Author Archives: Jacqui
Many of my most popular articles are about mouse skills. Every year, tens of thousands of teachers visit Ask a Tech Teacher to find resources for teaching students how to use a mouse. No surprise because using a mouse correctly is one of the most important pre-keyboarding skills. Holding it is not intuitive and if learned wrong, becomes a habit that’s difficult to break.
The earlier posts are still active, but I’ve updated this resource with more websites and posters to assist in starting off your newest computer aficionados.
- Bees and Honey
- Drawing Melody–draw in many colors with the mouse and create music
- Hover skills–drag mouse over the happy face and see it move
- Left-click practice while playing the piano
- Mouse and tech basics–video
- Mouse practice—drag, click
- Mouse skills
- Mouse Song
- Mr. Picasso Head
Kids love puzzles and they are a great way to teach drag-and-drop skills with the mouse buttons. Here are some of my favorites:
- Digipuzzles–great puzzles for geography, nature, and holidays
- Jigsaw Planet–create your own picture jigsaw
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Jigsaw Puzzles–JS
Curriculum Companions (K-5 only) follow a tech professional as s/he teaches each lesson in the SL K-5 curriculum textbooks. Presented via video (10-15 minutes each), you can see how another teacher uses the curriculum and access additional resources like vocabulary and how-to videos. It’s your mentor, your sidekick, your best friend in the tech ed field.
32 webinars per grade (192 webinars in all), 9 months
If you own any or all of K-5 Structured Learning technology curriculum (6th edition), you have free access to the six grade-levels
- comprehensive tech vocabulary
- how-to skills used in lessons
- shared resources
Where to purchase: Teachers Pay Teachers
- for grades K-12
- five resources, from posters to pedagogy to lesson plans
- 175 pages, delivered digitally via PDF
- available only through Teachers Pay Teachers
These five tools (included) help you start Day One and can be used throughout the year:
The 56-page 25 Digital Tools in the Classroom is a thorough discussion on which are the most useful tools in any K-8 classroom, classified by appropriate grade level. This includes popular digital tools such as blogs, backchannel devices, vocabulary decoding tools, avatars, digital portfolios, digital note-taking, and more.
This is the same as the Ask a Tech Teacher resource, 25 Digital Tools in the Classroom You don’t need to purchase both.
Back to School night is a time-honored ritual where teachers and parents meet, with or without children, and preview the upcoming school year. Teachers share information about their teaching style and methodology, how they grade, what students can do to thrive, and how parents can connect to classroom activities. It’s a way of easing everyone back into the education journey after a long summer break and is arguably one of the most impactful days in the school year.
But Back to School night has changed over the years in large part because families have changed. Consider this list of reasons why from Edutopia:
- Increased pace of life
- Greater economic demands
- Alterations in family composition and stability
- Breakdown of neighborhoods and extended families
- Weakening of community institutions
The most important goal of Back to School Night — establishing the parent-teacher partnership — is a lot more complicated to reach than it used to be.
I get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m going to take a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.
