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Dear Otto: How do I assess a project like Movie Maker?

tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

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 Tracy in South Africa:

I am doing Movie Maker with my Grade 6 girls. (age 12) How would you suggest I assess this?

It depends upon your needs, Tracy. Tech ed is at times expected to be assessed quantitatively and other times, on a qualitative, effort-based platform. If your school requires the former of you, you might want to create a rubric that includes the Movie Maker features you expect to be included (i.e., storyboard, transitions, images, length, integrated sound), make that available as a checklist to students prior to completion, and then let them grade each other. You can then take that completed rubric and use it for your grading. As for the rubric: Here’s a link to one of my posts with some ideas on that.

On the other hand, if what you’re trying to teach has more to do with working in groups, mixing media, research, using internet materials wisely (such as images they might find for the movie), then you might want to adopt one of the approaches in this post–anecdotal observation, their ability to transfer knowledge from skills already learned, their ability to teach others what they know about movie making, an oral presentation.
These are two valid assessment styles. Whichever you follow would provide you with defensible and authentic results. Let me know if I can help with anything else!

 

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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 Teachersa 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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Categories: Ask Otto, Softwre, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Dear Otto: Is it important that students use all fingers when typing?

tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

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 SueAnn:

Dear Otto,

As the common core is dictating that keyboarding be taught at lower grade levels and to enhance the abilities of our students to type for longer periods of time and to develop writing skills, do believe that words per minute and accuracy is more important than correct fingering? or vise versa?  We have many students that can type 35 WPM at 95% accuracy or better but do not use the correct fingering.  As the technology teacher in my elementary school, I walk around when the students are doing their typing drills and encourage them to use the correct fingering during their practice time, I teach the correct fingering, we play games to learn the correct fingering we sing songs to learn the correct fingering but when they actually apply  these skills in word processing I notice that their fingering is not being used correctly.

..
In our district we have been teaching correct hand placement and keyboarding in K-2 for several years. Starting earlier is not the issue, in my eyes. I believe that with the advent of texting and the basic issue that we do not have enough time to have formal keyboarding time on a daily basis leads to this issue.  What are your thoughts? How important is correct fingering? Do you have ideas on how to help with proper fingering?
..
My 2nd question is: do you believe that word processing and typing are two different things?  And if so, how do we get our students to transfer these skills?  As I stated earlier, I can get my students to type 35 WPM with 95% accuracy during a drill, but to have my 6th graders sit down and type to a prompt in a word processing document for 3 pages off the top of their heads is an entirely different task.  One that needs many repeated trials.  I believe the second has very little to do with keyboarding and much to do with sentence structure, paragraph development, language skills and time. What are your thoughts on this? Do you have any ideas on how to make the leap from typing drills to word processing?
..
I do think using the correct fingers is important. I discuss this as ‘using the finger closest to the key’ and ‘no flying hands or fingers’ to get students to think about there’s a right finger for the key. They wouldn’t use just any finger playing the piano (so many youngers play piano, it’s a good analogy) or violin. Keyboarding is the same. To be most efficient and effective requires appropriate skills. The majority of my top keyboarders do it with skill–and then exceed 45/55 wpm. There are levels of knowledge in keyboarding: 1) knowing where the keys are. That gets students faster than 20wpm. If they don’t know key placement, they will have trouble hitting 20 wpm. Your students at 35wpm definitely know where all the keys are. 2) knowing skills–posture, hands and fingers placement, that sort. That enables students to touch type (hard to touch type when your eyes have to find the key), which pushes speed up tremendously.
Categories: Ask Otto, Keyboarding | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Dear Otto: What about blogging?

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Do you have a tech question?

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 Charlie:

Jacqui, I’m curious about one aspect of blogging with students as a computer lab teacher. That aspect is efficiently managing so many students blogs. I teach grades 2 and 3 which adds up to over 600 students in 25 classes. When you only see each class once per week, blogging could easily be the basis of the entire year’s curriculum. We are a GAFE district but Blogger is blocked. For that reason and ease of management I decided upon Kidblog. So, I am curious how you manage the different classes and numbers of students as a lab teacher. Do you for example have the “all posts must be approved before going live” turned on? What is your username/password convention? Do you use the invitation method of registering student accounts or bulk upload? BTW, do you have a reference that you utilize/like in terms of the teaching progression for teaching blogging?

