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Guest post

How can Teachers Increase Social Learning While Teaching Online?

It’s becoming more common to take online classes or blend traditional with online learning. Ila Mishra, a specialist in both LMS and virtual classrooms, has this informative explanation of how teachers can increase their social learning while teaching online classes:

Social Learning is defined as learning through observing behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. These help individuals to create a frame of reference of behaviors within themselves and prompt them to act. The main point of this theory is that social learning attributes human behavior to be an outcome of cognitive, behavioral and environmental influences (Bandura, 1977).

These cognitive, behavioral and environmental influences are:

Traditional classrooms were a conduit for social learning where students could sit together and collaborate on projects, group assignments, or make use of peer-to-peer learning opportunities. However, in the current educational environments where technology is used to enhance learning outcomes, educators have consciously allowed for and are making use of technology to facilitate learning online.

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Categories: Guest post, Online education | Leave a comment

Seven Fun Math Activities for the Summer Break

Summer can be a challenging time not just for parents but kids. They are accustomed to cerebral challenges that keep them motivated and summer arrives with its sports, naps, and vacations. If your kids miss the thrill of problem-solving or if you worry about them sliding backward without the mental exercise that is integral to school, ORIGO has come up with seven fun math activities that use a blend of popular math apps and everyday activities (like cooking) to fill the summer break with the excitement of math:

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Seven Fun Math Activities for the Summer Break

The long weeks of summer break are wonderful for family time and vacations, but not so wonderful at keeping students on a positive learning curve. The Summer Slide is a very real issue, especially in mathematics instruction where students lose about one month of learning during the break and in some cases, 2.6 months of learning.

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

5 Ways to Become a Better Writer Using Android Apps and Tools

Jennifer Lockman, a journalism major at UCLA, contacted me about her thoughts on how technology has changed the way she and other professionals write. It’s been a while since I was in college so I am excited to share her ideas with you:

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Technology has definitely changed the art of writing and the means we can use to get our points across. Not so long ago everything involved handwriting (and then typing) a draft, spending hours on revision and proofreading, and eventually submitting a finished text to an editor’s red pen. Thus, doing this kind of work well still takes skills, talent, and perseverance. Luckily for us due to the evolution of technology, everyone with an Android device or access to the internet can get the help needed to write and polish a paper. Whether you’re writing a college paper or the next Great American Novel, there are multiple apps available to help you with the entire process.

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Categories: Guest post, Writing | Leave a comment

Touch-Typing: Rote vs Integrated Learning or Rote and Integrated Learning?

Here’s a fascinating article by Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, James Lovelock, discussing the balance between rote drills and integrated learning in teaching keyboarding:

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keyboarding As a pre-service teacher, I have always found the arguments around different forms of teaching and learning to be highly frustrating.  Authoritative and Egalitarian models of teaching are considered superior to Authoritarian even though we know that in some cases the Authoritarian approach may be the best due to factors such as cultural expectations or simply the context of a classroom.  Likewise, when it comes to learning, while Integrated Learning is certainly the preference there are times when Rote Learning is appropriate to implement.

It is at this point most educators look at me like I have just said the moon is made of cheese.  Rote Learning has become a bit of a dirty phrase in some circles, right up there with corporal punishment as a throwback to an older era of unenlightened education.  Rote Learning lacks authentic application and therefore lacks engagement and fails to root student learning in real life applications.

By itself, I’d wholeheartedly agree that Rote Learning in isolation is a weak form of instruction.  Having said that, Integrated Learning by itself has its own pitfalls.  Take a class of thirty students, tell them they are going to learn how to type only by using it in searches on google and creating reports in Microsoft Office.  Students who have already learned how to touch-type at home (like I did in the early 90s) possess significant advantages over students who did not learn to touch-type outside of class and particularly over students who have limited access to computers outside of school.

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Categories: Guest post, Keyboarding | Leave a comment

Positive focus; Positive behaviors

There’s a lot of chatter about PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) on educator forums I participate in. I don’t have direct experience with it so I jumped at the chance to share Middle School teacher Karessa Parish’s experiences. In this article, she explains what PBIS is, lessons learned rolling it out, and a tool called Hero that helped make it happen in her school:

edtech teacherStudies show that students need a ratio of about five positive interactions to every negative. Up until a year and a half ago, our campus had this ratio all wrong. It seemed like we were giving five negatives for every positive. Our teachers were spending more time on a small percentage of the students who were having trouble or who were making trouble. We were spending 80 percent of our time focusing on 20 percent of our students, who were the ones with behavior issues. But that means 80 percent of our students were excellent and weren’t getting the recognition that they deserve. The result was that the vast majority of our students — students who were doing the right thing — were getting little positive attention from our faculty. We decided to refocus our attention to be intentional in recognizing positive everyday occurrences that had been overlooked for too long and we picked Hero to help us do this.

We wanted to flip the culture at our school. We had two objectives when we created our Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program and started using Hero:

  1. Motivate the students who weren’t following expectations
  2. Celebrate the kids who were doing what they were supposed to be doing

Hero helps teachers and administrators monitor all forms of student behavior, both good and bad. Using any web browser or an Android or iOS device, teachers and administrators can capture student behavior where and when it happens, keep accurate attendance records, and assign warnings and consequences (or rewards for positive behavior) automatically. We have customized the software with specific behaviors, incentives, and interventions. Our students can track how many points they have accumulated through the Hero app, and they can redeem their points in the school store. We have a variety of incentives ranging from mystery brown bags with three or four trinkets in them to earbuds and t-shirts. We also host parties like student vs. teacher basketball games, Powder Puff games and time on the athletic field with snow cones. These parties are hosted every six weeks that students can use their Hero points to attend.

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Categories: Classroom management, Guest post, Spotlight | Tags: | 1 Comment

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, Spotlight, 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