Category: Classroom management

Tech Ed Resources for your Class–K-12 Tech Curriculum

I get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m going to take time 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.

Today: K-12 Technology Curriculum

Overview

The K-12 Technology Curriculum is Common Core and ISTE aligned, and outlines what should be taught when so students have the necessary scaffolding to use tech for grade level state standards and school curriculum.

technology curriculum

Each book is between 175 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. Middle School and High School are designed for semester or quarter grading periods typical of those grade levels with topics like programming, robotics, writing an ebook, and community service with tech.

Most (all?) grade levels include keyboarding, digital citizenship, problem solving, digital tools for the classroom, and coding.

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.

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Tech Tip #63: Reset Default Font

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: Reset Default Font

Category: MS Office, Google Apps, Classroom Management, Writing

Q: How do I change default font and spacing?

A: Type a couple of paragraphs in any document. Highlight what you typed and right click; select font. Change the font to what you prefer. In my case, it’s TNR 12

Then, in Word: Click the Default button on the lower left to approve that this is how you’d like future documents formatted. See how-to video here.

In Google Apps: Go to Styles drop-down menu>Options>Save current.

That’s it. The next time you open an MS Word or Google Docs document, it will have this revised formatting.

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.

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Here’s How to Motivate Summer School Students

When you have to compete with a warm sun, sandy beaches, and playful friends, motivating students in summer school can be a daunting challenge. The best first step, right after introducing yourself, is to understand why students are with you rather than with friends or playing online games. Their reasons could be to try something new, make up for a class they failed, get ahead of classes they must take, or something else. Their answers to this question will guide you in how you teach the class. Once you know their reasons, be honest with them on how you will help them meet their goals. In general terms, you want them to know you’ll do your best to make their summer experience worthwhile, get them through the material, and help them pass the required exams with the grades they need. I’ve talked about best practices for teaching. Let’s today cover how to get students through the summer learning experience:

Make the class interesting

There are a lot of ways to teach a topic that satisfies curriculum demands. For example, you can fill in worksheets, watch videos, complete group projects, or work independently. Pick an approach that is 1) different from how you teach during the school year, and 2) fits your student group.

While you’re changing the approach, also change the setting. Teach class in a park, in a museum’s group learning room, at a restaurant over a meal, in someone’s home, or in the school auditorium. Here’s the logic behind that: Students react well to change. Do you remember the Hawthorne Effect Study? Done in the 1930’s (and redone in different ways many times afterwards), researchers examined how different aspects of the work environment (i.e., lighting, the timing of breaks, and the length of the workday) affected employee productivity. What they found wasn’t what they expected. The biggest impact on productivity came from simply paying attention to the workers and their environment. Let your summer school students experience this motivator. Change their learning ecosystem and watch how much harder they work simply because you care enough to pay attention.

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5 Ways Ed-tech Can Enhance Social Studies Lessons

As is my habit, I spend a lot of time exploring new ways to teach old subjects. Lately, I’ve concentrated on social studies. I chatted with my PLN, browsed forums where I knew efriends hung out, and taught a slew of online grad school classes to teachers who always are willing the discuss their newest favorite social studies tech tool. I picked everyone’s brains and came up with a list of five webtools you definitely must look at:

Classcraft

Some call Classcraft a classroom management tool but really, it’s more about injecting excitement in your teaching and touching on the important social-emotional learning that sometimes gets forgotten. Here’s a great quote I heard in a sponsored video:

“It might sound crazy to you and me but the kids love it.” — Sarah Murphy

The more I dug into Classcraft, the more I understood why Sarah Murphy said what she did. It’s pretty simple. Kids have a passion for learning and playing games. You incorporate that into your passion for teaching by gamifying your middle- or high school classroom. When students and teachers work together, toward the same goals, everyone wins.

