How to Wrap up Tech for the School Year

summer teachingWrapping up your school technology at the end of the school year is as complicated as setting it up in September. There are endless backups, shares, cleanings, changed settings, and vacation messages that — if not done right — can mean big problems when you return from summer vacation. If you have a school device, a lot of the shutdown steps will be done by the IT folks as they back up, clean, reformat, and maybe re-image your device. If you have a personal device, assigned by the school but yours to take home, the steps will be more numerous but really, not more complicated.

Here’s a list. Skip those that don’t apply to you and complete those that do. I won’t take time in this article for a how-to on each activity so if you don’t know how to complete one, check with your IT folks or Google it:

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5 Ways to Become a Better Writer Using Android Apps and Tools

Jennifer Lockman, a journalism major at UCLA, contacted me about her thoughts on how technology has changed the way she and other professionals write. It’s been a while since I was in college so I am excited to share her ideas with you:

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Technology has definitely changed the art of writing and the means we can use to get our points across. Not so long ago everything involved handwriting (and then typing) a draft, spending hours on revision and proofreading, and eventually submitting a finished text to an editor’s red pen. Thus, doing this kind of work well still takes skills, talent, and perseverance. Luckily for us due to the evolution of technology, everyone with an Android device or access to the internet can get the help needed to write and polish a paper. Whether you’re writing a college paper or the next Great American Novel, there are multiple apps available to help you with the entire process.

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Touch-Typing: Rote vs Integrated Learning or Rote and Integrated Learning?

Here’s a fascinating article by Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, James Lovelock, discussing the balance between rote drills and integrated learning in teaching keyboarding:

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keyboarding As a pre-service teacher, I have always found the arguments around different forms of teaching and learning to be highly frustrating.  Authoritative and Egalitarian models of teaching are considered superior to Authoritarian even though we know that in some cases the Authoritarian approach may be the best due to factors such as cultural expectations or simply the context of a classroom.  Likewise, when it comes to learning, while Integrated Learning is certainly the preference there are times when Rote Learning is appropriate to implement.

It is at this point most educators look at me like I have just said the moon is made of cheese.  Rote Learning has become a bit of a dirty phrase in some circles, right up there with corporal punishment as a throwback to an older era of unenlightened education.  Rote Learning lacks authentic application and therefore lacks engagement and fails to root student learning in real life applications.

By itself, I’d wholeheartedly agree that Rote Learning in isolation is a weak form of instruction.  Having said that, Integrated Learning by itself has its own pitfalls.  Take a class of thirty students, tell them they are going to learn how to type only by using it in searches on google and creating reports in Microsoft Office.  Students who have already learned how to touch-type at home (like I did in the early 90s) possess significant advantages over students who did not learn to touch-type outside of class and particularly over students who have limited access to computers outside of school.

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Memorial Day

I’m taking the day to honor our all soldiers on America’s Memorial Day. Without their sacrifice, where would we be? I tried to keep the videos to three and failed miserably. Once I got started watching, I got lost.

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14 Memorial Day Websites for Students

american-20835_640Memorial Day (May 28, 2018) is the time we remember all of those soldiers who gave their lives in the defense of American freedom. In war and peace, they made the ultimate sacrifice and because of them we are privileged to live the American Dream.

Once a year, we honor them, their sacrifice, and those they left behind. Here are some activities to help students understand the import of this day:

  1. Folding the American flag
  2. In Flanders Field--poem
  3. Memorial Day Messages, Speeches, Oaths, Poems, Anthems, and images
  4. Memorial Day Poems
  5. Memorial Day Poetry–poems
  6. Memorial Day Prayer
  7. Memorial Day puzzle I
  8. Memorial Day Puzzle II
  9. Memorial Day DigitPuzzle
  10. Memorial Day Quiz
  11. Memorial Day Word Search
  12. Primary source recollections of War
  13. Quotes about Memorial Day/Wars
  14. Who you are remembering–Americans killed in action

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Kiddom’s Content Library Makes Differentiation Faster Than Ever

A stand-out webtool among standards-based grading platforms is a free online program called Kiddom (click for my review). Kiddom is designed to help teachers curate individual learning experiences with pages that are visual and easy-to-understand, and enable teachers to quickly determine student progress and where remediation is needed.

