Posts Tagged With: classroom management

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

How to Teach Students: Teach Their Parents

If parents don’t find value in tech, students won’t. If parents are confused by what you teach, they will pass that on to their children. Be open to parents. Answer their questions. Never EVER leave them feeling intimidated. Let them know that lots of people feel exactly as they do.

A great solution I’ve had a lot of success with: Have a parent class. I schedule this after school while parents are waiting for their children to finish with enrichment classes or sports. They’re hanging around anyway–why not learn something. Cover topics that parents are asking you about, should be asking about, their students are asking about:

  • show how to log onto and use the school website
  • show how to log into the school online grade reports
  • demonstrate how to use the school online library/lunch order system (or similar)
  • review what is being covered in K-5 classes (depending upon who is in the parent class)
  • review your philosophy (teach students to fish rather than provide the fish, encourage exploration and risk-taking, you don’t jump in to help every time they get stuck). Model this philosophy as you teach parents
  • provide skills parents want, i.e., making a flier for the school soccer team
  • show the progression of skills from kindergarten to 5th grade in one program, say word processing. Start with KidPix, move into Word
  • answer tech questions they have from non-school problems–even if they’re about a home system

Here’s my flier inviting parents to attend:

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Categories: classroom management, Parent resources | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

6 Ways to Say Bye Bye Binders

digital portfolio3-ring binders–the mainstay of education for decades–now seem clunky, heavy, unwieldy even.. You never have a whole punch when you need one so you end up forcing holes into the margin. The rings break or bend and then the pages don’t turn properly, and still you persevere, using them even as your younger colleagues abandon them. There are digital alternatives, but you aren’t one of those teachers who jumps at the latest technology. You wait, see what colleagues like, and stick with the outmoded binders like comfort food.

What is it about binders that seems so irreplaceable? The fact that everything is in one place–you can grab it and have pretty much all the material you need for a particular class or event? Is it the nice tabbed set-up where you can quickly flip to the topic you need? Or maybe it’s the pockets–stuff papers in there that don’t seem to have a home among the tabs as they await filing.

Here are six free tools that are going to liberate you. They not only do everything a good binder does, but they’ll reorganize and share your notes, email colleagues, help you collaborate on projects, grow with you (no more buying a bigger binder), and magically appear wherever you are–no more forgetting to bring the binder. These ebinders are always there, in the cloud, ready, accessible by dozens of people at once from pretty much any digital device–computers, netbooks, iPads, smart phones.

Live Binderslivebinders

Live Binders is the closest the internet gets to a three ring binder. It’s a free online service that allows you to collect webpages, images, and documents in a tabbed, book-like format. Students can collect not only the information they collect from websites, but what they’ve prepared in software programs like Word, PowerPoint, pdfs, and more. Live Binders are simple to set up. Just create an account, add tabs for primary topics (say, math), and then add collections to each tab of sub-topics (say, Common Core). When visitors see your LiveBinder, they see the main tabs, select the topic they want, and then see related materials. Very clean, organized, and appeals to the clerk in all of us.

wikispacesWikispaces

You can set up a free education account with Wikispaces.com in about five minutes. You have tabs on the sidebar to organize main ideas or classes. Each of those tabs can be organized by links to other pages, giving immediate access to as many pages as you need to cover a topic. I like that font sizes and colors can be varied so different selections stand out. Plus, each page has a Discussion option, allowing visitors to comment, ask questions, engage other visitors/students/readers. Very nice in this collaborative education world.

I have a wiki for each grade level. In the side bar, I put topics I want students to notice, like Homework, Resources, Important Links, What We Did Today. If it’s a 5th-8th grade wiki, I also have a tab for Members so students can quickly access their own pages. Clicking a sidebar tab takes you to a page with all the links for that particular topic. For example, the ‘3rd Grade’ link goes to a page that includes homework, Resources, and What We did that week. On the ‘What We Did’ link, students access a summary of class, grading rubrics, work samples, relevant websites and more.