Hi Charlie

Truth, I don’t break my students into classes. I want them to be a community, to interact with all students. I ask students to organize posts by tags so they can quickly find other posts on a like topic.

But, I understand with 600 students, that probably won’t work as nicely as my 150 students do (4th/5th graders who I also see once a week). Kidblog allows you to set up multiple classes under your teacher log-in, then add students to each. That would break them into a tighter community for you.

I do approve all posts before publishing, as well as comments. It doesn’t take as long as it sounds like it should (though, again, I have less students blogging than you). I added all grade-level teachers as Admins on the blog and collaborated with them to review-approve posts/comments relevant to their inquiry. This worked well as teachers started using the blog posts/comments as formative assessments, assigning topics that dealt with their inquiry.

UN/PW–I keep those simple, especially important with youngers. Since I’m approving posts/comments, there isn’t a high risk that a student will hack a classmate’s account. If they do, I’ll know who did it. Yes, there are clever ways around that, but most 2/3 graders aren’t that savvy. Once the student successfully logs on, they can change their password. I allow that, but let them know it’s their responsibility to remember. They track the myriad PWs in binders. If they forget their PW (which they will), Admin members can reset, which would be you or any of the teachers you added to the list.

I do the bulk upload to get students started. No special reason, though. I am always looking for opportunities to put tech in front of students, so the invitation would work for that also. My 5th graders are on wikis and I often invite them to join (especially when they can’t find that pesky ‘join’ button!).

I use blogging as an educational tech tool, not so much a skill. I show (demonstrate rather than teach) students the log-in, layout, how to add text, media, but let them do a lot of independent discovery on the richness of the platform. I post articles on my blog that, say, include YouTube videos and hope that inspires them to ask, How did you do that?. I use blogging for many Common Core standards–publishing, sharing, collaborating, understand the perspective of others, visual learning, demonstrate independence, respond to the varying demands of audience/task/purpose/discipline, comprehend as well as critique (via comments). It truly is one of those tools that fits throughout the curriculum.

Here are a few more ideas:

How do you-all manage blogging in your classrooms?

To ask Otto a question, email me at askatechteacher@gmail.com



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 Teachersa 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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Categories: Ask Otto, Web 2.0, writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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

tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

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 years now. The first four years, we worked with Microsoft Office – Word; Powerpoint; Excel. The last two years, we went to an Apple platform and now we use iWorks Suite: Pages; Keynote and Numbers. So far so good – but I feel like I have to “double teach” some things: use this for Word (at home) and this for Pages (at school). Students have not been able to work on projects at home because of the compatibility issue. Not much of an issue for my little ones – we don’t send home much homework – but I would love for them to take these skills and run with them while at home. I teach from the menu and do not introduce shortcuts so they are forced to learn the “mechanics” of a program. Now I’m being asked to use Google docs next year. I’m on the fence when it comes to google docs for several reasons: It requires a username and password and email (which we don’t introduce until middle school) so my young students will now spend more time just “logging in”. I’ve heard there are ways to have the “email” go to the teacher – but I’m not sure how this works. The other issue is that I feel like Google Docs is “restrictive” when it comes to formatting.

..
Over the years, I have taught file management and how to save documents to file folders with correct titles. Students learn how to take ownership of their work. Google Docs automatically saves work in a cloud. I’m wondering if they will work on google docs at school (and have their work saved automatically – a good thing) and then work on Word or Pages at home and forget to save (a bad thing).

..
While I review the ISTE standards, I have not come across cloud computing and I wonder if I would be negligent if I didn’t teach students how to properly save their work, or use a particular type of software that is prevalent in higher education and the workforce. Am I behind the times? I feel like I’m going from one issue to another. Should kindergarteners and first graders have email accounts (and the issues that come with that responsibility) but be capable using the cloud, or should I continue to focus on core software and file management?
I’m dancing as fast as I can…..

..
Thoughts???? 

Hi Lois

Great questions. Tech changes so rapidly, unlike most other core subjects. It’s quite a challenge for us to keep up. I sometimes wonder if Admin considers the repercussions and implementation needs of their latest ‘great’ idea.

