Norah Colvin, educator, writer, and consultant, is the brilliance behind the exciting education website, readilearn. It started as her dream and is now a go-to resource provider for the first three years of a child’s learning journey. I’ve gotten to know Norah Colvin online through her pithy posts about teaching. Every time I leave her blog, I come away better for having stopped by. I think if we lived near each other–or taught in the same District–we’d be fast friends. Norah used her deep knowledge on teaching to create resources for professionals in this field. I’m a big supporter of teacher-authors (anyone out there? I’d love to host you here) and asked her to share her expertise with my readers:
Thank you very much for inviting me to write a guest post on your blog, Jacqui. I am delighted. I always enjoy your wonderful suggestions for using technology in the classroom and wish I was still there to implement them. I have often said that I was born too soon. I arrived a little too early to enjoy the richness of technology that is now available to teachers in the classroom.
That’s not to say that I was slow to get involved with technology when it became available; I was just already well into my adult years.
Even before I purchased my first personal computer in 1985, an Apple IIe, I had tinkered with electronics kits to try to get an understanding of how computers worked. I think there were cables and switches and various things to turn on and off a series of LED lights. At the same time, I was absorbed by the games we played on an Atari 2600, which was ostensibly purchased for my son, in 1984.
The purchase of the Apple IIe replaced my use of a typewriter, and I slowly adapted to using it for composing as well as ‘typing up’ work and stories that I had written, edited, revised and rewritten by hand. I loved using Publisher and thought the dot matrix images, now considered so primitive, were just wonderful. I taught myself BASIC and made some simple activities for children in my classroom to use. I also began using it to prepare lessons and activities, though I still made most by hand.
I had one computer in my classroom in 1985 and two in 1986. I was flabbergasted when I returned to the classroom in the early naughties, after a few years’ break, to find that most classrooms were lucky if they had two computers. While change may have been slow in the first twenty years of computers in the classroom, implementation intensified as the internet became more accessible and reliable.
You may be wondering why I would provide this information in the introduction to a post about readilearn, an online collection of teaching resources for the first three years of school. But to me, it is a simple progression, a culmination of my life’s work. It allows me to combine activities I love with my passion for learning and education.
As one who manages way too many online accounts, I read this article from Ask a Tech Teacher contributor and CyberSecurity expert (retired), Sam Bocetta with interest. My checklist (green for good and red for ‘need help’):
- I’m paranoid about links and downloads
- I check for virus and malware regularly
- Ooops–don’t yet use a VPN
- I should pay more attention to my passwords
- I am religiously careful of email
- Yep–switched to HTTPS for my blogs and websites
- I update software when prompted (that’ll have to be black)
Read Sam’s article below. When you’re done, evaluate your cybersecurity safety.
The topic of cybersecurity is becoming something people of all ages worry about. This is largely due in part to the rise in malware, ransomware, and infections people have experienced over the last year.
As a parent, I fondly remember browsing bookstores with my children. We probably went there with a specific book in mind, one required for school, but ended up taking our time exploring all the tomes available. Though bookstores remain, too often, parents simply buy books online–digitally or print, doesn’t matter–and miss out on that opportunity to discover new worlds.
That’s why when Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Alex Mitchell, suggested this article–The Future of Physical Bookstores in The Digital Age–I said yes almost before reading it. You’ll find Alex has written a thoughtful analysis of what’s going on with physical bookstores in an ebook era:
The Future of Physical Bookstores in the Digital Age
Brick and mortar bookstores have been a dying breed in recent years. It seems every time we turn around another handful of locations are closing.
When Amazon released the Kindle in 2007 authors began to see the end of times. Worries about cheap, sometimes poorly edited, and often over-saturated eBook markets seemed like they would be the death of the printed word. Another supposed threat to the print book is torrenting and online downloads of materials.
However, in recent years it seems that print books have been selling better and better.
It is surprising, then, that many noted names in the book industry have been hit hard in recent years. People have noticed that there has been a slump in sales for Barnes and Noble, and the company has closed many locations. Additionally, the popular entertainment store Hasting’s was bought and liquidated in 2016 after failing to gain investors during their bankruptcy protection period.
Here’s an interesting piece from Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Jane Sandwood, on the explosion of wearable technology and its place in the education ecosystem:
As of 2015, 94% of K-12 students had a computer in their home, with 61% of the same demographic having internet access as well. With the rapid and constant growth of technology combined with the myriad of ways that it’s permeated the lives of all of society, especially youth, there’s no place where technology is wholly absent. As a result of this, wearable technology has advanced farther than phones in pockets and can include things as advanced as virtual reality headsets that allow students to experience a completely different atmosphere.
Though it can feel easy to become overwhelmed by technology, the reality is that technology of all sorts and types is here to help us, and nowhere is this more true than in the field of education. The vast majority of students are inseparable from the technology that they carry with them daily. Because of this, education must look at ways to coexist and thrive with the technology rather than shun it.
Helping to Hear
Education doesn’t stop outside of the classroom. Utilizing modern audio technology allows an incredible amount of versatility to when lectures can be accessed. Oftentimes, lectures will be entirely delivered in audio, causing there to be little to no loss in learning from the loss of the visual aspect.
