About Me

tech teacherHi all!

Thanks for dropping by my blog. I  teach K-8 technology over here in Southern California. I cover everything from mouse skills to Photoshop, from teaching students to teaching teachers. I am variously a guide, a computer repair person, a hand-holder, a problem-solver, a risk-taker, a negotiator, and a prognosticator. I wear all hats whether they fit or not.

Over the years, I’ve taught thousands of students and loved every minute of it. There’s nothing more exhilarating than to be let loose on the savannas of the internet with a toolkit chock full of technology skills. Feel free to visit my tech start page to see what we’re doing in class this week. If you own the SL curriculum, come follow along as I teach your classes online.

Before technology, I taught community college business classes and before that, enjoyed a twenty-year career in business management.

Of the three careers, I find teaching the most gratifying. Sharing technology secrets with our newest students is a privilege that I never take for granted, especially in this time of downsizing educational extras and tightening budgets. My plan with this blog is to give you the tools that help me make it all work. I hope you join the community, ask questions, tell me where I can clarify and extend.

A quick bio: I was born in Berkley California to Irish-German parents. After receiving a BA in Economics, a BA in Russian and an MBA, and while putting my time in as a Working Mom, I raised two children and taught evening classes at community colleges. Now, my daughter has graduated from USNA and is serving as an officer in DC. My son graduated from University of California with a double major and enlisted in the Army where he serves with the Signal Corps. My beautiful labrador Casey is finally potty trained.  I spend most of my time, teaching, reading, and writing. I love it.

A few resources:

How can I help you? Fill out the form below:

Animated-Border-RodWithCircles

Need more background?  Here’s an interview I did with Betsy Weigle at Classroom Teacher Resources

Integrating Technology in Education

Jacqui MurrayJacqui Murray

Thanks for inviting me to your site, Betsy. I’m honored to be able to share my thoughts with your readers about technology in education.

What skills do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?

Independence, curiosity, communication, enthusiasm, being risk-takers, being inquirers, being open-minded. If we can nurture these skills in students, we’ve done our jobs.

For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?

Start with Web 2.0 communication tools. This isn’t software – no MS Office here! – rather, these are online tools (mostly free) that enable students to communicate in creative ways that appeal to their unique and individual learning and leading styles. A short list includes:

  • Animoto
  • Tagxedo or Wordle
  • ZimmerTwins
  • QR Codes
  • Vokis
  • Glogster

Here’s an article about my top 13 (including links to those above).

What is your non-blogging job?

That would be teaching. I teach technology to K-8 students at a small private school in Southern California.

What is the best part of that job?

So many students think they can’t get technology. I’ve studied what stumps them and over the years come up with what I think are effective methods of overcoming their tech-phobia. The best part of my “tech teacher” job is when that works – when students who thought they’d never excel at technology start coming in on their own time to use the computers, when they show me a project they did at home by themselves and they’re proud of it, when their parents come tell me how their little one taught them X or Y on the computer.

You can’t beat that feeling for both student and me!

Sharing Ideas

How did you first get involved with blogging?

I started blogging to share ideas with colleagues and pick their brains on the big concepts that float around our discipline:

  • 1:1 schools
  • Flipped classrooms
  • Good use of iPads
  • Best practices for tech teachers

Light bulb on chalkboard

I wanted to share what I was doing to benefit newer teachers and get feedback from my more-experienced e-colleagues. Since that modest start, it’s morphed into a resource for both tech and classroom teachers.

One of the most interesting parts (to me) is a column I offer where I answer questions for teachers. Sometimes I can provide feedback from my experience, but more often the fascinating questions of my colleagues force me to think through what I’m doing and organize my thoughts on it.

I had one question from a teacher in North Carolina asking whether I thought tech teachers should remain in the lab or move to the core classroom. I cross-posted the inquiry (because I didn’t have a good answer) to the other parts of my professional learning network and it mushroomed to a huge discussion with valuable feedback I never could have come up with on my own. I was awed and inspired by the depth of thought everyone put into their answers.

