PleIQ: the interactive smart toy that fosters multiple intelligences through Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality takes students into bold new worlds where they become part of the learning, not passive viewers. They follow their passion by exploring with their senses. Ask a Tech Teacher sponsor, PleIQ is launching its Kickstarter campaign, offering a revolutionary tool that blends the physical and digital world into one that is irresistible for kids. Curious? Here’s an overview:

PleIQ (Play-Q) is the best new educational toy that beautifully merges the physical and digital worlds to provide our children with an immersive learning experience. PleIQ is the perfect complement to high-quality classroom instruction—a hands-on, 21st Century, augmented reality toy that appeals to all learning styles.

PleIQ is designed with every early learner in mind. Eight beautifully tangible cubes displaying each letter, number, and a handful of special symbols come to life before your eyes through the accompanying mobile app for smartphones and tablets. Together, the cubes and app provide 48 discovery-based AR learning experiences that naturally evolve and adapt to support each child’s unique intelligences. All activities are carefully designed to foster a child’s curiosity and creativity.

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Subscriber Special: December

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

December: Discounts on Select Print Books

Any of these books: $25.99

Kindergarten Technology Curriculum

1st Grade Technology Curriculum

3rd Grade Technology Curriculum

High School Technology Curriculum–Book 1

Ultimate Guide to Keyboarding: Middle School

All of these book are ordered and delivered through Amazon.


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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Thanksgiving Activities That Keep the Learning Going

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. This is also a fun and authentic way for students to practice keyboarding.

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College Credit Class in Digital Citizenship

Through the Midwest Teachers Institute, I offer four college-credit classes that teach how to blend technology with traditional lesson plans. They include all the ebooks, videos, and other resources required so you don’t spend any more than what is required to register for the class. Once you’re signed up, you prepare weekly material, chat with classmates, respond to class Discussion Boards and quizzes, and participate in a weekly video meeting. Everything is online.

Questions? Email me at askatechteacher@gmail.com

This one starts next week:


mti 557Building Digital Citizens

MTI 557

Starts November 18th

If students use the internet, they must be familiar with the rights and responsibilities required to be good digital citizens.  In this class, you’ll learn what topics to introduce, how to unpack them, and how to make them authentic to student lives.

Topics include:

  1. copyrights, fair use, public domain
  2. cyberbullying
  3. digital commerce
  4. digital communications
  5. digital footprint, digital privacy
  6. digital rights and responsibilities
  7. digital search/research
  8. image—how to use them legally
  9. internet safety
  10. netiquette
  11. passwords
  12. plagiarism
  13. social media

At the completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Know how to blend digital citizenship into lesson plans that require the Internet
  2. Be comfortable in your knowledge of all facets of digital citizenship
  3. Become an advocate of safe, legal, and responsible use of online resources
  4. Exhibit a positive attitude toward technology that supports learning
  5. Exhibit leadership in teaching and living as a digital citizen

Assessment is based on involvement, interaction with classmates, and completion of projects so be prepared to be fully-involved and an eager risk-taker. Price includes course registration, college credit, and all necessary materials. To enroll, click the link above, search for MTI 557 and sign up.

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16 Sites, 3 Aps, 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
  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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Integrate OUR Curricula into Your Kiddom Digital Platform

I’m a big believer in online web-based curricula that can be accessed from any browser, any digital device, any location. It makes learning organic, part of life rather than something that must happen from a certain book or room. To me, the growing popularity of web-based curricula is no surprise. The problem is trying to blend them effortlessly into a class LMS or learning platform without lots of extra clicks and logins.

Kiddom’s partnership with highly-rated Open Up Resources changes that. It is now possible to deliver curricula lessons and materials directly through the Kiddom platform. This includes:

  • grades 6–8 Math curriculum
  • EL Education K–5 Language Arts
  • Reading with Relevance

Before I get into the details of this new relationship is, let me introduce the two partners–Kiddom and Open Up Resources.

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Encouraging Students To Take Responsibility For Their Education

This topic is a hot button for me. So many parents think education is the school’s job and student think it’s SUD–Some Other Dude’s responsibility but not them. I was thrilled when Ask a Tech Teacher guest author, Pete McAllister, sent this article in:

While teachers are often challenged with students who lack responsibility and self-motivation, enhancing student learning can be a tedious ongoing task. Because many students are unaware of the true importance of tertiary education and relevant qualifications, following a career path can be an overwhelming task. However, there are several effective ways that teachers can encourage students to further their education and take full responsibility for their own educations. The following top tips will enhance student learning and encourage a more positive attitude from students who would otherwise fall behind and lose sight of future planning.

