I’m Traveling–Oct. 1st-17th

October 1st-17th

For the first part of this time, my two children and I are touring American Civil War battlefields in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Then I’m off to my sister’s in Marion, Indiana for a recentering in rural America and an 1812 battle re-enactment.  As a result, I won’t be around much–a bit, but forgive me if I seem to be ignoring everyone! 

See you-all in a week!

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, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Family Physical Education Week

Family PE Week is October 3rd through 7th this year. I was traveling during this event, but thought I’d share some website resources to help in this endeavor:

  1. BracketMaker
  2. Final Kick–app; simulates kicking that final soccer kick (with Google Cardboard)
  3. GoNoodle–fitness videos
  4. LifeSaver–simulation where the viewer must save a life
  5. Map My Fitness (app)
  6. Move It (app)
  7. My Fitness Pal (app) — map what you eat
  8. OPEN–Online PE Network; lesson plans, music, more
  9. ScratchEd–using Scratch to teach PE
  10. Sprint Timer (app)
  11. Sworkit (app) — 5-60 minute workouts
  12. Team Shake (app) — pick teams
  13. Virtual Reality in PE–resources and videos to use

Copyright ©2022 askatechteacher.com – All rights reserved.


Should You Unschool?

The first time I read about Unschooling, I ignored it. Surely, it was a fad that would go away.

When I read about it a thousand more times, I dug into it.

Inspired by the teachings of John Holt (1923–1985), this free range branch of homeschooling promotes learning through nonstructured, child-led exploration. There’s no set curriculum or schedule; students learn what interests them with guidance from involved adults. There are no worksheets, tests, or structure to provide evidence of learning or templates for teaching. The children pick what to learn, when, at what pace. The result — according to unschoolers, is a love of learning, tenacity to a task, and independent thought that prepares them for college and career better than traditional methods. In fact, if you look at the list of traits valued in popular education programs such as Habits of Mind and Depth of Knowledge, the reasons why parents unschool their children mirror the traits included in these lists.

What is it

According to  Dr. Peter Gray of Freedom to Learn:

Unschooling parents do not … do at home the kinds of things that are done at school. More specifically, they do not establish a curriculum for their children, do not require their children to do particular assignments for the purpose of education, and do not test their children to measure progress. Instead, they allow their children freedom to pursue their own interests and to learn, in their own ways, what they need to know to follow those interests. They may, in various ways, provide an environmental context and environmental support for the child’s learning. In general, unschoolers see life and learning as one.”

If you use Genius Hour in your classroom, you have a sense of how inspiring, motivating, and addicting learning for the love of learning can be. Another popular example of unschooling is Sugata Mitra’s 1999 Hole in the Wall experiment where a computer was placed in a kiosk in an Indian slum. Children were allowed to use it freely. The experiment successfully proved that children could learn to use computers without any formal training. This was extended to be a method called Minimally Invasive Education (MIE) where students were encouraged to learn what interests them without adult direction —  much as what is expected from unschooling.


Tech Tip #167–How to Evaluate Apps

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: How to Evaluate Apps

Category: Pedagogy

Here are thirteen tips to evaluate the apps you’ll find useful in your classroom:

  1. free or small fee
  2. stand the test of time
  3. positive parent reports
  4. rated ‘for everyone’ or ‘low maturity’
  5. no in-app purchases or billing
  6. support the ‘4 C’s’–creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration
  7. offer compelling content (this is subjective: ‘Compelling’ varies teacher-to-teacher and student-to-student)
  8. are not distracting or overwhelming in colors, music, or activity
  9. offer levels that become increasingly more difficult, providing differentiation for student needs
  10. few ads–and those that are there do not take up a significant portion of the screen
  11. intuitive to use with a shallow learning curve that encourages independence
  12. easily applied to a variety of educational environments
  13. doesn’t collect personal information other than user credentials or data required to operate the app

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.

Copyright ©2022 askatechteacher.com – All rights reserved.


Teacher-Authors: What’s Happening on my Writer’s Blog

A lot of teacher-authors read my WordDreams blog. In this monthly column, I share a popular post with you on my teacher education blog, Ask a Tech Teacher. If you are subscribed to WordDreams, you’ve probably already read this!

I’ve used PowerPoint for all of my book trailers so far, following excellent directions from Diana Peach (see link under PowerPoint), but I want to change up the look in the last book of the trilogy, Dawn of Humanity so, I’m hunting for easy-to-use alternatives. Here are three I’m considering:

  • Canva
  • PowerPoint
  • Windows’ organic video editor

In the brief discussions below, I include how-to steps and examples of work completed with them. The YouTube video in Canva and Windows is from one of my go-to tech ed voices, Richard Byrnes.

Note: I didn’t include popular options like iMovie and Animoto because they are familiar to most.

