Tech Ed Resources–Organize Your Class

digital classroomI 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: Organizing your classroom


18 webinars (more added as they become available), approx. 30 minutes each, show how to set up your classroom to be tech-infused.

What’s Included

Do you wonder how to set up an effective, exciting, motivating classroom to teach tech? It’s not difficult–but there are steps you must take that are different from a grade-level or subject-specific classroom. Watch these videos at the start of school and often throughout the year to understand how to integrate tech into your classes and how to help students use tech to get the most from their education adventure. Webinars included:

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What Qualities Make an Effective Teacher?

teacher and studentWe all have a memory of our favorite teacher, almost always, the one who made us think we could do the impossible. In my case, it was Ms. Sampson. I left third grade and my third-grade teacher Ms. Gordon feeling like I didn’t measure up — and I didn’t. I wasn’t as fast, as clever, or as driven as my classmates. Ms. Gordon actually reprimanded me so roughly in front of the class once that a classmate I barely knew came to my defense, explaining to Ms. Gordon that it wasn’t my fault. Some students learn differently.

My fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Sampson, changed all that. When I entered her class, I did think it was my fault, that I wasn’t smart enough, but she explained without a single word where I was wrong. She didn’t do it by being an easy grader or downsizing my work requirements or even unduly praising me. She didn’t try to be my best friend and she didn’t make excuses for my third-grade failures. Maybe this was because she was new and didn’t know how to profile students who would succeed from those who wouldn’t. In fact, she wasn’t any of the characteristics we often equate to great teachers.

Now, as a teacher myself, I wanted to understand why Ms. Sampson succeeded where Ms. Gordon, a Nationally-recognized Teacher and in the Top Five in my school district, so abysmally failed to spark my love of learning. I started by reviewing knowledgeable websites like Benchmark Education. I read books like James Stronge’s Qualities of Effective Teachers. Then, I queried colleagues, administrators, and parents about why they thought some teachers succeed in preparing students for college and career and others just don’t.

Turns out that effective teachers all have certain characteristics:

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9 Resources for National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

cyberbullyIn October 2006, thirteen-year-old Megan Meier hung herself in her bedroom closet after suffering months of cyberbullying. She believed her tormentors’ horrid insults, never thought she could find a way to stop them, and killed herself. She’s not the only one. In fact, according to the anti-bullying website, 52 percent of young people report being cyberbullied and over half of them don’t report it to their parents.

Everyone knows what bullying is — someone being taunted physically or mentally by others — and there are endless resources devoted to educating both students and teachers on how to combat bullying. But what about cyberbullying? Wikipedia defines “cyberbullying” as:

the use of information technology to repeatedly harm or harass other people in a deliberate manner

Cyberbullying occurs on not just social media like Twitter, Facebook, and topical forums, but multiplayer games and school discussion boards. Examples include mean texts or emails, insulting snapchats, rumors posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing photos or videos.

How serious is it?

The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center estimates that nearly 30 percent of American youth are either a bully or a target of bullying. 7% of high school students commit suicide, some because of cyberbullying:

On October 7, 2003, Ryan Halligan committed suicide by hanging himself [after being cyberbullied by high school classmates]. His body was found later by his older sister. Click for his story.

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What You Might Have Missed in September

Here are the most-read posts for the month of September:

  1. The 101 of Research for Kids
  2. Differentiating with Personalized Learning
  3. Learning Strategies for your Classroom
  4. How to Teach Critical Thinking
  5. What to Consider When Assigning Homework
  6. New Ways to Gamify Learning
  7. Print or Digital Textbooks? What’s the Low-down?
  8. High School Technology Curriculum Coming!
  9. Great Back to School Activities
  10. Mouse and Trackpad Websites for your Classroom

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Here’s a Preview of October

Here’s a preview of what’s coming up on Ask a Tech Teacher in October:

  • Resources for Dyslexia Awareness Month
  • Resources for Digital Citizenship Week
  • Resources for National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month
  • Qualities of an effective teacher
  • Purpose Driven Learning: Myths, Problems, and Education Applications
  • Online Classes
  • A list of education advisors you can trust
  • Halloween projects, websites, apps, and a costume

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Education Galaxy–Personalized Learning That’s Fun

The start of a new school year is always busy. New students, new parents, new rules at school–but there’s one more piece that shakes up my education ecosystem: new webtools. I get so many recommendations from colleagues, trusted forums, and my Twitter feed. I recently previewed one I think you’ll like called Education Galaxy. It’s online assessment, practice, and instruction for K-6 students with a tagline:

Curiously fun, amazingly effective, refreshingly affordable.