The free (fee for Premium) Classcraft doesn’t teach standards or curricula for academic subjects. Instead, it focuses on core SEL (social-emotional learning) skills fundamental to the fullness of the education journey. That means it’s easy to apply to your social studies class. It uses tools already popular in your school — Google Classroom or MS Office 365, a browser, and an app (iOS or Android). You set up different tasks and customize rules to fit class needs.  Students work individually or in teams, becoming accountable for their behavior to themselves and their teams. When they achieve goals and/or abide by rules, they earn stuff they want (that you’ve organized beforehand). You can blend Classcraft activities into your existing lesson plans or use those available on the website. Robust analytics (included in the Premium package) allow you to track student behavior over time and compare it with the class average.

Also available: a timer, a class volume meter, and parent features — great basic tools for every class.

ClassroomScreen

ClassroomScreen is probably one of the most robust, versatile, and useful classroom tools to cross education’s “free” landscape in a long time. It will make your social studies lessons run smoother, make them more responsive to needs, and keep students focused on the lesson. When you click on ClassroomScreen.com, it opens a blank screen that is a digital board ready to be displayed on your class smart screen. You personalize it with the most popular tools desired in classroom, all lined up at the bottom of the screen. These include preferred language (you pick from about a hundred languages), customized background, sound level, QR code (for the classroom screen; students scan it in and it displays on any mobile device — isn’t that cool?), a whiteboard, a text tool, a start-stop traffic light, a timer, a clock, a random name picker (for teams), an exit poll, Work Symbols (four options for collaborative student work — work together, ask a neighbor, whisper, and silence), and more.  There’s no download, no login, no registration. Simply click the link and get started.

Commonsense Media calls it:

“…the Swiss Army Knife of the classroom…”

I agree. Here’s a video that decodes this already-simple class tool.

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Random Acts of Kindness Day. 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, the feel-good event started in 1995. Now, February 17th in America is called the 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?

February 17th — 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?

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random act of kindness

How to Put Kindness in Your Classes

[caption id="attachment_59874" align="alignright" width="300"] Image credit: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/[/caption]

World Kindness Day 11/13

Kindness isn’t a natural instinct. In the continuum of nature vs. nurture, it’s well on the side of nurture. Kids aren’t born knowing the part community and friendship play in their lives. They learn this from family, friends, schoolmates, and life in general.

That means, among the topics that must be covered in school, kindness may be the most important.

What is kindness?

Kindness is exactly what it sounds like — being friendly, generous, and considerate to others whether or not you think they deserve it. It’s not a payoff to someone who treated you well; it’s an attitude that seeps into every action in a person’s life.

It’s interesting that some variation of “kindness” is included in most non-academic measures of what students should learn in school, including Habits of Mind, a Growth Mindset, and Mindfulness (click links for further discussion).

Why is it important?

Kids learn by example. It’s unfortunate to note that some don’t see kindness in their homes. What they experience instead, they may think is the norm until you — their trusted teacher — shows them otherwise. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. You must always have your antenna up, noticing when you need to intervene to tweak actions. This could be gossip, mean words, (cyber)bullying, or even speech that is accepted by most because “doesn’t everyone think this way”.  Your job isn’t to stop whatever is going on but redirect and explain so students learn why what they’re doing isn’t kind.

Why teach this in school, you ask? The quick answer is that students spend half their waking hours in or around school. It has a huge impact on how they view their world and their lives. But it’s more than that. Establishing a kind school culture resonates in all parts of a child’s life:

“Positive school climate has been empirically linked to a number of favorable outcomes, notably, the promotion of feelings of safety; establishing and maintaining healthy relationships, reductions in misbehavior, increases in students’ academic, emotional, and behavioral success at school; teaching that is engaging and promotes learning, and improvements in the overall quality of schools.” (Measuring Kindness in School, John Tyler Binfet, 2015)

In short, if students see kindness modeled in school, they are more likely to duplicate that in their own lives and activities.

