Category: 6th grade


24 Keyboarding Websites for Summer

Did you promise that this summer, your child would learn to type with more than two fingers, keep his eyes off his hands, and learn to like keyboarding? Your teachers consider that important–Common Core requires

students type between 1-3 pages at a sitting without giving up from boredom, frustration, fatigue. To do that requires a knowledge of where the keys are on the keyb oard and what habits faciliate speedy, accurate typing.

It doesn’t have to be rote drills, drudgery. There are a lot of options that make it fun. Here are 32. I think they’ll find a few they like:

  1. ABCYa–Keyboard challenge—grade level
  2. Alphabet rain game
  3. Barracuda game
  4. Big Brown Bear
  5. Bubbles game
  6. Dance Mat Typing
  7. Finger jig practice game
  8. Free typing tutor
  10. Keyboard practice—quick start
  11. Keyboarding practice
  12. Keyboarding—lessons
  13. Keyboarding—more lessons
  14. Keyboarding—must sign up, but free
  15. Keyboarding—quick start
  16. Keybr–Online practice
  17. NitroTyping
  18. Online typing lessons — more
  19. Touch Typing Progressive Program
  20. TuxTyping
  21. Typing Club
  22. Typing Defense—fun word practice
  24.—a graduated course


12 Great Simulations to Gamify Your Class

kids keyboard awe copy

Here are 15 websites I’ve found that do an excellent job of using games to promote critical thinking, problem solving skills, and learning:

Suggestions for using Bridge Builder:


Dear Otto: Any Ideas for Tech Ed Benchmark Assessments?

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 Lisa and Tamma:

My district is asking us to create assessments. I was wondering what you have included in them and how/when you administer them. Thanks!

Hi Lisa and Tamma

Keyboarding is always good, but there are some other excellent choices. I have an exercise I run students through called the Problem Solving Board. They teach each other how to solve the 20 most common problems (you can get them from this book or from the tech tips on my blog). Follow up with a quiz to see how much they remember–in groups or from a student-generated web-based problem-solving page.
I also have assessments for Word, Publisher, Excel, and hardware (click links for ideas). Students can take these at the beginning of school and then later in the year to assess improvement. And finally: Here’s a link from The Innovative Educator with some ideas.

Dear Otto: How Do I Teach Citations?

[caption id="attachment_7341" align="alignright" width="176"]tech questions Do you have a tech question?[/caption]

Dear 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 Mary:

Based upon the Common Core expectations, how should we have students in grade 3-4 and 5-6 cite sources for research?

There is no easier way to teach citations than using an online citation creator:

Plug the information in on your SmartScreen to show students how it is done, and let the citation creator do the rest. Take time to explain the importance of each entry so students understand. This is fundamental to molding digital citizens out of the wild digital natives who enter your classroom. Help them understand the responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with the rights they acquire by accessing information on the internet.

Here’s an example using EasyBib:


Now Available: K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum

Digital Citizenship Curriculum for K-8 (print or digital)

Why do teachers need to teach Digital Citizenship?

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 the school bell’s chimes or the struggling budget of an underfunded program.

Now, education can be found anywhere, by collaborating with students in Kenya or 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 a class project. Learning has no temporal or geographic borders, available 24/7 from wherever students and teachers find an internet connection.

This vast landscape of resources is available digitally, freely, and equitably, but before children begin the cerebral trek through the online world, they must learn to do it safely, securely, and responsibly. This conversation used to focus on limiting access to the internet, blocking websites, and layering rules upon rules hoping (vainly) that students would be discouraged from using this infinite and fascinating resource.

It didn’t work.

Best practices now suggest that instead of protecting students, we teach them to be good digital citizens, confident and competent in the use of the internet.

What’s included in K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum?

This 70-page text is your guide to what our children must know at what age to thrive in the community called the internet. It’s a roadmap for blending all the pieces into a cohesive, effective student-directed cyber-learning experience that accomplishes ISTE’s general goals to:


How to Thrive as a Digital Citizen

Thanks to the pervasiveness of easy-to-use technology and the accessibility of the internet, teachers are no longer lecturing from a dais as the purveyor of knowledge. Now, students are expected to take ownership of their education, participate actively in the learning process, and transfer knowledge learned in the classroom to their lives.

In days past, technology was used to find information (via the internet) and display it (often via PowerPoint). No longer.  Now, if you ask a fifth grade student to write a report on space exploration, here’s how s/he will proceed:

Understand ‘Digital Citizenship’

Before the engines of research can start, every student must understand what it means to be a citizen of the world wide web. Why? Most inquiry includes a foray into the unknown vastness of the www. Students learn early (I start kindergartners with an age-appropriate introduction) how to thrive in that virtual world. It is a pleasant surprise that digital citizenship has much the same rules as their home town:

Don’t talk to bad guys, look both ways before crossing the (virtual) street, don’t go places you know nothing about, play fair, pick carefully who you trust, don’t get distracted by bling, and sometimes stop everything and take a nap.

In internet-speak, students learn to follow good netiquette, not to plagiarize the work of others, avoid scams, stay on the website they choose, not to be a cyber-bully, and avoid the virtual ‘bad guys’. Current best practices are not to hide students from any of these, but to teach them how to manage these experiences.


How to Teach Digital Citizenship in 6th Grade

Understanding how to use the internet has become a cornerstone issue for students. No longer do they complete their research on projects solely in the library. Now, there is a vast landscape of resources available on the internet.

But with wealth comes responsibility. As soon as children begin to visit the online world, they need the knowledge to do that safely, securely, responsibly. There are several great programs available to guide students through this process (Common Sense’s Digital Passport, Carnegie CyberAcademy, Netsmart Kids). I’ve collected them as resources and developed a path to follow that includes the best of everything.

Here’s Sixth Grade (all of these links may not work. Check here for updates):


book review

Weekend Website #116: Google Street View Locations

Every Friday, I share a website (or app) that I’ve heard about, checked into, been excited to use. This one covers anything on your mind and uses the quintessentially-popular Google Earth. I know you’re going to enjoy this review.

[caption id="attachment_9802" align="aligncenter" width="614"]Google street view--inside Google Street View goes inside locations[/caption]






Google Street View Locations



minecraft in education

Weekend Website #115: Minecraft

Every week, I share a website that inspired my students. This one is a blockbuster as far as student interest, risk-taking, enthusiasm.

[caption id="attachment_10086" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Click to visit website and play movie about Minecraft[/caption]


Grades 3-8 (or younger, or not)


Problem-solving, critical thinking, building





biplane tour

Weekend Website #109: Google World of Wonders

Every Friday, I share a website (or app) that I’ve heard about, checked into, been excited to use. This one is a math app. Since ‘math’ is by far the most popular search term of readers who seek out my blog, I know you’re going to enjoy this review.

[caption id="attachment_8541" align="aligncenter" width="614"]world of wonders Explore the world as a virtual tourist[/caption]