homeschool

What You Need to Know about Kidproofing the Internet

internet safetyHow to keep their children safe online is a constant question from parents at my school. They ask about firewalls, filters, kidsafe desktops, nannycams. Should they keep their children away from computers or just off the internet? Do they have to sit with them while they work?

No. No. and No. What parents need to do is teach children to take care of themselves while visiting this vast, anonymous, addictive neighborhood called ‘the internet’. Just as they come to understand that they stay at your side in large busy stores, that they don’t talk to strangers, that they don’t open the door to people they don’t know, they will learn to be safe in the digital world. Because it’s part of our genome–to do what keeps us safe.

While they’re getting to that epiphany, here are some ideas you can employ:

  1. Teach your children how to use the internet. They are digital citizens. They have rights and responsibilities. Just as in their neighborhood, they must learn to do it right. They aren’t born with that knowledge. Teach them to avoid ads, about online relationships, tell them again, and again. Sooner than you think, they will own it. Just as they don’t cross the street without looking both ways, they won’t cross the ‘digital street’ unless it’s safe.
  2. Discuss with your child what they can and cannot do online. Discuss why. Help them to understand. They feel invincible. You want them to feel safe, but able to take care of themselves. Part of taking care of themselves is not putting themselves in harm’s way.
  3. Use a parental control filter. Only you know the password which makes it your perogative what types of activities are available. Start by blocking ‘pornography’ because few little boys can resist the urge to type that whispered three letter word heard on the playground. From there, block everything you worry about–chicks, Minecraft, girls, Facebook, xxx, murder. It’s easy to unblock if your child needs a site that won’t come up. More importantly, it leads to a conversation with your child about what they’re researching, why they need it. You want your child comfortable with you involved in their lives–not as an arbiter of right and wrong, but as an interested loving party.
  4. Do not assume parental controls are perfect. Assume they aren’t. Stay vigilant. Be aware when your child is too quiet or too noisy at the computer. Ask questions. Pop in unexpectedly.
  5. Enforce rules. Don’t decide you’re too tired one night to go check a website your child tells you they need to visit. Always always always follow your own rules.
  6. Check ‘history’ on your child’s computer. Do it with them so they understand you’re not hiding anything. This is part of the plan to keep them safe.
  7. Know what their school does to keep your child safe online. Follow the same rules, or follow your own. Do explain the differences to your child. Children are flexible. They will be fine with varied rules.

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Categories: critical thinking, homeschool, K-5 Tech training, problem solving, teacher resources, teaching | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Is Handwriting So Last Generation–Redux

handwriitingI wrote about the demise of handwriting 2.5 years ago. Seems even truer now than then. One problem for both sides is that Common Core is ‘silent’ on it, according to the Alliance for Excellence in Education. That’s like the Fat Lady warming up, but not sure when she’ll be performing. Where Common Core has a lot to say about many tools required to deliver the education that will lead to college and career for students, it doesn’t mention ‘cursive’ at all. Though Common Core allows for a nominal amount of personalizing–meaning add-ons–only eleven states (as of publication) have amended their education requirements to mandate cursive be included in the curriculum. Not a ringing endorsement. Headlines such as these proliferate in the news:

Technology may script an end to the art of cursive writing

Is cursive’s day in classroom done?

No longer swearing by cursive writing

Studies show one in three children struggle with handwriting. I’d guess more, seeing it first hand as a teacher. Sound bad? Consider another study that one in five parents say they last penned a letter more than a year ago.

Let’s look at the facts. Students handwrite badly, and don’t use it much when they grow up (think about yourself. How often do you write a long hand letter?). Really, why is handwriting important in this day of keyboards, PDAs, smart phones, spellcheck, word processing? I start students on MS Word in second grade, about the same time their teacher is beginning cursive. Teach kids the rudiments and turn them over to the tech teacher for keyboarding.

