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.

Choosing the Right College: Factors to Consider Beyond Rankings

The metrics behind rankings are good to check, but might not accurately reflect what students are looking for. The Ask a Tech Teacher team as suggestions on how to dig deeper, be sure to choose the right college for your needs and future.

Choosing the Right College: Factors to Consider Beyond Rankings

Picking the right college is a huge choice that will affect your life for a long time. It’s easy to let college scores be your only source of information, but they don’t always tell the whole story. In fact, there are many important things besides scores that can have a big impact on your college experience and life afterward. Let’s look into these things, talk about why they’re important, and show you how to use them to help you make a choice.

Understanding the Limitations of Rankings

It’s important to understand why scores shouldn’t be your only concern before we get into the other factors. A lot of the time, college rankings are based on big numbers like graduation rates, teacher credentials, and financial resources. These are important, but they don’t show the little things about each person’s experiences or the important parts of schooling that can make a big difference in your personal and professional growth. (more…)

Balancing Academics and Social Life in College

Balancing academics and social life in college is a bigger challenge than it sounds like. As this school year approaches an end and students start to plan on college life, the Ask a Tech Teacher team has suggestions on how to make that work well:

Balancing Academics and Social Life in College

College life is an exhilarating journey filled with learning, discovery, and growth. It’s a unique phase where you’re expected to juggle academics, social activities, part-time jobs, and perhaps even self-care routines. Finding the perfect balance between academics and social life is akin to walking a tightrope. It requires skill, patience, and a bit of a balancing act. So, how does one navigate through this without tipping over? Let’s dive in and explore some strategies to achieve this equilibrium.

Understanding the Importance of Balance

The Academic Foundation

First and foremost, it’s essential to acknowledge that academics are the bedrock of your college experience. They are the main reason you’re in college, after all. Excelling in your studies opens doors to future opportunities, whether it’s graduate school, competitive job markets, or research opportunities. But, why is balance so crucial?

The Social Spectrum

On the flip side, college is more than just grades and textbooks. It’s about building lifelong friendships, networking, developing social skills, and discovering who you are outside of the classroom. These experiences are invaluable and contribute significantly to your personal development and mental well-being. (more…)

Graphing–9 Lesson Plans + 6 Online Resources

Graphing is an important skill for students whether they go to college after High School or start a career. It teaches:

  1. Visualization and Understanding: Graphing helps students visually represent data, functions, and relationships. This visual representation often aids in understanding complex concepts that may be difficult to grasp through purely symbolic or verbal explanations.
  2. Problem Solving: Graphs provide a way to solve problems and make predictions. Whether it’s analyzing trends in data, finding optimal solutions in optimization problems, or understanding the behavior of functions, graphing is a valuable tool for problem-solving.
  3. Communication of Ideas: Graphs provide a universal language for communicating ideas across different fields. Whether in mathematics, science, economics, or engineering, graphs are commonly used to convey information in a concise and understandable manner.
  4. Critical Thinking: Interpreting graphs requires critical thinking skills. Students learn to analyze and interpret data, identify patterns and trends, and make inferences based on the information presented in the graph.
  5. Preparation for Higher Education and Careers: Graphing skills are fundamental in many higher education disciplines and careers. Whether students pursue studies in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), social sciences, or business, they will likely encounter situations where graphing skills are essential.
  6. Technology Proficiency: With the prevalence of graphing software and tools, teaching graphing also involves teaching students how to effectively use technology to create and analyze graphs. This proficiency in using graphing software is beneficial in both academic and professional settings.
  7. Promoting Creativity: Graphing can be a creative process, particularly when students are tasked with representing data or functions in innovative ways. Encouraging creativity in graphing assignments can make the learning process more engaging and enjoyable for students.

I start students in 2nd grade with a spreadsheet program. Here are some of the lessons I teach (available for free on Ask a Tech Teacher): (more…)

6 Must-have Skills for New Tech Teachers Plus Two Extra

If you teach technology, it’s likely you were thrown into it by your Admin. You used to be a first grade teacher or the science expert or maybe even the librarian and suddenly found yourself the tech person, like the one down the hall you were always in awe of, the one responsible for classroom computers, programs, curriculum, and everything in between. Now that’s you–the go-to person for tech problems, computer quirks, crashes and freezes, and tech tie-ins for classroom inquiry.

You have no idea where to begin.

Here’s a peek into your future: On that first propitious day, everything will change. Your colleagues will assume you received a data upload of the answers to every techie question. It doesn’t matter that yesterday, you were one of them. Now, you will be on a pedestal, colleague’s necks craned upward as they ask , How do I get the class screen to work? or We need microphones for a lesson I’m starting in three minutes. Can you please-please-please fix my iPad? You will nod your head, smile woodenly, and race to your classroom for the digital manuals (if you’re lucky) or Google for online help.