I got involved to share and as a result, I find myself learning. What could be better?

What do you find most challenging about blogging about your topic?

That has to be staying up to date. There are so many advancements in technology, I spend part of each day on forums, ezines, checking out my sources to see what I’m missing.

Recently, TEDEd came out – a game changer in technology teaching. Every day it’s something like that. I’m thrilled, but humbled by how much is available to better teach technology. Every year I change lesson plans because last year’s are dated.

With iPads, there is a whole new world of tools we can use to better communicate education concepts. The teachers at my school are clamoring for them and I have to find time to research those while keeping my teaching schedule. Don’t take this wrong – I have no complaints. I’ve been offered a classroom teaching position, but I love the pizazz and sparkle of tech too much to ever change!

What have been your most-popular topics?

By far, it’s keyboarding. I remember getting an email from a radio producer interested in interviewing me about keyboarding and young students for a radio show. She couldn’t believe how excited I was! Any tech teacher understands – it’s a huge issue: When to start keyboarding skills, how and what to expect, when to work on speed and accuracy. Nothing mundane about keyboarding and kinders.

_____________________________________________________________

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blogger, a columnist for Examiner.com, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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50 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hi,

    I had a question about the new kids computer workbooks. I have children in 3rd and 7th grade. Is each book self sustaining – do they all begin at step 1 or does one build on the other? So for example, for the 3rd grader, would she already be behind starting at the 3rd grade level? And, would they apply to the 7th grader? We are all sorely lackling in computer skills beyond e-mail, games and ebay!

    thank you,
    Laura U

    • That’s a great question. I have that situation when I get new students who didn’t start with me in kindergarten. In fact, they do build on each other, but there are several points where you can ‘jump in’ without going through the prior levels. K and 1 are introductory–using the mouse, computer comfort, internet intro, that sort. If you know those skills, second introduces Word, Publisher and PowerPoint. That might be a good starting point for your 3rd grader. The Third level re-introduces Word, Publisher and PowerPoint, as well as Excel. If your 3rd grader is at ease with the computer, that might work fine, too, just so he understands why it might be moving a bit faster than he’d expect.

      Programs like Google Earth, problem-solving, tech jargon, internet skills, research, emailing, critical thinking skills–these are worked on throughout, so if you start at the third grade level, you won’t miss out on anything in those areas. Each book has age-appropriate, topic-oriented internet websites, so these will be considerably different for 3rd and 5th. You can get a free partial list off the publisher website

      I hope that helps. Both your kids are at ages where they can learn technology skills quickly and efficiently.

  2. I wanted to write an introduce myself and Parentella. I really like your blog and I’d love to have you on our blog as a guest. Parentella is a communication platform for parents and teachers to share class news, homework, events, etc.

    Here is a demo account for teachers:

    http://www.parentella.com
    un: Mr. Pencil
    pw: Demo

    A parent account

    Un: Judy Jetson
    Pw: demo

    Let me know what you think about being on our blog.

  3. Looks like an interesting site. I saw it on one of my Web 2.0 sites. Not cooltoolsforschool.wikispaces.com, but one like that. The internet is a natural for allowing parents to stay up to date on class activities, homework, etc. I haven’t checked yours, but I assume you have links for blogs, school websites, twitter updates (parents love those quick, short updates).

    I’d be honored to do a guest blog for you.

  4. Hi, what a great site! I’d like to know if you have any ideas for me on networking w/ my colleagues. I teach Technology Use for grades 6-7. I’d like to start building a network of contacts and to be a resource for others as well.

    Also, I’d appreciate any input you have on how to best establish a web presence for myself-as you’ve done.

    Please contact me at your convenience.

    Thanks, so much!

    • Nice to hear from your, mstechteacher. Two websites that are a great start for networking are Classroom 2.0 and the Teacher’s Corner Try them out; see if they suit your needs.

      As for your web presence, is it for networking, your technology classes or your parents? Each will have a different approach. Check out my wikis on the right-hand column. These are for my classes. Twitter works well with parents. I like the blog as a way to share ideas, lessons and news with internet colleagues.