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Categories: homeschool, internet, K-5 Tech training, problem solving, second grade, teaching, writing | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Book Review: Kindergarten Technology Textbook

kindergartenKindergarten Technology: 32 Lessons Every Kindergartner Can Accomplish on a Computer

by Structured Learning IT Teaching Team

I’m often asked what books I recommend for teaching technology in the classroom. Each year about this time, I do a series of reviews on my favorite tech ed books. If you want to fix some of last year’s problems, I suggest you consider the nine-volume K-8 technology curriculum series that’s used in hundreds of school districts across the country (and a few internationally). It’s skills-based, project-based, aligned with Common Core and NETS national standards and fully integratable into state core classroom standards.

The first in the series, the 132-page Kindergarten Technology: 32 Lessons Any Kindergartner Can Do (Structured Learning 2013), is available in print or digital, and perfect for Smartscreens, iPads, laptops, digital readers. It includes many age-appropriate samples, reproducibles, Web 2.0 connections, thematic websites, and how-to’s. Because I edited this book, I made sure it includes pieces that I as a teacher knew to be critical to the classroom:

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Categories: Book review, Book reviews, classroom management, homeschool, Kindergarten, teacher resources, Tech ed, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Sixth Grade Technology Textbook

technology curriculum

7th in the series, a year’s worth of technology lessons for 6th graders

Sixth Grade Technology: 32 Lessons Every Sixth Grader Can Accomplish on a Computer
by Structured Learning IT Teaching Team

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m often asked what books I recommend for teaching technology in the classroom. Each year about this time, I do a series of reviews on my favorite tech ed books. If you want to fix some of last year’s tech ed teaching problems, I suggest you consider the nine-volume K-8 technology curriculum series that’s used in hundreds of school districts across the country (and many more internationally). It’s skills-based, project-based, aligned with NETS national standards and fully integratable into state core classroom standards.

The seventh in the series, the 170-page Sixth Grade Technology: 32 Lessons Every Sixth Grader Can Do (Structured Learning2012), available in print or digital, and perfect for Smartscreens, iPads, laptops. It includes many age-appropriate samples, reproducibles, Web 2.0 connections, thematic websites, and how-to’s. Because I edited this book, I made sure it includes pieces that I as a teacher knew to be critical to the classroom:

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Tech Tip #65: Google Street View

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 can’t find enough detail about a particular area of the world that we’re studying in class. Any suggestions?

A: That’s a lot easier to do today than it used to be, thanks to Google Street View. Students love walking down the street that they just read about in a book or seeing their home on the internet. It’s also a valuable research tool for writing. What better way to add details to a setting than to go see it?
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Categories: free tech resources, Geography, Google Earth, homeschool, research, teacher resources, Tech Tips, Web 2.0, writing | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Book Review: Fifth Grade Technology Textbook

tech curriculumFifth Grade Technology: 32 Lessons Every Fifth Grader Can Accomplish on a Computer

by Structured Learning Tech Team

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m often asked what books I recommend for teaching technology in the classroom. Each year about this time, I do a series of reviews on my favorite tech ed books. If you want to fix some of last year’s problems, I suggest you consider the nine-volume K-8 technology curriculum series that’s used in hundreds of school districts across the country (and a few internationally). It’s skills-based, project-based, aligned with Common Core and NETS national standards and fully integratable into state core classroom standards.

The sixth in the series, the 202-page Fifth Grade Technology: 32 Lessons Any Fifth Grader Can Do (Structured Learning 2013), is available in print or digital, and perfect for Smartscreens, iPads, laptops, digital readers. It includes many age-appropriate samples, reproducibles, Web 2.0 connections, thematic websites, and how-to’s. Because I edited this book, I made sure it includes pieces that I as a teacher knew to be critical to the classroom:

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Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day is annually held on the first Monday of September (this year, September 2nd). It was originally organized to celebrate various labor associations’ strengths of and contributions to the United States economy. It is largely a day of rest in modern times. Many people mark Labor Day as the end of the summer season and a last chance to make trips or hold outdoor events.

I’m going to repost an article I did last year with some updated (where necessary) websites for your kids while you work on dinner…

You’re bbq-ing. Friends are over. Life is good. Summer is ending, but that’s tomorrow. Not today. Today is about fun.

