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Reviews

Sown To Grow: Easily Blend Goal-setting and Reflection into Classwork

Many of the existential guides for teaching (such as Habits of Mind, the Socrative Method, and Mindfulness) promote a student-driven growth mindset as fundamental to successful learning. This means students take an active part in achieving education and personal goals. The problem is how to persuade students to voluntarily reflect on their progress, rethink goals, and make the required adjustments to achieve success? There’s also the problem of assessing this sort of non-metric thinking. Students and teachers are accustomed to checklists and grading scales. Few have the background to include subjective traits.

I found a solution: Sown To Grow. It is an online student-driven performance tracker that uses the metrics of goal-setting and reflection to assess progress. The expectation is that students learn how to learn by assessing their own educational experiences as a way to determine their best strategies to become lifelong learners. Students set their goals, track their progress, and ultimately see what worked and what didn’t. Because this is entirely student-driven, students care more about their work and doing their best. For example, if notetaking worked well as a method of achieving goals in one instance, they can transfer that successful experience to other academic endeavors.

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

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 Homeschool Class

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, there are two kits designed especially for the home school:

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 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. Blends skills into class studies for authentic learning. Click here 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 two student workbooks. Click for more information on student workbooks. If you choose this option, tell us which two 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 do you 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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2-volume collection of lesson plans (Volume I and Volume II) organized by subject, digital tool, and academic topic. 
One-volume collation of the most common tech problems and issues your child–and you–face using technology for education. Be ready!
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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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Over 64 webinars spread throughout the school year–32 per each of the two grade levels you select. Designed for the adult to help them teach important tech skills to children. The digital classroom provides an opportunity to ask questions of other members or the moderator any time s/he needs a little extra help with.

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Categories: AATT Materials, Reviews, Videos | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

What is Microsoft Sway?

Lately, when I join technology education forums, one of the most talked-about webtools is Microsoft Sway. Though fairly new, Sway has taken over classroom production of visual presentations because the result is visually appealing while minimizing the amount of time students spend formatting a project, giving them lots more time to research and write.

What is Sway

Sway is part of Office 365 Education and is the newest alternative to its popular PowerPoint slideshow program. Using the Sway canvas, students select a theme and then add their notes and research. Sway organizes the content, suggests images and even data, and then helps students to quickly arrange everything into a comprehensive and fully-fleshed project. If the selected theme doesn’t work, students simply click “remix” and get a different look. More advanced users can edit the pieces to fit particular colors and interests. When everything’s perfect, it can be shared, embedded, and published.

Sway accepts almost any file format, including videos, PDFs, text, audio, images, native camera pictures, charts, audio clips, audio recordings, and links. A completed project can be embedded into any Office app (such as Excel, PowerPoint, or Word) and automatically updates with the original. Sway works in Windows, on iPads, iPhones, and desktops.

It is best-suited for Middle School and older, though I’ve seen lots of youngers successfully create engaging presentations.

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Categories: Reviews, Web Tools | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Tech Ed Resources for your Class–Digital Citizenship Curriculum

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: | Leave a comment

13 Websites That Provide Lots of Digital Books for Summer Reading

online readingAt the beginning of the 21st century, the definition of digital equity revolved around the provision of a digital device to every student. Usually, that meant desktop computers, iPads, and laptops, either in small groups or 1:1. As digital equity discussions matured and hyperbole became reality, educators found that those loudly-touted digital devices often became paperweights. The reasons were varied (teacher training, infrastructure, and professional support to name a few), but one of the most prominent was money. Good intentions to give all students access to the world’s knowledge were derailed by the cost of the websites and webtools that made that happen. Turns out — and not really a surprise — the cost of the digital devices was minor compared to the cost of the websites and webtools required to meet goals.

There is one bright spot in this story: Online books. Thanks to the efforts of many devoted professionals and the financial support of more, there are a wide variety of free/inexpensive sources for books that students can use for classroom activities as well as pleasure.

FREE

Here are eight sites that offer free books for kids to adults:

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Categories: Reading, Reviews | Tags: | 6 Comments

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.

The first review: 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.

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.

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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: , | Leave a comment

Zap Zap Kindergarten Math–Clever, Engaging Early Math Lessons

Zap Zap Math is a free gamified way to teach K-8 math skills that are tied to many national standards (like Common Core).  Its format is colorful and engaging, the music lively, and the space-themed layout exactly right for the age group. The over 150 games are fast-paced and interactive and cover over 180 math topics. Students direct their learning with an avatar (called a ‘mathling’) that identifies their work and keeps them engaged. Read my full review of Zap Zap Math here.

Zap Zap Kindergarten Math, geared for ages 3-6, is the newest member of the Zap Zap Math family. It includes 160+ visually-stimulating math games that make learning fun and engaging while students develop math and thinking skills. It covers foundation skills like addition, subtraction, place value, and measurement and data, and is aligned with international math standards such as the US’s Common Core. Each game is preceded by quick audio directions and ongoing gameplay is narrated so all levels of readers can understand. Analytics track and evaluate progress.

Players learn to:

  • Develop number sense.
  • Count to 100 by ones and tens.
  • Count forward and backward from a given number.
  • Compare 2 numbers as greater than, less than, or equal.
  • Understand mathematical equality.
  • Solve simple addition and subtraction equations up to 20.
  • Differentiate two objects in terms of physical attributes; i.e. size and height.
  • Identify shapes as two-dimensional or three-dimensional.
  • Compose larger shapes out of smaller shapes.

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Categories: Math, Reviews, Websites | Tags: | Leave a comment

OneNote–the all-in-one digital notetaking, classroom app for educators

onenote It used to be, every class I taught started with students scrambling for notepaper and sharpening their pencils. Everyone took notes and used those to study for exams. If students wanted to share notes, they had to find a copy machine.

Many schools still do this, but there’s a better way: Digital notetaking. Students can use whatever computing device they have — including a smartphone — to record notes that can then be filed, shared, multimedia’d, and collaborated on. There are many options (Notability and Google Keep come to mind), but the most versatile, all-encompassing app I’ve seen is Microsoft’s OneNote. If you think you know OneNote but haven’t looked at the most current edition, take another look. You’ll be surprised at the changes.

Part of the free Office 365 for Education (and the fee-based Microsoft Office 365), OneNote opens quickly and allows students to take notes with a keyboard, stylus, or finger. Notes can be text, images, drawings, pictures, audio recordings, videos, PDFs, even captured webpages. OneNote can even tape lectures and then search the recording for keywords. If students get a handout or worksheet, they can add it to a note page by snapping its picture with the free add-on Office Lens, saving it as both an image and text.

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Categories: Classroom management, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

3 Important Books for Kids

Summer’s approaching. Kids love playing outside, visiting friends–and reading! To encourage that last activity, here are three great books that will entertain, motivate, and educate–all in one fun experience.

  • Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Dough Bees Story and Cookbook — a clever blend of baking and reading. This is one of several Robby Cheadle and family have written
  • Why are There Bullies and What Can You Do About Them — an interactive Q&A about bullying and its solutions
  • The Piper Morgan Series — addresses issues youngsters are curious about, told in first person through the eyes of delightful Piper Morgan

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Categories: Reading, Reviews | Tags: | 10 Comments