critical thinking / homeschool / K-5 Tech training / problem solving / teacher resources / teaching

What You Need to Know about Kidproofing the Internet

How to keep their children safe online is a constant question from parents at my school. They ask about firewalls, filters, kidsafe desktops, nannycams. Should they keep their children away from computers or just off the internet? Do they have to sit with them while they work? No. No. and No. What parents need to … Continue reading

classroom management / critical thinking / education reform

How Do You Grade Tech? I Have 14 Ideas

It used to be simple to post grades. Add up test scores and see what the student earned. Very defensible. Everyone understood. It’s not that way anymore. Here are the factors I consider when I’m posting grades: Does s/he remember skills from prior lessons as they complete current lessons? Does s/he show evidence of learning by … Continue reading

Ask Otto / classroom management / critical thinking / K-5 Tech training

Dear Otto: How do I teach Google Drive to K/1?

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names. Here’s a great question I got from Lois: I’ve been teaching computer technology for 6 … Continue reading

Handwriting vs. Keyboarding–from a Student’s Perspective
critical thinking / fifth grade / fourth grade / Keyboarding

Handwriting vs. Keyboarding–from a Student’s Perspective

Every year, I have 4th grade students compare handwriting speed to keyboarding speed. We run it like an experiment. we discuss the evidence–pros and cons we develop a hypothesis we test the hypothesis (with a series of four tests) we revise if necessary I wanted to test some of the reasons students come up with … Continue reading

critical thinking / Parent resources / Tech ed / websites

14 Educational Websites Students Will Ask to Visit This Summer

The most popular website at my school is Minecraft–hands down, starting in 1st grade (I’m amazed parents let six-year-olds use this sometimes violent game, but they do and students do and the mania starts). Because kids would live in this blocky virtual world 24/7, I only let them play it two lunch periods a week. … Continue reading

classroom management / critical thinking / free tech resources

15 Great Simulations to Gamify Your Class

I’ve been spending every spare moment editing the upcoming 7th Grade Technology Curriculum Textbook (click to be notified when it’s available–projected: June 2013). One unit I’ve fallen in love with is ‘Gamification of Education’. I haven’t spent a lot of time on that topic and am now over-the-top about its possibilities. If you’re into gamifying … Continue reading

classroom management / critical thinking / education reform

14 Factors to Consider for Tech Report Cards

It used to be simple to post grades. Add up test scores and see what the student earned. Very defensible. Everyone understood. It’s not that way anymore. Here are the factors I consider when I’m posting grades: Does s/he remember skills from prior lessons as they complete current lessons? Does s/he show evidence of learning by … Continue reading

critical thinking / problem solving / Tech Tips

Tech Tip #107: Got a Tech Problem? Google It!

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: Sometimes, I just can’t remember how to accomplish a task. Often, I know it’s … Continue reading

critical thinking / Keyboarding

When is Typing Faster Than Handwriting?

Most elementary-age students struggle with typing. This doesn’t surprise me. They’ve been handwriting since kindergarten. They’re proud of their new cursive skills. It’s easy to grab and pencil and write. Typing, though requires setting up their posture, hand position, trying to remember where all those pesky keys are (why aren’t they just alphabetized? It’s a … Continue reading

critical thinking / K-5 Tech training / lesson plans / teacher resources / Web 2.0

Communicate the Web 2.0 Way

My school is an IB school. We follow the philosophy that to educate students requires an international understanding of the world, people and ideas. Part of the curriculum requires fifth graders to participate in an Exhibition where they use knowledge accumulated over six years of education to communicate their ideas on a global issue such … Continue reading

critical thinking / fourth grade / lesson plans / Monday Freebies / third grade

Monday Freebies #37: Use Oregon Trail to Teach Westward Expansion

Show students how to get the most out of Oregon trail by reading the headings on each screen, thinking about problem solving skills and applying the simulation to their classroom discussion on westward expansion. I include a worksheet of questions they can answer as well as additional websites to extend their education. Continue reading

classroom management / critical thinking / fifth grade / fourth grade / problem solving / teacher resources / Tech ed / third grade

#81: Problem Solving Board

Have students teach each other the 28 most common techie problems. They learn how to solve the problem and teach the class as a presentation, then answer questions. They will feel accomplished and tech savvy. If the lesson plans are blurry, click on them for a full size alternative. –from 55 Technology Projects for the … Continue reading

critical thinking / fifth grade / problem solving / Tech ed

Are you as Tech-Smart as a Fifth Grader?

I’ve been teaching technology to kindergarten through eighth graders for almost fifteen years. Parents and colleagues are constantly amazed that I can get the littlest learners to pay attention, remember, and have fun with the skills that are required to grow into competent, enthusiastic examples of the Web 2.0 generation. I have a confession to … Continue reading

critical thinking / fourth grade / History / lesson plans / third grade

How to Teach Problem-solving With Oregon Trail and Win7

Then I had an epiphany as I watched students work through the stalls and freezes. They wanted to know how to fix the problems so they could continue with the game. Wow. What better way to teach problem solving than to teach it with real-life situations that students are motivated to solve. It’s turned into a successful problem-solving lesson. Continue reading

critical thinking / high school / homeschool / middle school technology / problem solving / teacher resources / websites

Weekend Website #25: Online Schooling

This is a website that every science teacher, math teacher, and others should visit. The creators of Online Schooling build posters about what’s on their mind and take suggestions from viewers for more. So far, there aren’t a lot up, but there are more every time I look, so I know it’s growing. Maybe they’re waiting for our suggestions. Continue reading

critical thinking / fifth grade / free tech resources / language arts / middle school technology / teacher resources / websites / words / writing

Weekend Website #22: Webspiration

Use Webspiration anywhere you’d use the software, Inspiration. It will map out ideas, organize with outlines and collaborate online with teams or colleagues. Webspiration allows you to appeal to students who are visual learners as it strengthens organizational skills, and transforms your ideas and information into knowledge. Continue reading

Computer hardware / critical thinking / fifth grade / first grade / fourth grade / free tech resources / homeschool / K-5 Tech training / problem solving / teacher resources / Tech Tips

Tech Tip #28: 5 Ways to Fix a No-Sound Problem–For Free

If the sound still doesn’t work, you can check the sound card by plugging headphones into the port for that function, probably at the front of your CPU tower. If they don’t work, you have isolated the problem to the sound card. Continue reading