What You Might Have Missed in October

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

  1. 9 Resources for National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month
  2. 10 Great PowerPoint Changes You Probably Don’t Know About
  3. 10 Tips About Using Images in Your Classroom
  4. How NOT to Assess Student Writing
  5. How to Grow Global Digital Citizens
  6. Should You Unschool?
  7. Visible Learning and John Hattie
  8. What is Standards-based Grading?
  9. What is WittyWe and Why You Want to Use it

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 20 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. Read Jacqui’s tech thriller series, Rowe-Delamagente, and her upcoming historic fiction, Born in a Treacherous Time.

Categories: Teacher resources | Tags: , | 2 Comments

12 Fresh Ways to Assess Student Learning

assessmentAssessing student learning used to be as simple as giving a test that consisted of multiple choice, True/False, short answer, and/or essay. How many answers students got right told the teacher how much they knew. No need to look further. Simply grade, record, and move on to the next chapter.

Educators have come to realize that there are lots of reasons why a test score doesn’t reflect student knowledge. Maybe the student had a bad day; maybe s/he isn’t good at memorizing (and the test was mostly memorized facts); maybe education researchers are right that doing well on tests isn’t a predictor of student success.

Tossing tests makes a teacher’s job more difficult. I’ll stipulate to that. Habits, templates, and routines are much easier than reinventing the assessment wheel but a tool that results in passionate students committed to lifelong learning gets my attention.

That’s what the next twelve options are: assessment strategies that inspire student interest and allow them to share what they know in ways compatible with their personal communication style. These can be used formatively or summatively and can be created by teachers or students-as-teachers. Decide what works best for your circumstances. The uniting characteristics are that all assess:

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Categories: Teacher resources, Teaching Strategies, Web Tools | Tags: , | Leave a comment

169 Tech Tip #112: How to Open 2 Gmail Accounts at Once

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: #112–How to Open 2 Gmail Accounts at Once

Category: Email

Sub-category: Google Apps, Classroom management

Q: I have a home Gmail account and a school one. How do I open both at once so I can keep track of what my kids/home business/etc. is doing while at my teaching job?

A: I got this quick answer from efriend and tech guru Chris Hoffman: Open each account in a separate browser.  It has to do with each browser keeping its own cookie.

Stepping back a moment, here’s why you might need this:

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Categories: Classroom management, Tech tips | Tags: , | 1 Comment

How to Grow Global Digital Citizens

digital citizenWith the rise of online games, web-based education, and smartphones that access everything from house lights to security systems, it’s not surprising to read these statistics:

In 2013, 71 percent of the U.S. population age 3 and over used the Internet

  • 94% of youth ages 12-17 who have Internet access say they use the Internet for school research and 78% say they believe the Internet helps them with schoolwork.
  • 41% of online teens say they use email and instant messaging to contact teachers or classmates about schoolwork.
  • 87% of parents of online teens believe that the Internet helps students with their schoolwork and 93% believe the Internet helps students learn new things.

Since so many kids come to school with a working knowledge of the Internet, teachers feel comfortable using it as a teaching tool but just because students use the Internet doesn’t mean they do it safely and wisely. In fact, despite that the UN considers access to the Internet a human right, many adults and even more kids don’t know how to act as good digital citizens when visiting this sparkly and exciting world. When they first arrive, all of life’s rules seem to be upended. Users can be anyone they want, break any cultural norm and even be anonymous if they’re careful, hiding behind the billions of people crowding around them.

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Categories: Digital Citizenship, International | Tags: | 1 Comment

10 Tips About Using Images in Your Classroom

casey3Here are ten of the most-visited image-use tips on Ask a Tech Teacher:

  1. 10 Tips About Using Images in the Classroom You Don’t Want to Miss
  2. Image Copyright Do’s and Don’ts
  3. Photos For Class–Robust, Student-safe with built in citations
  4. Quick Search for Plagiarized Images
  5. 5 Image Apps for your Classroom
  6. My Picture’s a TIFF and the Program Needs a JPG
  7. What Online Images are Free?
  8. Where Can I Find Kid-safe Images?
  9. Drawing in Photoshop
  10. Easy Photo Editing in MS Word

More on image editing:

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Categories: Images, Lesson plans | 1 Comment

169 Tech Tip #99: Need Email Accounts for Registration? Try This

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: #99–Need Email Accounts for Registration? Try This

Category: Email

Sub-category: Webtools, Problem-solving, Classroom management

Q: A lot of web-based tools require email verification. Many of my students don’t have these at school or home. What do I do?