Wiki binders are verssatile, interactive, and collaborative–great characteristics for student digital portfolios.

protopageProtopage

This is a class internet start page (click for sample of mine). Think of your internet start page. It probably includes news feeds, your favorite blogs and websites, the weather, maybe a mapping tool–widgets to organize your life. That’s what Protopage does for the classroom. At the start of class, all students have to do is go to the class Protopage internet site. There, I have a list of the days ‘To Do’ items. They start that as I finish whatever I’m working on. It also has a link to the Wikispaces page for an overview of the project we are working on. On each Protopage I collect ‘boxes’ of links to adddrss whatever inquiry we are working on at the moment–landforms, colonization, space, Scratch. I create one for every topic and leave it on the page. It also has class rules, a calendar, a calculator, and sponge websites for students who finish early.

Grade-level teachers can access the page for links to their inquiry, to share  with students or parents, to post reminders of work due, and/or collaborate with other teachers on project. Because it’s easy to personalize the widgets and tabs, it’s easy to find just what you’re looking for.

evernoteEvernote

This is a great free eportfolio for students. It started as a digital way to take notes and bookmark sites and quickly grew into much more. Now, through an Evernote Ed account, students can record text, images, and audio directly into Evernote (hard to do with both Protopage and Wikispaces).  Notes can be shared and emailed to teachers and parents alike directly from the platform. For those pesky paper items that can’t be snipped from an online site, use a scanner app on phones or iPads.

From the moment I installed Evernote, it became my new favorite tool. How exciting to clip away at articles of interest, store them in a file folder, and go back to them–right where I could find them–when I had time. They never got lost. My teacher soul soared.

symbalooSymbaloo

Symbaloo is a very visual way to share links to sites. Similar to LiveBinders, you create topic tabs and then collect buttons for each website or collection of websites that apply to the topic. You get a free education account, but it has limitations (like, teachers can have students add slave accounts under the teacher main account. Even the fee-based Teacher account limits the number of accounts to 50. I have 350 students. Wouldn’t work). A suggestion: For students old enough, have them create their own Symbaloo account

flipboard

Flipboard

I’ve never used this, but my brilliant ecolleague, Richard Byrne, over at FreeTech4Teachers, has discussed it no less than ten times on his blog–always in glowing terms.

The free Flipboard organizes your links in a magazine format. Every time you find something interesting on the net, you use the Flipboard bookmarklet to paste it into your Flipboard account. Students researching a topic–say, Ancient Rome–can use Flipboard to collect  information, then format/label and share it as a visual, accessible magazine with classmates. An excellent addition to iPad: Flipboard has an app to create magazines on tablets. This is a great way for students to collaborate.

These are six great options for breaking the binder habit. Don’t wait any longer. Start the new school year with a brand new approach to organizing information.


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: classroom management, teacher resources | Tags: , | 14 Comments

New Tech Teacher? I Understand You

If you teach technology, it’s likely you’re a geek. Even if you didn’t start out that way–say, you used to be a first grade teacher and suddenly your Admin in their infinite wisdom, moved you to the tech lab–you became a geek. You morphed into the go-to person for tech problems, computer quirks, crashes and freezes.

Overnight, your colleagues assumed you received an upload of data that allowed you to Know the answers to their every techie question. It didn’t matter that yesterday, you were one of them. Now, you are on a pedestal, their necks craned upward as they ask you, How do I get the Smartscreen to work? or We need the microphones working for a lesson I’m starting in three minutes. Can you please-please-please fix them?

Celebrate your cheeky geekiness. Flaunt it for students and colleagues. Play Minecraft. That’s you now–you are sharp, quick-thinking. You tingle when you see an iPad. You wear a flash drive like jewelry. The first thing you do when you get to school is check your email

It’s OK. Here at Ask a Tech Teacher, we understand. The readers understand. You’re at home. To honor you, we’ve created two posters to proudly display on your classroom wall. They provide more ways to get your geek fully on as you go through your day.