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Categories: Ask Otto, classroom management, critical thinking, K-5 Tech training | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Dear Otto: How do I teach Inquiry and Research in Middle School

tech questions

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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 Ms. F:

Question: I teach 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Instructional Technology. I struggle with the district standard for Inquiry & Research.  I can’t seem to find just the right type of assignment/topic because searching this, that, or the other thing is just random, out of context, an exercise in learning key word searching, finding reliable sites,synthesizing info.  If I make it too simple they can find all the answers on one site and then just plug in the facts.  I had 6th do a What-Happened-In-Your-Birth-Year project where they identified different categories and then searched for an event in that category:  Movies (and then find the Oscar winner for that year), Sports, Science, etc.  Right now the 7th grade assignment is comparing e-Readers (price, memory, size, features) using a spreadsheet, then drawing conclusions.

Any great ideas that would interest middle school students are welcome!!

THANKS!

Here are some ideas:

Hope this helps. Be sure to check out our Digital Citizenship ebook. It has a lot more hints.


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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Categories: Ask Otto, middle school technology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Dear Otto: What’s a typical lesson

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Do you have a tech question?

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 Lisa:

Hi there! Wondering what your typical classroom stucture is like. For example, I will be teaching k-5 in 50 minute classes.

Hi Lisa–I just did a webinar on that topic over at CSG so I’ve put a lot of thought into this. When I teach tech, I want students to be as independent as possible, have fun, and not be intimidated. Here’s how I accomplish that:
I break it into 2-3 pieces. I start with a warm-up, ala Responsive Classroom (if you’re familiar with that). It can be keyboarding, a quick student presentation. Something like that. Then, I do the primary goal of the lesson–a tie in with classroom inquiry, skills training. I wind down with free time on inquiry-based websites I make available on the class start page. Students can pick one of their choice from a list.
A couple of bullet items you want to be sure to cover in your lessons:
  • Differentiate for learners. Show multiple ways to an end so everyone gets it.
  • Maintain order–no walking around the classroom. No changing stations because ‘my computer doesn’t work’. No going across the room to get help from a best friend. Stay in seats. Figure out how to solve a tech problem. Get help from a neighbor.
  • Rules–collect rules from students at the start of the year and follow them.
  • Clean up before they leave–get students used to leaving their stations as they found them.
  • Have enrichment available—websites, keyboarding, other. Students don’t always finish at the same time. Have enrichment websites available on the class internet start page so they can quickly move on to those. They can even be games and simulations that tie in with inquiry.
  • What to do when it all falls apart (equipment doesn’t work, network is down)—embrace problems. Pause, get student thoughts on fixing things. Be flexible. The goal of technology is critical thinking, problem solving. That is never more evident than when ‘Things Fall Apart’.
  • Keep lessons as independent as possible so students can move forward with as little assistance
    • teach them to be problem solvers
    • keep a To Do list either on the Smartscreen or the class internet start page

Every lesson has three strands woven through whatever else you do:

  • Problem solving
  • Vocabulary
  • keyboarding

Even when ‘things fall apart’, you can pursue those and have a successful day.

What do you do in your tech class?

To ask Otto a question, email me at askatechteacher@gmail.com



More tips for running your tech class:

5 Free Digital Tools for the No Budget Classroom

How to set up your tech classroom

163 Websites for Teachers to Integrate Tech into Your Classroom

Dear Otto: How do I teach keyboarding in a 25-minute class?

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8technology 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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Dear Otto: What’s a good kids website creator?

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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 Laurie:

Do you know of any websites where teachers can create a free web page for their classroom? But I’d like to have my students maintain it, so they would need accounts and then I approve and publish the material?

Hi Laurie

The easiest free answer is to use KidBlogs as a website, but they are limited because they’re sanitized for kids. Edublogs (another blog that could be used as a website) is popular, though I have never used them. I love WordPress and use one as a website. It’s very flexible. Kids could certainly maintain it. You’d have to set up a static first page, then blog posts for the information. Maybe not as good as Google Sites or Wix or Weebly.

More of a traditional website is Wix and Weebly–both nice. They are fairly intuitive (my 4th graders used them), but they aren’t geared for kids so the free pictures are all ages. I didn’t see any bad ones (and I was looking), but their purpose isn’t to be G. For teacher use, I think you’d love Wix. There are some beautiful templates. There’s also Google Sites (comes with Google Apps for Ed–not to be confused with Blogger)

Any of these, kids could maintain. It’s simpler to have multiple users with blogs because you make them contributors with appropriate privileges, but websites are close to being as simple.