Let me start by saying: Don’t worry. Really. You’ll learn by doing, just as we teach students. Take a deep breath, engage your brain, and let your brilliance shine.


The Role of Mathematics in Education

The Role of Mathematics in Education: What Professions You Can Get in the Future

Have you ever found yourself pondering the real-world applications of those algebraic formulas or geometric theorems you spent hours trying to decipher in school? Or perhaps, amidst a particularly challenging calculus problem, you’ve questioned how this abstract world of numbers and symbols could possibly influence your future career? Well, you’re not alone. Mathematics, often dubbed the universal language, plays a pivotal role in shaping the educational foundation necessary for a plethora of professions. Let’s dive into the essence of mathematics in education and uncover the vast array of future career opportunities it unlocks. (more…)

Engineers Week Feb. 18-24

This week, February 18-24, 2024, is DiscoverE’s Engineers Week. Their tagline:

“A week-long event, a year-long commitment”

Do you wonder why anyone would be passionate about engineering? Forbes published three good reasons:

  • The U.S. has approximately 1.6 million engineering jobs that pay $42 per hour in median.
  • Job growth from 2010 to 2014 was in the double digits in several engineering occupations.
  • Since 2007, the number of engineering grads nationwide has shot up 33%.

Overall, engineering offers a combination of intellectual challenge, real-world impact, and opportunities for personal and professional growth. By pursuing a career in engineering, students can contribute to meaningful projects, solve complex problems, and make a positive difference in the world.

What is Engineers Week?

Engineers Week, also known as EWeek, is an annual event celebrated in the United States typically during the third or fourth week of February, this week: February 18-24, 2024 dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of engineering.

During Engineers Week, engineering societies, universities, companies, and other organizations organize workshops, competitions, seminars, outreach programs to schools, career fairs, and networking events. The goal is to inspire the next generation of engineers, showcase the importance of engineering in solving global challenges, and recognize the achievements of engineers and encourage young people to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).


Newsletter Problems

Hi everyone

Because of recent changes in emails that apply to newsletters, I am not able to send out the Ask a Tech Teacher newsletter this week. I hope to resolve these soon. I may have to switch platforms in which case I’ll let you know and you’ll have an opportunity to opt out of the new ecosystem.

Apologies for any inconvenience. Please feel free to email me at

[email protected]

with any questions.


I’ve left comments open if you’d like to ask questions there.

Random Acts of Kindness Day is Coming. How Will You Celebrate?

I’ll never forget the day years ago when I stood in a donut shop, half asleep, bed head, with a monster sugar deficit. As I got to the front of the line, the man before me said, “I’ll pay for hers, too.” I didn’t know him. We hadn’t commiserated over how Krispy Kreme was always crowded. I’d just slogged onward, waiting my turn, eager to taste my apple fritter. His simple act of paying for my donut made me feel special, brought a smile to my face all day, and lightened the load of whatever happened after that.

That was one of my first Random Acts of Kindness. Now, February 11-17th 2024 is Random Acts of Kindness Week, Random Acts of Kindness Day September 1st in New Zealand, and is when everyone encourages acts of kindness without any expectation of consideration in return.

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” — Mark Twain

What is Random Acts of Kindness Day?

Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Day is twenty-four hours when anyone who chooses to participate agrees to perform unexpected acts of kindness to pay it forward for that time they need a little bit of unexpected care.  We flaunt our altruistic side by doing something nice for another without a thought for the consequences.

Why is Kindness important?

Why kindness is important seems obvious, but really, it isn’t. I can name a whole lot of people who have succeeded despite being, well, jerks so why should we think there’s merit in a gentler approach?


100th Day of School — It’s about Learning

The 100th day of school is a special milestone celebrated in many educational institutions around the world. It is particularly popular in elementary schools, often filled with fun and educational activities centered around the number 100.

How to celebrate

Here are activities I like that blend learning into the celebration of the 100th Day of School:


As a class, come up with two locations in each state, to total 100. One will be oriented around geography and one around history (such as “Kansas became a state January 29, 1861”). Include a brief description and a picture and then share the collection with parents and schoolmates in the class newsletter or another vehicle.


Research what happened the hundredth year of your home country’s existence.  What was the country like a hundred years ago? What caused it to change? Who was president? What has been invented since then? Divide the class into groups so the project can be completed in one class period. Then, have everyone copy their information to a digital magazine (like you can create in Canva or Adobe) and share it with everyone.


The 3 Best Strategies For Teachers To Keep Students Engaged

The 3 Best Strategies For Teachers To Keep Students Engaged

Engaging students in the classroom is a key factor in successful teaching and learning. However, keeping students interested and involved in their education can be a big challenge. It’s very important to make sure they are engaged and actively learning so they can end up going to a good college and building a future with a good foundation.

With distractions from technology and diverse learning needs, teachers need to constantly adapt and find innovative ways to keep their students focused. Having the right strategy is essential. In this article, we will give you several tips to help increase engagement among your students. (more…)