Any questions? Email me at askatechteacher@gmail.com. I’m here for you.

geek humorgeek


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: geeks, humor | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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

Book Review: 98 Tech Tips

tech tips

With the school year on its way back, I want to share some of the tech books I use in my classroom. I think you’ll enjoy them also. This one is a two-volume all-in-one for grades K-8. It includes a mixture of lessons that cover different skills, different subjects. Hope you like it!

98 Tech Problems from the Classroom:

and How Students Can Solve Them

Running a tech lab can be frightening. What if there’s a problem you don’t know how to answer? What if the computers break? What if they all break at once?

Several years ago, in an effort to create a practical strategy for technology success, I started tracking how often I got the same tech questions from students. Soon, I extended it to parents who, in a well-intentioned effort to help with school work, often got stuck on a techie issue. Some spent hours on a problem that could have been solved in minutes–if only they knew how to do that.

Turns out, 70% of the time, it was the same 98 problems.

I’m going to share these with you. You’ll find them inquiry-driven and student-centered, authentic solutions to organic conversations. If you’re a new tech teacher, make sure you know them because you’ll be asked for these answers over and over—in fact, you’ll be expected to know them. After all, you’re the tech expert.

Whoever you are, you’ll want to teach your students these practical strategies for fixing their biggest show stoppers.

Who needs this book?

If you’re a veteran teacher integrating technology into units of inquiry and/or Common Core State Standards, these tips will be invaluable. You are usually on your own in the classroom, without tech experts to assist. Keep this ebook handy and you’ll have more time to devote to classroom projects.

Questions?

Visit the publisher’s websitefor more details.

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculumK-8 keyboard curriculumK-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blogger, a columnist for Examiner.comIMS 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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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

11 Ways to be an Inquiry-based Teacher

Inquiry-based_learning_at_QAISIt’s hard to run an inquiry-based classroom. Don’t go into this teaching style thinking all you do is ask questions and observe answers. You have to listen with all of your senses, pause and respond to what you heard (not what you wanted to hear), keep your eye on the Big Ideas as you facilitate learning, value everyone’s contribution, be aware of the energy of the class and step in when needed, step aside when required. You aren’t a Teacher, rather a guide. You and the class find your way from question to knowledge together.

Because everyone learns differently.

You don’t use a textbook. Sure, it’s a map, showing you how to get from here to there, but that’s the problem. It dictates how to get ‘there’. For an inquiry-based classroom, you may know where you’re going, but not quite how you’ll get there and that’s a good thing.  You are no longer your mother’s teacher who stood in front of rows of students and pointed to the blackboard. You operate well outside your teaching comfort zone as you try out the flipped classroom and the gamification of education and are thrilled with the results.

And then there’s the issue of assessment. What your students have accomplished can’t neatly be summed up by a multiple choice test. When you review what you thought would assess learning (back when you designed the unit), none measure the organic conversations the class had about deep subjects, the risk-taking they engaged in to arrive at answers, the authentic knowledge transfer that popped up independently of your class time. You realize you must open your mind to learning that occurred that you never taught–never saw coming in the weeks you stood amongst your students guiding their education.

Let me digress. I visited the Soviet Union (back when it was one nation) and dropped in on a classroom where students were inculcated with how things must be done. It was a polite, respectful, ordered experience, but without cerebral energy, replete of enthusiasm for the joy of learning, and lacking the wow factor of students independently figuring out how to do something. Seeing the end of that powerful nation, I arrived at different conclusions than the politicians and the economists. I saw a nation starved to death for creativity. Without that ethereal trait, learning didn’t transfer. Without transfer, life required increasingly more scaffolding and prompting until it collapsed in on itself like a hollowed out orange.

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Categories: classroom management, education reform | 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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Which is better for schools: iPads or laptops?