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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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Dear Otto: Lab Teacher or Integration Specialist

tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

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 Sandra:

I am a Tech teacher, I was told that my school is thinking of eliminating our computer lab, and that students will use their computers in their classrooms.   I would love to hear other Tech teacher’s opinions as I think a tech lab is useful at this point where teacher’s are not so at ease with using technology, so I think students would be missing out.  I believe in students coming to the lab with their teacher or not, with their own laptops (as we have 1:1), but a Tech teacher at this time seems necessary to me. I feel many of the things that I do like Google Maps, Programming, keyboarding, and so many software that I introduce which they don’t know of, will be left out. Not to say that in a few years, teachers will not be IT literate enough to do it all themselves, but right now and looking at the teachers at my school, they still need a lot of Professional Development to get to know all the fantastic tools out there, and learn how to adapt and use them with their students.
Really look forward to hearing other views.
Thanks,

This is a hot question. We rolled it around on my blog about a year ago and my opinions haven’t changed since then. Click the link. I know it’s the direction Admin wants to go, and it’s the right direction to satisfy Common Core and ISTE standards. The question is: How does one make it work? The classroom teachers aren’t trained to deliver tech. It would be like we tech teachers asserting we could deliver their content as well as them. Just not true. Yes, tech will get integrated into the curriculum with the best efforts of the classroom teachers, but student knowledge, skills, comfort will suffer. Who will teach keyboarding? Digital Citizenship? Techie problem solving tricks? And when will the classroom teachers have time to uncover those fabulously useful web-based tools like Animoto, Prezi, Bubbl.us, and the new ones that pop up every day?

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Categories: Ask Otto, middle school technology | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Dear Otto: Use Tech to Differentiate Lessons?

tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

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 Ali:

I would love some information on differentiating tech lab lessons. I struggle with that the most in my lab.

I love tech for differentiating. There are so many software programs and online tools that speak to a student’s individual interests–Word (for writing-intensive), Publisher (for multimedia), PowerPoint (for multimedia), Voki (for video/audio), Big Huge Labs (for lots of choices). For 5th grade and up, I have a unit I co-teach with the grade-level teacher. I introduce students to about 18 online tools, then they pick one for a class project (whatever inquiry is going on in the classroom at the time). Here’s a link to my collection. You will want to those that suit your group. Favorites are Voki, Poll Daddy, Animoto, Photostory, a mind mapper. In all the years I’ve taught this unit, I am constantly amazed at student choices. those I would have predicted loved writing pick video tools, and vice versa.

Here are some more ideas for differentiating instruction in your classroom:

  • keep lots of activities going in your classroom, so students can work at their own pace and thus, self-manage their tech education. Keyboarding practice is great for that. While some students finish a project, others work on keyboarding. Sponge websites are another–have a collection of links on the class internet start page that support class inquiry. If/when students finish a project, they can work through those links.
  • teach visual organizers then let students use them as an option for projects. Here are some websites you’ll find a wide selection of graphic organizers for every need:
  • add color to everything. If you’re teaching Word, include how to add pictures, borders, fonts. Students will tolerate all the text to get to the decorating. If you’re reviewing Excel, show how to color cells, text, add images. Students will do the math stuff so they can make it pretty.
  • use online tools like Puzzle Maker as an alternative to traditional study guides. Anything you can gamify will go down easier with students. They are digital natives so let them do what comes naturally.
  • As a matter of fact, gamify anything possible. Here’s a link to simulations on everything from science to government.

How do you differentiate instruction in your class? Do you find yourself relying more often on tech to accomplish this?

More posts on using tech to differentiate teaching:

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8technology 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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Categories: Ask Otto, classroom management, free tech resources, lesson plans | Tags: | 1 Comment

Dear Otto: How do I teach [wild and crazy] 7th Grade Tech?

tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

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 Patricia:

What are best practices for teaching technology applications in a computer lab? As a first year teacher technology applications teacher in a middle school (7th&8th graders mixed classes) I really struggled with engaging students to listen to assignment instructions prior to beginning an activity. Then once the activity started students would ask questions that had already been discussed if they had been listening. It  was frustrating to have to repeat instructions 20plus times over again.

