Tagged With: teacher-author
A warm welcome to Sean Clark, Instructional Aide, and his first time contributing to Ask a Tech Teacher. He’s also a Teacher-Author with a wonderful experience involving his students in November’s NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program:
School-age kids these days are bridging huge linguistic and literary gaps almost every day: reading books checked out from the school library, but also online assignments, texts, and instant messages from parents and classmates. They’re learning cursive and concurrently expected to raise their words-per-minute on the QWERTY layout, possibly both in the span of one week. They must know an adjective from an adverb, but also a header from a heading.
My name is Sean Clark, bearing the official title of Technology Instructional Aid, though most of the time around the school, I am referred to simply as ‘the tech guy.’ I’m one of several at the elementary level holding this job description in my district where 1:1 devices are now the norm. On that gap described earlier, the teaching of the latter half is my responsibility. Before current events transpired, my work week involved heading to each classroom to give a lesson on whatever I had made up for the day; typing, coding, docs, slides, or other various thematic and interactive activities I’d discovered through sites like Ask a Tech Teacher.
Outside of work, I’m still connected to technology, often for playing games, but also in the pursuit of satisfying my creative mind by typing out my thoughts into stories, and sometimes turning those stories into novels. I run a writer’s blog by the name of Fifty Shades of Grease, a title birthed from a time where I worked a less glamorous job in a deli. In my blog, I archive many of my short stories, as well as track progress on other, bigger works that get the full run-down to be turned into proper ebook and paperback novels. To date, I’ve self-published two trilogies, a short story, and a literary collection.
I’ve been writing on and off properly since community college when a guest teacher running the English 1A class revealed the wonders of creative writing, rather than just the regurgitation of rhetoric that High School had taught me to focus on. At some point that semester, I had a flashback to 4th grade when I was voted ‘most likely to become a writer.’ It wasn’t until after graduating from University five-and-some years later that I finally found the time and motivation to write a complete story from beginning to end. At that point, I knew I couldn’t stop at just one.
My biggest outlet of story writing energy is the National Novel Writing Month- abbreviated to NaNoWriMo– community. Running two short events during the summer, and a full-fledged 50-thousand-word writing sprint in November, writers find themselves bound by their own honor to write more-or-less every day in order to meet their goals. Since joining the community a few years ago, I have not missed a single session.
So, you’re probably wondering- how do my tech lessons and my students fit into this? Personally, I’ve enjoyed the chance to bring in my own books to read from for various classes. While it is slightly self-aggrandizing, the message that I hope students can find is that with the proper effort and dedication, they can produce something unequivocally theirs (a sentiment not only limited to writing, of course). In fact, the NaNoWriMo community can serve such minds just the same, with a special space all its own for school-age children wanting to attempt something so grand as writing an entire story; the Young Writers Program. Rather than being thrown in with strangers and set up with strict goals, the YWP allows a teacher to curate a class with a class code, ready to be set to run for any month, any topic, and any word count.
When we began teaching at a distance this spring, over Zooms and Google Classrooms and less-than-ideal Youtube lessons recorded from Chromebook cameras, this program was one of the first I jumped on to offer as a tech lesson. Maybe it was the lack of a stimulating home environment, growing burnout out from Cool Math Games, or just having the desire to create something original, but more than a few became truly engaged in their newfound project.
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is an American holiday (though with different names throughout the world) dedicated to the achievements of American workers. Take today to think about it. Me, I’ll take it literally–labor! A keyboard, three screens, four tasks, and a six-pack of Red Bull. I’m ready!
This post is for Teacher-Authors:
If you’re devoting Labor Day to your writing but need a kick start, last year I posted Wrong Hands plot generator matrice. OK, I know it says ‘Christmas Movie’ but it works just as well for writing:
I thought I’d update this year and was surprised how many plot generators are out there:
OK, seriously, if you’re writing today, maybe you’re doing it on your iPad, so it’ll be more versatile, more portable. Here are some suggestions to make that easier:
- Double-tap the space bar to add a period.
- Double-tap the shift key to turn on CAPS LOCK.
- Double-tap the Home button to bring up all open apps.
- Place two fingers in the middle of the iPad keyboard and flick them to the side. This will split the keyboard making it easier to ‘thumb’ the keys (see inset—notice the half-keyboards on either side of the image).