Today: K-8 Keyboard Curriculum
K-8 Keyboard Curriculum (four options plus one)–teacher handbook, student workbooks, companion videos, and help for homeschoolers
K-5 (237 pages) and Middle School (80 pages), 100 images, 7 assessments
K-5–print/digital; Middle School–digital delivery only
Aligned with Student workbooks and student videos (free with licensed set of student workbooks)
Student workbooks and videos sold separately
120 pages, dozens of images, 6 assessments
Delivered print or digital
Doesn’t include: Student workbooks or videos
As of June 16, 2018, Today’s Meet closed (read the full details here). That iconic backchannel chat platform for classroom teachers and learners, the one that for ten years was the first name thought of when discussing feedback and collaboration, one that quickly became a staple in classrooms and conferences. I went to my PLN for thoughts on what they’ll use in its stead. It turns out, there are good options, depending upon whether you primarily use Today’s Meet for:
- backchannel and student response
- polls, forms, or surveys
- warm-up and exit tickets
Here are webtool replacements you can use for summer or fall classes:
Backchannel and Student Response
A backchannel is a way for students to chat about lesson material while it’s being taught. It occurs in realtime but is non-intrusive to classwork. The teacher can throw a question out to students and evaluate learning or needs based on answers. Or students can pose a question and get answers from classmates. Here are three options you will like:
Sheila Slawek teaches digital literacy & computer science. I’ve known Sheila a long time and am profoundly impressed by how she passionately and energetically blends technology authentically into the learning lives of her students. When she showed me the websites her 8th grade students put together–by themselves–I begged her to share with my AATT audience how this came about. When you read this, I think you’ll find her can-do attitude and never-quit approach infectious. Here’s her story:
I’m an inner city, level 4 middle school teacher that provides free daily breakfasts and lunches to a diverse student population. Every semester I receive new students for each grade level and I always wonder, what will we accomplish? I noticed that my eighth-grade class contained 16 students vs. the usual 24 students. The 8th grade just received their own profiled laptop since the school was deploying a blended learning/personalized learning initiative and the 1:1 student laptop was a key project. Of course, being the tech coordinator for this initiative, I was politely asked by a random number of teachers as they passed me in the hall, “so now that the students have laptops, how are they going to learn what they need to be able to use them in my class?” I quickly assessed that the teachers didn’t realize that they will provide instructions regarding the technology their students will use. I was perplexed since I thought to myself, the district has been deploying laptops to schools for 10 years! This initiative was just the next step of student ownership. Ownership of not only the assigned laptops, but ownership of their learning! With all of this going through my mind, I only had time to giggle as we passed each other while walking out students to their destination.
Sara Stringer, Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, has a list of great websites for high school students. I don’t post enough about high school so I’m thrilled with her article:
Some students study more productively in groups, working with their peers. Online groups and forums allow them to ask questions and learn from each other outside the traditional classroom in a space where they typically turn to for studying anyway. Some of these tools give them the chance to share their own knowledge, while others let them search through published questions and answers to help them find the information they’re looking for.
Because there are so many study guides and websites available to students, we’ve asked the teachers and staff at CalPac to share their favorite online collaborative resources for high schoolers. Here are 10 of the most helpful forums and study group websites that encourage students to work and learn together.
Physics Forum began as a high school extra credit assignment in 2001, and since then, it’s developed into one of the most popular and helpful science forums on the web. The site provides a community for students and professionals to discuss all areas of science, although it does primarily focus on physics, as the name suggests.
World Literature Forum is an online discussion board that examines all forms of literature and literary news. It’s a place to discuss specific books (fiction and non-fiction) and discover new authors. Categories include general discussions, literature by continent, literary translation, and literary prizes.
I get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m going to take a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found, are well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.
Today: the K-8 Technology Curriculum
The K-8 Technology Curriculum is Common Core and ISTE aligned, and outlines what should be taught when so students have the necessary scaffolding to use tech in the pursuit of grade level state standards and school curriculum.
Updated in 2018, each book is between 212 and 252 pages and includes lesson plans, assessments, domain-specific vocabulary, problem-solving tips, Big Idea, Essential Question, options if primary tech tools not available, posters, reproducibles, samples, tips, enrichments, entry and exit tickets, and teacher preparation. Lessons build on each other kindergarten through 5th grade. For Middle School, they are designed for the grading period time frame typical of those grade levels, with topics like programming, robotics, and community service with tech.
Most (all?) grade levels include base topics of keyboarding, digital citizenship, problem solving, digital tools for the classroom, and coding.
Included are optional student workbooks (sold separately) that allow students to be self-paced, responsible for their own learning. They include required weblinks, rubrics, exemplars, weekly lessons, full-color images, and more.
Grades K-5 has a FREE companion website with FREE videos on how to teach each lesson throughout the year, a glossary of terms used in the books, and how-to videos on webtools referred to in the books (not all, but most).
The curriculum is used worldwide by public and private schools and homeschoolers.