Category: Uncategorized

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month

Surprisingly, 15-20% of the population has a language-based learning disability and over 65% of those are deficits in reading. Often, these go undiagnosed as students, parents, and teachers simply think the child is not a good reader, is lazy, or is disinterested. Thankfully, the International Dyslexia Association sponsors an annual Dyslexia Awareness Month in October aimed to expand comprehension of this little-understood language-based learning condition.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a condition that affects people of all ages, male and female equally, and causes them to mix up letters and words they read making what for most is a joy-filled act challenging and frustrating.

“Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, that result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia often experience difficulties with both oral and written language skills. … It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed… ” — the International Dyslexia Foundation

There is no cure for dyslexia. Individuals with this condition must instead develop coping strategies that help them work around their condition. In education, it is not uncommon to accommodate dyslexic students with special devices, additional time, varied format approaches (such as audio or video), and others. Most prominent educational testing centers (like SAT, ACT, PARC, and SBACC) make these available for most of the tests they offer.

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I’m Traveling–Oct. 1st-17th

October 1st-17th

For the first part of this time, my two children and I are touring American Civil War battlefields in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Then I’m off to my sister’s in Marion, Indiana for a recentering in rural America and an 1812 battle re-enactment.  As a result, I won’t be around much–a bit, but forgive me if I seem to be ignoring everyone! 

See you-all in a week!


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Tech Tip #6: 16 Habits of Mind

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: Habits of Mind

Category: Pedagogy

Habits of Mind are learning skills that address the most granular problem-solving and critical thinking abilities required to prepare a student for college or career. They concentrate on the practical strategies of ‘analysis, evaluation, synthesis. Here’s a poster with all sixteen:

For more on Habits of Mind, visit “Let’s Talk about Habits of Mind” on Ask a Tech Teacher.

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

What’s your favorite tech tip in your classroom? Share it in the comments below.

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9 Websites to Address Social Media

If you read our article on teaching social media awareness, you may be looking for online tools to teach students about this subject. Here are some we recommend:

  1. #Hashtag You’re It–video; your hashtags may reveal more than you think
  2. 10 Social Media-inspired Learning Activities--no accounts required; from Ditch That Textbook
  3. How is Social Media Transforming the Future of Education? — As technology advances, traditional methods of learning and instruction are being challenged. Can we learn a complex subject? A video–the first minute will shock you.
  4. SMS Generator–fake SMS messages through ClassTools
  5. Social Media Revolution–video; great music–over 3 million views–don’t miss this one
  6. Social Media for Teachers–a simple guide for getting started using it in the classroom
  7. Spot the Troll–recognize fake SM accounts
  8. Teaching and Learning in the Age of Social Media–a TEDx Talks video
  9. When is your brain ready for Social Media? –video; good presenter; good for kids; part of a series of videos on SM

Always check our resources pages for updates to links. We do that about once a year. Here’s the Social Media page with most current links.

–images from Deposit Photo

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6 Websites that Teach Letters

A lot of online sites can make learning letters fun for kids. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Find the letter–easy, medium, hard–from PBS kids, intuitive to use; even K won’t have any trouble with it
  2. Hands on Learning--20+ Simple Activities for Kids to Start Learning Letters
  3. Learn Letters with Max (video)–20 minute video with over 200 million views
  4. Owl and Mouse Learn Letters–a group of websites to learn letters and sounds
  5. Starfall Letters–follow the link but also check out other pages on this stellar website
  6. Wheels on the Bus (video)

If any of the links above are dead, check the master list.


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

What you Need to Know about Evaluating Apps

As you head into summer, you’ll be looking for new apps and resources to add spark to your Fall classes. Here’s what you need to know about evaluating those apps:Last year, there were so many apps to help me manage the Pandemic and remote teaching, I couldn’t keep up. I would discover what seemed to be a fantastic tool (maybe from FreeTech4Teachers, Eric Curts, or one of the other tech ed blogs I follow), give it about five minutes to prove itself, and then, depending upon that quick review, either dig deeper or move on. If it was recommended by a colleague in my professional learning network, I gave the site about twice as long but still, that’s harsh. I certainly couldn’t prove my worth if given only five minutes!

