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Computer skills

World Backup Day–Once a Year

world backup dayMarch 31st is called World Backup Day. At least once a year, backup your data files to an external drive (like a flash drive). This is one that isn’t connected to your local computer so can’t be compromised if you get a virus. It’s good to always backup data to cloud drives or a different drive on your computer but once a year, do the entire collection of data files to what is called an ‘air gap’ drive–one that is separated from any internet connection.

How to do this 

There are various ways to back up your data. You can back up your data to an external device or you can back up your data to a cloud-based backup service, or back up your data to both an external device and a cloud backup service. You might even make more than one backup to external storage devices and keep the two copies in different places (providing protection and access to your data even if one of the backup devices is destroyed or inaccessible. Preserving your valuable documents and images for future access and use requires planning, as well as the use of automatic backup services.

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Categories: Business, Computer skills | Tags: | Leave a comment

The Easy Way to Teach Internet Skills

internetEducation used to focus on the 3 R’s — reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. Without a doubt, those remain critical subjects but these days, they are just the beginning. What about history (because those who don’t understand history are forced to repeat it) and civics (so we understand how government works)? And the STEAM subjects — science, technology, engineering, arts, and math? No wonder it takes eight hours a day — and more — to learn what is required to thrive in the 21st-century world.

I need to add another topic to this list, one that is used daily and misunderstood just as often, one that intimidates some and confuses many, one where an introduction feels like drinking from a fire hose. If you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s the Internet. Let’s be honest: The Internet is a monster. You felt that way — probably called it worse — the last time you were hacked. Having your personal information stolen feels like your life swirling down the drain. In your lifetime, you will spend more time on the Internet than sleeping. It doesn’t care about your career, your favorite subject, or life goal. If we are defined by the choices we make, the Internet provides the biggest chance for an oops with the most devastating consequences.

Teenagers spend average nine hours a day on the Internet. It seems irresponsible to adopt the SODTI attitude — Some Other Dude Teaches It.

That’s the bad news: Internet safety must be taught and if not by you, by whom? The good news is, teaching about the Internet is easily blended into almost any subject, any topic. Let’s start with the biggest Internet topics most schools want to cover and I’ll show you how to do that.

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Categories: Classroom management, Computer skills, Digital Citizenship, Research, Web Tools | Leave a comment

Is technology outpacing you?

technology in educationIn considering the question, Is technology outpacing you?, let’s first look at technology’s place in the current education landscape. True, it is touted as a magic wand that will fix all education woes. Sure, 73% of teachers use cell phones in their classrooms and 92% say the Internet has a “major impact” on their teaching. We gush over new hardware like iPads and Chromebooks. We spend millions on training teachers to blend tech into their lessons. We darkly predict that the day will soon arrive when technology erases the need for teachers.

But truthfully, technology is less a magic wand than a unicorn. It will never:

  • take over education. Using webtools and burying noses in digital devices won’t provide the interpersonal skills required to succeed in the working world. Any job students get post-school will require listening to real people, responding, and adapting when body language says you’ve confused the person in front of you.
  • replace teachers. The human piece to education can’t be overstated. The attention and care provided by a teacher — technology may measure it but can’t provide it.

Current research supports this:

“… among school-related factors, teachers matter most. … good teachers are irreplaceable assets for coaching and mentoring students, addressing the social and emotional factors affecting students’ learning, and providing students with expert feedback on complicated human skills such as critical thinking, creative problem solving, communication, and project management.” — RAND Education

What technology does, and does quite well, is make learning materials more accessible, more equitable, more up to date, and better suited to individuals. And importantly, it automates tedious tasks like roll call and grading so teachers have more time for students.

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Categories: Classroom management, Computer skills, Teaching | Leave a comment

Summer Professional Development from Ask a Tech Teacher

professional developmentSummer is coming, and so is Summer Tech Learning! Join me with a great group of professionals (who will quickly become your best online friends) for one or more of these five classes on tech topics you want to learn.

Note: Early Bird special for those who sign up by May 15th: Use coupon code SUMMERPD to get 10% off!

There are five options, four of them detailed below:

At the completion, you get 18-24 hours of professional development credit (depending upon which course you take) and a Certificate of Completion itemizing your accomplishments.

There are two ways to sign up–

  • sign up as an individual (not available for 20 Webtools in 20 Days–K-8 Tech Curriculum edition)
  • sign up as a group of five and save 30%!

You can use your personal credit card, school card, or a school PO.