What do you do with the child who got sunburned so badly s/he can’t stay outside? Or those last fifteen minutes when the kids are hungry, tired, and completely disconnected with everything that they’ve been doing? Here’s a list of websites they’ll find irresistible:

Google Moongoogle moon

You can access this from the downloaded software for Google Earth (under the satellite tool) or directly from the internet (click the link above). The online version includes built-in tours of the moon which are fascinating, but doesn’t have the flight simulator that my students can’t get enough of. They fly all around our galaxy, to other planets, other stars. They think it’s pretty amazing to land on the Sun!

I get students to the website and leave the rest to their curiosity and the explorative side of human nature. From first grade on, they figure out what to do. A great student-led activity to teach about space, exploration, science.

Electrocity

When I flipped my fifth grade classroom last year, this game was one of the most popular with the student. Three groups selected it as their tool and each presentation was great. It was easy to use, but sophisticated enough for growing minds. The concepts of balancing electricity use and the environment were clearly displayed as students simulated the importance of both interests.

Wacky Facesvirtual face

This one is pretty freaky. The faces are real people. They smile at you, react to your mouse movement, wink, stick their tongues out. You have to see it to believe it.

Virtual Surgery

I found this website in my ongoing effort to align my tech curriculum with the classroom–in this case, fifth grade. This site covers more than virtual surgery (it also includes great interactive info on weather and machines), so direct kids to the left sidebar for their specific topic. Once my students discovered it, they went back over and over. They are engaged, enthusiastic and curious. This is a real life example of students pulling rather than us pushing and a teacher’s dream.

It includes:virtual surgery

  • virtual knee surgery
  • virtual hip surgery
  • virtual brain surgery

Click the link above and bookmark it. You won’t be sorry.

Hangman

Do you remember how addicting hangman was when you were a child? Now, kids do it online. The site is easy to figure out and has no advertising.

When I give my students five or ten minutes to select any website from our internet start page links, Hangman is the most popular. Kids play it with a neighbor or by themselves. I wander around the classroom with tips like “go through the vowels first”, “What letters often follow t or s”. I often join in–because I can’t stop myself.

Drive a Ship

Ships. It gives them an opportunity to stand at the helm of the ship of their choice and guide it through the world’s oceans. The third graders like barreling it over land, while the fifth graders work to see if they can avoid land, other ships, buoys–that stuff they’re supposed to avoid.

I think your kids will love it too.


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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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Book Review: Fourth Grade Technology Textbook

4th grade techFourth Grade Technology: 32 Lessons Every Fourth  Grader Can Accomplish on a Computer

by Structured Learning IT Teaching Team

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m often asked what books I’d recommend for teaching technology in the classroom. Each year about this time, I do a series of reviews on my favorite tech ed books. If you want to fix some of last year’s problems, I suggest you consider the nine-volume K-8 technology curriculum series that’s used in hundreds of school districts across the country (and internationally). It’s skills-based, project-based, aligned with Common Core and NETS national standards and fully integratable into state core classroom standards.

The fifth in the series, the 203-page Fourth Grade Technology: 32 Lessons Any Third Grader Can Do, (Structured Learning 2013), available in print or digital, and perfect for Smartscreens, iPads, laptops. It includes many age-appropriate samples, reproducibles, Web 2.0 connections, thematic websites, pedagogic articles, and how-to’s. Because I edited this book, I made sure it includes pieces that I as a teacher knew to be critical to the classroom:

  • K-6 vertically-integrated Scope and Sequence
  • Certificate of Completion for students when they finish the year
  • a summary of steps for a 45-minute class period–usually 2-3 activities, arranged temporally throughout the year for ease of understanding by students. For example, a lesson is likely to include 2-3 activities from among typing practice, student presentations, project that ties into core class activity, problem-solving that assists with 1:1 initiatives
  • Common Core and ISTE standards supported
  • domain-specific vocabulary

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Categories: Book reviews, fourth grade, homeschool, lesson plans | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Book Review: Third Grade Technology Textbook

3rd grade technologyThird Grade Technology: 32 Lessons Every Third Grader Can Accomplish on a Computer

by Structured Learning IT Teaching Team

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m often asked what books I’d recommend for teaching technology in the classroom. Each year about this time, I do a series of reviews on my favorite tech ed books. If you want to fix some of last year’s problems, I suggest you consider the nine-volume K-8 technology curriculum series that’s used in hundreds of school districts across the country (and internationally). It’s skills-based, project-based, aligned with Common Core and NETS national standards and fully integratable into state core classroom standards.