      Good luck!

  5. Hello,

    I run the blog Onlinestorage.org, where I post all kinds of information
    related to online storage and cloud computing. For the past few months
    I’ve been collecting various resources on these subjects, and I’ve
    just posted my list of the Top 85 blogs about online storage that I
    encourage my readers to visit. Your site is included, since I
    always find your articles to be very informative and useful. You can check out the full list at http://www.onlinestorage.org/the-85-best-online-storage-articles-and-blogs/ and please don’t forget to tell your readers about it ;)

    Regards,
    Chelsea
    Chelsea@contentventurenetworks.com

  6. Hi Jacqui,

    There is no formal (and separate) technology curriculum in Ontario public schools right now. I feel that this is a major gap in teaching right now in a ‘should be’ 2.0 classroom. Where do I start if I’m interested in developing a baseline for what a student should learn from K – 8? I’ve noticed the resource books posted in your sidebar and will likely look into purchasing one and checking it out. Based on what I see here on your blog, I’m very interested in hearing your thoughts. What would your advice be on undertaking this tremendous venture?

    • When I joined my school ten years ago, they hired me to implement a technology curriculum–not nearly so large a task as doing that for an entire district. Rest assured, it can be accomplished with enthusiastic teachers who introduce skills in the order children are prepared to learn them. I start with tools, toolbars, mouse skills, even keyboarding in kindergarten. By fifth grade, we’re doing Photoshop and movie making. It’s a simple progression of lessons that build on each other over the six year period.

      The workbooks you alluded to (in the sidebar) are my curriculum–the one I use in my classrooms right now. Each book provides a baseline of skills taught at that grade level as well as all skills to be learned by the end of fifth grade. When taught in the order introduced in the books, skills build on each other (KidPix toolbars taught in K/1 become Word toolbars in 2nd grade, which become the same toolbars in Publisher/Photoshop/Google Earth; problem solving skills started in kindergarten as how to fix headphone problems grow to 5th graders being expected to fix overall computer problems–empowerment and indepence for students).

      Each lesson is tied to ISTE standards–I don’t know how that compares to Canadian national standards–as well as classroom units of inquiry into academic areas.

      That’s an overview. As for my thoughts–I am an enthusiastic believer in the ability of children to learn technology without pain or confusion when we as teachers believe in them. Does that help? Probably pretty general–I’d be happy to answer specific questions for you. Good luck with your endeavor!

    • My pleasure, Nancy. You seem to have a natural instinct for teaching. I like all the lessons you came up with on the ‘ski trip’ post! Thanks for subscribing.

    • One favorite of my students is Multiplication.com. One my 1st and 2nd graders can’t get enough of is Hangman . How about flight simulator on Google Earth–my students fly to all the sites they read about in class, as well as under water, to Mars and the Moon.

      Thanks for sharing your sites.

  7. Hello Jacqui,

    I am a teacher in New England and I saw your Blog and I thought it was very very done and interesting. I have a question that perhaps you can give me some insight from the perspective of a technology teacher. Our school is putting into place a state of the art technology lab for the upcoming school year. The materials and equipment within the lab are very expensive so there is a great deal of responsibility on the lab teacher to monitor and maintain supplies, equipment, etc. I was wondering if you had any ideas as to what procedures or protocol you have used or ones that could be used to make sure materials, supplies, and equipment remain in good condition or to ensure that students do not simply “pocket” or “walk off” with materials.

    Thanks for your time and help.

    • Hi John

      How exciting for you to work in such a modern environment! Most of us struggle for funding, making do with whatever we can get. I look forward to hearing how this works out next year. Can you share what those parts are–iPads, SmartBoard, etc?