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 Roxi in South Africa:

Please could you share with us your opinion on school i-pads for ALL work the learners do. We have many requests from parents wanting to know when we will be switching to i-pads only. There seem to be many schools over the world that actually only use android devices for all their work and have great success in doing so. I have just started to research recently but up to now it seems to me that one cannot do all the academic stuff you need to do on an i-pad as comfortably and as inexpensively as you can do on a computer. Also the paradigm shift and hours of work to apply the curriculum to using androids might prove to be quite a daunting tasks for teachers who not confident with technology.

We have 3 labs at our school – I find that our learners are very much challenged and learn something new every day using laptops and computers. Please could you let me know what your findings are.

Hi Roxi

This is a question so many schools are struggling with. IPads are the exciting new toy (like laptops were just a few years ago) so schools are taking the issue of whether or not to buy seriously. Consider these Pros and Cons:

IPads have a great purpose in education:

  • kids love them, are excited to learn anything that is taught via an iPad. What’s not to like about that as a teacher? Students will practice math facts, read books, happily gamify learning.
  • iPads are light-weight, easy to care for, boot up quickly, and are fairly sturdy
  • compared to a laptop, iPads are affordable. That leaves lots of money for other uses
  • they are easier to care for, have less IT issues, and are not as likely to be ‘messed with’ by students. Plus, a certain amount of the upkeep can be performed easily by teachers
  • iPads are great for collaboration–maybe better than laptops (unless you’re a Google Apps school. That could drop this off the list)
  • for those parts of education that are media-centric–such as viewing videos, reading books, drawing–it’s hard to beat the iPad.
  • iPad battery life is long compared to a laptop. Students don’t have to remember to recharge as often
  • iPads have a much higher ease of use and accessibility than laptops. Between instant on, touch screen, not as many choices, they are much simpler to get up to speed on.
  • I have to admit, iPads make recording, taking videos and pictures much simpler than if I used the laptop. Find out how important this is to teachers as you make your decision.

But there are downsides:

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Categories: Ask Otto, classroom management, iPad | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

Dear Otto: I need reading resources for ELL/ESL

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 Shelley:

Tomorrow is a half day planning day so I can’t wait to look at all of the websites you have for 1st grade. I’m wondering what recommendations can you give for ELL/ESL students? One of my student’s home language is Spanish and the other home language is Pashto. Thank you for any recommendations!

I found three websites that share story books in lots of languages:

  • BookBox
  • Children’s International Library
  • Sounding Board–create custom boards using AbleNet symbols or your own photos; designed for children with autism or other special ed needs
  • Speak-all–designed to help children with special needs learn the process of constructing sentences.
  • Talk and Touch–create custom buttons that ‘talk’ when pushed
  • TapTapSee–takes pictures and speaks aloud what the object is. Designed to help the blind and visually impaired identify objects they encounter in their daily lives.
  • World Library

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Categories: Ask Otto, classroom management | Tags: | 3 Comments

10 Top Click-throughs from Ask a Tech Teacher

top tenI include lots of links for my readers to places that will help them integrate technology into their education. They cover websites on lesson plans, math, keyboarding, classroom management, cloud computer, digital books, teacher resources, free tech resources, and more. On any given day, I generate on average 810 of these ‘click throughs’. Which links my readers select tells me a lot about the type of information they’re looking for.

Here’s a list of the top ten sites visitors selected from my blog:

  1. itunes.apple.com–last year the top click-through was a website. This year, teachers are looking for apps for iPads.
  2. libraryspot.com–there’s a big uptick in using the internet for research this year over last year
  3. Structuredlearning.net–lots of teachers are finding books/ebooks here for integrating tech into the classroom
  4. abcya.com–a popular site with classroom edutainment
  5. My internet start page for my classes--this is the page my K-5 students bring up when they open the internet. It includes the links they’ll use that day, as well as links they need for classroom inquiry, and lots more
  6. factmonster.com–more research for class projects
  7. kids.nationalgeographic.com–still more research. I’m seeing a trend
  8. bigbrownbear.co.uk/keyboard/–One of my favorite sites to teach K/1 how to type
  9. smaatechk-3.wikispaces.com–this collection of sites lets you follow along as an experienced tech teacher teaches each lesson
  10. brainpop.com–great collection of videos and games on almost every topic

What do I conclude from this? Where last year, the top sites revolved around keyboarding, this year it’s research. Second, you want information on managing the classroom–that’s the wikis and the internet start pages. I hear you. Check back this new year and see what I come up with.

