Teacher-Authors: What’s Happening on my Writer’s Blog

A lot of teacher-authors read my WordDreams blog. In this monthly column, I share the most popular post from the past month on my teacher education blog, Ask a Tech Teacher. If you’ve already read this one, skip it. I’ll have a new post in a few days!


Tech Tips for Writers is an occasional post on overcoming Tech Dread. I cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have asked about. Feel free to post a comment about a question you have. I’ll cover it in a future tip.

I used to think of a cloud document as its own backup–secure, safe, and always there. That–of course–is ridiculous. It’s one copy of an important file that can be corrupted or lost. It may become inaccessible–you lost your password or got hacked or your identity stolen and the bad guy changed your logins. Or, it may simply be you can’t access the internet. Whatever the reason, I realized I needed to back those up, too.

For example:


Patriot Day 9/11 Never Forget

America, we love you on Patriot’s Day (formerly 9/11).

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvsN0Id4LEg?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparent]
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwcWVs4Eejg?si=nfBd6Unur6CmgiUH&start=35]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wucTW_Y5hgU?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparent]

If you aren’t familiar with this terrorist attack, here’s a 2-minute overview:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uOn7xLYPbc?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en&autohide=2&wmode=transparent]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9oPmD6XJD0?si=LBKrjDQzQnYmLey2]

Tech Ed Resources–Mentoring and Coaching

I get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’ll 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: Mentoring and Coaching

Tech coaching/mentoring is available from experts who work with you via email or virtual meetings to prepare lesson plans, teach to standards, integrate tech into core classroom time. If you’re new to tech education and wonder how to teach kindergartners to use the mouse, first graders to keyboard, third graders to sagely search the internet, pick the brains of our seasoned team of technology teachers.

Note: If your District has purchased a license, you get some coaching for free. Check on that before signing up.

  • How do you start kindergartners who don’t know what ‘enter’, ‘spacebar’, ‘click’ or any of those other techie words mean?
  • What do you do with third graders who join your class and haven’t had formal technology classes before?
  • You’ve been thrown into the technology teacher position and you’ve never done it before. How do you start? What do you introduce when?
  • You’ve been teaching for twenty years, but now your Principal wants technology integrated into your classroom. Where do you start?
  • How do you differentiate instruction between student geeks and students who wonder what the right mouse button is for?
  • How do you create a Technology Use Plan for your school?
  • How do you create a Curriculum Map?
  • As an edtech professional, what’s your career path?

For more information on coaching, mentoring, PD, online classes, and consulting, click here.


#6: Photoshop for Fifth Graders–Auto-fixes

Before starting on Photoshop lessons for fifth grade and up, teach preparatory basics covered in this lesson plan here (reprinted in part below). If you have a newer version of Photoshop, adapt these instructions to yours:

Open Photoshop. Notice the tool bars at the top. These will change depending upon the tool you choose from the left side. These are the crux of Photoshop. We cover about ten of them in fifth grade. The right-hand tools are used independent of the left-hand tools. They are more project oriented.

    • Click the File Browser tool (top right-ish). It shows you the folders on your computer. From here, you can select the picture you’d like to edit (or use File-open)
    • Select a picture and notice how it displays all data—file name, size, date created, author, copyright and more
    • Click on several tools on the left side and see how the top menu bar changes, offering different choices. Go to Help. Have students view several of the ‘How To’ wizards available. Make sure they try ‘How to paint and draw’, ‘How to print photos’, ‘How to save for other applications’. Then have them select the ‘Help’ files. This takes them to the Adobe CS website and exposes a vast database of questions and answers. Encourage them to explore, engage their critical thinking and active learning skills. Remind them this is where they can find answers independent of teacher assistance.
    • Open a picture of the student’s choice. Show class how to zoom in and out (right-side toolbar). Explain pixels.
      Show students how they can take the paint brush and color just one pixel if they are close enough. This is
      how experts remove ‘red eye’ in photos.
    • Introduce the History toolbar (right side) as an undo feature (like Ctrl+Z in Word). Have students open a new blank canvas and draw on it. Now use the history tool to toggle between the canvas before and after drawing on it by clicking between the original picture and the last action taken (at the bottom of the History list).
    • Have students click through several tools on the left tool bar and show them how the top toolbar changes,
      depending upon the tool selected.
    • Watch the layers tools. You can only paint on the highlighted layer. Notice that the top layer covers all others
    • Show students how to save. The default is as a Photoshop file with a .psd extension. This won’t open in other programs, so show students how to change the file type format to a .jpg, .bmp, .tif or other for use in Word, Publisher, emails or a website.

Once students are comfortable with the Photoshop format, try these easy-to-do auto-fixes.

Auto-fixes is one of the easiest Photoshop skills. Depending upon your version of Photoshop, this may be found in different spots on the menu lists. If you’re familiar with your program, you’ll find it right away:


9 Online Resources to Assist with ESL and ELL

Here’s a short list of good ESL and ELL resources. For updates, click here:

  1. Digital Storytelling for Language and Culture Learning (PDF) – National Writing Project
  2. L2 Digital Storytelling
  3. MCC ESL Digital Stories
  4. Teaching English – Digital Storytelling
  5. Web English Teacher – Digital Storytelling


  1. English Tools--digital tools to assist learning English as a second language
  2. Resource Guide for ESL
  3. SuperProf–private ESL online tutoring
  4. The TEFL Academy–course provider for those looking to teach English as a second language!

–image credit Deposit Photos

Copyright ©2023 askatechteacher.com – All rights reserved.

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.

Happy Labor Day!

I’m taking Labor Day off so thought I’d do a labor-free article–

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is an American holiday (though it occurs throughout the world, with different names and dates) dedicated to the achievements of workers. I take it literally. A keyboard, three screens, four tasks, and a six-pack of Red Bull Monster (less sodium), I’m ready to work!

Comments closed so I devote time to Labor Day activities.


Getting Started with Ask a Tech Teacher–Here’s How

If you’re new to Ask a Tech Teacher, be sure to click Getting Started first. It includes a free weekly newsletter:


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Find tech ed resources

  • Free Lesson Plans–on software programs, core tech principles, subject-specific topics
  • Free Posters
  • Website reviews–on products you want to use in your classroom
  • Great resources–for your teaching, integration, class management, more
  • Structured Learning--where all the Ask a Tech Teacher crew’s tech ed books are published; there’s an insane number of topics and formats. Some free, most fee

Go ahead–check it out!