The fourth in the series, the 187-page Third Grade Technology: 32 Lessons Any Third Grader Can Do, (Structured Learning 2013), available in print or digital, and perfect for Smartscreens, iPads, laptops. It includes many age-appropriate samples, reproducibles, Web 2.0 connections, thematic websites, pedagogic articles, and how-to’s. Because I edited this book, I made sure it includes pieces that I as a teacher knew to be critical to the classroom:

  • K-6 vertically-integrated Scope and Sequence
  • Certificate of Completion for students when they finish the year
  • a summary of steps for a 45-minute class period–usually 2-3 activities, arranged temporally throughout the year for ease of understanding by students. For example, a lesson is likely to include 2-3 activities from among typing practice, student presentations, project that ties into core class activity, problem-solving that assists with 1:1 initiatives
  • Common Core and ISTE standards supported
  • domain-specific vocabulary

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Categories: Book reviews, homeschool, lesson plans, third grade | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: Second Grade Technology Textbook

2nd grade techSecond Grade Technology: 32 Lessons Every Second Grader Can Accomplish on a Computer

by Structured Learning IT Teaching Team

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m often asked what books I’d recommend for teaching technology in the classroom. Each year about this time, I do a series of reviews on my favorite tech ed books. If you’re already looking ahead to next year’s technology curriculum and want to fix some of this year’s problems, I suggest you consider the seven-volume K-8 technology curriculum series that’s used in hundreds of school districts across the country (and internationally). It’s skills-based, project-based, aligned with Common Core and NETS national standards and fully integratable into state core classroom standards.

The third in the series, the 156-page Second Grade Technology: 32 Lessons Any Second Grader Can Do, (Structured Learning 2013), available in print or digital, and perfect for Smartscreens, iPads, laptops. It includes many age-appropriate samples, reproducibles, Web 2.0 connections, thematic websites, pedagogic articles, and how-to’s. Because I edited this book, I made sure it includes pieces that I as a teacher knew to be critical to the classroom:

  • K-6 vertically-integrated Scope and Sequence
  • Certificate of Completion for students when they finish the year
  • a summary of steps for a 45-minute class period–usually 2-3 activities, arranged temporally throughout the year for ease of understanding by students. For example, a lesson is likely to include 2-3 activities from among typing practice, student presentations, project that ties into core class activity, problem-solving that assists with 1:1 initiatives
  • Common Core and ISTE standards supported
  • domain-specific vocabulary
  • Big Idea and Essential Questions for each unit
  • integrations to core classroom units
  • trouble-shooting solutions to the problems most likely to come up in the classroom
  • enrichments for those precocious students who finish the lesson and want more
  • a list of websites (PDF has active links). Both print and PDF can access a webpage on Ask a Tech Teacher that is updated yearly with new websites by grade level and category
  • a help link (to this blog) to a teacher using the curriculum who will help you through the prickly parts of a lesson plan. This is FREE–no charge.
  • Where lessons center around purchased software, the authors made an effort to offer free alternatives. For example, instead of KidPix, teachers can use TuxPaint. Instead of Type to Learn, teachers can use a list of online keyboarding websites like Dance Mat Typing and Typing Web
  • pedagogy articles to help think through critical issues like keyboarding, use of the internet, how to use wikis in classrooms, and more
  • wall posters covering critical technology issues (like mouse skills)
  • monthly homework for grades 3-5
  • FREE membership in a real-time teaching wiki where you can teach along side an experienced teacher using the curriculum every week

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Book Review: 1st Grade Technology–32 Lessons

1st gradeThis is another in a series of textbooks designed for K-8. I think you’ll find them useful in your classroom Web 2.0 integration:

First Grade Technology: 32 Lessons Every First Grader Can Accomplish on a Computer

by Structured Learning

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m often asked what books I’d recommend for teaching technology in the classroom. Each year about this time, I do a series of reviews on my favorite tech ed books. If you want to fix some of this year’s tech problems and get students ready for the rigor of Common Core, I suggest you consider the nine-volume K-8 technology curriculum series that’s used in hundreds of school districts across the country (and a few internationally). It’s aligned with both Common Core and NETS national standards and fully integrable into state classroom standards.

