Check out my article over at Western Governor’s University on how to update the classic bridge building lesson plan:
Over the past decade, a mainstay for middle school science programs has been building toothpick bridges. This type of school project—somewhat of a rite of passage in Project Based Learning—is intended to help teach students through hands-on experience. Similar projects include baking soda volcanoes, the infamous egg drop, and growing plants as a class. I remember assigning the bridge project to my students, as well as helping my own children with it, but I have since learned that the typical way of tackling this school project can leave students feeling dissatisfied.
- 10 Tips About Using Images in the Classroom You Don’t Want to Miss
- Image Copyright Do’s and Don’ts
- Photos For Class–Robust, Student-safe with built in citations
- Quick Search for Plagiarized Images
- 5 Image Apps for your Classroom
- My Picture’s a TIFF and the Program Needs a JPG
- What Online Images are Free?
- Where Can I Find Kid-safe Images?
- Drawing in Photoshop
- Easy Photo Editing in MS Word
More on image editing:
- lesson plan in teaching about copyrights
- bundle of lesson plans on KidPix
- bundle of lesson plans on Photoshop
Here are ideas for Halloween projects, lesson plans, websites, and apps:
- ASCII Art–Computer Art for Everyone (a pumpkin–see inset)
- Lesson Plan: Halloween letter for grades 2-5
- Make a Holiday Card
- A Holiday Card (with Publisher)
- A Holiday flier
As schools look ahead to serving not just student needs, but the greater needs of their community and world, service learning becomes an increasingly important part of high school education. The positive relationship between personal success and giving has been proven over and over, but it is not intuitive. When students become involved in ventures that give of their time and knowledge, they understand how important helping others is, not in an academic way but in a hands-on practical sense.
A popular service learning endeavor is teaching technology skills to those who don’t have them. In any number of homes and schools across the nation, students are more comfortable with using digital devices than many adults. Sharing their skill is natural and an easy way for them to give back to the community.
In this lesson plan, students will teach a group of seniors how to use common technology to help them manage their life and relationships better.
I get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m going to take a few days 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 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: Lesson Plans
There are lots of bundles of lesson plans available–by theme, by software, by topic, by standard. Let me review a few:
- bundles of 5 lesson plans–Themed; great when you want to cover a software program, a tool, a grade, or a standard. Each calls out the higher order thinking skill engaged. Pick the one that fits your need. They’re affordable, focused, and often completed in just a few class sessions.
- bundle of bundles–15 for about $15 (less if you use a discount coupon). Stock up! Buy three bundles of five lessons to cover a wide-range of needs.
- 30 K-5 Common Core-aligned lessons–5 per grade level
- 110 lesson plans–integrate tech into different grades, subjects, by difficulty level, and call out higher-order thinking skills. These cover everything and are discounted this month. Check them out. They could be exactly what you need.
- singles–for as low as $.99 each. Genius Hour, Google Apps, Khan Academy, Robotics, STEM, Coding, and more.
- Holiday projects–16 lesson plans that theme to holidays and keep students in the spirit while learning new tools.
Who needs this
As a teacher, I spend a lot of time preparing lesson plans. Most don’t survive the first five minutes in front of my students but still I go through this preparatory exercise. Over the decades, I’ve come to realize that the product (a completed lesson plan) is less important than the process of organizing my thoughts, thinking about the needs of the students, searching for the right resources, and figuring out the best way to help students achieve goals. Scholastic has eight questions to help teachers plan their lessons:
- Students: What are the academic, social, physical, personal, and emotional needs of students?
- Strategies: Which teaching strategies will best facilitate student learning?
- Grouping: Should I group heterogeneously or homogeneously? What size should groups be?
- Timing: When is the best time to do this lesson? Are there prerequisites students should master?
- Materials: What materials do I need for the lesson to be successful?
- Success: Was the lesson successful? Were students interested? Did students learn? What didn’t work? What will I do differently next time?
- Sequence: What can I do next to build upon this lesson? How can I make it flow?
- Rationale: What is the reason for doing this? What objectives will be accomplished?
What lesson planning normally looks like
That’s a lot to prepare! Normally, I’d create a template or use one provided by my Principal that included these characteristics as well as school-specific ones like Standards Met, Time required, Steps Required, and Collaborations with Colleagues. I’d take a few hours (per lesson) to collect what I needed, visit with co-teachers, update the lesson plan from prior years, and then think how to make it relevant to the learning style of each child I will be teaching. Often — too often — I wouldn’t be able to find the resources I’d carefully stored last year or I would belatedly remember that the plan didn’t work well last year and needed a complete rework. More often than I want to admit, I would run out of time before getting to the part where I differentiate for each student’s needs (I can do that on the fly, can’t I?).
I get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m going to take a few days 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.
The first review: the K-8 Technology Curriculum
The K-8 Technology Curriculum is Common Core and ISTE aligned, and outlines what should be taught when so students have the necessary scaffolding to use tech in the pursuit of grade level state standards and school curriculum.
Each book is between 212 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. For Middle School, they are designed for the grading period time frame typical of those grade levels, with topics like programming, robotics, and community service with tech.
Most (all?) grade levels include base topics of keyboarding, digital citizenship, problem solving, digital tools for the classroom, and coding.
Included are optional student workbooks (sold separately) that allow students to be self-paced, responsible for their own learning. They include required weblinks, rubrics, exemplars, weekly lessons, full-color images, and more.
Grades K-5 has a FREE companion wiki (requires coupon code to enter) with FREE webinars on how to teach each lesson throughout the year, a glossary of terms used in the books, and how-to videos on webtools referred to in the books (not all, but many). Here, you can also ask questions about using the curriculum. It’s used worldwide by
The curriculum is used worldwide by public and private schools and homeschoolers.
With the growing interest in coding comes a call for after school tech camps that supersize student enthusiasm for technology. If you’ve been tasked (or volunteered) to run this activity, here are five activities that will tech-infuse participants:
- Write an ebook
- Genius Hour
- Service Learning
- 15 Digital Tools in 15 Days
- Khan Academy
Working in groups, students research opposite sides of an issue, then debate it in front of class. They tie arguments to class reading, general knowledge as well as evidence from research. They take evidence-based questions and look for information that will convince them which side is right. This is an exercise as much for presenters as audience, and is graded on reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.
Debates help students grasp critical thinking and presentation skills, including:
- abstract thinking
- analytical thinking
- critical thinking
- distinguishing fact from opinion
- establishing/defending point of view
- identifying bias
- language usage
- public speaking
- thinking on their feet—if evidence is refuted, students must ‘get back into game’
- using research authentically
I first met Office Mix a few years ago, before I had the required Office 2013 or higher. I loved the demo I watched, cried a bit that it wouldn’t work for me, and then forgot about it. Now that I’ve upgraded to Office 365, I’m eager to use all the features that got me so excited back then.
Before I get into those, let me back up for those who have never heard of Office Mix. It’s a free PowerPoint add-on that turns your existing PowerPoint program into a fully-featured lesson planner. Using the traditional slide decks you love, you can now collect all the resources required for a lesson plan into one place that students watch either as a slideshow or a video. It can include video, narration, audio, polls, screen captures, screencasts, photo albums, charts, tables, annotated notes, images, interactive quizzes, and more. Just like with PowerPoint, you start with either a blank slide or a professional-looking template. Once the slide deck is completed, you share it via link or embed it as a slideshow or video on any device.
Because Mix uses audio and video tools to communicate ideas, students are eager to view the resulting lessons, making it a perfect addition to a blended learning program.