100th Day of School — Make it about Learning

Before becoming a teacher, I didn’t understand why the 100th day of school was a big deal. At first, I thought it had to do with finding something exciting about the dreariness of post-Christmas January but when I counted school days from Labor Day to the hundred-day mark (skipping weekends, two weeks at Christmas and a week at Thanksgiving), that put me in the second week of February. Some colleagues say the 100th Day is a rich teachable moment that revolves around math. One efriend told me it occurs about the time when most kindergarten curricula cover how to count to 100. Others tell me it’s simply a milestone, important to young children and passe to olders.

How to celebrate

Turns out, the reason doesn’t really matter because celebrating isn’t a problem with kids. They love parties. So I decided to accommodate the 100th Day fever by wrapping it in learning. Here are thirteen activities I like that blend learning into a celebration of the 100th Day of School:

Geography

As a class, come up with two locations in each state, to total 100. One will be oriented around geography and one around history (such as “Kansas became a state January 29, 1861”). Include a brief description and a picture and then share the collection with parents and schoolmates in the class newsletter or another vehicle.

History

Research what happened the hundredth year of your home country’s existence.  What was the country like a hundred years ago? What caused it to change? Who was president? What has been invented since then? Divide the class into groups so the project can be completed in one class period. Then, have everyone copy their information to a digital magazine (like you can create in Canva or Adobe) and share it with everyone.

Read more »

Categories: Holidays | Leave a comment

How to Talk to a Tech Teacher

There’s always been something mystical about people in technical professions–engineering, science, mathematics. They talk animatedly about plate tectonics, debate the structure of mathematical functions, even smile at the mention of calculus. The teaching profession has their own version of these individuals, called ‘technology teachers’. They used to be stuffed in a corner of the school where most teachers could pretend they didn’t exist, that what they did was for ‘some other educator in an alternate dimension’.

That all changed when technology swept across the academic landscape like a firestorm:

  • iPads became the device of choice in the classroom
  • Class screens became more norm than abnorm(al)
  • Technology in the classroom changed from ‘nice to have’ to ‘must have’
  • 1:1 became a realistic goal
  • Students researched online as often as in the library
  • Students began spending as much time in a digital neighborhood as their home town
  • Textbooks morphed into resources rather than bibles

Today, teachers who don’t use technology are an endangered species. Often, they’re too young to retire, so they get a digital map from a colleague to that place where they’ve been told they’ll find help–from a person variously called the ‘tech teacher’, ‘integration specialist’, or ‘tech coordinator’.

As they enter the room, they figure the person they’re looking for must be the one who looks up as they enter, fingers flying across the keyboard, never pausing and never slowing even as she smiles and says, ‘Hi!’.

Before you ask your question, I have a short list of signs that will help you have a more positive experience when you confront this big-brained Sheldon-look-like:

  • You can’t scare them (in fact, even Admin and politics don’t frighten them). They’re techies. Try kindness instead.
  • Patience and tech are oxymorons. Know that going in.
  • Bring food. Techies often forget to eat, or ate everything in their snack stash and need more.
  • Some days, tech looks a lot like work. Distract them with an interesting problem.
  • Start the encounter with a discussion on Dr. Who, Minecraft, or Big Bang Theory. Find a clever tie-in to your topic.
  • Understand that tech teachers often think trying to teach teachers to tech is like solving the Riemann Hypothesis (many consider it impossible). Bone up on basics before the Meeting.
  • Life after the 100th crashed computer is what Oprah might call a life-defining moment. If that just happened as you walked through the door, turn around and come back another time.
  • Understanding a techie who’s in the zone is like understanding the meaning of life. Again–leave the room; come back later.

Read more »

Categories: Critical thinking, Geeks, Humor, Teaching | 2 Comments

169 Tech Tip #67: Check History in Your Browser

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: Check History in Your Browser

Category: Internet

Q: How do I see where my kids/students have gone online?