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Categories: Computer skills, Teaching | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Subscriber Special: August

tech in the classroom

Every month, subscribers to Ask a Tech Teacher get a free/discounted resource to help their tech teaching.

August 1-10

169 Real-World Ways to Put Tech into Your Class NOW

get 10% off with coupon code SUBSCRIBERSPECIAL

169 Real-World Ways to Put Tech Into Your Class Now provides 1) an overview of the tech topics most important to your teaching, and 2) practical strategies to address common classroom tech problems. Each tip is less than a page long–many only a third of a page. The goal: Give you what you need to know without a long learning curve. Topics include iPads, Chromebooks, assessment, differentiation, social media, security, writing, and more.

Here are some images from the curriculum:

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Categories: AATT Materials, Computer skills, Tech tips | Leave a comment

Summer Classes–from Ask a Tech Teacher

summer online classesSummer is coming, and so is Summer Tech Learning! Join me with a great group of professionals (who will quickly become your best online friends) for one or more of these four classes on tech topics you want to learn.

Note: Early Bird special for those who sign up by May 15th: Use coupon code SUMMERPD to get 10% off!

There are four options, detailed below:

Sign up now–

  • it’s all online, with a lot of 1:1 assistance, so space is limited
  • in many cases, you get lots of materials as soon as you sign up. Take from now until start-of-class to preview them.

The Tech-infused Teacher (formerly known as Summer PD)

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Categories: Computer skills, Teaching | Tags: , | 2 Comments

What are Good Tech Goals for Students?

technology goalsA frequent question from readers revolves around technology goals for students. It’s tempting to phrase goals like:

4th graders can create a chart in a spreadsheet 

or:

80% of 5th graders can complete ten skills in MS Word (or Google Docs)

But that’s not what technology is about. Technology supports a curriculum. It’s the pencils and books of our digital world. It scaffolds learning, making it blended, normative, rigorous, and granular. The metric for measuring technology skills isn’t a rubric with a list of skills (i.e., add a border, include a hyperlink, and changed the font color). Rather, it’s evidence of the transfer of knowledge: Did the student use technology to further his/her educational journey?

Here are seven authentic technology goals that are scalable to your needs and can be spiraled up or down as required:

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Categories: Computer skills | Tags: | 4 Comments

A Holiday Card in Publisher

Greeting cards are easy enough for second graders–even early readers. Using MS Publisher, pick a template, add a picture to personalize, add their name–and they’re done. It takes about 15 minutes. Kids always feel great about creating these greeting cards: (more…)

Categories: 2nd, 3rd Grade, 5th Grade, Art, Computer skills, DTP, Freebies/Discounts, Holidays, Lesson plans, Parents | Tags: | 1 Comment

Embed a File from Google Drive

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 week, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: So many colleagues are embedding documents to their blogs and websites, but I don’t know how to do that. Can you help?

A: I love this part of Google Apps. When your Google document is complete–that includes Docs, Spreadsheets, Slides, and Drawings:

  • Go to ‘Share’ in the upper right corner; select the option you prefer–allowing viewers to just view or edit
  • Click File>Publish to the Web (on the menu bar)
  • Select the link and copy-paste to your website (I’ve done this below) OR select Embed
  • Copy the HTML code that starts with ‘<iframe…’
  • Paste into blog, wiki, website like I did below:

Let’s try this out. Here’s a collaborative spreadsheet to share Exit Ticket ideas. Your name is optional. Strongly consider adding the linkback so we can add each other to our PLN–a great way to share ideas and knowledge. Access the spreadsheet and tell us your favorite warm-up activities and exit tickets:

Here’s the embedded document:

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Categories: Classroom management, Computer skills, Google, Teacher resources, Tech tips | 2 Comments

Dear Otto: What’s a good End-of-year Tech Show?

tech questionsDear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please contact me at askatechteacher at gmail dot com and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Sandy:

I am a computer teacher for Elementary as well as for preschoolers…ages 3 and 4. In the past my younger children have always used desktop computers and I have taught them about the basic parts of the computer. For our annual Spring Program I will choose up to 10 students to represent these computer parts and the students tell what they have learned up on stage…always a huge success and very cute. Well, this year we have replaced those desktop computers with tablets. Now I do not have any idea how to come up with something cute and educational for the little ones to do on stage for the program so that all can see what they are doing in computer class. Do you have any ideas?
..
First, Consider the purpose of your end-of-year tech show. That will greatly affect which of the next choices serve your needs. Here are some ideas:

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Categories: Computer skills, Dear Otto | Tags: | Leave a comment