Author Archives: Jacqui Murray

About Jacqui Murray

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, an Amazon Vine Voice, and a columnist for NEA Today and TeachHUB. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Summer 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

Last Chance for this College-credit Class (MTI 557)

MTI 557: Building Digital Citizens

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starts Monday, June 29, 2020 

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If students use the internet, they must be familiar with the rights and responsibilities required to be good digital citizens.  In this class, you’ll learn what topics to introduce, how to unpack them, and how to make them authentic to student lives.

Topics include:

  1. copyrights, fair use, public domain
  2. cyberbullying
  3. digital commerce
  4. digital communications
  5. digital footprint, digital privacy
  6. digital rights and responsibilities
  7. digital search/research
  8. image—how to use them legally
  9. internet safety
  10. netiquette
  11. passwords
  12. plagiarism
  13. social media

At the completion of this course, you will be able to:

  1. Know how to blend digital citizenship into lesson plans that require the Internet
  2. Be comfortable in your knowledge of all facets of digital citizenship
  3. Become an advocate of safe, legal, and responsible use of online resources
  4. Exhibit a positive attitude toward technology that supports learning
  5. Exhibit leadership in teaching and living as a digital citizen

Assessment is based on involvement, interaction with classmates, and completion of projects so be prepared to be fully-involved and an eager risk-taker. Price includes course registration, college credit, and all necessary materials.

To enroll, click the link above, search for MTI 557 and sign up. Need help? Email askatechteacher@gmail.com for upcoming dates.

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Tech Tip #111–Quick Browser Fix

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: Quick Browser Fixes

Category: Internet

Sub-category: Problem-solving

Q: The browser I’m using is quirky. Sites I know should work don’t. Is there a quick way to fix that without a reboot?

A: Here are four ideas you can try before rebooting your computer:

  1. Refresh the webpage with the ‘reload current page’ tool. About half the time, that works.
  2. Try a different browser.
  3. Next, close the internet down and re-open.
  4. Unplug the modem (or router–or both), wait ten seconds, and replug

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

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Tech Ed Resources–Online Classes

I get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m going to take a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: Classes

Ask a Tech Teacher offers a variety of classes throughout the year. All are online, hands-on, with an authentic use of tools you’ll want for your classroom.

To find out more, email askatechteacher@gmail.com


online classesThe Tech-infused Teacher

Certificate

By request; delivered digitally to your school or District

The 21st Century lesson blends technology with teaching to build a collaborative, differentiated, and shared learning environment. In this course, you will use a suite of digital tools to make that possible while addressing overarching concepts like digital citizenship, internet search and research, authentic assessment, digital publishing, and immersive keyboarding. You will actively collaborate, share knowledge, provide constructive feedback to classmates, publish digitally, and differentiate for unique needs. Classmates will become the core of your ongoing Personal Learning Network.

Assessment is project-based so be prepared to be fully-involved and an eager risk-taker.

Price includes course registration and all necessary materials

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K-8 Keyboard Curriculum

I get a lot of questions from readers about what tech ed resources I use in my classroom so I’m going to take a few days this summer to review them with you. Some are edited and/or written by members of the Ask a Tech Teacher crew. Others, by tech teachers who work with the same publisher I do. All of them, I’ve found well-suited to the task of scaling and differentiating tech skills for age groups, scaffolding learning year-to-year, taking into account the perspectives and norms of all stakeholders, with appropriate metrics to know learning is organic and granular.

Today: K-8 Keyboard Curriculum

Overview

K-8 Keyboard Curriculum (four options plus one)–teacher handbook, student workbooks, companion videos, and help for homeschoolers

2-Volume Ultimate Guide to Keyboardingkeyboarding

K-5 (237 pages) and Middle School (80 pages), 100 images, 7 assessments

K-5–print/digital; Middle School–digital delivery only

Aligned with Student workbooks and student videos (free with licensed set of student workbooks)

Student workbooks and videos sold separately

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1-Volume Essential Guide to K-8 Keyboarding

120 pages, dozens of images, 6 assessments

Great value!