Audio technology is especially portable and non-intrusive to in-classroom lessons as well. Headphones can be used to hear the lesson more clearly if students are far from the instructor or hard of hearing. There are also countless well-made translator apps that can help students that don’t natively speak the language of the lesson to understand what they’re being taught.
For a decade, when I thought of desktop publishing, I turned to Microsoft Publisher. I loved its flexibility, adaptability, and ease of use both for classroom projects and home. But then I moved on to other alternatives, like Lucid Press that were more flexible and affordable for educational purposes.
Really, I didn’t see a lot of other alternatives until Sara Stringer, from the Ask a Tech Teacher, came up with this great article about desktop publishing options. Some of these–like Word–have changed so much over the years that they are now a provide reasonable alternatives to laying out an attractive professional design in a program everyone is familiar with:
Technology advanced drastically in the past few years, allowing people to create different products with the aid of a computer. One of the most popular products that were drastically improved by the presence of technology is printed materials, which were commercially printed from a single file that was created using desktop publishing software. Printing digital files can be performed in a short period of time, with the finished product being bound with the help of a strong type of glue, which securely holds the pages together.
With the prevalence of digital computers, tablets, and smartphones nowadays, people could easily create their own digital files with the help of software programs. Publishers would have total control of the things that they wanted to do, and their ideas could produce high-end digital published materials such as brochures, menus, books, and magazines, among others. It is important to find out the best software program that will be used by a desktop publisher. Because there are many available software programs in the market today, the preference among publishers varies. The following software programs are the most common desktop publishing tools used by amateurs and professionals:
Virtual Reality–VR–is the 2018 buzzword among students, teachers, and even parents. And rightfully deserved, VR has the ability to recreate so many of the rules that used to shape education. Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Sara Stringer, shares her opinion on the key factors that could affect the importance of VR to education:
Opinion: How VR Will Impact Student Education
Virtual reality (VR) is an exciting new concept that continues to shape how users see the world around them. It’s one of the few technologies that inspires students who have never known life without smartphones and the internet.
The learning potential of VR is incredible. It offers new ways to inspire and engage students and will undoubtedly have a greater presence in education as the technology becomes more available. In particular, students who are enrolled in online charter schools can greatly benefit from these technological advances. However, to really predict the prevalence of virtual reality in the future of education, we have to take a look at three key factors.
One of the things that makes VR so universal is its ease of use for students of all ages.
Younger students—preschool to early elementary—typically learn through experience. Putting them into immersive environments can complement the learning they’re doing at home or in the classroom and extend their understanding of new concepts and ideas. Through VR, they can visit far-off places, see dinosaurs walk the earth, and observe wildlife in their natural habitats.
VR gives students more contextual information to what they’re learning. Reading or watching videos about the tides is one thing; being submerged in the ocean to witness the influence they have on sea life is another. It can also unlock students’ potential and keep them engaged no matter what subject they’re learning. They can gain new perspectives on the people, places, cultures, and subjects they’re studying. More complex subjects, like anatomy, can come to life for older students. Not only can they virtually visit a lab, but they can hold a heart in their hand.
All around the country, schools are turning around education through the use of technology. Here are two, one in Hawaii and one in California that show you steps that might work for you:
[caption id="attachment_59609" align="alignright" width="300"] Kalakaua Middle School leadership team gets into the spirit to boost positive behavior.[/caption]
King David Kalakaua MS, Hawaii
When innovative school leaders decided to try a new technology program at King David Kalakaua Middle School this year, they hoped recognizing students’ good behavior would lessen their bad behavior. Their goal was to improve school climate and build positive relationships with everyone on campus by focusing on the positive. In less than six months, not only have they met that goal, but they also changed their peer’s perception of “trouble” students and helped boost grades.
“We feel like it’s had a major impact on students,” says MTSS Coordinator, Tiana Kamiko. She spearheaded the program with her fellow Behavioral Health Specialist Kristen Shimabukuro. “The campus itself feels happier. The kids are smiling more. Just the other day, we had a student telling Kristen that we’re part of the reason he likes to come to school now.”
The idea of rewarding students for positive behavior has a long history in schools, and numerous studies have shown the practice can improve student behavior, reduce suspensions, and even boost student achievement. It is, however, unusual for a school to see such a large jump in so many categories so quickly.
This topic that is close to my tech teacher soul. It has become a familiar argument between those who believe children intuitively learn to type (“see them on smartphones and iPads–they don’t need help”) and those of us who believe instruction makes them better, faster. Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, James Lovelock, discusses this:
Explicit typing, simulated application and practical application – Why is this not a thing?
When it comes to education, there has always been a call for approaches that are more grounded in context. For example, you could just look at a map and do some measurements, or you can get out there with a trusty surveyor’s wheel and chart a space and learn real applications. It makes perfect sense to do this, practical application proves relevance and also allows for greater engagement.
Having said that, one would not do this without first explaining the concepts and practicing the basics of measurement. Yet all too often, when it comes to touch-typing that is exactly what occurs, students are expected to just ‘pick it up’ as they go along because the work required to develop the skill correctly can be viewed as “unnecessary,” “too time-consuming,” or “artificial learning.”
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.
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:
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.