Author: Jacqui

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.

Tech Tips #114: Embed Google Docs

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 week, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: So many colleagues are sharing their documents through Google Apps, but I don’t know how to do that. Can you help?

A: I love this part of Google Apps for Education. When your Google Doc is complete,

  • save it by a name of your choice
  • File>Publish to the Web (on the menu bar)
  • Change the drop down choice ‘webpage’ to ‘HTML to embed in a page’
  • copy html code
  • paste into blog, wiki, website like I did below:


How to Teach Students: Teach Their Parents

If parents don’t find value in tech, students won’t. If parents are confused by what you teach, they will pass that on to their children. Be open to parents. Answer their questions. Never EVER leave them feeling intimidated. Let them know that lots of people feel exactly as they do.

A great solution I’ve had a lot of success with: Have a parent class. I schedule this after school while parents are waiting for their children to finish with enrichment classes or sports. They’re hanging around anyway–why not learn something. Cover topics that parents are asking you about, should be asking about, their students are asking about:

  • show how to log onto and use the school website
  • show how to log into the school online grade reports
  • demonstrate how to use the school online library/lunch order system (or similar)
  • review what is being covered in K-5 classes (depending upon who is in the parent class)
  • review your philosophy (teach students to fish rather than provide the fish, encourage exploration and risk-taking, you don’t jump in to help every time they get stuck). Model this philosophy as you teach parents
  • provide skills parents want, i.e., making a flier for the school soccer team
  • show the progression of skills from kindergarten to 5th grade in one program, say word processing. Start with KidPix, move into Word
  • answer tech questions they have from non-school problems–even if they’re about a home system

Here’s my flier inviting parents to attend:


tech q & a

Dear Otto: What’s a good kids website creator?

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Laurie:

Do you know of any websites where teachers can create a free web page for their classroom? But I’d like to have my students maintain it, so they would need accounts and then I approve and publish the material?

Hi Laurie

The easiest free answer is to use KidBlogs as a website, but they are limited because they’re sanitized for kids. Edublogs (another blog that could be used as a website) is popular, though I have never used them. I love Wordpress and use one as a website. It’s very flexible. Kids could certainly maintain it. You’d have to set up a static first page, then blog posts for the information. Maybe not as good as Google Sites or Wix or Weebly.


digital tools for class

5 Free Digital Tools for the No Budget Classroom

Something has changed in education content delivery, thanks to companies like Google, Khan Academy, MIT. When these industry leaders (and others) started offering high-quality educational tools for free, more followed. Yesterday’s muffled plea for equality in educational opportunities regardless of economic status is today’s reality. A rising tide raises all ships became a call for action rather than a dreamy quote.

This isn’t your mother’s schoolhouse anymore.

Think about the transformative teaching that comes from Google Earth, GAFE, Khan Academy, Scratch. A decade ago, they’d be expensive for-fee programs. Now, they’re free.

That’s just the nose of the educational camel. There are many more programs and widgets and tools that educators can take advantage of without cost, thus freeing up their limited funds for other programs, like elementary school music and art. Here are a few you want to take advantage of:

Online eLearning

Don’t you wish you had access to a Blackboard-type program that makes it easy to teach online, simple for students who miss class to catch up? What about GoToMeeting-style get-togethers where teachers show parents how to use online grade books or order lunches or access the nannycams mounted in preschool. Conventional Wisdom says parents will find you if they need help, but the truth is, every November, just weeks before report cards go out, a slew of parents swarm your room to find out how to see if their child is going to survive. Too bad these virtual training programs are the province of colleges and businesses.

They aren’t anymore. Here are two ways to meet parents and students online, on their schedule, where they need you:

  • Set up a Google Hangout. Yes, users must have a G+ account, but once that’s in place, you can have virtual Hangouts for parents or students providing training, updates, how-tos and question-and-answers.
  • Record information to a YouTube (or Vimeo) channel on any topic. This can be done directly in YouTube’s website, to your iPhone or iPad with the free Vine app, or using a free recording program like Jing or Screencast-o-matic. Which you select depends a lot on what you want to accomplish.


Tech Tip #103: Need Email Accounts for Registration? Here’s a Fix–Update

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!

Q: A lot of web-based tools require email verification. My students don’t have these at school or home yet. What do I do?

A: For whatever reason, the video I used to reference has been pulled. I didn’t realize how many used that work-around until I heard from many of you, eager for a solution.

This one might even be easier than the previous. This is from LifeHacker. In a nutshell, Gmail ignores ‘dots’ and + in a username. Jacqui.murray is the same as jacquimurray is the same as jacqui+murray. Use that to your advantage with student accounts. Read LifeHacker’s article for more detail or this one over at Curious Little Person. For more, visit Tech Recipes.

I love problem solving–don’t you!


Tech Tip #65: Google Street View

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!

Q: I can’t find enough detail about a particular area of the world that we’re studying in class. Any suggestions?

A: That’s a lot easier to do today than it used to be, thanks to Google Street View. Students love walking down the street that they just read about in a book or seeing their home on the internet. It’s also a valuable research tool for writing. What better way to add details to a setting than to go see it?

problem solving

25 Techie Problems Every Student Can Fix–Update

problem solvingThe Number One reason–according to students–why their computer doesn’t work is… It’s broken. Can I move to a different computer??? Doesn’t matter why they’re wrong. My teacher’s job is to provide strategies so they can independently solve problems like these.

As a tech teacher, I know that half the problems that stop students short in their tech lessons are the same few. Once they’ve learned the following twenty-five trouble shooting solutions, they’ll be able to solve more than half of their ongoing problems.


In the three years since I first posted this, I haven’t changed my mind about these problems. These transcend platforms, curricula, and Standards. When your youngest students can’t double click that tiny little icon to open the program (because their fine motor skills aren’t up to it), teach them the ‘enter’ solution. When somehow (who knows how) the task bar disappears, show them how to bring it up with the ‘flying windows’ key. When their monitor doesn’t work, go through all possible solutions together (monitor power on, computer power on, plugged into duplex, etc.)



How to set up your tech classroom

IMG_0103If you teach technology, you want to set the lab up so it’s inviting, non-intimidating, but doesn’t hide from the core ‘geek’ theme. In fact, from day one, exclaim that fact, be proud of your nerd roots. Even if you didn’t start out that way–say, you used to be a first grade teacher and suddenly your Admin in their infinite wisdom, moved you to the tech lab–you became a geek. You morphed into the go-to person for tech problems, computer quirks, crashes, and freezes. Your colleagues assumed you received an upload of data that allowed you to Know the answers to their every techie question. You are on a pedestal, their necks craned upward as they ask you, How do I get the Smartscreen to work? or We need the microphones working for a lesson I’m starting in three minutes. Can you please-please-please fix them?

As you organize your classroom, celebrate your geekiness. Flaunt it for students and colleagues. Play Minecraft. Use every new techie device you can get your hands on. That’s you now–you are sharp, quick-thinking. You tingle when you see an iPad. You wear a flash drive like jewelry. When your students walk into your class, they should start quivering with the excitement of, What new stuff will we experience today?

Here’s a summary of what happens your first day with a class. From this, you’ll figure out how to set up your classroom (no owl themes here. It’s all about bits and bytes):

  • Introduce yourself—establish your bona fides. Share your blog, your background, your awards. Give them website addresses or post them to the class internet start page. You want to be easy to find.
  • Tour the classroom with students. I walk K-2 around—they like getting out of their seats. Demystify any of the tech tools you will expect them to use—where they can get help in solving problems, what’s on the walls, where’s the printer/scanner/iPads/etc.