportunity to experience different cultures while meeting individuals from over the world. Whether you want to work in the United States post-graduation or return to your native country, a US degree will expand your horizons and broaden your prospects.

If you’re looking forward to studying in the US but don’t know where to start, you can check out some courses at American International to see what interests you. Additionally, here are some things you should know before applying to any college or university in America:

Where to Apply

The United States is home to over 4,000 institutions for higher studies. You will also find that the US dominates world rankings of top 100 universities, with more than half of its institutions on that list. These also include eight prestigious universities, known as the Ivy League, that come under the top 10 universities in the world. The UK comes in second on the list. 

With many colleges having different types and expenses and demanding applications, numerous overseas students may find studying in the United States daunting. Aside from the most prestigious and well-known institutions, the United States offers a diverse range of quality universities with varying values, aims, teaching styles, and fee structures. 

The Wall Street Journal or Times Higher Education College Rankings may help you assess universities based on engagement, contact with professors, and general student experience. This will assist you in choosing the one that is most suited to your budget, interests, and goals. There are also several community colleges, public universities, and government-funded institutes with low tuition fees and great scholarship programs that you can apply to. 


Subscriber Special: Great Deal on Coaching

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

August 2-7th:

Coaching or Mentoring

BOGO — Buy one month; get the second free

Do any of these sound like you?

  • Your kindergartners don’t know what ‘enter’, ‘spacebar’, ‘click’ or many other techie words mean but you need to teach them to keyboard, internet, and become digital citizens. How do you start?
  • You have new students in your class who haven’t had technology training. The rest of the class has. How do you catch them up?
  • Your principal wants you to teach the technology class but you’ve never done it before. What do you do on the first day?
  • You’ve been teaching for twenty years but now your Principal wants technology integrated into your class. Where do you start?
  • You have a wide mix of tech skills among students in your class. How do you differentiate between student geeks and students who wonder what the right mouse button is for?
  • You’ve been tasked with organizing a Technology Use Plan for your school. Where do you start?
  • You and colleagues are expected to create a Curriculum Map. How does technology fit into that?
  • You love being an edtech professional but what’s your career path?

More and more teachers–both new and experienced–are looking for coaching or mentoring to fill gaps in their learning, keep up to date on the latest teaching strategies, and solve problems they didn’t expect. Many turn to the personalized approach we offer in a collaboration between Ask a Tech Teacher, Jacqui Murray, and Structured Learning. Coaching is completed via Google Hangout with email available for quick questions. After only a short time, teachers find they are better prepared with tech-infused lesson plans, able to teach to standards more fluently, can integrate tech into core classroom time, easily differentiate for student needs with tech, and more.

“Twice a month, pick my brain. I’ll share what I’ve learned and what works from 25 years of teaching.” –Jacqui Murray

Normally, we charge a $150 per month with a two month minimum (for a total of $300). This month, August 2-7th, get both months of coaching or mentoring for only $150.

Click our PayPal Me here. Add $300.00 to the line.

Because it’s PayPal, you can enter as a guest with any credit card–no PayPal account required.

We wrote the books. We’ll help you deliver on keyboarding, integrating tech into your curriculum, digital citizenship, Common Core, and more. Questions? Ask Jacqui Murray at askatechteacher at gmail dot com.


The Case for PDFs in Class Revisited

I published this about a year ago and have updated it to reflect our current teaching environment. Let me know if this fits your experiences:

The biggest reason teachers report for NOT liking internet-based cloud accounts has nothing to do with money, security, or privacy. It’s that they aren’t inclusive enough. Students can’t access cloud storage, Google Classroom, or their LMS for a project they’re working on because of the lack of Internet at home or slow internet service–or a teacher can’t get to lesson plan resources  because of dead spot in the school or overload, the excitement of learning melts away like ice cream on a hot day.

That’s why no matter how good webtools sound, I won’t install them if they’re problematic–for example, they are slow to load, the website is unreliable, or saving is an issue. The most dependable method of accessing resources is through programs preloaded onto the local computer or available as PDFs that are easily shared.

I get it. Schools have moved many of their educational resources to the cloud. This might be to save money on maintenance or to make them accessible from anywhere or any number of other great reasons, but the change results in the problems I’ve mentioned. Too often and annoyingly That has spawned a rebirth in the popularity of Portable Document Formatted books and resources, commonly referred to as PDFs. While not perfect for every situation, they are exactly the right answer for many.

Here are ten reasons to consider when evaluating PDF vs. cloud-based resources:

PDFs play well with others

PDFs work on all digital devices, all platforms. No worries about whether they run better in Firefox or Chrome, Macs or PCs (or Chromebooks or iPads), Windows or MacOS (or Linux or iOS). They work on all of these and most others. With a free PDF reader (like Adobe or many others–check this link for ideas), students can open a document and get started right away. Even if they’re school system is a Mac and their home is a PC, the PDF opens fine.


Here’s How to Get Started with Ask a Tech Teacher

Hello! Ask a Tech Teacher is a group of tech ed professionals who work together to offer you tech tips, advice, pedagogic discussion, lesson plans, and anything else we can think of to help you integrate tech into your classroom. Our primary focus is to provide technology-in-education-related information for educators–teachers, administrators, homeschoolers, and parents.

Here’s how to get started on our blog (or click this link):

Read our varied columns

They include:

Read Hall of Fame articles


Tech Tip #40: Where Did Windows Explorer Go?

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: Where did Windows Explorer go?

Category: PCs

Q: I can’t find Explorer. Where did it go?

A:  Right click on the start button and select ‘File Explorer’.

If you’re looking for DOS, type ‘command prompt’ into the search field and it’ll pop up. I still miss DOS…

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

What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.


How to Teach Venn Diagrams to Elementary School Students

Venn Diagrams are one of the most visual approaches to showing students the logical relationships between sets and connectivity of data. It uses overlapping circles to show the wholeness of data and then where they overlap other data sets. It’s easy to find templates for them–in MS Office, Google Apps, Canva, and more.

One of our Ask a Tech Teacher crew has organized the basics on how to teach Venn Diagrams to elementary-age students:

  • What is a Venn Diagram
  • How to make it digitally
  • How to make it clear to elementary students (get crafty)
  • How to use it to design games 

How to Teach Venn Diagrams to Elementary School Students

Teaching children Venn diagrams is the beginning of teaching them how to sort and manage data, a skill that is becoming ever more useful in this technological era. However, finding a way to teach them that sticks is important – generic worksheets just won’t do! We’ve come up with a few ways you can teach elementary school students Venn diagrams that will make your lessons dynamic and fun.


What is a Venn Diagram?

It’s important to make sure you first understand what a Venn diagram is. A Venn diagram is a plot of overlapping circles that can display items via specific categories, as well as relationships. For example, you can have a Venn diagram representing blue eyes with one circle, and brown hair with another circle. Those with blue eyes but not brown hair will end up in only the segment for blue eyes; those with brown hair but not blue eyes will be placed only in the segment for brown hair. Those with blue eyes and brown hair will be placed in the segment created by the overlap of the two circles.

This is a fun concept to teach to children because it’s a visual method, so it isn’t difficult to find something both visual and interactive to make sure it’s memorable. Now for the methods!

Make it Digital

With technology becoming the main focus of life, especially for the younger generation, one of the best ways to connect and share ideas is through technology. This means using digital tools and accessing an online venn diagram can be incredibly helpful for many reasons. Firstly, it allows you to project what you’re describing on your smartboard or interactive whiteboard, allowing you to demonstrate to the class what you mean. It makes a good start!