Year: 2021

Tech Tip #161: Ten Most Important Keyboard Keys

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: 10 Most Important Keyboard Keys

Category: Keyboarding

As you teach K-5 keyboarding, here are the ten most important keys you want them to learn—a few a year:

Buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

–Comments are closed but feel free to contact me via Twitter (@askatechteacher).


Great Websites for Special Needs

Here’s a great list of Special Needs websites. I’ll display it below but click the link for an updated library (check here for updates on links):

  1. Occupational Therapy–a long list of great apps including stress, social skills building, and more
  2. Read&Write–for students with dyslexia or English language learners who struggle with reading and writing.
  3. Signed Stories–beautiful stories in sign language
  4. Speech Therapy and Language Apps–apps like Conversation Builder, StoryBuilder, Tense Builder, Rainbow Sentences, designed for kids who need a different approach

So much available to differentiate for every student’s special need. Here are 50 of them:

  1. Disabilities—Microsoft


  1. Autism browser—Zac Browser




What are the popular file extensions kids should learn about?

There is so much tech kids need to learn these days, it’s easy to forget the basics. Like file extensions. These help kids categorize websites, prioritize credibility, and streamline their browsing. Here are the most essential of these:

What are the popular file extensions kids should learn about?

As kids work their way through the education system, they will use different types of documents for their projects. Therefore, it is important that children learn about the popular types of file extensions early on.

A file extension is the suffix used at the end of a file name to show what type of computer file is being used. The suffix also implies what program can be used to read the content of the file. Here are the most popular file extensions that kids should learn about.


There is no actual difference between DOC and DOCX. Both are native formats of Microsoft Word, which is one of the most commonly used file types used for school projects and beyond. Whether DOC or DOCX is used is simply dependent on the version of Microsoft Office being used. DOC and DOCX files can contain text, images, tables, and other elements. The file type is perfect for writing essays and presenting graphics. Once a DOC or DOCX file has been saved, users can easily edit it in a Word program.


The PDF file extension is used for documents created in the PDF file format. PDFs are so popular because they maintain the formatting used to create the document. A PDF can contain text, images, tables, graphs, 3D drawings, and other elements. Due to the formatting being maintained, the elements of a PDF document appear richer and more presentable, making them ideal for school projects. PDFs have many benefits, but users can often not edit them directly unless they have a specific Adobe program. However, you can convert PDFs into other file types, such as DOC or JPG, by using an online tool. For instance, with PDF Simpli, you can convert a PDF into an editable JPG picture file in an instant.


Edtech Trends From 2020 And Beyond

Hi there, my name is Roman Zhidkov, a happy contributor to Ask a Tech Teacher. I’m the CTO of a tech company and for more than five years I have been busy with teaching programming courses and sharing my expertise with novice specialists. I can tell from experience that it’s a prerequisite for a teacher to follow trends due to the fast-changing market and nuances of working with young professionals with a progressive mindset.

Besides, the living conditions can dramatically change at any moment like it has been with the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why it’s better to prepare for any changes in advance. So, in this article, I’m going to share my thoughts and experience about the technologies and solutions that reshape the educational industry and the way we learn in 2020 and beyond.

6 Edtech Trends to Keep an Eye On

The educational field was constantly evolving along with new technologies even before the pandemic. However, due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus and the global lockdown, distance learning became vital in 2020. That led to a rise of different e-learning platforms and solutions such as learning management systems (LMSs), learning experience platforms (LXPs), learning analytics platforms (LAPs), and so on. All that opened a lot of doors and possibilities for both teachers and students.

Integration of various technologies can help you to improve the courses, making the process more engageable, immersive, personalized, effective, interacting, etc. Below you’ll find 6 tech trends that are must-have in 2020 and beyond. Let’s analyze them to find out what profit they offer.

Video-Based Learning

Do you know that 70% of millennials used YouTube videos for learning something new even before the quarantine? And due to the pandemic, video-based learning is booming in distance learning conditions because all we — teachers — were forced to use the technology during the lockdown.

And I can say that watching my students, who come to my courses to gain knowledge, the effectiveness of learning not only didn’t begin a downturn but raised. Videos are extremely beneficial to make content comprehensible and enrich lessons. All that not only improves the learners’ outcomes but reduces teachers’ workload.

The key features of video-assisted learning are scalability and repetitiveness. Thus, you can record a series of lectures and students can watch them at any time, anywhere. Besides, lecturers can prepare such types of videos as:


5 Fun Science Experiments Kids Do at Home

Getting ready for extra time with kids? Here are five great ideas that are energizing and motivating:

5 Fun Science Experiments Kids Can Do at Home

All children are born scientists. Until education – or spoilsport parents – ruins them.

Kids have a natural curiosity that is insatiable due to their innate ability to get to the bottom of anything they set their minds on. Be it blowing soap bubbles or building towers of spaghetti, they are second only to seasoned engineers and CEOs at getting results.

However, over the past few months, kids have largely been cooped up at home due to the impact of COVID-19; the lack of access to a tried-and-true schooling process and resources will result in young children missing out on foundational concepts in literature, math and science that prepare them for a lifetime of learning and working.

