Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Jeremy Keeshin, is the CEO and co-founder of CodeHS, a leading coding education platform for schools, used by millions of students. He believes educators must focus on teaching students the building blocks of technology–coding, problem-solving, and the vocabulary that clarifies both. Here are a few of the essential tech words that should be part of a students’ daily conversation not just in a tech class but in all learning. OK, maybe not ‘Assembly Language’ but definitely ‘coding’, ‘bits’, ‘debugging’, and ‘apps’ with all of its cousins:
Your Coding Vocab Lesson: 7 Words You Need To Know
1. Code and Coding
Let’s start at the beginning: What is code? What is coding?
Coding is giving instructions to a computer. Code is the instructions for the computer.
Your first line of code might look something like this:
This prints “Hello” out to the screen. When you type an email and hit send, someone has written code to make that work. When you open your phone, hit an icon that looks like a camera, take a photo, and it saves to the cloud—that is code. Code is what powers any technology or software you use.
2. Programming Language
Code is written in a particular programming language, which is the set of rules, or language, for giving instructions to the computer. The language may have some specific syntax about what code you can write.
Just like foreign languages, programming languages are often related to each other; they have different histories and taxonomies; and they evolve over time.
- Grammar games–a collection of easy-to-use games that cover grammar, vocabulary, parts of speech, and more
- Vocabulary-Spelling City–the ever-favorite word study program that lets you enter your class word lists and the site will turn them into engaging games.
- Visuwords–a visual tool to see what words and concepts are related to specific words
- Vocabulary Fun–use games to learn affixes, syllables, synonyms, idioms, and more
- Word Central—from Merriam Webster–not only reinforces learning with games but allows students to build their own dictionary; also has a tab for educators.
Click here for more Word Study websites.
Click here for updates to this list.
As a teacher on a mission to infuse technology into my classes, I’m often surprised how often technology can be applied to teaching and life. I share these humorous gems with students during classes, post them on the classroom walls, and incorporate them into conversations with colleagues. My goal is to demystify technology, a topic that remains for many confusing and intimidating. If students and colleagues learn to approach it light-heartedly, they’ll be more likely to accept it.
Here are eleven tech terms I find myself applying daily to many of life’s quirks:
#1: Your short-term memory experienced a denial of service attack
A Denial of Service — a DoS – is defined as:
“…an interruption in an authorized user’s access to a computer network…”
If I’m the “authorized user” and my brain is the “computer network”, this happens to me often. Laypeople call it a “brain freeze” and it is characterized as an event, a name, or an appointment that should be remembered but isn’t. I simply explain to the class full of curious upturned faces (or colleagues at a staff meeting) that I am experiencing a DoS and ask that they please stand by.
#2: I don’t have enough bandwidth for that
“Bandwidth“ refers to your computer’s capacity for handling the volume of activity thrown at it. I learned how this geeky term applies to life from my millennial daughter. She says “yes” to everything people ask to the point that she can’t possibly complete what she promised. When she falls short, she explains that she no longer has enough bandwidth.
You might be familiar with the more pedestrian term “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” “Bandwidth” is a better way of saying it because no animals are harmed in its execution.
Type Dojo is a new free comprehensive approach to learning keyboarding. The ad- and distraction-free interface provides not only practice drills but quick links to grade-appropriate keyboarding games (including the popular ones from DanceMat Typing). It’s easy to get started and just as easy to use making it the perfect tool for busy teachers and students who have lots to do besides keyboarding.
But in the crowded field of online keyboarding, Type Dojo will become your favorite for one other simple reason: It multitasks. It has tons of wordlists for many subjects so students learn while practicing keyboarding. For example, if you’re working on geography, students can keyboard with the Geography word list or Marzano Science. If you’re studying literacy, use wordlists for Dolch/Fry/Sight words, Compound Words, or Phrases. Activities present as a timed test (between one and five minutes) that are selected by grade and topic. When completed, students get a certificate that can be printed or simply saved in their personal file.
Orton-Gillingham started over seventy years ago as an instructional approach intended for those with difficulty reading, spelling, and writing, like what children experience in dyslexia. Sometimes, teachers recognized the special needs of a reading-challenged student, but just as often, it was blamed on disinterest or lack of effort, leaving the child to conclude s/he “just wasn’t good at reading.” When those same children were taught to read using the Orton-Gillingham (O-G) approach, many felt like that child who puts glasses on for the first time and his/her entire world comes into focus.