Middle Schoolers are a special breed. They definitely need to learn productivity software like word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, but–you’re right–it’s hard to get them to sit still. I’ve found it’s much better to give them big goals, general guidelines, deadlines, and let them go. I just finished editing a tech textbook for 7th grade and it includes units on problem solving, logical thinking, digital citizenship, programming. To teach these topics, you as the teacher engage students with Robotics, Scratch, games (select games that teach–i.e., Minecraft, Bridge Builder, SimCity), web-based communication tools (Animoto, Glogster, blogs, wikis). It’s self-directed, student-paced, so places responsibility for learning squarely with the student.
As general lesson guidelines, try these:
Categories: Ask Otto, classroom management | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Dear Otto: Common Core requires publishing student work. How do I do that?

tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

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 Rox in South Africa:

In my lab I can only do with my learners software that I can get for free. I would like to do some publishing work with them – do you know of publishing software that is free and appropriate for Grade 4 to Grade 6. I have learnt so much from questions asked by others and your kind, informed answers – Thank you

This is a great question, Rox, one that all teachers are addressing right now because Common Core makes ‘publishing’ fundamental to their standards–
  • Kindergarten: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.6 With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.
  • First grade: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.1.6 With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.
  • Second grade: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.6 With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.
  • Third grade: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.6 With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
  • Fourth grade: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.6 With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing
  • Fifth grade: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.6 With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing
  • Sixth grade: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing
  • Seventh grade: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing
  • Eighth grade: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing
Thankfully, technology provides many differentiated ways to accomplish this, from the mundane to the fancy:
  • Upload prepared Word docs or PDFs (Word, Publisher, Excel, PowerPoint can be saved as PDFs in MS Office 2007) to Scribd (http://www.scribd.com/). After you’ve uploaded a Word doc or PDF to Scribd, make the channel private so only class membersd can view (or public if that’s your preference. Once it’s uploaded to Scribd, the website offers an embed code so it can be embedded into a blog/wiki.
  • Issuu (http://issuu.com/explore) is nice too–fancier, still free, a bit higher learning curve.
  • Create a poster  showing important information that you found in your research.  It should include several pictures, at least one primary source, a link to the timeline, detail on the people involved and how they solved problems. If using Glogster (http://edu.glogster.com/), get log-in info from teacher.
  • Create a magazine using Flipbook
  • Create a website on the topic
  • Create online slideshow using Kizoa.
  • Create a Prezi, highlighting most important elements of student research
  • Create a video and publish to YouTube (class private channel), Vimeo, SchoolTube. Share via blog, website
  • Create an Infographic (see Unit 19-21—Visual Learning). Here is a sample of the history of technology (http://visual.ly/over-centuries-technology-timeline?utm_source=visually_embed) built as an infographic by Visual.ly.

Many schools don’t have ready access to any method of doing this. Most of these options require a place to publish to–a blog, website, wiki. Some (like Storybird and Nanoogo) allow students to access their work through the website’s server, but that’s not always optimal. The site may or may not be G-rated enough for your school and the ability to comment on classmates’ work may/may not be a service provided. Don’t let this stop you. Talk to your IT folk. Remind them that publishing is a requirement of Common Core. They’ll come around. If not, have them contact me. We’ll chat.

I’ve only touched the tip of the publishing iceberg. What are your favorite methods?

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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 TeachersCisco 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. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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Categories: Ask Otto, free tech resources | Tags: , | 8 Comments

Dear Otto: What are Common Core keyboarding standards?

tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

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 Lani :

I am trying to set up my curriculum map for 2013-14, for preK-8.  This is the first year I will be actually using the lab f/t…I hope, along with library skills.  I purchased several of the structured learning books & your blog has been amazing!  My question, you mentioned that keyboarding is part of the CC…45wpm minimum, by end of 8th grade.  I have looked at the CC State Standards, but cannot find this or any tech standards.  Can you share where this is?  I have new administration coming & would like to be prepared!  Thank you.

Here are the relevant Common Core standards for  keyboarding:
  • Keyboarding is addressed tangentially–saying students must be able to type *** pages in a single sitting (see CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.4.6 for example. The ‘pages in a single sitting’ starts in 4th grade and continues through 6th where it’s increased to three–see CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.6)
  • By 3rd grade, Common Core also discusses the use of keyboarding to produce work, i.e., CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.6 which specifically mentions ‘use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills)’
  • The keyboarding requirement that is giving teachers across the continent heartburn is that keyboarding will be required to take Common Core Standards assessments (a year off except where Districts are testing this eventuality).

It’s worth noting that CC standards are progressive–students are expected to learn material, transfer that knowledge to the next grade level where they show evidence of having learned it by using it and building on it. Therefore, the notation to ‘produce and publish writing using keyboarding skills’ in 3rd grade carries into all successive grade.