Delivered print or digital

Doesn’t include: Student workbooks or videos

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Going Back to Space? Here are Ideas

Space units are always exciting. Part of it’s the history, but a lot is that space is our final frontier, a wild untamed land that man knows so little about. Now that Elon Musk’s SpaceX has safely delivered American astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time in almost a decade, the fever of excitement over space couldn’t be higher.

I have a list of over 20 websites I use to support this theme for K-8. Here are five of my favorites: 

SpaceX ISS Docking Simulator

This simulator will familiarize users with the controls of the actual interface used by NASA Astronauts to manually pilot the SpaceX Dragon 2 vehicle to the ISS. Successful docking is achieved when all greeen numbers in the center of the interface are below 0.2. Movement in space is slow and requires patience and precision.

This can be played online or as an app through Google Play.

Educational Application

This realistic webtool is an excellent scaffold for MS and HS students connecting STEM to their curiosity and excitement about space. Good applications not only for space but engineering, mechanics, and computer technology.

Cost: Free

Age group: MS and HS

Overall rating: 5/5

Build a Satellitebuild a satellite

This is an online simulation that challenges students to build a working satellite. They choose what science their satellite will study, select the wavelengths, instruments, and optics that will be required, and then build! After launch, students can learn about a large range of real astronomical missions dating from the 1980s and the data they collected.

The game is a cooperative effort of the James Webb Space Telescope and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Grammaropolis is aligned with both national Common Core standards and Texas Expected Knowledge and Skills Objectives for grades K-6. – See more at: http://www.techlearning.com/magazine/0007/grammaropolis/54131#sthash.bauH6spt.dpuf

Educational Applications

To build a satellite, students must understand advanced topics like wavelength and optics, and research scientific areas such as black holes, the Early Universe, and galaxies as they select what their satellite will study. A real interest in telescopes and space science will make this game more meaningful.

Cost: Free

Age group: High school and college

Overall rating: 5/5

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Great Summer Activities for Learning

This summer will be different than other summers. COVID has changed how we address summer PD so I’ve collected the most popular AATT articles on how to spend your education time this summer. Pick the ones that suit your purposes:

 

6 Must-reads for This Summer–2020 edition

Summer for me is nonstop reading — in an easy chair, under a tree, lying on the lawn, petting my dog. Nothing distracts me when I’m in the reading zone. What I do worry about is running out of books so this year, I spent the last few months stalking efriends to find out what they recommend to kickstart the 2020-21 school year. And it paid off. I got a list of books that promise to help teachers do their job better, faster, and more effectively but there are too many. Since I covered a mixture of books in a past article, many on pedagogy, this time, I decided to concentrate on content that could facilely move from my reading chair into the classroom.

I came up with six. See what you think:

10 Books You’ll Want to Read This Summer–2019 edition

Summer is a great time to reset your personal pedagogy to an education-friendly mindset and catch up on what’s been changing in the ed world while you were teaching eight ten hours a day. My Twitter friends, folks like @mrhowardedu and @Coachadamspe, gave me great suggestions on books to read that I want to share with you…

5 Favorite Apps for Summer Learning

Summer has a reputation for being nonstop relaxation, never-ending play, and a time when students stay as far from “learning” as they can get. For educators, those long empty weeks result in a phenomenon known as “Summer Slide” — where students start the next academic year behind where they ended the last.

“…on average, students’ achievement scores declined over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning…” (Brookings)

This doesn’t have to happen. Think about what students don’t like about school. Often, it revolves around repetitive schedules, assigned grades, and/or being forced to take subjects they don’t enjoy. In summer, we can meet students where they want to learn with topics they like by offering a menu of ungraded activities that are self-paced, exciting, energizing, and nothing like school learning. We talk about life-long learners (see my article on life-long learners). This summer, model it by offering educational activities students will choose over watching TV, playing video games, or whatever else they fall into when there’s nothing to do.

