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 writing a very (very) important paper and all of a sudden, the screen froze. I can’t save it, or anything else. What do I do?
A: Programs do freeze for no reason sometimes, but not often (I’m assuming you take care of your computer–don’t download with abandon, update it occasionally). Before you declare a dog-ate-my-homework sort of catastrophe, try this: (more…)
In my school, 2nd grade and 5th grade have units on the human body. To satisfy their different maturities, I’ve developed two lists of websites to complement this inquiry. I put them on the class internet start page so when students have free time, they can visit (check here for updates):
2nd-3rd Grade[caption id="attachment_5364" align="alignright" width="212"] Place organs where they belong[/caption]
- Blood Flow
- Body Systems
- Build a Skeleton
- Can you place these parts in the correct place?
- Choose the systems you want to see.
- Find My Body Parts
- How the Body Works
- Human Body Games
- Human Body websites
- Human Body—by a 2nd grade class—video
- Human Body—videos on how body parts work
- Inside the Human Body: Grades 1-3
- Kids’ Health-My Body
- Matching Senses
- Muscles Game
- Nutrition Music and Games from Dole (more…)
This is one of the most popular lessons I teach to Excel beginners. It is relevant, instantly usable and makes sense from the beginning. Click the images below to enlarge them for viewing.[gallery columns="2" ids="45219,45218"]
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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, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.
Before teaching Lesson Plans using Photoshop, be sure to cover the basics with students:
Open Photoshop. Notice the tool bars at the top. These will change depending upon the tool you choose from the left side. These are the crux of Photoshop. We’ll cover about ten of them in fifth grade. The rest will have to wait. The right-hand tools are used independent of the left-hand tools. They are more project oriented.
- Click the File Browser tool (top right-ish). It shows you the folders on your computer. From here, you can select the picture you’d like to edit (or use File-open) (more…)
Learning computers starts in kindergarten with understanding hardware. This lesson plan (#103 in the lesson plan book noted below) includes three pages. Introduce less with K, more each year until by sixth grade, students are good hardware problem solvers because they understand the basics.
Page 2 is an assessment you can either print out and have students fill in or push out to students to be completed online.
This project (#70 in the collection of #110) hides a spreadsheet’s power behind a template you create and students fill out at home. If they’re older and more familiar with spreadsheets, involve them in creating the template. If the lesson plans are blurry, click on them for a full size alternative.
Note: The example uses Excel, but it works just as well with Google Spreadsheets.
Over the next week, I’ll share ideas that will get you ready for your Hour of Code. This includes (links won’t work until the articles are posted):
- An Overview of This Week
- Long list of websites by grade
- 10 Unusual Projects
- 6 Unplugged Hour of Code Activities (today)
These unplugged activities go back to the roots of coding. The idea started as a clever way to teach students to think critically and problem-solve. The easiest way was to gamify coding, put students on a digital device they loved, and set them free. One hour, according to Hour of Code, would show them that deep thinking was fun and problem-solving was exhilarating.
I happen to agree. Some of my most gratifying moments are when I accomplish the impossible, unravel a Mobius Strip-like problem, or force myself to do what I’ve never before done. Hour of Code does that every year for oh many students. But here’s my issue: Too often, kids forget that the goal is to practice critical thinking and problem solving, not pursue a career in programming.
Let’s reinforce that goal by stepping away from digital device, recognize that these skills — critical thinking and problem-solving — apply to any part of life, even without a computer, iPad, or smartphone in hand. All kids need is their brain which happily, every child carries with them.
Here are some of my favorite unplugged activities:
I admit, when I first received this kit, I didn’t get the name–Crazy Circuits with Squishy Circuits. I couldn’t get my brain around all those words until I unwrapped the box and pulled the parts out. Then I got it: This had a ton of promise. If you’ve ever made Play Dough at home or in science class and used it as conductors and insulators–that’s the squishy part. When you poke circuits that light up or run motors or a bunch of other stuff into the dough–that’s the crazy part. With this relatively inexpensive kit, a wide age range of students learn about seemingly complicated topics such as insulators, conductors, resistance, and parallel and series circuits.
This is ready to go out of the box which means no soldering required.
How to Use it
The Crazy Circuits With Squishy Circuits kit includes six containers of colored squishy dough–some conductive and some insulating–and a variety of Crazy Circuits Chips. You don’t have to make anything or buy anything else. Detailed directions, project guides, educational resources, and videos can be found online in the Ward’s Science database. Crazy Circuits are compatible with LEGO™ and similar brick building systems.
If you’re wondering how squishy dough can conduct electricity, watch this 4-minute TED Talk. Though the video shows how to make the dough, you don’t have to do that. Ward’s Science sends it as part of the kit. You just attach the circuits, motors, and conductors, and let your creativity flow:
New technologies have broadened and expanded the role that speaking and listening play in acquiring and sharing knowledge and have tightened their link to other forms of communication. Digital texts confront students with the potential for continually updated content and dynamically changing combinations of words, graphics, images, hyperlinks, and embedded video and audio.
The underlying theme can’t be ignored by teachers any longer: A 21st Century learner requires technologic proficiency. Proof enough is that Common Core summative assessments will be completed online—only possible if students use technology as comfortably as paper and pencil to demonstrate knowledge.
But how do you do that if you aren’t a ‘techie’ or a ‘geek’, if you barely use a Smartphone much less the myriad of online tools. I have ten strategies that will make your teaching life easier, bump up your effectiveness with students, and save time complying with Common Core standards. Try these ten tech uses. Watch what a difference they make:
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 sold separately
120 pages, dozens of images, 6 assessments
Delivered print or digital
Doesn’t include: Student workbooks