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13 Teaching Strategies to Shake up Your Remote Teaching

As we struggle with adapting our classes to remote learning, I know lots of teachers who are realizing that their normal approach isn’t suited for remote teaching. They need to come up with a transformative tool that will reach students more comprehensively, more rigorously, more granularly online. Here are thirteen accepted pedagogical teaching strategies with proven records of success. Read through them then think how they might be applied to solve the problems you’re having with online teaching. For more information, click the link:

Depth of Knowledge (DoK)

DoK is not a taxonomy (like Bloom’s). Rather, it itemizes ways students interact with knowledge.

Frayer Model

Frayer Model uses a graphical organizer that asks students to describe words by much more than a memorized definition. 

Growth Mindset

In a Growth Mindset, people believe ability can be developed through dedication and hard work. The cerebral and physical traits they were born with are just the starting point. Students are responsible for setting the patterns and strategies that allow them to succeed, by evaluating what they can do at any given point and making a plan for learning everything else.

Habits of Mind

In the face of mounting evidence, education experts accepted a prescriptive fact: student success  is not measured by milestones like ‘took a foreign language in fifth grade’ or ‘passed Algebra in high school’ but by how s/he thinks.  Habits of Mind lists sixteen of these.

Orton-Gillingham

Orton-Gillingham is not a packaged curriculum, rather a prescriptive program designed for each individual student. The O-G teacher incorporates phonology and phonological awareness, sound-symbol association, syllable instruction, morphology, syntax and semantics into a personalized methodology 

Project-based Learning (PBL)

John Dewey suggested the education focus be switched to students when he introduced “learning by doing”, today referred to as Project-based Learning (PBL).

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3 Apps That Energize Learning

Let’s face it. Teachers juggle an exhausting schedule of parent conferences, administrative tasks, and specialized student needs. They take work home evenings and weekends and often are forced to choose between family and job when it comes to allocating a finite quantity of time over what surely seems to be infinite needs.

The teachers I know want to be more organized, work more efficiently, use available tools to complete tasks faster, and prioritize needs. Knowing this, I look for tools to energize my teaching, do stuff like:

  • save time
  • accomplish common tasks more quickly 
  • make access from digital devices easy and intuitive
  • are simple to use so even when my mind is somewhere else (like on the child across the room or the admin peeking in my door), the tool performs flawlessly

Here are three apps I love that meet these qualifications:

Flipgrid

Flipgrid is a freemium discussion app where teachers (or even students) pose a discussion topic (via video) and students respond with a short video. The post may include a recording, an attachment, decorations, or any number of other tools to share their knowledge. Responses show up in a grid format that’s easy to view and fun to read for students and teachers.

Educational applications

This app is a wonderful method of differentiating for varied student needs. Here are just a few ways to use it in your class:

  • ask questions about reading material or the lesson plan as a formative assessment to measure student understanding of the topic.
  • let students pose questions about material that classmates can answer–a backchannel approach to learning
  • have students share a quick video about themselves at the start of a new school year
  • extend a classroom discussion so all students can offer their ideas, even the shy members
  • brainstorm on a topic to collect lots of ideas before drawing a conclusion

IFTTT  

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New Book: Inquiry and PBL

Ask a Tech Teacher has a new book out, Inquiry-based Teaching with PBL: 34 Lesson Plans. Inquiry-based teaching requires a mindset that makes curiosity a cornerstone of learning with lessons that value it. This book includes 34 lesson plans as well as discussion on inquiry-based teaching strategies:

The Inquiry-based Teacher

The Inquiry-based Classroom

The Socratic Method

Project-based Learning (PBL)

Each lesson includes an overview, steps, core collaborations, time required, ISTE standards, troubleshooting, and web-based tools to support learning.

Projects include Talking Pictures, Shape Stroll, Picture the Details, Brainstorming, Life Cycle Reports, Digital Citizenship, Venn Diagrams, Landforms, Cyberbullying, Tessellations, Twitter in Education, and more. Popular webtools used are:

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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, the feel-good event started in 1995. Now, February 17th in America is called the 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?

February 17th — 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?

(more…)