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Reviews

Differentiation Simplified with Study.com

study.comStudy.com is an online distance learning portal that provides over 70,000 lessons in fifteen subjects (including algebra, calculus, chemistry, macro- and microeconomics, and physics) aligned with many popular textbooks. Resources include not only videos but study tools, guides, and more. You can read more detail on my Study.com review here.

Today, I want to talk about Study.com’s emphasis on differentiation.

When I first discovered Study.com, I was blown away by its unique approach to providing passionate learners with a college education that fit their lifestyle. If you are that person who struggles with traditional campus-based classes, has a full-time demanding job, can’t get to a campus because of transportation issues, lives on a tight budget but still values high-quality education, AND you are committed to earning a college degree, do yourself a favor and visit Study.com’s website. I’ve worked with Study.com in the past and come to realize the high value they place on differentiating instruction and meeting students where they are ready to learn, so when they wanted to share the news of their online class teaching the basics of differentiating in the classroom, they knew I would want to help.

To me and many other educators:

Differentiated instruction is at the core of effective teaching.

What is differentiation?

Differentiated learning can be defined this way:

With differentiated instruction, teachers proactively create options to accommodate a diverse range of learners while keeping the whole class on track. Teachers observe students carefully in order to design experiences that match the learning styles of the class and the differing levels of ability and understanding.  —Study.com

You might call it ‘personalized learning’ or even ‘blended learning’ but at its most basic, differentiated learning is teaching in ways that best serve individual students–providing different resources and lesson plans to suit different learning styles. If for you, the term ‘differentiation’ should always be followed with, “Where am I supposed to find the time?“, it’s because too often, differentiation is conflated with the tedium of creating individual lesson plans for each and every student. Me, I’ve never done that. Instead, I offer a variety of media that address the lesson. Students do the work of picking what is best for them and selecting the assessment medium best suited to their communication style be it audio, video, text, visual, music, art, or another.

Key principles of differentiation

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Great News: JotForm now offers a PDF Editor

Forms are popular in schools for all sorts of reasons. Some teachers look no further than Google Forms but for those who require greater simplicity and sophistication in a form builder, as well as agility and rigor, free JotForm (premium edition also available) is an excellent option. It works on PCs, Macs, and mobile devices and offers what seems like an endless supply of professional-looking templates for tasks like performance evaluations, permission slips, volunteer sign-ups, feedback on events, asking for donations, collecting payments, providing contact information, and more. Its drag-and-drop interface makes building forms intuitive, quick, and easy. And the completed form can be pushed out via link, embed, or email. Here’s my review if you’re looking for more details.

If you already use JotForm, here’s some great news: JotForm has kicked it up a notch by offering a free PDF editor.

Why a PDF Editor?

Every teacher I know must edit a PDF at some time in the school year. Maybe they want to customize an existing PDF for use in their class, or a form they created requires that sort of versatility. PDF Readers are common (like Adobe Reader) but editing one is trickier. If President Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort had one, it would have changed his life dramatically (click the link to read more of this story–and thanks to the JotForm folks for pointing this out to me). Many school documents are shared in PDF format for ease of use on multiple platforms as well as security from being hacked or edited. The biggest reason by far why my colleagues require a PDF editor is that too often, the underlying document is lost and the teacher has nothing left but the PDF.

That’s when a PDF editor becomes critical. Click here for JotForms’ Complete Guide to Editing PDFs.

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Tech Ed Resources for Class–Common Core

CC Article Bundle Cover(3)I get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m taking 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: Common Core Bundle

Overview

In this bundle, you get 20 tech ed resources on how to use technology to achieve Common Core Standards–presented in a variety of ways including Lesson plans, webinars, and short but pithy articles. Included:

5 books (including 70 lesson plans)

8 webinars

7 Hall of Fame articles addressing Common Core topics

Who needs this

K-8 class teacher, K-8 tech teachers, tech coordinators, library media specialists, curriculum specialists

Classroom grade level teachers if your tech teacher doesn’t cover basic tech skills.

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Categories: AATT Materials, Reviews, Videos | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

TeacherKit Saves You Time by Managing Class Tasks

TeacherKit, a useful classroom management app for iOS or Android, provides teachers with one location to log student attendance, take note of student behavior, record grades, create student-level reporting, and other tedious tasks that traditionally take time away from teaching. The intuitive interface allows all this to be done with quick taps and swipes, generating data visualizations on the fly, both for whole classes and individual students. The student-profile system allows teachers to quickly contact students and parents via email, and the premium version adds the ability to send detailed progress reports, complete with behavior and attendance breakdowns. Plus, teachers can send announcements to an entire class, letting them know a date change, assignment due dates, and/or to update class information.

TeacherKit is a global Microsoft and Tradeline Strategic Education Partner with over 1 million teacher users around the world.