Here are favorites that my students love…

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169 Tech Tip #93 Shortkey for Find

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: How to Activate a Link

Category: Internet

Sub-category: Search/Research, Keyboarding

Q: Is there a shortkey to search a website?

A: Yes. It’s Ctrl+F.  This highlights all instances of the word or phrase on the page, PDF, or website (see inset). Usually, it includes a bar (like #4 in the inset below) that shows how many instances of the word and allows you to quickly scroll through them.

If you didn’t know about Ctrl+F, don’t feel bad. According to an article I read, 90% of folks don’t.

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

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Internet Safety Month–Rules to Live By

June is National Internet Safety Month, thanks to a resolution passed in 2005 by the U.S. Senate. The goal is to raise awareness about online safety for all, with a special focus on kids ranging from tots to teens. Children are just as connected to the Internet as adults. This is a great list of internet cautions I got from an online efriend a few years ago. It covers all the basics, avoids boring details, and gives kids (and adults) rules to live by:

Not everything you read online is true

It used to be anything we read in print was true. We could trust newspapers, magazines and books as reliable sources of information. It’s not the same with the web. Since anyone can become published, some of the stuff you’re reading online isn’t true. Even worse, some people are just rewriting stuff they read from other people online, so you might be reading the same false information over and over again. Even Wikipedia isn’t necessarily a reliable source. If you’re researching something online, consider the source. Some poorly written, ramdom web page, isn’t necessarily a good source. However, if you find a .gov or .org site, the information has a better chance of being true. Always look at who owns the website and whether or not they have an agenda before considering whether or not certain information is true.

Not everyone you meet online are who they say they are

This is the hard part because we want to trust our friends, even our online friends. The truth is, some of the people you meet online are lying about who they really are. Sometimes adults pretend to be kids and kids pretend to be someone else. They do this for a variety of reasons; grownups might want to try and have sex with kids or frenemies might want to act like friends to get information on someone they want to bully at school or online. Unless you know someone very well and can verify their identity, don’t trust that everyone who you speak to online are who they say they are.

Some people who are pretending to be kids really aren’t. There are grownups who pretend to be kids so teens and kids won’t get creeped out talking with them. This is never a good thing. Most of the grownups who are looking to talk to kids are looking for sex. Parents need to monitor their kids’ friends list and ask questions about the friends they don’t know. It’s more prevalent than you think and it COULD happen to you.

Not everyone you “friend” is your friend. Just like in the real world, not everyone you know is a friend. Think long and hard about the people you’re “friending.” Drama doesn’t just stay in school anymore, now it follows you home thanks to the social networks. Plus, stuff y

ou share with what you think is a private social networking page is a simple cut and paste away from being broadcast all over school. Also, be careful when friending friends of friends and friends of friends of friends. You don’t really know these people, why are you giving them access to your private life? Sometimes, it’s like giving them the keys to your house.

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6 Must-reads for This Summer

Summer for me is nonstop reading — in an easy chair, under a tree, lying on the lawn, petting my dog. Nothing distracts me when I’m in the reading zone. What I do worry about is running out of books so this year, I spent the last few months stalking efriends to find out what they recommend to kickstart the 2020-21 school year. And it paid off. I got a list of books that promise to help teachers do their job better, faster, and more effectively but there are too many. Since I covered a mixture of books in a past article, many on pedagogy, this time, I decided to concentrate on content that could facilely move from my reading chair into the classroom.

I came up with six. See what you think:

Bold School: Old School Wisdom + New School Technologies = Blended Learning That Works

by Weston Kieschnick

In Bold School, Kieschnick lays out an effective, workable education framework that blends common sense with technology while reminding teachers that tech is a useful tool for achieving pedagogic goals, not the opposite.

