social networks

Weekend Website #117: Co-Teaching Wikis

teach techLast chance to join the co-teaching wikis. By the end of this month, they will be private, unviewable without a membership. Drop over and check them out:

With Teaching Wikis (K-5 only), you follow along as a tech professional teaches each lesson in the SL K-5 curriculum textbooks.  Presented in a comfortable wiki format, you can ask questions as the lesson is presented, start a discussion with other teachers using the curriculum, access additional resources. It’s your mentor, your sidekick, your best friend in the tech ed field.

If you own any or all of K-5 Structured Learning technology curriculum (5th edition), you have free access to the grade-level teaching wikis. Just look on the front page of the book for a code. If you don’t own the curriculum, you can purchase access on a yearly basis here.

Questions? Contact me at

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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, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

Categories: free tech resources, social networks, teacher resources | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Talking Back to Facebook

Talking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital AgeTalking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age

by James P. Steyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

James Steyer, acclaimed founder of Common Sense Media, has written often in articles and websites on the affect that social networks are having on our children. In his latest book, Talking Back to Facebook (Scribner 2012), Steyer discusses worries on every parent’s mind about the social media engulfing our children.

With so much of education and play time revolving around digital devices like iPads, computers, Wii, apps, and more, parents have a right to be concerned and should question whether this tsunamic trend is healthy for a child’s developing cognitive and psychological functions. Steyer’s premise is that the obsession with Facebook and its ilk, as it seeps into younger and younger age groups, can be dangerous and must be controlled. To support his hypothesis, he covers important topics such as:

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Why do Educators Use Pinterest?

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Website Review: Chegg

Every Friday, I share a website or app that I’ve heard about, checked into, and/or gotten excited to use. This one is an all-in-one textbook provider. I love any website that makes necessary chores easier–and this one does. If you’ve never heard of Chegg, ask your college-age children or relatives. Or look for the orange boxes in college dorms. Everyone in higher education knows about Chegg.

chegg textbooks

Chegg books, ebooks, homework help, flashcards, and more



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Categories: digital books, social networks, Web 2.0, websites | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Things My Blog Taught Me


Photo credit: Nemo

When I started this blog three years and 657 posts ago, I wasn’t sure where to take it. I knew I wanted to connect with other tech teachers so I used that as the theme. Now, thanks to the 491,000+ people who have visited, I know much more about the ‘why’. It’s about getting to know kindred souls, but there is so much more I’ve gotten from blogging. Like these:

How to write

We bloggers divide ourselves into two categories: 1) those who write short, under-1000-word posts and 2) those who write in-depth, lengthy articles. I’ve chosen the former. I like pithy ideas that my readers can consume in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. As a result, I’ve learned to be frugal with my words. I choose verbiage that conveys more than one-word’s-worth of information and I leave tangential issues for another post. Because I realize readers are consuming on the run, I make sure to be clear–no misplaced pronouns or fuzzy concepts like ‘thing’ or ‘something’.

Prove my point

This part of writing transcends what print journalists must do. Yes, they do it, but my readers expect me to support ideas with interactive links to sources. If I’m reviewing a tech ed concept, I link to other websites for deeper reading. That’s something that can’t happen in paper writing. Sure, they can provide the link, but to put the paper down, open the laptop, copy that link–I mean, who does that? In a blog, I get annoyed if someone cites research and doesn’t provide the link.


When I write an article, I cross post to other parts of my PLN, sometimes to ezines I contribute to in other parts of the world.

And then I listen. What are readers saying? What are their comments/suggestions to me? Often, I learn as much from readers as what I thought I knew when I wrote the article.

For example, I get many emails from tech ed professionals with questions about our field. I used to answer them based on my experience. Now, I have my Dear Otto series where I share my thoughts and solicit input from readers. Wow–have I learned a lot from that! The flipped blog–teacher becomes student.

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Categories: blogs, social networks | Tags: , | 4 Comments

13 ways Twitter Improves Education

Twitter can easily be dismissed as a waste of time in the elementary school classroom. Students will get distracted. Students will see tweets they shouldn’t at their age. How does one

twitter in education

How would you use Twitter in your classroom?

manage a room full of Tweeple without cell phones? Is it even appropriate for the lower grades?

Here’s some ammunition for what often turns into a pitched, take-sides verbal brawl as well-intended teachers try to come to a compromise on using Twitter (in fact, many of the new Web 2.0 tools–blogs, wikis, websites that require registrations and log-ins, discussion forums. You can probably add to this list) that works for all stakeholders:

You learn to be concise.

Twitter gives you only 140 characters to get the entire message across. Letters, numbers, symbols, punctuation and spaces all count as characters on Twitter. Wordiness doesn’t work. Twitter counts every keystroke and won’t publish anything with a minus in front of the word count.

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Categories: classroom management, teacher resources, twitter, Web 2.0 | Tags: , , , | 48 Comments

Should You Dump Twitter?

Do you have too many social media obligations–FB, G+, Goodreads, Twitter? Are you wondering if it’s worth the time?

Flowtown has a nice, neat decision matrix to assist you. Answer the questions; follow the arrows. See where you end up at the end:

Should You Use Twitter?
Flowtown – Social Media Marketing Application

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29 Steps to Internet Safety for Kids

internet safety

Photo credit: Public domain pictures

This is a great list from Deb Ng, founder and former owner of the Freelance Writing Jobs. I thought hard about what she’d written to see if I could add anything, enhance or disagree.