I give new webtools about two minutes. By then, I’m ready to read on or move on. Stipulating that I haven’t yet used this one, here’s what teachers say about Education Galaxy that kept me reading:

“…95% of my students passed the state test and I feel I owe it to Education Galaxy.”

“One of my teachers just mentioned how well she feels Education Galaxy prepared her students for K-PREP. We are very happy that we found Education Galaxy!”

Do you see what I mean? Thankfully, Jeremy Verret, the founder of Education Galaxy, provided me with more information:

What is Education Galaxy?

Education Galaxy provides online assessment, practice, and instruction in a highly engaging environment for students. Education Galaxy supports math, reading, language arts, and science at the elementary level (K-6).

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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):

Two of the 6-volume K-5 Tech Curriculum

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).
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).
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.

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

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


16 Holiday Projects

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 101 of Research for Kids

online research tipsIt’s difficult finding kid-safe research websites that really are. Even Google SafeSearch has issues at times. Here’s my list of safe spots to send your students for research. Before rolling any of these out, preview them all to be sure they fit your unique student group:

  1. BrainPop–with the BrainPop characters, a launchpad to curiosity
  2. CoolKidFacts–kid-friendly videos, pictures, info, and quizzes–all 100% suitable for children
  3. CyberSleuth Kids–free kid-friendly graphics
  4. Dimensions–academic research geared for college-level
  5. Fact Monster–help with homework and facts
  6. History Channel–great speeches
  7. How Stuff Works–the gold standard in explaining stuff to kids
  8. Info Please–events cataloged year-by-year
  9. Library Spot— an extensive collection of kid’s research tools
  10. National Geographic for Kids
  11. SchoolsWorld.TV--an eclectic collection of educational videos
  12. Smithsonian Quest–sign up your class; student research/explore with the Smithsonian
  13. SqoolTube Videos–educational videos for Prek-12
  14. TagGalaxy–search using a cloud
  15. Wild Wordsmyth–picture dictionary for kids
  16. World Almanac for Kids
  17. World Book–requires membership
  18. Zanran–statistics and data research

Citation Resources

Once students have found the information they need online, here are great places to make sure they provide the proper citations:

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Differentiating with Personalized Learning

Personalized learning is the latest buzzword in an education environment bursting with new ideas but this one is impressive. In a sentence, personalized learning:

“tailors instruction, expression of learning, and assessment to each student’s unique needs and preferences.” — ISTE

If you think it sounds like differentiated instruction, it does with this caveat: Personalized learning is student-directed, student-paced, and designed for each learner.

Why switch to personalized learning?

There are many reasons to take a deep dive into personalized learning. Some schools realize students aren’t learning to their full potential. They see this not just in test results but in student response to the grade-level curricula. They feel it is unrelated to what happens to them outside of school. We as teachers know that math and science can easily be taught using real-life experiences in lieu of a textbook. The problem in the past has been convincing our learning partners of that truth. Now, anecdotal evidence shows that well-delivered personalized learning encourages excitement about learning, improves test scores, and leaves students wanting to learn even complicated math and science topics.

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Tech Tips #171: Return your screen to normal

tech tipsThis is not part of the 169 tech tips for your class book but it will be when I update the ebook:

Tech Tip #171: Ctrl+0 returns your screen to normal

Often, readers or friends push their computers in my face, frantic because they can’t see all of the screen. It bleeds off the edges.


“I use Ctrl- to zoom out–like you said–but I can’t get it back to where it used to be, the way I like reading it!”


I can solve that.

Ctrl- (pushing Ctrl and – together) zooms out of a screen be it on the internet, Word, or many other programs. Ctrl+ zooms in. But sometimes, your screen is so off-kilter that you can’t tell where “normal” used to be. For that, hold down Ctrl and push 0 (the number zero):

Ctrl 0

That puts your screen back to the standard setting before you zoomed in or out.

I’m surprised how often I and friends use this.

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