      Here are a few suggestions I use that might help:
      1. No food or drinks (even water). This sets the tone that everyone cares about the lab, that everyone is part of its maintenance
      2. I have students stand behind their chairs when class is over until I check to be sure each station is left the way they found it. In my case, I check for monitors, headphones back in pace, chairs tucked under, etc. In your case, you can check that all equipment is where it should be. It doesn’t take long for students to get trained and they end up reminding each other.
      3. I don’t allow students to retrieve docs from the printer. I want to be sure anything printed that leaves the lab is appropriate. For you, it might also be a maintenance issue.
      4. I don’t allow students to use each other’s equipment. For me, it’s so their neighborly assistance doesn’t become ‘doing for’. I want them to learn to teach with their words. It’s the idea of ‘teach a man to fish…’ In your case, this rule would focus responsibility on each student for their own equipment.

      Let me know what equipment you have and I might have a few other ideas. We are looking at iPads next year so I’m creating some Best Practices for that stage in our growth over the summer. Have fun with your new lab!

  8. Pingback: Thing 6: Feed Your Reader | 2.0 Online Learning Course

  9. Hi Jaqui,
    I am not sure how to get in touch with you, but I was wondering if you had your whole year speak like a geek vocabulary lists for grades 3 up that you could send me. I think I have some, but not others. Thanks so much!

  10. Hello, I have a quick question for you about your site. If you could please get back to me as soon as possible I would greatly appreciate it. Have a great day!

    Thanks,
    Communications Coordinator
    Primrose Schools
    @DanGilbert66

  11. Hi, I am unable to find your email address but do you provide text link advertisements or sponsored posts advertising opportunities on your site?
    Please let me know via email.

  12. Jacqui,

    A friend of mine who lives in Michigan asked me to register a couple of domains for him. These have been registered with the intention of creating a “Computers for Kids” website. The two urls are http://www.cfkmi.com and http://www.cfkmi.org. Both pages are currently parked, and the domain registrar has some funky search page tied to each parked domain.

    To avoid the tacky search pages, I wanted to create temporary landing pages until he’s set to go, and I saw the picture on your home page of the child embracing a computer. I was wondering if I could have permission to use this picture on the landing page – at least until I’ve had a chance to talk to my friend more about his future direction.

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    Jack

  13. Pingback: Ask A Tech Teacher « Walden School

  14. Hi Jacqui,

    Excellent resource for teachers. I like the organization of your blog. I also added it to my list of blogs that I share with my staff. Keep up the good work.

    Brian Weir

  15. Hello Jacqui,

    My name is Robert Bailly from CourseCracker.com and we were just on your blog and noticed you have a Great Websites page here: http://askatechteacher.wordpress.com/great-websites-for-kids/. The sites mentioned are great, and inclusions are of course at your discretion, though we were respectfully wondering if you were familiar with our learning management platform CourseCracker.com.

    CourseCracker.com provides a free unique service for sparking academic interest and enhancing student-teacher, student-student, and parent-teacher communication via a private page that features a bulletin board (email notifications), discussion board, document storage, calendar, video/photo galleries & more (http://www.coursecracker.com/welcome) In addition, CourseCracker.com also features a School Blog, Groups, and a Teacher’s Lounge.

    CourseCracker.com is also FERPA and CIPA compliant and we guarantee that no student information can be tracked and no personal information will ever be transferred. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student education records. The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is a federal law enacted by Congress that addresses concerns about offensive content being accessed through school and library computers.

    If you have time, it’d be great if you could check out our site and add it to your list of resources if you deem it a beneficial for your visitors. And lastly, we are giving away a free iPad 2 for “Fondest Teacher Memory.” Rules and regulations are in our Teachers’ Lounge.

    Thank you for your time.

    Best regards,

    Robert Bailly
    Robert.Bailly@CourseCracker.com
    Tel. 949.525.6361
    CourseCracker.com

    • Hi Robert

      Thanks for telling me about your website. It looks like it would be helpful in organizing the multi-variable pieces of today’s education.

      I only include website on the Big Site that are for K-8 students, but I do a lot of reviews of sites such as yours for administrators, teachers, even parents. Please check my Product Reviews link for more details on that. Through that link, you might also be interested in guest posting for Ask a Tech teacher on a non-commercial topic that you are expert on–such as classroom management.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  16. Greetings Jacqui,

    My name is Samantha Peters and I want to know if you accept Guest Posts on Ask A Teacher?

    One of my resolutions in 2012 is to write and contribute more quality article related to education and educational technologies on a great site like yours.

    I do a lot of freelance writing and am capable of writing unique and relevant posts that I think you and your readers will find interesting.

    Is this something that you would be interested in?

    To give you an idea of my writing style and quality, I am including a link to a recently published guest post of mine. However, please know that any article I write will be unique and specifically written to fit within the context of your site. Also, any article I write will only be submitted and published on your site.

    7 Online Classrooms Teachers Can Use To Augment Their Own: http://bit.ly/xyClDF

    Also, I started a blog called The Education Update (www.theeducationupdate.com), which currently doesn’t really look that great design wise, but it has taught me about blogging and publishing my articles online.

    So you know, I work with the understanding that any article I submit must pass your review and editorial process before being published. Also, I understand if you reject any article I submit and will not be offended.

    I look forward to hearing back about the opportunity of contribute a guest article.

    Respectfully,

    Sam Peters

  17. A very promising future awaits your students, I must say. I wish more teachers embraced and taught technology and taught using all the interesting tech available to us these days.

    Keep up the good work!

  18. Hi Jacqui,

    This is Catherine Lee from Wondershare Software Co., Ltd., a professional Consumer Software Producer and Publisher providing multimedia and business solutions for both Windows and Mac users in 5 languages.

    We highly appreciate your authority in Technology field. I am emailing you because we hope you can write a review on Wondershare PDF Editor Beta, which enables users to view, edit, merge, split multiple PDF files simultaneously and convert PDF files into Microsoft Word 97-2003 and RTF files. To know more about this PDF editor, please visit: http://www.wondershare.com/pdf-editor/

    Any reply will be highly appreciated.

    Kindest regards,

    Catherine Lee

    Wondershare Software Co., Ltd.

  19. Jacqul, What talent you have. Would you be interested in using it to help design a global curriculum continuum for children everywhere? You may enjoy this site seeing that you have Sir Ken on yours. http://btracyh.edu.glogster.com/build-it-and-they-will-come-education-for-the-21st-century-lea/
    My website is http://www.k12nextgeneration.org
    Our mission is to consolidate and Promote Open Educational Resources into a Global Curriculum Continuum which will address those standards common among us all, providing quality education for all children anytime, anywhere.
    I would love to meet and talk with you.

      • Jacqui,
        I hope you have had a few moments to look through our site. Please know that it will always be in a state of change for like what we are trying to accomplish, it is anything but static. We also have the community site, Global Curriculum Continuum, on EdWeb.net. I hope you will get in touch (btracyh@earthlink.net) or (Tracy Hanson on Skype) so that we could talk about helping each other push the vision ahead. Tracy

      • Jacqui,
        I hope you have had the opportunity to review the K12 Next Generation website. It is in constant change as organizations, schools and individuals join us to form a global team of educators working toward similar visions. I hope we can make contact either on Skype (Tracy Hanson) or email (btracyh@earthlink.net) to see how your fine work could help the vision.

  20. Hi Jacqui

    I have bought your curriculum books and am finding them very interesting. As I teach in the UK, it has great to discover what is being taught across the pond and at what age.

    Please can you tell me the ages of the children in Kindergarten etc.

    In the UK we have:
    Nursery (3-4 year olds)
    Primary Schools – Reception (4-5) year olds Year 1 (5-6) Year 2 (6-7) Year 3 (7-8) Year 4 (8-9) Year 5 (9-10) Year 6 (10-11)

    Thank you

    • Kindergartners are 4-5.
      1st grade: 5-6
      2nd grade: 6-7
      3rd grade: 7-8
      4th grade: 8-9
      5th grade: 9-10

      All grades, I’d say the students are closer to the older grade than the younger.

      I’ve often wondered the same thing.

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