A: Go to what’s called ‘history’–a list of all the websites whoever logged in under a particular user name went.  Here’s how you do it:

  • In Firefox, Chrome, or IE, hold the Control key (Ctrl) and push H. That brings up a list of the sites visited by that profile.
  • Select the time frame you’re interested in
  • Chrome also lets you search other devices logged into Chrome.

If you find they went somewhere they shouldn’t, don’t over-react. Sometimes it happens by accident. Ask them about it. Watch their answer. Their body language will tell you as much as their words. You know your students. You’ll know if they are telling the truth.

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

Read more »

Categories: Tech tips | 1 Comment

Lessons Learned My First 5 Years Of Teaching

It’s always interesting to find out what new teachers learned in their early teaching that affected their later years. Here’s Elaine Vanessa’s take on that–5 bits of wisdom she acquired while surviving the early teaching years:

My first five years of teaching were the shortest and longest years of my life. I was living the best and the worst time simultaneously. However, it was the most memorable time of my life that I don’t want to forget. Also, those five years made me a well-groomed educator and a better person in my life.

Every teacher has a dream of having a classroom with respectful kids having fun activities and love while learning. It makes teaching easy if kids love to be in the room every day. However, my first years were not like that. As I continued, I got better every year. There was one thing consistent; learning. Below are five lessons that I have learned in my first five years of teaching. I am sharing them in the hope of being a candle in someone’s darkroom.

1.   Finding work/life balance is a process

You cannot work for more than 8 hours every day. You can burn out of exhaustion and fatigue. I have my husband to keep pushing me unless I would have been stuck within the first six months. I learned to keep my school work at school and find personal time at home with my family. You may need to work at home sometimes, but I recommend not making it a habit. Finding work-life balance is not easy; however, it must be a prior goal to achieve and maintain.

2.   Take time to get to know your students

Investing your time in understanding and taking care of your students will going to pay you ten folds off. It is not very tough to strike up a conversation with your students, make sure to ask relevant questions, and make a personal connection with them. It is also essential to make them aware of yourself, your family, and your experiences. This will help them to see a real inspirational person in you. Your openness will let them feel comfortable to ask for advice and help. Also, it will create a relationship of trust and respect by letting them explore and encourage them to try something new every day.

Read more »

Categories: Guest post, Teaching | Leave a comment

Subscriber Special: 15% Discount Sitewide

Every month, subscribers to our newsletter get a free/discounted resource to help their tech teaching. This month, take your pick:

January 15th-18th:

15% Discount Sitewide on

Structured Learning.net

Code: HAPPYHOLIDAY15

Categories: Lesson plans, Subscriber special | Comments Off on Subscriber Special: 15% Discount Sitewide

169 Tech Tip #81 My Pic’s a BMP and I need a JPG

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: My Pic’s a BMP and I need a JPG

Category: Images

Sub-category: Edit/Format

Q: My picture file is a .bmp and I need a .jpg. What do I do?

A: If you have an image you want to use, but it’s in the wrong format, open it in MS Paint (which comes FREE with Windows) or Photoshop and save-as a .jpg.

Another method: Take a screenshot and save that as a .jpg. See Tip #116 for how to take screenshots.

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

Read more »

Categories: Tech tips | Tags: | Leave a comment

10 Top Tips and Click-throughs in 2019

Because AATT is a resource blog, we share lots of tips our group comes across in their daily teaching as well as materials shared by others we think you’d like. Some you agree with; others, not so much. Here’s a run-down on what you thought were the most valuable in 2019:

Top 10 Tech Tips

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems which I share with you. Here are the Top Ten tech tips from 2019. Between these ten, they had over 174,000 visitors during the year.

