For most teachers I know, life zooms by, filled with lesson planning, meetings, classes, collaborations with their grade-level team, parent meetings, and thinking. There are few breaks to update/fix/maintain the tech tools that allow us to pursue our trade.
But, that must happen or they deteriorate and no longer accomplish what we need them to do. Cussing them out does no good. Buying new systems takes a long time and doesn’t fix the problem that the old one wasn’t kept up. If they aren’t taken care of, we are left wondering why our teacher blog or website isn’t accomplishing what it does for everyone else, why our social media Tweeple don’t generate activity, and why our TPT materials languish. There’s a short list of upkeep items that won’t take long to accomplish. The end of the calendar year is a good time to do these:
- Is Your Online Presence Up to Date?
- Back up and Image your computer
- 15 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer
A note: The links won’t work until the articles publish!
Join me! You’ll come away feeling ready, re-energized, and geeky.
Creating a macro is a quick, easy programming exercise that students fifth grade and up can accomplish with moderate supervision.
By fifth grade, students appreciate technology for how it can speed up their homework and class projects and seek out ways to use it to make their educational journey easier.. Take advantage of this by introducing pre-programming skills like creating macros. Here’s a video I shared during Summer PD:
As a tech teacher, I see a lot of student websites. I’m always impressed with the effort, the tenacity, and often the skill, but most require ‘some additional work’ to be published.
And then I got an email from Stephen Byrne. In his quest to better learn history, he blended it with his love of of programming and built a website. It’s called History for Kids. It is exceptional, not only for its clean, intuitive presentation, but it’s age-appropriate language. If your students struggle finding research websites that use words at their grade level, suggest they build their own site like Stephen did:
Collaboration is the new rigor in the classroom. Who hasn’t been mesmerized by children gathered at a table engaged in a high-level discussion, making shared decisions, and demonstrating deep, scaffolded learning? When students share organic ideas and peer review projects, they build authentic knowledge that everyone takes ownership in, but the saying is easier than the doing. You can’t just break students into groups and expect a collaborative workflow. It takes practice. The rudimentary teamwork availed by Google Docs and online tools like Subtext is a great start, but what’s better is projects that inspire, motivate, and teach students skills for speaking and listening.
Here are three activities I use in my classroom to achieve this goal:
Every activity in your classroom includes how-to questions. Before answering, have students ask three classmates before asking you. For example, if they can’t find the tech tool they want, check with three neighbors before putting their hand. Kids love helping each other and spotlighting their talent. Not only does ‘Three then me’ get the student’s question answered faster, it engenders a sense of cooperation and collaboration in the class, that students are resources to each other.
A note of caution: This works best with self-correcting facts, like how to do something, but if it’s a definition or the spelling of a word, students could get the wrong answer and not know it. As you’re training students in ‘three then me’, remind them to evaluate answers, critically think about them before implementing, and trust their own judgment. Does it sound right? Does it fit what else they know about the question? If it does, go for it!
I’m taking next week off. I’ll be preparing for my daughter’s holiday visit from her home in DC and my son who’s visiting from El Paso TX (Ft. Bliss–though, now he tells me he may not make it. Argh). I am so excited to see both of them!
I’ll be back November 30th. Any emergencies–drop me a line at email@example.com.
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.
ScratchJr (released July 2014) is an introductory programming language for ages 5-7 similar to the wildly popular Scratch (for 3rd grade and up). ScratchJr adjusts Scratch’s interface and programming language to make it developmentally appropriate for pre-readers with features that match young children’s cognitive, personal, social, and emotional development. For example, optional video directions are all visual–no reading required. No voice even!
ScratchJr treats programming (a term that frightens even adults) as simply a creative way to communicate–another language. Start by opening the app:
Creating a shortkey for a program will quickly become a favorite with your students. I use it for the snipping tool–because we use that a lot in class–but you can create one for any program you use a lot. Then I discovered how to create a shortkey for it:
- Go to Start
- Right click on the desired program
- Select ‘properties’
- Click in ‘shortcut’
- Push the key combination you want to use to invoke the snipping tool. In my case, I used Ctrl+Alt+S
Here’s a video to show you:
As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!
A hidden coding secret on every computer is the ‘Alt codes’. Those are the symbols you invoke by typing Alt+[a number] on most digital devices. The suggestions below are for PCs, but there are similar lists for Macs and Chromebooks.
Alt+0191 = ¿
Alt+0128 = €
Alt+0169 = ©
Tip: Press the ALT key. While it is pressed, put in the numbers from your NUMBER PAD. It doesn’t work using the numbers at the top of the keyboard). Make sure the NUM LOCK is ON.