- Shake the iPad to undo the last word you typed.
- Four-finger swipe in either direction to change apps.
- Five-finger pinch to return to the Home screen.
- Long-hold the period key to bring up extension options (.com, .net, and more). This doesn’t work in all applications.
- Long-hold many keys to get additional options. For example, long-hold the $ for other money symbols.
- Long-hold the Home button to bring up Siri.
- As you type, let the iPad correct your spelling and complete words.
That’s all I’ve got! Have a great holiday!
More on Labor Day (for Teacher-Authors)
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, contributor to NEA Today and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.
Teacher-authors–do you write fiction? I do! And it feeds my soul in the same way that teaching does.
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Two of my novels–To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days–are tech thrillers so fit well into my geeky tech-teacher world. The rest deal with how man survived the traumas of prehistoric times.
I feature my fiction writing over at WordDreams.
If you are a teacher who also writes fiction, I’d love to feature your book on WordDreams. I have a good readership with lots of interest in Indie authors. I’m opening up comments so you can add a note there. If you’d prefer, contact me at askatechteacher at gmail dot com.
Norah Colvin, educator, writer, and consultant, is the brilliance behind the exciting education website, readilearn. It started as her dream and is now a go-to resource provider for the first three years of a child’s learning journey. I’ve gotten to know Norah Colvin online through her pithy posts about teaching. Every time I leave her blog, I come away better for having stopped by. I think if we lived near each other–or taught in the same District–we’d be fast friends. Norah used her deep knowledge on teaching to create resources for professionals in this field. I’m a big supporter of teacher-authors (anyone out there? I’d love to host you here) and asked her to share her expertise with my readers:
Thank you very much for inviting me to write a guest post on your blog, Jacqui. I am delighted. I always enjoy your wonderful suggestions for using technology in the classroom and wish I was still there to implement them. I have often said that I was born too soon. I arrived a little too early to enjoy the richness of technology that is now available to teachers in the classroom.
That’s not to say that I was slow to get involved with technology when it became available; I was just already well into my adult years.
Even before I purchased my first personal computer in 1985, an Apple IIe, I had tinkered with electronics kits to try to get an understanding of how computers worked. I think there were cables and switches and various things to turn on and off a series of LED lights. At the same time, I was absorbed by the games we played on an Atari 2600, which was ostensibly purchased for my son, in 1984.
The purchase of the Apple IIe replaced my use of a typewriter, and I slowly adapted to using it for composing as well as ‘typing up’ work and stories that I had written, edited, revised and rewritten by hand. I loved using Publisher and thought the dot matrix images, now considered so primitive, were just wonderful. I taught myself BASIC and made some simple activities for children in my classroom to use. I also began using it to prepare lessons and activities, though I still made most by hand.
I had one computer in my classroom in 1985 and two in 1986. I was flabbergasted when I returned to the classroom in the early naughties, after a few years’ break, to find that most classrooms were lucky if they had two computers. While change may have been slow in the first twenty years of computers in the classroom, implementation intensified as the internet became more accessible and reliable.
You may be wondering why I would provide this information in the introduction to a post about readilearn, an online collection of teaching resources for the first three years of school. But to me, it is a simple progression, a culmination of my life’s work. It allows me to combine activities I love with my passion for learning and education.
Here are five of my favorite tech tools for teacher-authors:
Whether you’re self-published or agented, you want your documents as clean as possible. You can edit it yourself, use beta readers, or pray, but one more option to include in your toolkit is a good online editing program. Often, these ask you to copy-paste your text into a dialogue box on their website and they take it from there. Sometimes, you upload your entire manuscript. What they do varies from simply checking your grammar and spelling to analyzing pacing, word choice, and more. I like Grammarly for basics and AutoCrit for more detail.
See my Grammarly review here.
I know lots of people who write the first draft of their documents with paper-and-pencil but almost always, the next version is completed on some sort of digital device. That might be a Mac, PC, iPad, Chromebook, laptop, or in some cases a dedicated word processor like the Retro Freewrite or Alphasmart. Pick one or more that work for you, doesn’t matter which as long as it’s digital and allows you to type and edit your manuscript.
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