Nothing. It’s a great list, as good as any I’ve seen since social media exploded on the education landscape. Read and take note:

Most of my online crowd are savvy when it comes to the Internet. We know how to navigate, can spot shady characters at a glance, and can quickly spy inaccurate and poorly written content. However, there’s a whole generation of young people out there who don’t know any of this. And it’s not a slam on their intelligence, either. Not everyone knows enough about predators, privacy and SEO content to educate their kids, and it’s not something so quickly offered in school. We’re getting better at teaching our kids the ropes online, but there are still some areas in which we’re falling short.

Why are we so good about teaching our kids how to avoid shady situations in the real world, but remiss when it comes to the unsavory online stuff?

I recently experienced a circumstance where my son viewed something extremely adult online, despite parental control settings. And though I haven’t been too lax about keeping an eye on his online habits, it got me thinking about all the things all parents should be teaching their kids about using the Internet.

Here’s my list – I hope when you’re done reading, you’ll add your own items to the list because I know there’s much more.

  1. Not everything you read online is true: It used to be anything we read in print was true. We could trust newspapers, magazines and books as reliable sources of information. It’s not the same with the web. Since anyone can become published, some of the stuff you’re reading online isn’t true. Even worse, some people are just rewriting stuff they read from other people online, so you might be reading the same false information over and over again. Even Wikipedia isn’t necessarily a reliable source. If you’re researching something online, consider the source. Some poorly written, ramdom web page, isn’t necessarily a good source. However, if you find a .gov or .org site, the information has a better chance of being true. Always look at who owns the website and whether or not they have an agenda before considering whether or not certain information is true. Continue reading
Categories: social networks, teaching, Tech ed, tech security, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 48 Comments

My G+ Stream is a Trickle


Connect with me!

If you’re on Google Plus, would you please connect with me? I have a lot of writers over there, but few educators and/or techies. Click here.Say hi. Tell me what you’re doing in your tech class.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for and Innovate My School, and a bi-monthly contributor to Write AnythingCurrently, she’s editing a techno-thriller for her agent that should be be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

Categories: social networks, teacher resources | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Unlocking Social Networking for Schools

Please join me in welcoming my guest, Brent Thurrell. Brent is the CEO of Scholabo Ltd a company he founded to help his children’s school reduce their reliance on paper and move their communications strategy into the 21st century. What started as a small project rapidly developed into a passion to help strengthen the relationship between schools and parents everywhere. Before Scholabo, Brent worked in the world of information security and identity management across multiple projects in sectors from global finance through to government and defence.

Brent saw an article I wrote for Innovate My School entitled How to integrate Web 2.0 tools into the classroom and contacted me to chat about social networks in schools. When I heard his thoughts, I asked if he’d share his vision with my readers. Here are his thoughts:

Unlocking Social Networking for Schools

If you read the title of this article and the blood in your veins runs cold at the mere mention of ‘social networking’, chances are you’re probably a teacher. Don’t worry though– this is a very common reaction and this article has been written to ease your now elevated heart rate and, hopefully, give you a new perspective about how the ‘principles’ of social networking can be applied to positive effect in your school.

To start with, we are not going to be talking here about social networking involving any form of pupil participation – that should have you relaxing already! Instead we will be focussing upon exploring the role it can play to support Parental Engagement initiatives and bridge the growing communications gap between Schools and today’s Parents.

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Categories: classroom management, Parent resources, social networks, teacher resources | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

How Do You Use Twitter in Education

I first published this post almost two years ago. You can see the responses were anemic at best. At that time, the most common reason for NOT using Twitter in twittereducation was that it was distracting–encouraged the wrong environment for students.

Now, Twitter has become accepted in schools, often a chosen method of communicating with parents. I’ve posted several articles about Twitter in Ed

…but it does so much more. Here are some reasons teachers tell me they use and love Twitter in their classroom: Continue reading

Categories: education reform, free tech resources, high school, social networks, teacher resources, twitter | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

I Got An Invite to Google+

Thank you, Therese!

google plus

I'm sold

I am having so much fun organizing my Google+ circles. I couldn’t get into Facebook because I’m not one of those who exposes my life to the world. Google+ understands me. Anything I post goes only to those I want it to. Continue reading

Categories: news, social networks, Web 2.0 | Tags: , | 6 Comments

20+ Common Computer Problems and Solutions (a Third Grader Can Do)

I received a lot of requests for copies of a document I published a year ago, Troubleshooting Common Computer Problems. At the suggestion of Edtech Sandy (aka Sandy Kendell), I tried to upload it through Google Docs to no avail (though it kind of worked in my site) so I’m guessing doesn’t allow Google Docs. Please feel free to disabuse me of that conclusion.


problem solving

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Categories: 8th grade, classroom management, Computer hardware, fifth grade, first grade, fourth grade, free tech resources, K-5 Tech training, Kindergarten, Parent resources, social networks, teacher resources, Tech Tips | Tags: , , , | 122 Comments

Twitter Buzz On Super Bowl Sunday Ads

Super Bowl XLV has arrived and the internet is ready. You can take a tour of Cowboys Stadium on YouTube using Google Earth:

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Categories: Google Earth, social networks, twitter, websites | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

3 Ways Twitter Makes You a Better Writer


Twitter will make you a better writer

A few months ago, I wrote a post on how Blogs and Wikis make students better writers–teachers too for that matter–and wanted to follow it up with how tweeting improves writing. In the interest of brevity, here are three quick ways:

You learn to be concise.

Twitter gives you only 140 characters to get the entire message across. Letters, numbers, symbols, punctuation and spaces all count as characters on Twitter. Wordiness doesn’t work. Twitter counts every keystroke and won’t publish anything with a minus in front of the word count. Continue reading

Categories: blogs, critical thinking, social networks, words, writing | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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