Gamechanger: Type to Learn is Now in the Cloud!

When I started teaching a decade ago, Type to Learn was the MS Word of typing programs–everyone used it. The game-based keyboarding program was fun, engaging, and actually worked. Students graduated from the thirty-forty lessons (that took about a year to get through) with the skills they needed to become fast and accurate typists who could use the keyboard as an effective tool in both classwork and homework.

At some point in the past, busy teachers moved away from a committed program that teaches typing to solutions that promised to automate the process with rote drills and games. With most of these freemium online programs, students log in and get started. No installation, no set-up, often little supervision, just typing. The problem is, they don’t work very well. With the push to move assessments online, students need good keyboarding skills. That means:

…fast accurate typing as a tool for writing and test-taking, not a distraction

If you’re one of the many who realize your students’ typing skills aren’t up to this standard, you’ll love Type to Learn’s game-changing update: It’s now in the cloud. No more software downloads. No more inability to sync between home and school. No more “runs only on desktops and laptops”.

Let me back up and describe Type to Learn Cloud. It’s a comprehensive typing program that teaches not just the basics but advanced skills necessary to become fast and accurate touch typists. It does this through a process of review, demonstration, practice, and assessment. Using avatar-like animation, engaging sounds, and colorful graphics, rolled out in a space-themed story, students progress through thirty-six lessons, five games per lesson, and seven assessments to complete the interactive missions that will save their world.  It operates in the cloud, works on most digital devices (including Chromebooks and iPads with an external keyboard), and plays well with all browsers. Students can work from home or school and their progress syncs between the two.

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The Case for PDFs in Class

The biggest reason teachers report for NOT liking cloud accounts has nothing to do with money, security, or privacy. It’s that they aren’t reliable. No matter how many redundancies are in place, if a student can’t access their cloud storage for a project they’re working on, if a teacher can’t get to lesson plan resources, or if a student started a project at school and can’t finish it at home, the excitement of learning melts away like ice cream on a hot day.

I remember when web-based tools first arrived (yeah, that long ago), As good as they sounded, I insisted my IT folks install computer-based programs for when the Internet didn’t work or the school’s network lost its connection. It seemed the only reliable programs were those loaded onto the local computer, not floating around in the cloud.

Fast forward to today. 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 isn’t without its own set of problems. In particular, in the area of files and documents, there’s 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 as well as almost all others. With a free PDF reader (like Adobe or hundreds of others), students can open and get started right away. Even if they’re school system is a Mac and their home is a PC, the PDF (with or without annotations) opens fine.

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How can Teachers Increase Social Learning While Teaching Online?

It’s becoming more common to take online classes or blend traditional with online learning. Ila Mishra, a specialist in both LMS and virtual classrooms, has this informative explanation of how teachers can increase their social learning while teaching online classes:

Social Learning is defined as learning through observing behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. These help individuals to create a frame of reference of behaviors within themselves and prompt them to act. The main point of this theory is that social learning attributes human behavior to be an outcome of cognitive, behavioral and environmental influences (Bandura, 1977).

These cognitive, behavioral and environmental influences are:

Traditional classrooms were a conduit for social learning where students could sit together and collaborate on projects, group assignments, or make use of peer-to-peer learning opportunities. However, in the current educational environments where technology is used to enhance learning outcomes, educators have consciously allowed for and are making use of technology to facilitate learning online.

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SL Curricula Online Resources are Moving!

moving websitesAs you may already know, Wikispaces is shutting down. For years, they have hosted the additional free resources included for anyone purchasing the SL/AATT K-5 Technology Curriculum. As a result of the shutdown, we are moving that site to this new address:

Weekly Resources for the K-5 SL Technology Curriculum

The new site still includes all the weekly videos, vocabulary, and explainers on skills used in the curricula.

Any questions? Feel free to ask at askatechteacher at gmail dot com.

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5 Favorite Apps for Summer Learning

summer learningSummer has a reputation for being nonstop relaxation, never-ending play, and a time when students stay as far from “learning” as they can get. For educators, those long empty weeks result in a phenomenon known as “Summer Slide” — where students start the next academic year behind where they ended the last.

“…on average, students’ achievement scores declined over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning…” (Brookings)

This doesn’t have to happen. Think about what students don’t like about school. Often, it revolves around repetitive schedules, assigned grades, and/or being forced to take subjects they don’t enjoy. In summer, we can meet students where they want to learn with topics they like by offering a menu of ungraded activities that are self-paced, exciting, energizing, and nothing like school learning. We talk about life-long learners (see my article on life-long learners). This summer, model it by offering educational activities students will choose over watching TV, playing video games, or whatever else they fall into when there’s nothing to do.

