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Guest post

How a Senior Writing Project Helped Make Coeur d’Alene a District of Choice

student writingIn 2015, Idaho adopted an open-enrollment policy allowing families to send students to their school of choice. Despite being a Title I District, Coeur d’Alene established itself as one of the most outstanding districts in the state. School leaders credit a multi-faceted senior writing project, new curricula, and instructional technology for bringing new students to their doors.

This is Coeur d’Alene’s story–how they recognized a need to improve student writing skills and effectively addressed it: 

Tucked just north of the Spokane River, along the western side of the panhandle, lies Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Nine out of 17 schools in the Coeur d’Alene School District (CdA) receive Title I Funding, and according to the 2016 National Education Association survey, Idaho ranks last in per-pupil spending and 47th in the nation for average teacher salary.

In 2015, Idaho passed a state-wide open enrollment law that allows parents to send children to their school of choice. This was good for families, but given the many challenges Coeur d’Alene faced daily, the policy had the potential to greatly affect matriculation throughout the district. CdA Administrators, however, felt that open enrollment could be an important driver of change while also giving parents the ability to choose the best school for their needs.

“We’re not utopia, we have a lot of challenges,”

explained Mike Nelson, the Director of Curricula and Assessments in the Coeur d’Alene Public School District, “but at the same time, we knew a few key changes would be of benefit to all.”

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Categories: Guest post, Writing | Leave a comment

Tech That Won’t Survive 2018

Here’s an interesting article on what tech may go away by 2019. This is from Steven Wesley, guest blogger for Ask a Tech Teacher and ESL teacher, with intimate knowledge of tech used in the classroom. I think you’ll enjoy his thoughts:

Technology has permeated every pore of our lives today, and education has been no exception. There are so many useful educational tools and apps out there which can help teachers connect with their students in a much better way. With all the techs available, there has been a debate whether schools as we know them, as well as the role of a teacher, will become obsolete. While the latter is not going to take place, some shifts in education are bound to happen with old technologies giving way to new. Let’s see which ones won’t make it in 2018.

  1. Desktop Computers

Today, smartphones and tablets are cheaper than ever; moreover, their prices are going to decrease which means that desktop computers, as well as computer labs, are about to become extinct in schools. As a teacher, it will save me plenty of time, because I won’t have to deal with lots of login information due to many students using the same computer. With each student having their own smartphone or tablet and Wi-Fi present in every school, they can log in and receive a more customized learning experience. The same thing will happen to laptops.

  1. On-Premise Software

According to James Hutton, an IT specialist for Essay On Time,  on-premise software will be on its way out after 2018:

“On-premises software requires teachers to install the same software on each computer inside the computer room, which is incredibly time-consuming. Another downside of this is that students can’t use the software while they are at home in case they need more time with it. It will be replaced by software that is installed inside the cloud and all students will have to do is log in and use the application at any given moment.”

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Categories: Education reform, Guest post | Leave a comment

Technology and Writing: A Conversation with Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a teacher, author, podcaster, tweeter, blogger, international presenter, and so much more. I admire her podcasts and posts so was honored when she invited me to chat with her on her podcast, the 10-Minute Teacher. The topic is one dear to my heart: How to use technology to teach writing in creative ways.

Click the image below to access her post where you can listen to the podcast or read the transcript–whichever works better for you. Or scroll down a bit more and you’ll find the podcast embedded:


Vicki’s bio

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Categories: Business, Guest post, News, Writing | 3 Comments

Teacher Support in the Digital-Blended Classroom

Technology remains–still–a love-hate relationship between teachers and teaching. Yes, it enriches learning but at the price of too many problems, preparation required, and confusion. I like Felicia Zorn’s summary of how that go-nogo decision really has become ‘get with the program’.

Teacher Support in the Digital-Blended Classroom

Growing up, my generation did not use verbs like ‘Google’ or proper nouns such as ‘Siri’.  We were the pioneers of the digital era.  We played Oregon Trail, asked Jeeves questions for our research, and waited for hours while Napster downloaded our favorite songs.  Now, children are digital natives.  Children as young as two are utilizing tablets, exploring the apps on smartphones, and accessing knowledge via the internet.  How do we as educators keep up with this trailblazing generation who can navigate technology at breakneck speeds?  Or better yet, why should we integrate online learning into our classrooms?  There are countless strategies and resources at your fingertips, but this article will spotlight the importance of digital teacher support for your blended learning environment.

Digital resources can save teachers innumerable hours of planning, grading, assigning, and assessing in the classroom.  As online resources develop and create more curricula, teachers will transform classroom dynamics by devoting less time to lecturing and spending more time enriching and mentoring.  Rigorous, standards-aligned content is uploaded daily to educational websites, apps, and test banks.  Most online assignments are auto-graded and scores are sent directly to a digital gradebook for teachers.  Assessments can be altered with settings to meet the needs of all students with a few short clicks.

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Categories: Classroom management, Guest post, Teaching Strategies | Tags: | Leave a comment

Virtual Reality in the Classroom: It’s Easy to Get Started

virtual realityEvery teacher I know has virtual reality on their radar. It’s one of those short-listed disruptive technologies that kids want to be involved in and will change teaching for the better. I was thrilled when Amanda Ronan over at Teach.com suggested that she write a how-to for teachers on getting virtual reality started in their classrooms.  I think you’ll enjoy her thoughts:

Suddenly, virtual reality is everywhere. The technology lets you experience worlds you’ve never dreamed of visiting. You’ve seen people drop their phones into what look like small cardboard boxes and suddenly they’re transported back in time or to the moon.