A: This is a lot easier than you’d think. Gmail ignores anything that comes after a + in a username. JonDoe is the same as JonDoe+thinglink. Use that to your advantage with student accounts. They can use your email address and append their name with the +.  You can even set up a filter to send all those + emails to a separate folder so it doesn’t annoy you.

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Categories: Classroom management, Problem solving, Tech tips, Web Tools | 1 Comment

How NOT to Assess Student Writing

assess writingIn my school, every teacher assesses writing. Even in the tech lab, which is my purview, I provide mini-how-to-write lessons before tech projects that include writing. That’s not just for essays or reports but slideshows, blog posts, comments in forums, and more. I remind students of the five-paragraph essay, synonyms, plan-revise-edit-rewrite, persuasive essays, letter writing, or whatever fits the day’s lesson.

This connected teaching approach is consistent with most modern pedagogy. Writing is no longer treated as a stand-alone skill, rather a tool students use to provide evidence of their knowledge. If I use Common Core as an example, here’s what these Standards call out as important about writing (slightly rephrased from the Anchor Standards):

  • Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
  • Write informative/explanatory texts to examine complex ideas clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • Write narratives to develop experiences using effective techniques, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
  • Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
  • Use technology to produce and publish writing.
  • Conduct research based on focused questions that demonstrate understanding of the subject.
  • Gather relevant information, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
  • Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • Write routinely for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Note that nowhere do the Standards mention handwriting, word processing tools, editing typos, or general technology skills. Why? Because achieving the Standards transcends the media with which you write. Whether that’s paper-and-pencil or word processing, audio, comics, or video, the goal is to communicate ideas.

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Halloween Projects, Websites, Apps, and a Costume

halloweenThree holidays are fast-approaching–Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. If you’re a teacher, that means lots of tie-ins to make school festive and relevant to students.

Here are ideas for Halloween projects, lesson plans, websites, and apps:

Projects

  1. ASCII Art–Computer Art for Everyone (a pumpkin–see inset)
  2. Lesson Plan: Halloween letter for grades 2-5
  3. Make a Holiday Card
  4. A Holiday Card  (with Publisher)
  5. A Holiday flier

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Categories: Holidays, Lesson plans | Leave a comment

What is Standards-based Grading?

How many times have you experienced teachers who based report card grades on how well students complete classwork, homework, and quizzes? They mistakenly conflate these exemplars with learning. For example, a book report may require a certain number of written (or typed) pages or paragraphs rather than evidence that the student drew conclusions and summarized knowledge.

That’s changing. Today, many educators want to not only evaluate progress at a point in time but optimize that against the ongoing standards their school mission is built on such as Common Core, International Baccalaureate, NGSE, or TEKS.

What is Standards-based Grading

To accomplish this, many schools and Districts have turned to Standards-based Grading. According to Tomlinson and McTighe, standards-based grading (SBG) “measures student proficiency on well-defined course objectives.”  This means students have clear guidelines for how to define success over time, making it easy for all stakeholders in a student’s learning to determine if they are accomplishing what must be done for college and career. It de-emphasizes subjectivity by providing an objective delineation of requirements.

Here’s a good four-minute video overview of SBG:

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Categories: Education reform, Reviews | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

169 Tech Tip #98: 13 Tips for Email Etiquette

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: #98–13 Tips for Email Etiquette

Category: Email

Sub-category: Assessment

Here’s a poster with 13 email etiquette tips to share with new users:

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Categories: Tech tips | Tags: , , | 2 Comments