While it offers many appealing pieces (homework assignment and grading, easy communication, and built-in metrics), one unique to Kiddom is their robust K-12 content library. Designed to offer lessons, videos, lectures, quizzes, and more that differentiate for individual students, its real power is making the resources of the most respected names in edtech available with one click. This includes:

  • ABCYa.com
  • CK-12
  • Desmos
  • Everfi
  • Flocabulary
  • IXL Learning
  • Khan Academy
  • Learn Zillion
  • Newsela
  • PBS Learning Media
  • Quill.org
  • Rocket Lit

The library is searchable by topic with preview features for selections.

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Categories: Classroom management, Reviews | 1 Comment

Positive focus; Positive behaviors

There’s a lot of chatter about PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) on educator forums I participate in. I don’t have direct experience with it so I jumped at the chance to share Middle School teacher Karessa Parish’s experiences. In this article, she explains what PBIS is, lessons learned rolling it out, and a tool called Hero that helped make it happen in her school:

edtech teacherStudies show that students need a ratio of about five positive interactions to every negative. Up until a year and a half ago, our campus had this ratio all wrong. It seemed like we were giving five negatives for every positive. Our teachers were spending more time on a small percentage of the students who were having trouble or who were making trouble. We were spending 80 percent of our time focusing on 20 percent of our students, who were the ones with behavior issues. But that means 80 percent of our students were excellent and weren’t getting the recognition that they deserve. The result was that the vast majority of our students — students who were doing the right thing — were getting little positive attention from our faculty. We decided to refocus our attention to be intentional in recognizing positive everyday occurrences that had been overlooked for too long and we picked Hero to help us do this.

We wanted to flip the culture at our school. We had two objectives when we created our Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program and started using Hero:

  1. Motivate the students who weren’t following expectations
  2. Celebrate the kids who were doing what they were supposed to be doing

Hero helps teachers and administrators monitor all forms of student behavior, both good and bad. Using any web browser or an Android or iOS device, teachers and administrators can capture student behavior where and when it happens, keep accurate attendance records, and assign warnings and consequences (or rewards for positive behavior) automatically. We have customized the software with specific behaviors, incentives, and interventions. Our students can track how many points they have accumulated through the Hero app, and they can redeem their points in the school store. We have a variety of incentives ranging from mystery brown bags with three or four trinkets in them to earbuds and t-shirts. We also host parties like student vs. teacher basketball games, Powder Puff games and time on the athletic field with snow cones. These parties are hosted every six weeks that students can use their Hero points to attend.

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Categories: Classroom management, Guest post, Spotlight | Tags: | 1 Comment

169 Tech Tip #13: The Powerful Right Mouse Button

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: #13–The Powerful Right Mouse Button

Category: Hardware

Q:  What’s a fast way to access menus?

A:  Yes, and you’ll love it. If your mouse has both a left and a right button, the left one is for normal stuff, but the right one is for the most common activities performed from wherever you are–on the desktop, in a program, whatever.

If your PC two-button mouse won’t work (for whatever reason), there may be a right mouse click key on the keyboard (on the right side, by the Ctrl key) or you can push Shift+F10.

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Music for Armed Forces Day 2018

Many Americans celebrate Armed Forces Day annually on the third Saturday of May. It is a day to pay tribute to men and women who serve the United States’ armed forces. Armed Forces Day is also part of Armed Forces Week, which begins on the second Saturday of May.

 

Categories: Holidays | 1 Comment

Cute Video on Keyboarding

From Kidztype, a 1.5-minute video on the essence of keyboarding. Enjoy!

–Full disclosure: Kidztype is an Ask a Tech Teacher sponsor

More keyboarding:

Keyboarding 101

Touch Typing Basics from KidzType

My Students Think Hunt-and-Peck is Good Enough. What do I do?

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Categories: Keyboarding | 1 Comment