Here’s what I wanted to find out in the five minutes:

  • Is the creator someone I know and trust (add-ons by Alice Keeler always fit that requirement)?
  • Is it easy to access? Meaning, does it open and load quickly without the logins I always forget?
  • Is it easy to use? Meaning, are links to the most important functions on the start page? For example, in Canva, I can create a flier for my class in under five minutes because the interface is excellent.
  • For more complicated tools, how steep is the learning curve? Does the site offer clear assistance in the form of videos, online training, or a helpline?
  • Is the content age-appropriate for the grades I teach?
  • Is it free or freemium, and if the latter, can I get a lot out of it without paying a lot? I don’t like sites that give me “a few” uses for free and then charge for more. Plus, free is important to my students who may not be able to use it at home unless there’s no cost attached.
  • Is there advertising? Yes, I understand “free” probably infers ads so let me amend that to: Is it non-distracting from the purpose of the webtool?
  • How current is it? Does it reflect the latest updates in standards, pedagogy, and hardware?
  • Does it fulfill its intended purpose?
  • Has it received awards/citations from tech ed groups I admire?

You may decide to give apps longer or you may decide to only review apps recommended by friends or experts in your school district. However you choose to spend time searching for new apps that will improve your teaching, make sure they satisfy this list above.

–images from Deposit Photo


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Reliable Turnitin alternatives for K12

Turnitin has long been the go-to resource for uncovering plagiarism in student work, but there are reasons why that may not be a good choice for you or your students. Here is a good discussion on the pros and cons of Turnitin as well as options available, from the Ask a Tech Teacher crew:

Reliable Turnitin Alternatives for K12

It was never a mystery that teachers get so many papers to check before a specific deadline that they’re often ready to drop everything and fall asleep at the end of the day. Irritation and stress from such tasks are like poison that makes instructors lose energy and harms their nerves. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has made the workload even heavier, many instructors have felt how awful it is to use an unreliable plagiarism checker. Many institutions still rely on Turnitin, but the professionals who must check dozens of essays on a daily basis know that this expensive service can be way too slow. 

Although it’s nearly impossible to find a Turnitin alternative free, there are cheaper and more reliable options. In this article, we’ll look at the reasons why Turnitin is so popular, and then we’ll examine several replacement options to choose the one that can truly increase your efficiency.

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Happy Thanksgiving Week to All!

I’m taking next week off. I’ll be preparing for my daughter’s holiday visit from her home in DC and my son who’s visiting virtually from Okinawa Japan. I am so excited to see both of them!

I’ll be back November 29th. Any emergencies–drop me a line at askatechteacher@gmail.com.

http://eepurl.com/chNlYb


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Geography Awareness Week: November 15-19, 2021

Promoted by National Geographic, here’s what you should know about Geography Awareness Week which occurs November 15-19, 2021:

Too many young Americans are unable to make effective decisions, understand geo-spatial issues, or even recognize their impacts as global citizens. National Geographic created Geography Awareness Week to raise awareness to this dangerous deficiency in American education and excite people about geography as both a discipline and as a part of everyday life.

Each year more than 100,000 Americans actively participate in Geography Awareness Week. Established by presidential proclamation more than 25 years ago, this annual public awareness program encourages citizens young and old to think and learn about the significance of place and how we affect and are affected by it. Each third week of November, students, families and community members focus on the importance of geography by hosting events; using lessons, games, and challenges in the classroom; and often meeting with policymakers and business leaders. Geography Awareness Week is supported by access to materials and resources for teachers, parents, community activists, and all geographically minded global citizens.

Here are excellent web resources to promote your geography lessons (click headings for more links):

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