Hi all!Thanks for dropping by my blog. I am the technology teacher among our group of WordDream bloggers at a Southern California elementary school. We start with KidPix and keyboarding in kindergarten and finish off with Photoshop and wikis by the end of fifth Grade. Over the years, I’ve taught thousands of students and loved every minute of it. There’s nothing more exhilarating than to be let loose on the savannas of the internet with a toolkit chock full of technology skills. Feel free to visit my teacher blog, my classroom wiki (remember: wikis are created and maintained by the students) and my tech start page.
Before that, I taught community college business classes and before, that enjoyed a twenty-year career in business management.
Of the three careers, I find teaching the most gratifying. Sharing technology secrets with our newest students is a privilege that I never take for granted, especially in this time of downsizing educational extras and tightening budgets. My plan with this blog is to take your children through a course of technology instruction from Hello, Mr. Computer to Look What I Can Do!
A quick bio: I was born in Berkley California to Irish-German parents. After receiving a BA in Economics, a BA in Russian and an MBA, and while putting my time in as a Working Mom, I raised two children and taught evening classes at community colleges. Now, my daughter has graduated from USNA and is serving as an officer aboard a San Diego-based cruiser. My son is well into a five-year plan to graduate from University of California. My two beautiful labradors are potty trained. Which means, I have time to return to my passion: writing.
Here’s an interview I did with Renee Hand, award-winning author of the Crypto-Capers series of detective books for kids:
Joining us today is Jacqui Murray, editor of computer tech workbooks. We’re going to talk to Jacqui about this new series and how parents or teachers can use these workbooks in their homeschool or classroom setting.
Welcome, Jacqui. It’s great to have you with us.
Thanks, Renee. It’s my pleasure.
Please tell our readers a bit about yourself.
I was born in Berkley California to Irish-German parents. After receiving a BA in Economics, another in Russian and an MBA, I spent twenty years in a variety of industries while raising two children and teaching evening classes at community colleges. Now, with my daughter an officer in the Navy and my son ready to graduate, I’ve decided to give back to the community that has given me so much and take up teaching full time. I work with children ages five through ten, showing them the magic of technology while pursuing my second passion, writing. I live in Laguna Hills CA with my husband, adult son and two beautiful Labradors.
How did your writing career begin?
I guess, like so many writers, I’ve wanted to write since I was young, but family responsibilities took priority until recently. My first book, Building a Midshipman: How to Crack the United States Naval Academy Application, was inspired by my daughter’s experience getting into the US Naval Academy–from the parent’s perspective.
Tell us about the workbooks and how they can be used.
Because I have taught technology to youngsters for so many years, I was asked to edit a series of six K-5 technology workbooks. Geared for parents and homeschoolers, they provide a year’s-worth of age-appropriate computer lessons at each grade level that meet or exceed national standards like ISTE. Each includes thirty-two multimedia projects in programs such as MS Word, Publisher, Excel, PowerPoint, Google Earth, keyboarding, computer hardware, vocabulary, as well as training on how to solve the most common computer problems faced by kids as they learn technology. Their unique combination of projects and skills, introduced according to a proven timetable, enable me to morph the thousands of students I teach from computer novice to accomplished in six years. Every year, I hear over and over from parents how even their second graders are now independent in their computer work–showing their parents how to do skills. I include step-by-step lesson plans with examples and reproducibles, homework for grades 3-5, an extensive list of age-appropriate edutainment websites, vocabulary builders and collaborations with classroom units of inquiry
What workbooks are best for homeschoolers and which ones are best for teaching in a larger classroom?
These six workbooks, Fifth Technology: 32 Lessons that every Fifth Grader can do (one each for grades K through five) are perfect for homeschooling and parents who want to extend their child’s education. My two newest workbooks, 55 Technology Projects for the Digital Classroom: Everything you need to integrate computers into K-8 classes, Volumes 1 and 2 (available on Amazon in August 2009), are geared for a classroom teacher or a lab professional.
What age groups are they for?
The 32 Lesson series is for grade kindergarten through fifth grade. The 55 Technology Projects volumes are for kindergarten through eighth grade.
You are the editor of these workbooks, what led you to be involved with this series?
The publisher asked me to help them provide computer training manuals for younger children. I had been in the process of putting my lesson plans in some sort of organized fashion so I could share them with colleagues, so the timing was perfect.
You are not only an editor but an author as well. Tell us about the books that you have written.
Yes. After the success of my how-to book Building a Midshipman: How to Crack the USNA Application, I turned to my second passion: fiction. My first fiction novel, To Hunt a Sub is a techno-thriller about nefarious characters using brainy science to steal America’s Trident submarines and how an equally-brainy female grad student stops them. It won the Southern California Writers Conference Outstanding Fiction Award last year and is in the final stages of rewrite. I have an excerpt available on Scribd.com.
For homeschool parents, such as myself, we are always looking for the best curriculums, workbooks and subjects to best teach our children. What makes your workbooks stand out from the rest?
I’m glad you asked that question because, they absolutely do stand out. They start kids in kindergarten with age-appropriate and challenging skills in programs such as keyboarding and KidPix, and that wonderful online reading site, Starfall.com. By fifth grade, after following the logical progression presented in the series, kids are photo-editing in Adobe Photoshop, creating professional world tours in Google Earth and sharing ideas on education-safe wikis. By the time I send them to sixth grade, they’re ready to use technology as an equal partner in their education.
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
I don’t have my own website, though lots more information (including freebies from the workbooks) is available on the publisher’s site, StructuredLearning.net. I have a blog with loads of free lessons and tips at Ask A Tech Teacher (AskATechTeacher.wordpress.com). I take questions from readers and detail skills they’d like to learn so you’re likely to get almost anything on my blog.
Where can readers purchase your books as well as the workbooks?
Books are available on Amazon.com and the publisher’s website (www.structuredlearning.net). The ebooks are available on Scribd.com.
What’s next for you? Is there anything else that you are involved in?
I’m pretty busy right now getting my two-volume technology integration books out and finishing up the rewrites for To Hunt a Sub. When those are completed, I will continue to do whatever I can to breach the barriers that prevent technology from being available to all children’s education. It’s too important; kids should be involved in it at as early an age as possible.