Virtual schooling is clearly not an effective solution, according to a study done by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), which looked at schools specifically designed to teach coursework online with significant budgets invested in research and planning. “If they can’t make it work, it seems unlikely that parents and teachers Googling resources will do any better,” said Eric Hanushek, economist and education researcher at Stanford.

Well, don’t let that deter you. As a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) learning advocate for kids, I can’t understate the importance of teaching simple scientific and number concepts at home, because science isn’t something you learn only in a classroom. Research shows that kids as young as pre-school or kindergarten age have divergent thinking capabilities. Trying out simple experiments with things found in and around the house can improve their critical reasoning as well as spatial skills, and promote a curiosity-mindset that they’ll carry well into adulthood.

So, here are some fun activities and easy DIY projects to get your kids excited about science. Before you let them dive right in, please make sure all experiments are done under adult supervision.

1 Naked Egg

Let’s start with a simple one. Eggs are one of the favorite props in many kiddies’ experiments (and recipes).

What you’ll need:

  • 2 eggs
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • 2 glasses

How to do it:

  1. Fill one glass – a little more than half – with vinegar and the other with water.
  2. Dip one egg in each until the eggs are completely submerged.
  3. Let them soak for 24 hours and remove them the next day.

What happens:

As time passes, you’ll see bubbles form on the surface of the vinegar egg. At the end of 24 hours, you’ll find that the egg that was in the vinegar completely loses its shell and becomes “naked.” It’ll also be significantly larger in size than the one you kept in water.

The science behind it:

This demonstrates a principle called “osmosis.” The vinegar is made up of two parts: acetic acid and water. The acetic acid reacted with the eggshell and dissolved it. The water traveled through the egg’s membrane in such a way that the concentration of water on both sides of the membrane becomes equal. This “flow” is called osmosis.

Great link:

2 Diet Coke Eruption

Warning: This might make your clothes and/or your kitchen messy. So try this outdoors.

What you’ll need:

  • A packet of Mentos
  • A large bottle of Diet Coke (Soda or any carbonated drink will do as a substitute)
  • A test tube or paper roll to hold the Mentos loosely
  • A small paper card

How to do it:

  1. Go out on the yard or the garden and select a place where there isn’t much of anything around for 6 to 8 feet. Place the Diet Coke on a table or on the ground.
  2. Stack 7 Mentos just like they are in the packing, but in a way they can fall out easily. Use a paper roll or test tube.
  3. Open the Diet Coke slowly so that it doesn’t fizz out.
  4. Cover the test tube with a little paper card and invert it over the mouth of the bottle.
  5. Pull out the paper card, letting the Mentos fall into the bottle quickly.
  6. Move back quickly from the bottle without turning your back to it (or else you’ll miss the sight).

What happens:

The Diet Coke blasts up in a sky high – okay, not-so-high – explosion. But it’s a veritable fountain of the sticky stuff.

The science behind it:

The carbon dioxide (CO2) in the soda is what makes it bubbly. It’s mixed into the fizzy drink when they make it at the factory. Diet Coke rises higher probably because of some of its ingredients, and it is less sticky because of whatever sugar substitute it uses.

Now, the CO2 isn’t released from the drink until you pour it, or shake the bottle, or let it lie for a lot of days. It’s just waiting – raring, rather – to escape in the form of bubbles. Shaking the bottle or dropping something into it breaks the surface tension of the liquid and allows bubbles to form on the surface. Mentos have very tiny pits on them like a golf ball, which means the surface area increases dramatically, making space for a real lot of bubbles to form.

Experiments have proved that 7 to 8 pieces of Mentos are good enough. The world record height of the blast is about 29 feet.

3 Double Color Flower

Magic happens when you combine science and art. The super-creative overlap between STEM and the arts is known as STEAM. Here’s an experiment that falls into this category.

What you’ll need:

  • A couple of flowers (preferably white) with a clean and thin but sturdy stem.
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • 2 glasses or vases
  • A knife

How to do it:

  1. Get a couple of flowers. White flowers such as carnations work best because the color change happens quickly, but you can get daisies, roses or any moderately big flower you can find.
  2. Fill the glasses with clean water. Add different food coloring to each. Make the colors strong. We use food coloring instead of paint so that the plants get non-toxic water.
  3. Grown-up help alert! Slit the stem vertically from the bottom in two equal parts the roughly length of the glasses.
  4. Part the stem carefully and place one half each into the two glasses.
  5. Place the split flower and glasses in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

What happens:

You will start to see the flower change color in a few hours. It might take anywhere from a day to three for a significant difference in color, depending on the flower you choose, the weather, and the place where you keep it.

The science behind it:

The stem of a plant has tube-like transport tissues called xylem. The water is sucked up the stem and moves to the leaves and flowers, from where it evaporates via little openings called stomata. The evaporation creates pressure for more water to be sucked up through the stem, pretty much like drinking water with a straw. The whole process is called transpiration. The speed of transpiration depends on the temperature, wind, light and humidity.

