clean puppy

Nineteen Ways to Use Spare Classroom Time

I keep a list of themed websites that are easy-in easy-out for students. They must be activities that can be accomplished enjoyably in less than ten minutes. In the parlance, these are called “sponges”.

What exactly are sponge activities? The term, originally coined by Madeline Hunter, refers to an activity designed to produce learning during the time taken up by “administrivia.” They stem from Hunter’s teaching philosophy that there should be no wasted moments in her classroom.

Here’s my list, by topic: (more…)

digital whiteboard

How to Web 2.0 Accessorize Your Classroom

Web 2.0 is the most exciting thing to happen to education since the schoolhouse. It is a limitless classroom, allowing students access to anything they can define. Includes what’s a digital citizen, how to create a blog, a classroom internet start page, a classroom wiki, how to join social networks and post pictures on Flikr, where to go for podcasting and online docs, and more.

Here’s where you start: (more…)

LESSON PLANNING

How to Teach Kids Email

Online communication include faxes, instant messages, blogs, and email. Of the four, email is the most popular—so popular, it has transformed the way the world communicates. According to the Radicati Group, in 2008, 1.3 billion people had email accounts and sent 210 billion messages daily.

Why so popular? First, email is paperless, appealing to our global need to conserve resources. On a more basic level, email is a faster alternative to most other forms of communication by combining the telephone’s speed and efficiency with a user’s need to transfer files and documents. Email has no time or place barriers. You can write and respond (with an amazing level of anonymity) whenever you choose – day or night with multiple contacts, keeping many people in the loop with the click of a few keys. And, email is stored and retrieved quickly at almost no cost. (more…)

18 Great FREE Online Keyboard Websites

When your child is learning to keyboard, they need 10-15 minutes two to three times a week. Even for kindergartners. Choose a fun software program–whichever will keep their attention when they’re young. I use Type to Learn Jr. in my school until half-way through first grade, but there are other good ones. For the older children, I use Type to Learn. I have great results with it. Students are challenged, intrigued, motivated by the prizes and the levels.

Another option is online typing sites. Typingweb is good. It’s a graduated program that keeps track of your progress. If you’re picking an online program as an alternative to software, it’s important to log in so the software remembers what your child has accomplished.

If you’re going to use online sites as part of an overall typing practice curriculum, here are some other good sites to try: (more…)

social media in education

Which Social Media Should Be Allowed in Schools?

Social networks dominated by Facebook now account for 22.7 percent of the hours spent in front of a computer, a leap of 43 percent over last year’s figures.

education reformAccording to the Neilson Co. report, the shift to social networks for communication caused a precipitous drop in email and instant messaging. Time spent emailing was down 28 percent and instant messaging dropped 15 percent.

If you don’t know what all the social networking stuff is, check out these two YouTube videos. They explain social networking in Plain English.

The question for schools is, how much of this should be let into the education environment. It’s way beyond the internet now. We’re talking about:

  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • internet access to email

These are all banned at my school. Yet, these are the sites that have kids excited about learning–excited about technology. So what are we doing? We’re cutting off the most effective avenue for keeping students interested in school because we’re afraid of them. (more…)

Tech Tip #7: Making Backgrounds Transparent

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q:  When I insert my picture, the background isn’t transparent, so it covers everything behind it. I want it see-through. How do I do that? BTW, I’m using Publisher.

A:  There are two ways, one simpler than the other. (more…)