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculumK-8 keyboard curriculumK-6 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blogger, a columnist for Examiner.comTechnology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a monthly 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.

Categories: classroom management, free tech resources, K-5 Tech training, Keyboarding, teacher resources | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s a Digital Portfolio and Why Should You Use it?

digital lockers

Safety and accessibility

The feedback on Otto’s answer to Mary’s question about which digital portfolio to use with her students was tremendous. Clearly, it’s a topic on people’s minds. Here’s a thorough discussion of this including what ‘digital portfolios’ are and why you should be using them:

By fifth grade, students have lots of school work that needs to be 1) saved for future use, 2) accessed from home and school, 3) shared with multiple students for collaborations, 4) linked to other pieces of work or online sites. For example, a student can create a project summary at school, access it at home and link key words to websites found by a classmate that supports the project discussion.  As an educator, you might have goals for your class that aren’t adequately fulfilled by network file folders or binders on a shelf in the classroom. You might be looking for ways to 1) help students become more reflective about themselves as learners, 2) demonstrate evidence of student growth and achievement, 3) inform instruction, influence practice, and set goals, 4) learn about your students, and 5) help students see technology as a tool rather than an end to itself.

This can all be accomplished with Digital Portfoliosalso known as digital lockers or e-portfolios—electronic collections of student work that provide evidence that the student is meeting a set of goals.

The concept of digital portfolios is supported by national and international education pedagogy: 1) ISTE makes it important to “interact, collaborate, and publish with peers…” and “contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems”, 2) the International Baccalaureate PYP program requires a digital portfolio be maintained throughout the student PYP school years, and 3)  Common Core State Standards considers collaboration and publishing fundamental to accomplishing educational goals.

If you’re new to digital portfolios, here are some Guidelines for Developing a Digital Portfolio Program from Todd Bergman, an educator who’s helped hundreds of students create portfolios

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Categories: classroom management, problem solving, teacher resources, Wikis | Tags: , , | 19 Comments

Tech Tip #104: Need a File on Your iPad? Here’s an Easy Way

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 a video on my classroom computer I want to use on my iPad. How do I do that?

A: There are ways to do that–email it to your iPad, open through DropBox–but those have issues:

  • emailing requires extra steps and time you may not have
  • many email accounts limit you to <10MB. What if a video file is larger?
  • DropBox has limited space
  • like email, you must put materials in DropBox to access them from there (In know–Duh, but that requires planning. What if your inquiry-driven class popped onto this topic on the fly?)

If you’re like me, anything to make your worker faster, easier, less steps is a good thing.

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Categories: classroom management, Tech Tips | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

New to technology? Follow my classes

class wiki

My daily class activities

Each week of the school year, I post what I’m teaching on a grade-specific wiki. It tells viewers what lesson I’m teaching in the K-5 curriculum (sorry, this isn’t available for 6th grade currently) and how I blend the authentic tasks, essential questions, big ideas, and student-centered projects into my class. I also include add-on lessons sparked by the skills learned in the curriculum, student resources, parent resources, favorite links, and whatever extras helped students provide evidence of learning in this particular week. Here are the links to my wikis, by grade level:

Right now, they’re open to view, but September 10th, they be available only to those who have signed up. Why?

  • I want you to be comfortable asking questions
  • I want you to be able to chat with other who are also following the SL technology curriculum, see how they address any prickly parts

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Categories: classroom management, free tech resources, K-5 Tech training, teacher resources | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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