Why did I pick this book: I’m a longtime teacher who’s sold on technology as a tool but I don’t want it to be the goal. I like how Kieschnick walks teachers through a blend of traditional education wisdom that is kicked up a notch with tech. To me, that’s the best way to use technology to enrich lessons while we meet students where they want to learn. It doesn’t hurt that John Hattie — one of my idols — endorses this approach, calling it “…an essential part of every educator’s toolbox.”

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8 Ways Parents and Teachers Support Remote Teaching

Corona virus has been difficult not just for teachers and students but for parents. They aren’t used to the homeschool aspect of remote teaching and it is a challenge to balance the needs of all of their children as well as their own personal circumstances. Here are thoughtful suggestions on how to make that work from Ask a Tech Teacher contributor, Emily, from over at My Tech Classroom. Her website is filled with innovative ideas on blending tech into education. Today, she’s focused her considerable experience on how parents and teachers can support remote teaching. You’ll enjoy this: 

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With millions of children out of school and trying to adjust to online classes from home, there is a big challenge for parents and teachers. The first thing parents need to arrange is online access. Not all families have computers at home and not all children are tech-savvy. Fortunately, most people have smartphones, and it is possible to access online teaching platforms from a phone.

If your child’s school is giving online classes, they will be live group classes and lectures as well as recorded material that your child can view later. This is very important for parents who have more than one child needing online teaching. The family can choose the time a child accesses her lessons.

  • Make a Schedule 

The organization of computer use timings is important if the parents need the computer for their work at certain hours of the day. Since we don’t know how long online classes will be required, it’s important to invest in an upgrade of your technology, so you and your child can keep up.

  • Help Children Relax

During the lockdown, children may become tense and nervous about their schooling. After all, they need to learn new skills on the computer and do their work by themselves. Parents can help their children to relax and take it one step at a time.

  • Trust the Teacher

Teachers will do their best to inform the parents about their aims and goals for online teaching as well as give a schedule for classes. This information will be posted on the learning platform such as Microsoft Teams, where you can see it. It may also be sent in easily accessible formats such as texts that make it easier for parents to stay connected to the teacher.

  • Make Sure Your Child Gets Facetime

Teachers are doing their best to give facetime to all of their students, but sometimes this isn’t possible. If the child has to babysit a younger sibling, or the Internet goes out or any other reason the student can’t get on the facetime part of the lesson parents need to know. All the experts recommend at least some time every week when the student can talk directly to the teacher. This helps develop security and reduce anxiety in the child. This article gives you a clear example of what to expect from the teacher.

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How to Evaluate Programs You’ve Never Used in Less Than Seven Minutes

Ready or not, it’s time to go back to school. If you’re like me, you spent the summer attending webinars, seminars, and conferences. You chatted with colleagues on Twitter and Facebook about learning tools they loved. You collected a long list of highly-recommended resources that you can’t wait to try in your classroom. But that list could take hours to preview. Each. And many will turn out to be a waste of time. How do you find the best of the bunch without running through all of your free time?

Maybe because I’m a technology teacher, I can usually sort through this list pretty quickly. I don’t have a crystal ball that tells me what I’ll like, what will engage my students, or what will be more trouble than it’s worth. Instead, I have checklists. Two of them. The first evaluates the big picture. Programs that make the cut move to the second checklist where I judge usefulness in my particular circumstances. In the end, I’ve eliminated everything that wastes time, is confusing, and/or doesn’t fit my needs.

This two-step process doesn’t assure that once I try the program in a real classroom, it’ll perform as promised. Nor does it guarantee the program will survive the onslaught of student use. What it does is help me to waste as little of my time as possible while finding the best fit for my unique situation.

Step One: Qualify (Two Minutes)

I won’t even open the app unless it passes these three questions:

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Memorial Day Websites for Students

Memorial Day (May 25, 2020) is the time we remember soldiers who gave their lives in the defense of American freedom. In war and peace, they made the ultimate sacrifice and because of them we are privileged to live the American Dream.

Once a year, we honor them, their sacrifice, and those they left behind. Here are some activities to help students understand the import of this day:

  1. Difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day
  2. Folding the American flag
  3. History of Memorial Day–videomemorial day
  4. In Flanders Field--poem
  5. Meaning of Memorial Day–video
  6. Memorial Day DigitPuzzle
  7. Memorial Day puzzle I
  8. Memorial Day Puzzle II
  9. Memorial Day: Remember Me — video
  10. Poems
  11. Poetry
  12. Prayer
  13. Primary source recollections of War
  14. Quiz
  15. Quotes about Memorial Day/Wars
  16. Who you are remembering–Americans killed in action
  17. Word Search

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Shake up Your Remote Teaching with These Teaching Strategies

As we struggle with adapting our classes to remote learning, I know lots of teachers who are realizing that their normal approach isn’t suited for remote teaching. They need to come up with a transformative tool that will reach students more comprehensively, more rigorously, more granularly online. Here are thirteen accepted pedagogical teaching strategies with proven records of success. Read through them then think how they might be applied to solve the problems you’re having with online teaching. For more information, click the link:

Depth of Knowledge (DoK)

DoK is not a taxonomy (like Bloom’s). Rather, it itemizes ways students interact with knowledge.

Frayer Model

Frayer Model uses a graphical organizer that asks students to describe words by much more than a memorized definition. 

Growth Mindset

In a Growth Mindset, people believe ability can be developed through dedication and hard work. The cerebral and physical traits they were born with are just the starting point. Students are responsible for setting the patterns and strategies that allow them to succeed, by evaluating what they can do at any given point and making a plan for learning everything else.

Habits of Mind

In the face of mounting evidence, education experts accepted a prescriptive fact: student success  is not measured by milestones like ‘took a foreign language in fifth grade’ or ‘passed Algebra in high school’ but by how s/he thinks.  Habits of Mind lists sixteen of these.

Orton-Gillingham

Orton-Gillingham is not a packaged curriculum, rather a prescriptive program designed for each individual student. The O-G teacher incorporates phonology and phonological awareness, sound-symbol association, syllable instruction, morphology, syntax and semantics into a personalized methodology 

Project-based Learning (PBL)

John Dewey suggested the education focus be switched to students when he introduced “learning by doing”, today referred to as Project-based Learning (PBL).

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Tech Tip–Quickly Switch Between Windows

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: Quickly Switch Between Windows

Category: Internet

Q: I have a lot of programs open but right now, I’m working only between two of them. It takes a lot of time to click down to the taskbar and find the correct doc. Is there an easier way?

A: Oh yes, Much easier. Use Alt+Tab. That takes you to the last window you visited. If you’re toggling between two windows, this is the perfect solution. I use it a lot for report cards.

Sign up for a new tip each week or buy the entire 169 Real-world Ways to Put Tech into Your Classroom.

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College or Career? A Decision Matrix and Articles

Choosing what to do after high school used to be simple for those who had good grades: Apply to college. Now, not so much. For one thing, college has become increasingly more expensive and students are asking whether there’s enough value in what they get to offset the costs. Another worry: Colleges sometimes seem dangerous hotbeds of protests and riots. Professors seem biased rather than intent on opening minds.

Trade schools with their focus on preparing graduates for a career that contributes to society is an affordable, realistic option that even the best students are looking at. Here’s a quick decision matrix to help you through these options:

For more information, check out the plethora of articles Ask a Tech Teacher has on preparing for college or career:

MS Career Planning: Moving in the Right Direction

Study.com Makes the College Dream a Reality

Clutch Prep: When You Need Help With a Class

How to Prepare for the SAT

UWorld’s Unique SAT Prep Site

What to do when Johnny wants career, not college?

8 Websites For Financial Literacy Month


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.

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