It’s 131 pages, about twice as long as the prior edition (thanks to Common Core tie-ins, more rubrics and examples, reproducibles, Web 2.0 connections and how-to’s that are age-appropriate for a 1st grader). It comes with a free membership in a co-teaching wiki so you can teach along with an experienced teacher using the curriculum. It’s much more like a tech lab-in-a-box than a mere 32 projects. The blurb says it all:

1st Grade Technology Curriculum is the second in a series designed to teach technology by integrating it into classroom inquiry. This nine-volume tech ed curriculum is the all-in-one solution to running an effective, efficient, and fun technology program for kindergarten-eighth grade (each grade level textbook sold separately) whether you are the lab specialist, IT coordinator, or classroom teacher. Each lesson is aligned with both Common Core State Standards (6th grade: aligned via Table of Contents) and  National Educational Technology Standards, and includes an Essential Question, Big Idea, suggested Assessments, required materials, vocabulary, problem solving, teacher preparation required, how to extend learning, examples, grading rubrics, additional resources, and how students can collaborate/share projects. Using a tested approach that promotes literacy, critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making, students learn the technology required to prepare for their future. The secret for you, as teacher, is knowing what to teach and when.

Each textbook includes a K-6 wide-ranging Scope and Sequence (in grades 6-8, it’s for middle school only), a year’s worth of lessons, monthly homework (3rd-8th only), student Certificate of Completion (excluding 6th grade), a comprehensive list of websites to support learning, articles that address tech pedagogy, and posters ready to print and hang on your walls.

With your purchase, you receive FREE access to a wealth of online resources including hundreds of teacher materials that differentiate instruction, websites that extend learning, and free help from professionals using the curriculum (membership included with purchase). Note: Color and embedded links shown in Click to Look Inside are included in pdf only.

1st grade technology units include (click here and scroll down to the green download box for a free preview):

  • Computer Basics
  • Mouse Skills
  • Tools and Toolbars
  • Symbols
  • Software
  • Holiday Greetings
  • Introduction to Google Earth
  • Introduction to the Internet
  • Fills
  • Thanksgiving Greetings
  • Shapes
  • Introduction to Windows
  • Reading on the Internet
  • Rainforest Animals
  • Open House Drawing
  • Introduction to iPad
  • Valentine Greetings
  • Open House Drawing #3
  • St Patrick’s Day Greetings
  • Edit Writing
  • Architecture and Design I
  • Internet Fairy Tales
  • Fairy Tale Cover Page
  • Tell a Story with Comics
  • Share a Slideshow
  • Introduction to Excel
  • Graduation

Disclaimer: I am one of the editors for this series, though it’s a collaboration of a team of technology teachers.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

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Categories: Book review, Book reviews, classroom management, first grade, homeschool, lesson plans, math, mouse skills, teacher resources, Tech ed | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weekend Website #134: Math Books for Elementary Grades

Drop by every Friday to discover what wonderful website my classes and parents loved this week. I think you’ll find they’ll be a favorite of yours as they are of mine.

gt

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Categories: Book review, cloud computing, digital books, free tech resources, homeschool, internet, K-5 Tech training, math, teacher resources, Tech ed, websites | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Tech Tip #56: Force a New Page

tech tipsAs 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 teaching my students to create a book report with a cover page. what’s the easiest way to get the cover on the first page and the report on the second?

A: Students as young as 2nd grade can learn to force a new page with Ctrl+enter. I have them create the cover page during one class and add the Ctrl+enter for the new page. That way, students can type the book report without my help–even on  classroom computers.

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Categories: fifth grade, fourth grade, homeschool, keyboard shortcuts, second grade, Tech Tips, Word Processing | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 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.

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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

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

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