Discuss Potential Career Options

A large number of young students in high-school would rather avoid thinking about how to further their education after high-school simply because they are unaware of alternative options. When taking into account that students lacking motivation may be burdened with financial stress at home, it would be wise to discuss potential paths that make studying further a possible reality. Discussing the details of bursaries [a ‘bursary’ for those not familiar is basically a grant for students] and partial subsidies would essentially enable students who are unable to rely on their parents’ financial situation to understand that they can take their futures in their own hands. In addition to this, you may find that some students are unable to attend universities full-time for several realistic reasons, which is why discussing part-time and correspondence tertiary education is absolutely necessary. By providing your students with ample realistic options, it is far more likely that you will be able to spark interest.

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Ward’s Science–So Many STEM Resources

One of the most difficult skills to teach in school is problem solving. I can’t tell you how many kids–and parents–ask me, “How do I get an A.” My answer: “By thinking,” which oddly confuses them. We talk about what that means–problem solving, critical analysis, logical thinking–but often, that sounds hard to them–too hard. They want an easier way.

Why is that?

Basically, it’s because there aren’t enough education opportunities that require that sort of skill and those there are, usually rhyme with ‘math’ or ‘science’ which to many kids are “just too complicated”.

Enter STEM–Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

“I don’t think schools can manage without coding and STEM. In Finland, we have had coding in the curriculum starting in the first grade; it is not taught separately, but through the thinking of various subjects.” –Anneli Rautiainen, Head of Innovation Unit at Finnish National Agency for Education

Coding, robotics, and experimentation–integral pieces of STEM–give students the best start possible to the rest of their lives. They are a toolkit of life skills such as problem-solving, coding and thinking. 93% of teachers (in America) believe these sorts of thinking skills in K-12 are critical.

Nothing promotes these better than STEM. Done right, STEM turns the confusing part of ‘thinking’ into fun. I found a partner in my STEM projects. It’s called Ward’s Science.

Who is Ward’s Science

Even after 144 years, Ward’s Science continues to be a leading provider of a full range of science products, kits, and resources for AP Science, Biology, Chemistry, Digital Science, Earth Science, Physics, and more for elementary-age students through High School (and beyond)–including Makerspace environments. Ward’s Science is known to its customers and the industry as the complete solution for materials supporting classroom science subjects. They not only offer project supplies but lesson plans, curricula, how-to videos, tips and tricks, personalized help, and podcasts. They even offer interesting extras like “How to choose a 3D printer”, “Connecting your Makerspace to your curriculum”, and “How to get funding for a robotics program”. Curricula are aligned with NGSS, TEKS, and other states and many of the kits are officially licensed by Science Olympiad. They even offer grant services to support school science programs.

What I really like about Ward’s Science

Ward’s Science makes it easy to find engaging, age-appropriate STEM resources, even if you aren’t quite sure what you want. The website is clean, simple to maneuver, and easy to understand. You type in what you’re looking for and get options. No ads. No animations. Just content.

Some services I didn’t expect and that would be difficult to find in other stores–virtual or physical–are:

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What is Actively Learn and Why Should I Try it?

Actively Learn is a freemium online education platform that allows students to read a book (or some other document), make comments, answer questions posed by the teacher, and even collaborate with others. Quickly, it is becoming the close reading tool of choice for teachers because of its ease of use, differentiation of needs, depth of tools, and variety of resources.

What is Actively Learn

Actively Learn is a high-functioning ereader for ELA, social studies, and science students in grades 2-12. It provides reading resources either uploaded by the teacher or selected from the platform’s library of thousands of fiction and nonfiction books (some free; some through Prime plans), Common Core-aligned lesson plans, videos, or simulations. These are filtered by topic, grade, length, reading level, keyword, or standards (i.e., CCSS) and can include embedded questions, scaffolded notes, and topical media. These can be targeted to select groups, individuals, or the entire class, providing scaffolding for some and enrichment for others.

While reading the ebooks, students can take notes, highlight, jot down questions, share ideas with each other, and respond to the comments of classmates. They can look up words they don’t understand and translate the text into a long list of languages that may be their native or a secondary language they are learning.

Actively Learn is becoming recognized as an effective inclusive tool that involves all students–from gregarious to shy–in student-centered, student-led discussions.

How do you get started

Once teachers create an account, they set up their classrooms either by importing student lists from Google Classroom, Microsoft, Clever, or Edmodo, or by providing the class join code to students. Assignments are created and made available to individuals, groups, or the entire class and teachers can monitor progress, check the gradebook, respond to student questions, review student input, and view class data through their teacher dashboard.

Students, too, have their own dashboard where they access teacher-assigned materials and more. If this is the first time they’ve logged in, they can start with a quick how-to on using Actively Learn.

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Subscriber Special: November–Discounts on Select Print Books

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

Discounts on Select Print Books

Any of these books: $25.99

Kindergarten Technology Curriculum

1st Grade Technology Curriculum

3rd Grade Technology Curriculum

High School Technology Curriculum–Book 1

Ultimate Guide to Keyboarding: Middle School

All of these book are ordered and delivered through Amazon.

Read more »

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