Some elements you see (like the images and music) may be part of the Canva Pro fee-based option

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAJochoLo20]


Here’s my latest trailer–for Natural Selection, to be published late October 2022–made in Canva:


PowerPoint is a great way to create a book trailer. I could go through all the steps, but fellow Indie author, Diana Peach, does it much better. Here are her step-by-step directions:




Here’s the trailer I made for Against All Odds, using PowerPoint:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5bpxvZDoSY]

This is Windows replacement for the old Windows Movie Maker. I haven’t used it recently because options like PowerPoint and Canva are so much simply for a ludite like me!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5pu7JjQw14]


More options I found when I researched this article that you might be interested in:

  • Adobe Spark
  • Fiverr

If you aren’t yet to the point of selecting a recording tool, maybe wondering whether a book trailer is a good idea and how to organize one if it was, here’s a good short video from Reedsy:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW0YzZfQe1k]


What do you use for book trailers? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Copyright ©2022 askatechteacher.com – All rights reserved.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Man vs. Nature saga, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the acclaimed Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Summer 2022

Robot Teachers vs Human Teachers:

Simona Johnes, editor-in-chief of Science and Literacy, an educational blog for teachers and parents, did some research into a topic that is of growing concern to my fellow teachers: Robots in the classrom. Here’s an interesting article comparing the pros and cons of robots vs. humans: 

I recently came across an article published by Ohio State University that mentioned how several industries are using robots to get their jobs done, and the use of robotics is only expected to grow. This led me to thinking about the industry that I am currently employed in, education, and how this may affect my fellow teachers around the world. I began researching the topic and found a few articles about robots and artificial intelligence replacing teachers soon.

It was no surprise to see that educators are furious at this idea, and while I agree that human connection is important, I do think that there are several pros to having help from a robot in this tough industry from time to time. For example, robots can create a learning experience based on the personality of every single student, and this does not take much time or effort. I will explain more about what robots can help with throughout the article as well as explain why human teachers are still a necessity

After reading this article, you will officially know:

  • 6 advantages of a human teacher
  • 5 pros of a robot teacher
  • Who is better Human of Robot teachers?

6 Main Advantages of a Human Teacher


Incorporate Mindfulness into Your Class

Students learn best when they are relaxed, happy, and feeling loved.  It is challenging to include those characteristics in classes when you are concurrently trying to achieve school goals, comply with curriculum timelines, juggle parent concerns, and blend your lessons with those of colleagues.

This is where mindfulness becomes important. It reminds teachers that the fulcrum for learning is the student’s emotional well-being.

Let’s back up a moment: What is mindfulness? Buddha once said:

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

If that’s the plan, mindfulness is the path. It teaches students how to quiet themselves — get to a place where their mind is settled sufficiently to pay full attention to the task at hand. Experts offer many suggestions for incorporating mindfulness into your classroom experience. Consider:

  • pause and take a deep breath before beginning an activity 
  • reflect on an activity as a group
  • reflect on the student’s experience and background and how that relates to the topic

Here are five ideas on how to incorporate mindfulness into your classes:


School district asks parents to house teachers amid high cost of living

This is new to me, but reading the predicament Milpitas California is in–having visited this expensive area–I commend the school district for this clever idea. Interesting that this article is about a US school in a UK newspaper, Metro 50:

School district asks parents to house teachers amid high cost of living

Teachers have been quitting their jobs at an alarming rate in one California school district — not because they’re leaving the profession, but because they cannot afford to live near their schools.

Read more…

Check out these clever ideas we’ve talked about on Ask a Tech Teacher:


Keyboarding Basics Part 2

Keyboarding is a topic that most parents want their children to learn and many schools don’t have time to teach. Of all topics on Ask a Tech Teacher, keyboarding articles are the most visited. If you’re looking for a curriculum for your K-8 classes, here are two popular ones we offer:

The Essential Guide-a thorough K-8 curricula intended for schools that allot about 45 minutes a week to tech classes

The Ultimate Guide–a K-5 or MS comprehensive deep dive into keyboarding (optional student workbooks available)

If you’re looking for an overview, stick around! We are taking two weeks–two articles–to answer the questions that should help you as a teacher or administrator decide what type of keyboarding program is best for your school.

Week 1 (click for prior lesson)

  • Why learn keyboarding?
  • What is the best age to start teaching keyboarding?
  • How important is teacher knowledge of teaching keyboarding or can anyone teach it?

Week 2 (this article)

  • What is the best way to teach keyboarding?
  • What is the correct body position?
  • What about keyboarding homework?
  • Questions you may have


Today, we focus on:

  • What is the best way to teach keyboarding?
  • What is the correct body position?
  • What about keyboarding homework?
  • Questions you may have

1 What is the best way to teach keyboarding