Since then, the Orton-Gillingham Method has enabled thousands of children to access worlds opened to them by reading, something they never thought would happen. In fact, it has been so successful, O-G is being mainstreamed into the general education classroom, as a way to unlock the power of reading for more students.
In a perfect world, vocabulary is learned in context: The phrases and sentences around the unknown word define the meaning. If that isn’t sufficient, students use affixes — prefixes, suffixes, and roots — to decode meaning. But because the world isn’t always that pristine, Dorothy Frayer and her colleagues at the University of West Virginia came up with a vocabulary teaching tool that has come to be known as “the Frayer Model”. Now used by thousands of educators, this approach to word study relies on analyzing words rather than memorizing definitions. Somewhat like Concept Circles, the Frayer Model uses a graphical organizer that asks students to describe words by much more than a memorized definition. They must:
- define the term
- describe essential characteristics
- provide examples
- provide non-examples
Because the Frayer Model digs deeply into understanding the word, it promotes critical thinking and a granular familiarity with unfamiliar vocabulary. It draws on a student’s prior knowledge to build connections among new concepts and creates a visual reference by which students learn to compare attributes and examples.
Mindsnacks is a series of education apps on topics like geography, vocabulary, languages, and SAT. With colorful graphics and cute characters, it’s a cross between flashcards and multiple choice with lots of visual thrown in. Though these are game-based learning, there’s no plot as you might find simulated games. Think Number Munchers rather than Minecraft. Each app includes personalized learning, an enhanced review mode, and additional challenges to keep students motivated.
To start, download the app and log in. If you have several Mindsnacks apps, you can log into a central profile and track your progress on all of them. Here are three of my favorites:
Mindsnacks’ U.S. Geography includes eight games for beginner and intermediate students with over 40 hours of interactive content, more than 600 hand-drawn graphics, and 1,000-plus questions on borders, shapes, landmarks, history, state culture, flags, mottos, capitals, and major cities. Initially, only four of the eight games are available; users unlock others by successfully navigating a virtual road trip across the country. A tutorial is provided for each state so kids can review basic information prior to beginning play. To keep learning interactive, the app includes features such as a dart players use to mark the spot on the map where a certain U.S. landform or landmark exists. Post-quiz reports show how close users are to mastering each state’s information and what skills they developed during the game.
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A study released last year by the National Council on Teacher Quality found that nearly half of the nation’s teacher training programs failed to insure that their candidates were STEM-capable. That means new teachers must learn how to teach science, technology, engineering and math on-the-job. Knowing that, there are six Best Practices teachers in the trenches suggest for integrating technology into classroom instruction:
Many schools now provide digital devices for students, often a Chromebook or an iPad. Both are great devices, but represent a sea change from the Macs and PCs that have traditionally been the device-of-choice in education. While I could spend this entire article on that topic, one seminal difference stands out: Where PCs and Macs could be used as a closed system via software, materials saved to the local drive, and native tools, Chromebooks and iPads access the internet for everything (with a few exceptions) be it learning, publishing, sharing, collaborating, or grading. There’s no longer an option to hide students from the online world, what is considered by many parents a dangerous place their children should avoid. In cyberspace, students are confronted often–if not daily–with questions regarding cyberbullying, digital privacy, digital footprints, plagiarism, and more.
The question is: Who’s teaching students how to thrive in this brave new world? Before you move on to the next paragraph, think about that in your circumstance. Can you point to the person responsible for turning your students into good digital citizens? When third grade students use the internet to research a topic, do they know how to do that safely and legally?
When asked, most educators shrug and point at someone else. But it turns out too often, no one is tasked with providing that knowledge.
George Orwell lamented in his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language, that:
“Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it.”
‘Most people’ can safely ignore society’s grammar problems, but if you’re a teacher, you can’t afford to ignore your own. Words are the coin of your realm. They hold pride of place in your professional presence in the classroom. For years, I’ve searched for a good grammar-check program. I’ve tried many different online and software options that promised results (such as White Smoke, Ginger, After the Deadline, and Correct English Complete). None were better than the built-in program that comes with MS Word, and that is wrong half the time.
Then I found Grammarly. This online tool and word processing add-in (free or fee) searches 100 points of grammar (250 with Premium), is a contextual spellchecker, and offers word choices to improve writing. Both versions come with a Chrome extension to review emails, FB updates, and entries in Discussion Boards and Forums. The premium account offers a Windows Microsoft Office add-in and a choice of thirty writing styles like business emails and academic essays.