Here’s the meat of Lani’s question/answer: To fulfill these standards will require a level of keyboarding expertise by 4th grade. I get the speed by extrapolating what CC wants accomplished. To type one page in a single sitting in 4th grade means typing approx. 300 words without taking a break. At 25 wpm (my recommendation for that age group), that’s 14 minutes of straight typing. That’s a lot! But not too much. If 4th graders are slower than 25 wpm, the time commitment of sitting in front of a monitor goes up tremendously. For example, at 15 wpm, they would be typing non-stop for 20 minutes–can they do that?

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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 TeachersCisco 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. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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Categories: Ask Otto, Keyboarding | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Dear Otto: How do I teach keyboarding in a 25-minute class?

tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

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 Brenda:

I’ve been teaching 5th grade for 8 years, but next year will be my first year teaching as the technology specialist for 3rd-5th grades. I purchased your lesson books for these grades and am just beginning to go through them to start mapping out my curriculum. It looks like we will have a change in our specialist schedule however, so I am wondering if you have some advise on how to best structure my class in order to teach the lessons as well as focus on keyboarding skills in a shortened class time. Instead of seeing my students once every 6 days for 45 minutes, I will see them every 3 days for 25 minutes. What would you recommend? Any input you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the wealth of information and resources the website provides to those of us in these teaching positions!

What you describe is the nature of tech teaching–too much to cover in too little time. And that is especially true of keyboarding. Try these ideas:

  • every time students use your lab/classroom, remind them to use the good habits they learned during keyboard practice (all hands/fingers, elbows at sides, use finger nearest the key, fingers curled over home row). Those skills are for all uses–not just typing exercises.
  • assign homework–15 minutes 2-3 times a week, all keyboarding. Use an online website like DanceMat Typing or typing Web so it’s easy to access. I like focusing on a row at a time at the start of the year.
  • have class teachers help. Students learn keyboarding not to pass your test, but to complete core classroom work faster and more efficiently. The grade-level teams should be your partners in this. Ask them to remind students of good keyboarding habits (give them one of the lists in the curriculum you purchased) every time students use computers.

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Categories: Ask Otto, classroom management | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Dear Otto: Do Students Still Need to Learn Keyboarding?

tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

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 Joe :

I am a tech teacher at my school, and I just got word that the admin want to discuss eliminating “teaching kids to type”. She feels it is not an important skill to teach our “tech savvy” kids. This stems from the idea that many devices have virtual keyboards instead of physical keyboards. While I have my check-list of the reasons why typing is important for kids to learn, I also want to collect ideas and reasons from other experts in the field. Any research based data would be great too.Thanks for your help,

Before I answer Joe, I need to send a shout-out to my son, Sean, in Kuwait, as he defends America’s liberties–HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Back to my regularly scheduled post…

Hi Joe

The assumption of those who follow that line of thought is that technology can be self-taught, learned by doing. Just as it doesn’t work with piano or basketball, students who receive no direction in typing end up with bad habits that slow them down by the time they’re in middle school and need speed and accuracy for homework demands. If no one tells them otherwise, they think it’s fine to hunt-and-peck with two fingers (maybe that’s how dad does it) or type with their thumbs (the newest approach, thanks to texting). These students will struggle to deliver quality content for essays, reports, and high school and college applications. Where opinions are more and more forged by words on a screen–not by personal interaction or real-world connections (thanks to social media like FB and blogs)–these students will be found inferior.
Categories: Ask Otto, classroom management, Keyboarding | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

Dear Otto: How do I prevent printer pandemonium?

tech questions

Do you have a tech question?

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 Cheryl in Indiana:

It seems that my well-structured primary tech classrooms fall apart when it is time to print.  Some students just keep pushing Print & end up printing multiple copies, 25 students scramble to the printer to collect their printouts.  Total chaos!  Any ideas?

I have a two-step solution to that:

  • Teach students how to print. I take lesson time to show them the print box, the varied spots where things can be changed, and how to do it right. After that, I know it’s not lack of knowledge causing problems
  • I don’t let them go to the printer. First, it gets to be the lab water cooler–everyone hanging out back there, chatting, while they wait for the stuff to print. That’s no good. Second, I’ can’t monitor that everything printed is appropriate if they’re taking papers from the printer. Third, if they print more than one, I want to chat with them about it.
  • Consistent offenders aren’t allowed to print. I’ll email it to parents/teacher, but they lose the privilege

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Categories: Ask Otto, classroom management | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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