Here are favorites that my students love:

Read more on TeachHUB

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What You Might Have Missed in May

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

  1.  How to Wrap up Tech for the School Year
  2. Touch-Typing: Rote vs Integrated Learning or Rote and Integrated Learning?
  3. Kiddom’s Content Library Makes Differentiation Faster Than Ever
  4. Positive focus; Positive behaviors
  5. EdTech Magazine’s 50 Must-read K-12 IT Blogs
  6. 10 Ways to Wrap Up the School Year
  7. 5 Best Websites for IELTS Exam Prep
  8. Study.com Makes the College Dream a Reality for Lots of Students

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Seven Fun Math Activities for the Summer Break

Summer can be a challenging time not just for parents but kids. They are accustomed to cerebral challenges that keep them motivated and summer arrives with its sports, naps, and vacations. If your kids miss the thrill of problem-solving or if you worry about them sliding backward without the mental exercise that is integral to school, ORIGO has come up with seven fun math activities that use a blend of popular math apps and everyday activities (like cooking) to fill the summer break with the excitement of math:

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Seven Fun Math Activities for the Summer Break

The long weeks of summer break are wonderful for family time and vacations, but not so wonderful at keeping students on a positive learning curve. The Summer Slide is a very real issue, especially in mathematics instruction where students lose about one month of learning during the break and in some cases, 2.6 months of learning.

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Look what’s new at Zapzapmath

You’ve probably read my reviews of Zapzapmath and Zap Zap Kindergarten Math, as well as the constant updates they make to their free (and freemium) app. This gamified math ecosystem is popular with students because it’s fun and teachers because it ties into many national and international standards (like Common Core).  Its format is colorful and engaging, music lively, and layout intuitive.

Now, Zapzapmath has introduced a new option called Zapzapmath Home. These free grade-level apps for iOS and Android are aimed directly at home use to support students who want to learn math at home with fun games, enticing videos, and the same clever interface they experience in school. By gamifying math in a way that wraps personalized learning with real grade-level tools, Zapzapmath helps students change the way they think about math from an activity that occurs within the walls of the schoolhouse to one that can happen anywhere.

Zapzapmath Home includes a scaffolded system of seven apps, one for each grade level from K-6. Each app is free to download and comes with a couple of free games that provide a solid preview of how Zapzapmath teaches math, letting you decide whether it’s right for your child.

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World Environment Day: Living Responsibly with Nature

World Environment Day is June 5th. Catherine Ross, Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, has some great suggestions on how to celebrate that with children and students in a way that shows them how to be responsible stewards for the only planet we have. I think you’ll enjoy her article:

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We live in a millennium where technology has disrupted many of the traditional systems and ways. Cultural mores have morphed because of technology, leaving a discontinuity between the old and the new. Instead of snuggling into their grandmother’s lap and listening to dragon stories, do not be surprised to see kids persuade their grandmothers to play dragon games. Interestingly, grandmothers have coped and how; many senior women love gaming!

Wealth has been generated because of technology, but this has also increased the gap between the rich and the poor. Changes caused by technology have been beneficial, but there are side effects like loneliness and lack of social skills which individuals and society as a whole find hard to cope with.

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Subscriber Special: June

June 5th-10th:

BOGO

Buy one grade level school license; get the second free

Just in time for summer preparation for the new school year!
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A School License is a PDF of one grade level tech curriculum or keyboarding curriculum that can be installed on any digital device in your school–iPads, Chromebooks, laptops, library computers, classroom computers, 1:1, Google Classroom–you name it. As many installs as the school wants for one low fee.
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Purchase a School License for one grade and get the second grade level for free on either of the following:

This is perfect for private schools, independent schools, charter schools, public schools–any school with classroom computer pods, 1:1 programs, Google Classroom, and more.

Benefits of a School License

  • provide access to full text PDF from every digital device in your school, 24 hours a day. This maximizes productivity and student independence.
  • provide PDF access that isn’t limited by the availability of the Internet or Wifi
  • free desk copy and digital file for teacher use (for domestic customers only; MS keyboarding curriculum only available in digital)

Benefits of School License for Students

  • provide easy access to monthly lessons, how-tos, rubrics, project samples, practice quizzes, grade-level expectations, homework, images, and checklists 
  • provide quick links to websites required in lessons
  • provide full color instructions that can be zoomed in on for greater detail
  • allow a convenient place to take lesson notes (using a PDF annotator)
  • encourage students to be independent in their learning, work at their own pace rather than a one-size-fits-all class pace
  • enable a quick way to spiral up to the next grade level for quick learners or back to earlier resources for student needing to scaffold their learning
  • provide access to 10 companion videos (Ultimate Guide to Keyboarding curriculum license only) to take students through each month of their keyboarding journey. They’re approximately one hour, viewed at student’s pace
  • prepare students for the rigor of end-of-year summative testing

Additionally, with each School License, you get:

  • print copy of each ebook selected  (international and digital-only books not included)
  • free access to additional grade-level resources and videos (K-5 tech curriculum). This is guidance on using the technology curricula in your classroom.

How do you buy this?

  • Check the links above and decide what curricula and grade level you’d like.
  • Click here for a School License.
  • Scroll down and select the curricula and the package.
  • Pay via PayPal or contact us to purchase via PO.
  • In the comments, tell us which grade-level you’d like as your free gift.

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