Great links:

Science Experiments with Water

Science Activities with Plants

4 Extra Strong Paper Cups

There are loads of things we take for granted in everyday life. The most unassuming of objects can prove otherwise.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 dozen paper cups
  • 2 sheets of strong cardboard

How to do it:

  1. Place 2 cups inverted on the floor side by side. Stand with one leg on each and see them get crushed. Just for the fun of it.
  2. Arrange 12 cups inverted and evenly spaced out in a grid of 4 x 3 on the floor.
  3. Place a cardboard sheet on top of the grid.
  4. Kids only please! Gingerly stand on top of the cardboard sheet.
  5. If it doesn’t break, place another layer of cups and the second cardboard sheet over this layer. Step up on top!

What happens:

The paper cup structure holds up. Likely, the structure with two floors holds up just as well.

What happens:

When you place many cups side by side, your weight is distributed across all of them by the cardboard sheet. Each cup has to bear just a fraction of your weight. The minimum number of cups needed to support your weight depends on the size and quality of the cups and, well, your weight.

Great link:

5 Oobleck

What state is toothpaste or jelly – solid or liquid? Turns out, they’re colloids. Oobleck is

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups corn starch
  • 1 cup water
  • Food coloring

How to do it:

  1. Take water in a bowl.
  2. Add the food color.
  3. Add 1.5 cups corn starch to it. Mix with a spoon at first.
  4. Slowly add the rest of the corn starch. As the consistency of the mixture strengthens, knead with your hands.

What happens:

You get a gooey, slimy mixture that was termed “Oobleck” in the Dr. Seuss book Bartholomew and the Oobleck. When you knead the mixture or tap its surface, it feels hard. But when you dip your hand inside slowly, your fingers slide through it as if it’s water. This is exactly how quicksand works.

The science behind it:

Oobleck is a “non-Newtonian” fluid – it acts like a liquid when it’s being poured (this property is called viscosity) and like a solid when a force (in this case, pressure) is acting on it. Some of its properties:

  • When you roll Oobleck into a ball, it solidifies. But when you stop moving it, it melts back in your hand.
  • It is messy but can be washed away completely with soap and hot water.
  • When left in the open for too long, it hardens and turns back into cornstarch.
  • It isn’t poisonous, but tastes awful.
  • Make enough Oobleck in a large tub or bin and you can walk on it.

Over to You

What do you think of these experiments? Which ones are you going to try right away?

While parents certainly can’t match the school’s resources and expertise in imparting science and technology education to eager little minds, there’s quite a bit we can do to grow the next Einstein (or Musk) at home. If you have a bit of extra space and a stuff lying around, why not try and build a science lab at home for the budding genius?


Shreiya Aggarwal-Gupta is the owner of the early education startup Kidpillar, which aims to provide developmental opportunities and resources for young children in the field of STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) via kid-friendly journals, practical DIY-kits, and simple project-based learnings and workshops. Shreiya is also a passionate blogger, computer science engineer, finance whiz, and “perfect mommy” to her son.


More science

In Love with Space? Here are Great Websites to Take You There

Ward’s Science–So Many STEM Resources

PASCO Motion Sensor–A Must for Science Classes

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.


2021, I Resolve…

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONSNew Years–a time for rest, rejuvenation and repair. A time to assess life. Do we settle into our routine, enjoy where it’s headed, or is it time to grab our purse, iPhone, car keys, and get out of there?

As a teacher-author, New Year’s Resolutions are more of a To Do list. I break it down into Edtech Coaching/Mentoring, Blogging, and Fiction Writing (my novel writing):

Edtech Coaching/Mentoring

Focus on podcasts, webinars, online classes, and other web-based learning outlets for Ask a Tech Teacher. I have some great partners in this:

If you’re looking for this sort of extension in your platform, let me know.


College Credit Classes in Remote Teaching/Blended Learning

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 [email protected]

Here are the the ones I’m currently offering:

Building Digital Citizens

MTI 557

Starts January 18, 2021

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.


10 Top Tips and Click-throughs in 2020

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 2020:

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 2020. Between these ten, they had over 183,000 visitors during the year.

  1. Remote Learning: Tips for Thriving in This Ecosystem
  2. Tech Tip #60: How to Add Shortcuts to the Desktop
  3. 10 Tips for Teaching Remotely
  4. Tech Tip #34: My Program Froze
  5. 5 Tips to Avoid Plagiarism
  6. Find Public Domain Images
  7. Tech Tip #9–Quickly Hide Your Screen
  8. Tech Tip #118–Top 10 iPad Shortkeys
  9. Tech Tip #106–11 Great Typing Timesavers on iPads
  10. Back to School Tips


book review

Top 10 Reviews of 2020

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. 4 Great Alternatives to Google Classroom
  3. 7 Tech Tools for PE Teachers
  4. 15 Websites to Teach Financial Literacy
  5. 28 Unique Ideas for Publishing Student Work
  6. How to Use Google Drawings
  7. 3 Apps That Encourage Students to Read
  8. 17 Great Research Websites for Kids
  9. 22 Websites and 4 Posters to Teach Mouse Skills
  10. 13 Ways to Use Canva in Your Classroom

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

Twitter:   @AskaTechTeacher


Instagram: @AskaTechTeacher

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Thanks! Have a wonderful 2021!