As an educator, you probably look at those devices and wonder if you need a degree in computer science to figure out how to use them, let alone how to incorporate the tech into your classroom. But, we’re excited to let you in on the secret: VR is super easy to get started with.

Get Started with VR

Just follow these simple steps and you’ll be the hippest teacher around. Not to mention, your students will be totally engaged in the world, both real and virtual, around them. Set an example, and you might even get the whole school on board. Talk about leadership material.

1. Pick Your Equipment.

To use virtual reality in the classroom, all you need is a smartphone capable of downloading the VR apps or videos (more on those in a second) and a headset. The VR headset provides different screens, and therefore different images, for each eye. They also include sound and motion-sensors, so when you move your head, the image moves, too.

If your school has a BYOD (bring your own device) policy, you can ask for student volunteers willing to download the apps or videos onto their phones. You’ll only need enough phones with the apps as you have headsets. Teachers just getting started with VR usually start out by having groups share a headset.

One of the best ways to start out is with the Google Cardboard headset. There are a bunch of different options, but they start are $7.00 each. This keeps the tech affordable. If you order a few for your classroom and find yourself using VR more than you thought you would, order a few more. Or, if your students love the experience, you can possibly convince your district to invest in an account with Nearpod, an educational company that offers everything you need to do VR right, from the headsets, to standards-aligned lesson plans, to the opportunity to make and produce VR lessons yourself. Being a tech ambassador is a great way to influence change in your school on an organizational level so get excited and let your enthusiasm be contagious!

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Categories: Education reform, Guest post, Tech tips | Tags: | 4 Comments

Studying for Finals: 5 Collaborative Online Methods to Try in Your Classroom

study skillsIf you’re looking for new approaches to studying for finals that will excite your students, check out my article over on Hey Teach! I have a few ideas for you.

Here’s a sneak peak:

Studying for Finals: 5 Collaborative Online Methods to Try in Your Classroom 

I’ve stopped passing out worksheets to help my students prepare for finals. Instead, I like to push my students to collaborate with each other by using online tools. I’ve tried a number of methods that require students to evaluate information, think critically, and solve problems. Here are five methods to try with your students when they’re studying for finals. 

Read more…

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Categories: Guest post, Problem solving | Tags: | Leave a comment

5 Resources to Gamify Student Writing

Ask a Tech Teacher guest blogger, Karen Dikson, has put together a collection of online gamified sites that will help your students with their writing: You think the textbooks for today’s generations of students are way more interesting than the once you had? Ask your students. They still think the lessons are boring. If you don’t do anything to make the studying material more appealing, you can’t expect great engagement and results in your classroom.

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Categories: Games/Simulations, Guest post, Writing | 2 Comments

Bring Weather into Your Lesson Plan with Earth Networks and WeatherSTEM

earth networksOne of the hottest topics in schools and an area of greatest need is STEM resources.  Earth Networks has developed creative and compelling STEM curricula on a variety of weather topics. Any school with a weather unit or an onsite weather station will appreciate this site. I asked them to drop in and explain their education programs to the AATT community:

Why Teach STEM?

In the world of education, only a few things remain constant. The weather is not one of them. But people’s desire to learn and understand the factors that shape weather, and the desire to accurately predict it, certainly is a constant. Nearly every business in every industry is profoundly affected by the weather, and knowing how to read and understand the data that is presented to business leaders via WeatherSTEM platforms and weather data visualization software is invaluable. Making weather a part of your student’s curriculum will invariably help them throughout their lives, regardless of the paths they choose.

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Categories: Guest post, Science | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The Effect Of Cloud Computing Technology On Today’s Education

cloud computingUsing the cloud to store, share, and collaborate in the classroom is relatively new. A decade ago, accessing schoolwork from home was just about impossible. Now, it’s easy through sites like Google Drive and OneDrive.

Mary Davis, a guest writer for Ask a Tech Teacher, specializes in cloud computing. Here are her thoughts on how cloud computing is transforming today’s education:

Cloud computing technology is certainly having its moment these days. Growing in popularity and with no signs of slowing down, the cloud is said to be the “way of the future”. In short, the access to online storage and applications that today’s cloud technology provides us with is significantly easier, cheaper and more secure than any form of memory storage in the past. This is of a particular importance to the way educational institutions are run, as it allows for a streamlined experience that can be more easily maintained by the teacher, the student, and the IT department.

The collaborative properties of cloud computing are appealing to both students and teachers. Gone are the days where group projects require huddling around one computer with the slowest classmate typing. Students can now collaborate with other students and teachers in real time, without necessarily even having to be in the same room.

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Categories: Education reform, Guest post | 4 Comments

How to Use Tech to Help Graduating Students Find Jobs

graduationThe end of the school year means graduation for seniors. If they aren’t going to college, they’re job hunting. Sara Stringer, Ask a Tech Teacher guest blogger, has several ideas on how to make that more efficient:

As a teacher, you’re fully aware of how much the world is advancing through technology. Undoubtedly, innovation has touched many aspects of how you teach. The Internet has made it easier to gather, evaluate, summarize and disseminate information. If for example, you’re a math teacher, you may refer students struggling to grasp the Pythagorean Theorem to view Khan Academy videos so that they can catch up with the rest of the class.

Since you have probably used the Internet to post your own resume, you know how powerful it can be and how important it is to make your online presence as professional as possible. You can also use your knowledge and experience in job hunting to guide those students who don’t plan on going on to college on how to get internships and entry-level jobs after graduation. Job searching has changed remarkably over the past few years, and if your students are to succeed in the real world, they will have to take a very different approach than your previous graduating classes.

Here are 3 tech tips you can use to point your graduating class in the right direction:

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Categories: Guest post, High School | Tags: , | Leave a comment