  1. 16 Great Research Websites for Kids
  2. 22 Websites and 4 Posters to Teach Mouse Skills
  3. 11 Projects to Teach Digital Citizenship
  4. Unplugged Activities
  5. How to Create a Curriculum Map
  6. 22 Digital Tools You Must Have in Your Classroom
  7. 9 Good Collections of Videos for Education
  8. 28 Unique Ideas for Publishing Student Work
  9. How to Teach Mouse Skills to Pre-Keyboarders
  10. Tech Tip #60: How to Add Shortcuts to the Desktop

Read more »

Categories: Tech tips | Tags: | Leave a comment

Top 10 Reviews of 2019

Throughout the year, I post websites and apps the Ask a Tech Teacher crew’s classes found useful, instructive, helpful in integrating technology into classroom lesson plans. Some, you agreed with us about; others not so much.

Here are the reviews you-all thought were the most helpful in efforts to weave tech into the classroom experience:

  1. Quick Review of 7 Popular Math Programs
  2. How to Use Google Drawings
  3. 61 K-8 Hour of Code Suggestions–by Grade Level
  4. 10 Tech Tools for Your Math Class
  5. 4 Great Alternatives to Google Classroom
  6. 11 Webtools That Make Images Talk
  7. 6 Ways to Make Classroom Typing Fun
  8. How to Use Google Sheets in the K-12 Classroom
  9. Metaverse–Education Game-changer
  10. 25 Websites for Poetry Month

Oh–would you mind adding me to your social media links? Here’s where you can find me:

Twitter:   @AskaTechTeacher

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kali.delamagente

Instagram: @AskaTechTeacher

Thanks! Have a wonderful 2020!

Read more »

Categories: Websites | Tags: | Leave a comment

Plagiarism Checkers: The Benefits Students Fail to See

Ask a Tech Teacher contributor Serhii Tkachecnko, CEO at Unicheck, shares his thoughts on how educators can teach students about the benefits of plagiarism checking.

***

Students experience an array of emotions toward education: from excitement to boredom. But when it comes to plagiarism checking, most students feel hostile. Many misconceptions circle around plagiarism checkers, but in reality, plagiarism checkers improve the cooperation, communication, and collaboration between educators and students. They are meant to help students and educators succeed.

Instead of being intimidated by plagiarism checking, why not educate students on its benefits? Here’s what you should explain to your students about plagiarism checking.

Using Plagiarism Checkers is Necessary

Before people accept something, they have to understand why they need it. Unfortunately, many students fail to understand the necessity of plagiarism checkers and treat them as a biased accusation of academic dishonesty. It will take some effort to change this mindset and help your students stop stressing about being checked. 

It’s a pity that some students fail to get their A+ because of the improperly cited sources. Regardless of whether the assignment lacked a citation, the citation method was wrong, or the student didn’t cite the correct source, a plagiarism checker could have fixed that. However, it’s an even bigger shame that the will to cheat overrules the will to express oneself. Plagiarism checkers can help students become better writers, express unique ideas, and stand out. On top of that, when all assignments equally go through a plagiarism check, the competition becomes fair again.

Educators should start explaining to students that a plagiarism checker is their friend as early as possible. In this way, by the time they reach college, students will already know these checkers are not used to punish them, but rather to improve their writing skills and the quality of education, both higher and K-12.

Read more »

Categories: Classroom management, Digital Citizenship, Teacher resources | Tags: | Leave a comment

10 Hits and 10 Misses for 2019

Since we at Ask a Tech Teacher started this blog eight years ago, we’ve had almost 5.1 million views from visitors (about 10,000 follow us) to the 2,184 articles on integrating technology into the classroom. This includes tech tips, website/app reviews, tech-in-ed pedagogy, how-tos, videos, and more. We have regular features like:

If you’ve just arrived at Ask a Tech Teacher, start here.

It always surprises us what readers find to be the most and least provocative. The latter is as likely to be a post one of us on the crew put heart and soul into, sure we were sharing Very Important Information, as the former. Talk about humility.

Read more »

Categories: Blogging | Tags: | Leave a comment