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.
The K-8 Technology Curriculum is Common Core and ISTE aligned, and outlines what technology should be taught when so students have the necessary scaffolding to use tech in the pursuit of grade level state standards and school curriculum.
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.
The curriculum is used worldwide by public and private schools and homeschoolers.
Who needs this
Tech teachers, tech coordinators, library media specialists, curriculum specialists
Classroom grade level teachers if your tech teacher doesn’t cover basic tech skills.
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
Everyone wants to write a book — right? Studies show that 74% of people think they have a book in them. Teens are no exception. With the ease in which that can be done, thanks to word processors like Word and Docs, online editors like Grammarly, and automated publishers like Kindle, there’s no reason why teens can’t do just that. Look at this list of kids who wrote successful books in their teens — or in one case, before:
- Alexandra Adornetto — published The Shadow Thief at age 14 and Halo at 18.
- Christopher Paolini — published Eragon at age 16 (he is now over 30)
- Steph Bowe — published Girl Saves Boy at age 16.
- Cayla Kluver — published Legacy at age 16
- Alec Greven — published How to Talk to Girls at age 9
As a teacher, I recognize that writing a book ticks off a range of student writing skills by providing organic practice in many required standards such as descriptive detail, well-structured event sequences, precision in words and phrases, dialogue, pacing, character development, transition words, a conclusion that follows what came before, research, and production/distribution of the finished product. I’ve tried novel-writing activities with students several times to varied results. Everyone starts out fully committed and enthusiastically engaged but by the end of the project, only the outliers on the Bell Curve finish. The rest have too much trouble balancing the demands inherent to writing a 70,000-word book (or even its shorter cousin, the novella). That I understand, as a teacher-author struggling with the same problems. As a result, usually I settle for less-impassioned but easier-accomplished pieces like short stories or essays.
Then I discovered co-authoring, a way to get all of the good achieved from writing a book without the intimidating bad. Many famous books have been co-authored, most recently, Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s The President is Missing but there’s also Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens, Stephen King and Peter Straub’s The Talisman, and Preston and Child’s Special Agent Pendergast series. Done right, co-authoring encourages not just the writing skills we talked about earlier but perspective-taking, collaboration, and the teamwork skills that have become de rigueur in education.
The most common approach to co-authoring a book is to have students write alternate chapters but this doesn’t work for everyone. Today, I want to talk about four alternative co-authoring approaches that allow students to differentiate for their unique needs:
- multiple POV
- themed collections
Education has changed. No longer is it contained within four classroom walls or the physical site of a school building. Students aren’t confined by the eight hours between school bells or the struggling budget of an underfunded program. Now, education can be found anywhere — teaming up with students in Kenya, Skyping with an author in Sweden, or chatting with an astrophysicist on the International Space Station. Students can use Google Earth to take a virtual tour of a zoo or a blog to collaborate on class research. Learning has no temporal or geographic borders and is available wherever students and teachers find an Internet connection.
This vast landscape of resources is offered digitally, freely (often), and equitably (hopefully), but to take that cerebral trek through the online world, children must know how to do it safely, securely, and responsibly. This used to mean limiting access to the Internet, blocking websites, and layering rules upon rules hoping (vainly) to discourage students from using an infinite and fascinating resource.
It didn’t work.
Best practices now suggest that instead of cocooning students, we teach them to be good digital citizens, confident and competent. Here are eleven projects to teach kids authentically, blended with your regular lessons, the often complicated topic of becoming good digital citizens, knowledgeable about their responsibilities in an Internet world.
I really like the recent trend away from presenting college as the goal for all graduating seniors, opening that up to include a wide variety of careers. Our job as educators is to encourage students in whatever their choice of post-school employment is, be it more education, a technical school, or a job. If we try to force students into a future not of their own choice, they disengage from learning. Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Bryce Welker, has some ideas on that I think you’ll find interesting:
One way school districts are ensuring this is by introducing career topics and studies to middle school students. According to the Association for Career and Technical Education, middle school is the time when students are the most likely to become disengaged from learning.
This is in part due to them going through puberty, trying to form their own personal identity, and overcoming other challenges that come with navigating new environments. So this is a vital time to introduce courses that teach students about various career opportunities.
Let’s take a look at how educators around the country are helping middle school students plan and direct their future careers.
This December will again host the Hour of Code, a one-hour introduction to programming designed to demystify the subject and show that anyone can be a maker, a creator, and an innovator. Last year, almost 300,000 students (age 4-104) participated from over 180 countries and wrote almost 20 billion lines of code. The 200,000+ teachers involved came away believing that, of all their education tools, coding was the best at teaching children to think. It’s easy to see why when you look at fundamental programming concepts:
- abstraction and symbolism – variables are common in math, but also in education. Tools, toolbars, icons, images all represent something bigger
- creativity – think outside the box
- if-then thinking – actions have consequences
- debugging – write-edit-rewrite; try, fail, try again. When you make a mistake, don’t give up or call an expert. Fix it.
- logic – go through a problem from A to Z
- sequencing – know what happens when
If you’re planning to participate in Hour of Code, here are activities by grade that will kickstart your effort. They can be done individually or in small groups.
- 60-seconds Adventures in Economics–videos from Open University
- Basic Economic Terms
- Basic Economics Jumbled
- Be Your Own Boss
- BrainPop—money movie
- Business and Profit Millionaire Game
- Coffeeshop Game
- Economic Concepts
- Economics in Plain English–from Atlantic Monthly–videos
- Economic Systems
- Economic Terms
- Economic Terms Mini-Quiz
- Economics Flashcards
- Economics Flashcards
- Economy Terms
- Hands on Banking for Kids
- It’s My Life:PBS Kids – Click on Money
- Lemonade Stand
- Making Money
- New York Stock Exchange
- Stock Market Game
- US Economy
- You are here—sim of the consumer world
Here’s a list of over seventy-five lesson plans free for your use. They’re organized by:
You just highlight the lesson, then copy-paste to a doc of your choice.
If you want them printed out on 8.5×11 sheets, they are available for purchase here.
Here’s a slideshow of some of the lessons:[gallery type="slideshow" ids="2533,2503,2502,2501,2500,2474,2473,2472,2448,2447,2446,2445,2402,2401,2391,2390,2304,2303,2236,2235,2231,2230,2229,2155,2137,2136,2135,2132,2131,2128,2127,2123,2122,2104,2103,2102,2101,2100,2099,2098,2047,2046,2040,2039,1615,1612,1611,1610,1609,1608,1604,1603,1602,1601,1557,1556,1555,1531,1530,1525,1524,81"]