Computer hardware

Hour of Code

December 9-15, Computer Science Education will host the Hour Of Code–a one hour introduction to students on coding, programming, and why they should love it. It’s a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code” and show that anyone can learn the basics to be a maker, a creator, an innovator. They provide a variety of self-guided tutorials that the say “anybody can do, on a browser, tablet, or smartphone. We’ll even have unplugged tutorials for classrooms without computers. No experience needed.”

Watch this “how to” video for more information.

Coding is a great tie-in to Common Core math Standards. Any time I can show students how to complete math skills without doing math, it’s a plus (because it surprises them. They don’t expect a discussion on problem solving or modeling to help them with math.

I try to do some sort of programming at every grade level:

  • K/1 – Program a Human Robot – Use simple pictures to give a human “robot” instructions – forward (footprint), right turn, pickup (backpack).  This I got from a fellow tech teacher and it works wonderfully!
  • 2nd grade – Tynker
  • 3rd grade – Blockly –
  • 4th grade–blogs–adding images, looking at the html code
  • 5th grade–Scratch
  • 6th grade—Code Avengers, Code Monster, and Khan Academy’s Computer Science tutorials
  • 7th/8th grade–Alice

These aren’t an hour, but a start. Here are some more options. The Pony Mixer is wonderful. Show it with a few of the videos and let the students lose. It can be done in an hour.

Programming sites:

  1. Activate!—create games
  2. Alice
  3. Blockly
  4. Code–learn to code, for students
  5. Code Monster
  6. Gamestar Mechanic–design video games
  7. Hakitzu
  8. Hopscotch–programming on the iPad
  9. I like programming video
  10. Khan Academy Computer Science
  11. Kodu—game programming
  12. Learn to code
  13. Lego Digital Designer
  14. Looking Glass—animated story
  15. Pony Mixer
  16. Python
  17. Scratch
  18. Snap!—runs in your browser
  19. Tynker
  20. Wolfram Alpha widgets

Other options:

 ______________________________________________________________________________________________

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, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

Follow me

Categories: Computer hardware, critical thinking | Tags: , | 10 Comments

Tech Tip #52: Roll Your Computer Back to a Problem-Free Date

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q:  Something happened and now my computer isn’t working right. I downloaded a program/music/video or installed a new program and it hasn’t worked right since. What do I do?

A: These days, that’s not as hard as it used to be. All you have to do is type ‘restore’ in the search box (on the start menu) and follow instructions. What it’ll do is turn your computer back to an earlier date, before you did the download or the install. It won’t affect documents, only the bad stuff. It’s saved me several times.

Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, homeschool, tech security, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #50: The Easiest Way to Outline

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q:  My fifth graders are learning outlining in the classroom. Is there an easy way to tie that into technology?

A:  Outlining can’t be easier than doing it in Word. Here’s what you do:

  • Select the Numbered List or the Bullet List in MS Word. MS Word 2010 even lets you select the style up front. MS Word 2003–it’s a bit more complicated
  • Your first bullet or number appears on the screen. Type your item
  • Push enter to add another number or bullet
  • To create a subpoint, push tab after you’ve pushed enter to start the next bullet/number
  • To push a subpoint up a level, push Shift+tab after you’ve pushed enter for the next bullet/number

That’s it–three keys:

Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, keyboard shortcuts, problem solving, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #49: The Fifteen Second Slideshow

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q:  My kindergarten and first grade students are too young to create their own slideshows for Open House (or any parent day) and I’m just too busy. What’s an easy way to display their work digitally for parents that also involves the students in the preparation?

A:  I had this problem last year. I simply ran out of time trying to prepare so I offloaded the work onto the students. I was worried it would be too much, but it turned into a wonderful experience for students and parents alike. Here’s all you do:

Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, keyboard shortcuts, problem solving, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Tech Tip #48: Quickly Switch Between Windows

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I’m copy-pasting between a Word doc and an Excel doc on my computer. I know how to do that, but here’s the problem: I have three Word docs open. I don’t want to close the other two because I’ll need them soon. It takes a lot of time to click down to the taskbar, bring up the Word group and find the correct Word 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 grading and report cards.

Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, keyboard shortcuts, problem solving, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #47: Tool Tips

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

This week’s tip: I’m supposed to find a tool on the toolbar, but there are so many and I have no idea what they are for? It’s just as bunch of pictures to me. Is there an easy way to figure this out?

A:  To figure out what a tool does on the toolbar or 2007/10”s ribbon, hover your mouse over the tool (place the mouse above it without clicking). A tool tip will appear with a clue as to what it’s for.

This works in any program with a toolbar or ribbon–MS Office, the internet, Photoshop, and more.

Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, keyboard shortcuts, problem solving, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #46: The Easiest Way to Explain Right and Left to (Little) Kids

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I teach kindergarten. They don’t always understand the difference between left and right.

A: There are two times kids get confused about right and left when I’m teaching:

  • right mouse button
  • clicking in front of a spot (to edit, use the tab key, format–stuff like that)

I’ve found an easy way to clarify. Here’s an example:

Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, keyboard shortcuts, problem solving, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tech Tip #45: Your Screen Upside Down?

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: My screen is sideways 90 degrees. How do I fix that?

A: If you ever needed this, you’re going to be blessing me. If you’ve never faced that off-kilter screen, you’re going to wonder why I’d post this tip.

Of course, I’ve faced it–I run a tech lab and there are always those pesky prodigies who want to outsmart me. They know if they push Ctrl+Alt+(down arrow), it’ll turn the screen upside down. The first time it happened, I was at a loss. That’s when a different pesky prodigy told me how to fix it:

Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, keyboard shortcuts, problem solving, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #44: Clean Your Computer Weekly

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I’m afraid of getting slammed with viruses, malware, all that bad stuff that comes with visiting the internet. What can I do?

A:  If you take reasonable precautions, the chances of being hit are minimized. Here’s what I do:

  • Don’t download from music or video sites. They have the greatest amount of malware statistically because the Bad Guys know we-all like getting free music and videos.
  • Make sure your firewall is working. Windows comes with a built-in one. Maybe Mac does too. Leave it active. It’s under Control Panel-Administrative Tools
  • Do the following every week:

Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, free tech resources, internet, Parent resources, tech security, websites | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tech Tip #43: Back Up Often

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q:  How often should I back up my current project? How about my whole hard drive?

A:  I teach my students to save early, save often when they’re working on a project. Deciding how often that is means determining how much you can tolerate losing should the computer crash. Ten minutes? Twenty? That sets ‘how often’ you hit Ctrl+S to save your work. After all, if the computer loses your work, you’re the one who has to start over.

As for the entire computer, once a week is good. Me, I save each project I’m working on and then save-as to a back-up location. I also have an always-on cloud backup that saves everything constantly on my hard drive.

I hate losing my work.

BTW, most people skip this full-blown back-up. Don’t! It’s easy, and if you’ve ever lost an important document, you’ll know that the end justifies the time spent.

Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, Tech Tips | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Tech Tip #41: Repair Your Computer With System Restore

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I don’t know what I did, but my computer doesn’t run right anymore. What can I do?

A:  With access to the internet, computer malfunctions have become more prevalent than ever. Sometimes you download a program–or your child mistakenly pushes a button that allows malware on your computer. Suddenly, through no fault of your own, things just aren’t working right anymore.

This is so common that Microsoft has a program called System Restore on every computer with Windows operating system. System Restore is a utility that allows users to restore their Windows configurations to a previous state. While System Restore is often associated with providing recovery when driver or software installations go awry, it can really shine when spyware or other malevolent software compromises user machines. In many situations, this handy utility can roll back afflicted machines to a completely uninfected state. Of course, System Restore can work only when it is turned on and cataloging system states, so make sure it’s enabled on all user machines.

Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, free tech resources, Parent resources, problem solving, tech security, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #40: Where Did Windows Explorer Go?

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: I have Windows 7 and I can’t find Explorer anymore. Where did it go?

A:  Right click on the start button and select ‘Explore’.

DOS is a lot harder to find. Type ‘command prompt’ into the search field and it’ll pop up.

I still miss DOS…

Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, problem solving, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tech Tip #38: My Desktop Icons Are All Different

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q:  My desktop icons (those little pictures that allow you to open a program) are all different. What happened?

A:  I get this question a lot. Push the start button and check who the log in is. That’s the name at the top of the right-hand side of the start menu. It should have your log-in name. Any other, log out and log in as yourself and the world will tilt back to normal.

This happens a lot in my lab because I have separate log-ins for different grades. Students being students often forget to log out. I teach even the youngers how to check for this problem and solve it.

Truth be known, lots of adults have this problem, also. They’re used to sitting down at a computer they share only with themselves. When tech comes and does something on it–say, fixes a problem–and they don’t log out, my teachers are also lost

Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, fifth grade, fourth grade, high school, homeschool, problem solving, Tech ed, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How to Use iPads in Your Classroom

ipads in school

How to use iPads in school

What is an iPad?

It’s a brand name—not a product—for a tablet computer designed, developed and marketed by Apple and used primarily for audio-visual media such as books, games, periodicals, movies, music, and web content. It has a keyboard, but most people maneuver with finger taps and swipes.

It does less than laptops and computers, but what it does is spectacular. Such as it’s instantly on—no booting up. If you use your computer’s boot-up time to take a break, that’s over. And unlike smartphones, it’s big enough to check email, watch videos, read a book. It isn’t a phone, but can make addicting video phone calls through Skype. It isn’t a camera, but takes quick and easy great pictures.

What it doesn’t do well is run software—MS Office, Apple software (though it can with the right apps).

Software isn’t the purpose of an iPad. Don’t mistake this new device for a laptop-light. If you’re planning to introduce iPads to your Lower School/Elementary-age students, here’s a lesson plan for you:

Continue reading

Categories: classroom management, Computer hardware, iPad, lesson plans | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Do Your Children Need Computers for School?

kids and computers

What do your students need?

This is a question I get from parents all the time. Most parents want to get what their child needs as affordably as possible, and don’t want to save a few bucks at the expense of their child. If that sounds like you,

Here are my suggestions:

  1. Start by talking to the classroom teacher. What are their expectations of the child? If they’re like the ones in my school, they will want him/her to have access to basic software and the internet for research, maybe email. That’s it.
  2. You’re wondering whether a desktop is good for your child, or do they need a laptop? There are lots of reasons why a laptop might be a good decision for your particular family dynamics, but in general terms, a desktop is fine for a younger child (K-5). They don’t need to take it to friend’s house for group projects much until they reach middle school, and I would not suggest gearing a more-expensive laptop decision around an occasional project. I guarantee, the teacher won’t.
  3. There are other reasons why a desktop is a good decision. It is more durable (it isn’t carried around, so can’t be dropped). If the monitor breaks, you don’t have to replace the entire computer–just the monitor. Because it’s cheaper, it can be replaced if your child somehow destroys it or part of it (this should be expected of new users). And, a desktop has a larger hard drive, more memory and more drives/ports for input devices. That makes it more adaptable to unexpected needs.
  4. Now you need to select which level of desktop your child requires. Does s/he need the basic $350 on sale version or the everything-in-it upgrade? My suggestion is to start simple. Basic. See what the child uses, what else he needs before making an expensive decision. Most kids are fine with the lower end of productivity. Some, though, want the works. You’ll know by the time you’re ready for an upgrade.

Continue reading

Categories: Computer hardware, opinion, Parent resources | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: