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.

How to Pick iPad Apps for your Classroom

ipad-3-schoolYou’ve heard the chatter. IPads have become the go-to literacy tool for authentic learning in the K-8 classroom, the one that says ‘Our program is cutting edge, up-to-date, inquiry-driven‘. Students want to use them, want to share and collaborate on them, and will follow almost any rules if it means they get that tablet in their hands.

The problem with the iPad as with the internet is: TMI–too much information. There are tens of thousands of apps, each proclaiming itself to be the solution to all classroom problems, each promising to be the practical strategy for learning math or science or state capitals or whatever their buzz word happens to be.

How do teachers sort truth from marketing?

You evaluate the apps. It won’t take long to realize that the best share similar characteristics. They encourage organic conversation, scaffold learning, are student-centered, and inspire risk-taking on the part of student users. What’s that look like when it plays out on an iPad? According to the Texas Computer Education Association, apps should:


Tech Tip #110: Sound Doesn’t Work?

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: Headphones are so difficult. There’s always someone who can’t get theirs to work. I’ve tried the usual solutions, and still, we have problems. I know the sound works. What else can I do?

A: Another solution to the no-sound problem is to switch where headphones are plugged in. Sometimes, the front port on a CPU degrades and doesn’t work well anymore. Pick your reason–little kids jiggling jacks, overuse, leprechauns. The reason doesn’t matter. What matters is students can’t hear what’s going on.

Switch headphones to a different jack. In my case, since I always use the front jack so students can independently plug them in, I switch to the rear jack. Problem’s over. (more…)

Humor that Inspires–for Teachers! Part I

funny quotesSome great quotes to start your week with a touch of humor:

  1. “Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.” – H. G. Wells (1866-1946)
  2. “Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.” – Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)
  3. “Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake.” – Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)
  4. “Don’t be so humble – you are not that great.” – Golda Meir (1898-1978) to a visiting diplomat
  5. “His ignorance is encyclopedic” – Abba Eban (1915-2002)
  6. “If a man does his best, what else is there?” – General George S. Patton (1885-1945)
  7. “I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.” – A. J. Liebling (1904-1963)
  8. “People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.” – Soren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
  9. “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.” – Saint Augustine (354-430)
  10. “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
  11. “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” – Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
  12. “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” – Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
  13. “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” – Galileo Galilei
  14. “The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.” – Emile Zola (1840-1902)
  15. “This book fills a much-needed gap.” – Moses Hadas (1900-1966) in a review
  16. (more…)
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7 Common Core Ways to Assess Knowledge

assessments educationThis is always challenging, isn’t it? Finding evidence that students have learned what you taught, that they can apply their knowledge to complex problems. How do you do this? Rubrics? Group projects? Posters? None sound worthy of the Common Core educational environ–and too often, students have figured out how to deliver within these guidelines while on auto-pilot.

Where can we find authentic assessments that are measurable yet student-centered, promote risk-taking by student and teacher alike, inquiry-driven and encourage students to take responsibility for his/her own learning? How do we assess a lesson plan in a manner that insures students have learned what they need to apply to life, to new circumstances they will face when they don’t have a teacher at their elbow to nudge them the right direction?

Here are some of my favorite approaches:


I observe their actions, their work, the way they are learning the skills I’m teaching. Are they engaged, making their best effort? Do they remember skills taught in prior weeks and apply them? Do they self-assess and make corrections as needed?

Transfer of knowledge


Tech Tip #109: Five Second Back-up

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’m paranoid of losing lesson plans, report card comments, and other school work. I back up, but is that enough?

A: Truth, I am the most paranoid person I know about technology. I have an external hard drive for back up, Carbonite in the cloud, a 128-gig flash drive for my ‘important’ stuff (which turns out to be everything), and still I worry.

Here’s what else I do: Every time I work on a document I just can’t afford to lose (again, that’s pretty much everything), I email it to myself. If you’re using MS Office, that’s a snap. Other programs–just drag and drop the file into the email message. I set up a file on my email program called ‘Backups’. I store the email in there and it waits until I’m tearing my hair out. I’ve never had to go there, but it feels good knowing it’s available.


What are You Doing for Valentine’s Day?

red-37308_150Thursday’s are my busiest days at school. I barely get a lunch break–the 5 free minutes between classes I must use for the restroom. Eat or pee? Hmmm…. Not really a choice.

So by the time I get home this Thursday, I’ll be exhausted, not interested in fighting the holiday lovers for a place at the Restaurant Table. My husband of 29 years and I will eat in, chat, catch up, and likely go to bed early (although maybe Elementary is new on the Telly).

But, I realize most of you would like a bit more so I have a few ideas for you.

First, go to my post last Friday and you’ll find 20 Great Valentine Websites for your students. If you already finished these, read on:


Free Lesson Plans–Visit My TeachersPayTeachers Store

tech edLooking for something to spice up your classroom? Here are a variety of projects you can download for free. Just visit my TeacherPayTeachers store, click download, and they’re yours. If you enjoy them, please add a few stars to the recommendation list:

A Colonization Brochure in Publisher

A Publisher trifold on American colonies (or any
other topic you’re covering in your classroom). Includes step-by-step directions, standards addressed, time required, prior knowledge expected, vocabulary used, higher-order thinking skills addressed, samples, reproducibles, grading rubrics, and more.

His Words in Our Words

Students interpret the words of Dr Martin Luther King in their own words in a visual organizer. Great project that gets students thinking about impact of words on history. Common Core aligned


Tech Tip #40: Where Did Windows Explorer Go?

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 have Windows 7 and I can’t find Explorer anymore. Where did it go?

A: Right click on the start button and select ‘Explore’.

DOS is a lot harder to find. Type ‘command prompt’ into the search field and it’ll pop up.

I still miss DOS…