How it works

TeacherKit is easy to initiate and intuitive to use. Simply download the app from iTunes or Google Play and build classes. Students can be added via your class list, from other classes, or by photo. Once the class is set up, you can generate reports that summarize grades, behaviors, and more by class or student. Reports can be shared (as a PDF) via email or print. Optional reports include an overall class report, student performance, student/class grades, a class seating chart, and attendance. Here are samples of several:

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Categories: Classroom management, Reviews | Tags: | Leave a comment

Tech Ed Resources for your Homeschool

Homeschool TechI get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m taking 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: Tech resources for the Homeschool Class

Besides the availability of any of the tech ed resources at Structured Learning, here are two kits designed especially for homeschools:

Homeschool Survival Kit

This is exclusively for homeschoolers–a technology curriculum for K-5. With this Homeschool Survival Kit, you get all the tech ed resources you need to integrate technology into your child’s learning, lesson plans, inquiry, and curriculum requirements. Included (click links for more information):
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Two of the 6-volume K-5 Tech Curriculum

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Two years of the K-5 Technology Curriculum. This will be your curriculum map, showing you what tech to teach your children when they are ready for it. It blends skills into class studies for authentic learning. Click for more information on each ebook. When you purchase, tell us which two books you’d like in the Comment portion of the PayPal Buy button (or email Zeke dot Rowe at StructureLearning dot net).
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Note: These teacher textbooks can be replaced with student workbooks. Click for more information on student workbooks. If you choose this option, tell us which student workbooks you’d like in the Comment portion of the PayPal Buy button (or email Zeke dot Rowe at StructureLearning dot net).
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K-8 digital citizenship curriculum map—what to introduce when to teach students to navigate the complexities of the internet safely, securely, and effectively. Includes 3-8 projects per grade-level, accomplished in a few minutes a day or a full class period. If students are using the internet, they must know how to use it correctly, safely, and efficiently. This curriculum shows you what to teach at what age. Projects can be tied into other classroom projects–just add detail about digital citizenship.
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110 K-8 Lesson Plans

2-volume collection of lesson plans (Volume I and Volume II) organized by subject, digital tool, and academic topic. 

169 Real-World Ways to Put Tech into Your Class

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One-volume curation of the most common tech problems and issues your child–and you–face using technology for education. Be ready!

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16 Holiday Projects

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16 fun and festive holiday projects. Create gifts for family and friends while learning important tech skills. Use for any holiday. They’ll fill your year with pictures, calendars, wallpaper, cards, that kids will love making and want to give to family as gifts.
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The Case for Positive Reinforcement in Classrooms

Every teacher knows that students do better with positive reinforcement. As tempting as “punishment” might sound when referring to that student who has scrambled your last nerve, to explain consequences of actions in positive terms goes much further toward student success not only in school but in the ongoing effort to build life-long learners.

“Positive reinforcement, whether it be with your family, when following laws, or with students, can best be defined as the logical consequences of doing what’s right.” –Jacqui Murray

As an education pedagogy, pursuing a classroom management system that revolves around positive reinforcement is called Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support, or PBIS. The importance of using tools that prevent disruptive behavior and support students is explained by NEA Past President Lily Eskelsen Garcia:

The most effective tool teachers have to handle problem behavior is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) programs help teachers recognize the significance of classroom management and preventive school discipline to maximize student success. PBIS strategies are critical to providing all young people with the best learning environment.

Committed teachers can accomplish this in a variety of ways including supportive words, prizes, special activities, certificates, badges, and modeling proper behavior. Here are four online options that support the goal of recognizing students in a positive way:

  1. Class Dojo
  2. Empatico
  3. Hero K12
  4. Sown to Grow

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Tech Ed Resources for Your Classroom: Survival Kits

tech is easyI 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: Tech Survival Kits

Overview

Tech Survival Kits put everything a teacher needs to tech-ify their classroom into one package. This includes books, ebooks, articles, webinars, mentoring, and more. By purchasing as a Kit, you get a 10% discount on the included materials.

There are five Survival Kits. The specific resources depend upon your need:

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, AATT Materials, Reviews | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Tech Ed Resources for your Class–Digital Citizenship

digital citizenshipI 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: K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum

Overview

K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum–9 grade levels. 17 topics. 46 lessons. 46 projects. A year-long digital citizenship curriculum that covers everything you need to discuss on internet safety and efficiency, delivered in the time you have in the classroom.

Digital Citizenship–probably one of the most important topics students will learn between kindergarten and 8th and too often, teachers are thrown into it without a roadmap. This book is your guide to what children must know at what age to thrive in the community called the internet. It blends all pieces into a cohesive, effective student-directed cyber-learning experience that accomplishes ISTE’s general goals to:

  • Advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology
  • Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
  • Demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning
  • Exhibit leadership for digital citizenship

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Categories: AATT Materials, Digital Citizenship, Reviews | Tags: | 1 Comment

Today’s Meet is Closed. What are your Alternatives?

todays meet replacementsAs of June 16, 2018, Today’s Meet closed (read the full details here). That iconic backchannel chat platform for classroom teachers and learners, the one that for ten years was the first name thought of when discussing feedback and collaboration, one that quickly became a staple in classrooms and conferences. I went to my PLN for thoughts on what they’ll use in its stead. It turns out, there are good options, depending upon whether you primarily use Today’s Meet for:

  • backchannel and student response
  • polls, forms, or surveys
  • warm-up and exit tickets

Here are webtool replacements you can use for summer or fall classes:

Backchannel and Student Response

A backchannel is a way for students to chat about lesson material while it’s being taught. It occurs in realtime but is non-intrusive to classwork. The teacher can throw a question out to students and evaluate learning or needs based on answers. Or students can pose a question and get answers from classmates. Here are three options you will like:

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Tech Ed Resources for your Class–K-8 Tech Curriculum

technology curriculumI 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.

Today: the K-8 Technology Curriculum

Overview

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.

Updated in 2018, 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 website  with FREE videos 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 most).

The curriculum is used worldwide by public and private schools and homeschoolers.

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Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, AATT Materials, Kindergarten, Lesson plans, Reviews | Tags: , | 1 Comment