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Showing posts with label Technology Teacher. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology Teacher. Show all posts
Tips for Teaching Students About Software

Tips for Teaching Students About Software


Understanding the function of software as well as how it interacts with corresponding hardware are foundational skills in computer science.  Here are a few tips for teaching your students all about it!

Understanding the function of software as well as how it interacts with corresponding hardware are foundational skills in computer science.  Here are a few tips for teaching your students all about it!


Tip #1

Work on what students use in their other classrooms.

Yes technology class is the place to introduce cool tech that students may not be getting the chance to interact with elsewhere, but it’s also the place to get them from passable to proficient in their everyday tech use.  Docs, Slides & Sheets all have features your kids might not know about that can get them working smarter, not harder.


Tip #2

Help your students be creators, not just consumers.

Encourage your students to be creative in the implementation of their tech.  Go a step further and get them thinking about what needs are being met by the software they are using, then see if they can think up something better, or maybe even something for an unmet need.


Tip #3

Review vocabulary.

Computer science is a field that has a great deal of subject specific vocabulary.  Furthermore, a great deal of that vocabulary consists of words that have entirely different meanings in other contexts (cookies, run, block, loop, etc.)  Don’t assume students know the right terms for what they’re working with, or let students continue to work with technology they don't know how to refer to correctly.   Be sure to incorporate learning the definitions, as this will enable students to begin to recognize and choose between similar software (among other things).

Understanding the function of software as well as how it interacts with corresponding hardware are foundational skills in computer science.  Here are a few tips for teaching your students all about it!


Tip #4

Consult standards.

Use national computer science standards such as those put forth by CSTA or ISTE to get a clearer idea of what you should be teaching.  Many software standards involve not only knowing how to use software, but also how it works and how to learn from common computer processes to augment their own problem solving abilities.


Here are a few particularly relevant guiding standards from each to start you off on the right foot:

  • CSTA K-12 CS Standards 

  • 1B-CS-02 3-5

    Model how computer hardware and software work together as a system to accomplish tasks.

  • 2-CS-02 6-8

    Design projects that combine hardware and software components to collect and exchange data.

  • 3A-CS-02 9-10

    Compare levels of abstraction and interactions between application software, system software, and hardware layers.

  • 3B-CS-01 11-12

    Categorize the roles of operating system software.


  • ISTE Standards for Students 

  • 3 Knowledge Constructor:

    Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.

  • 5 Computational Thinker:

    5a - Students formulate problem definitions suited for technology-assisted methods such as data analysis, abstract models and algorithmic thinking in exploring and finding solutions.

    5b - Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.

  • 6 Creative Communicator:

    6a - Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.

  • 7 Global Collaborator:

    7a - Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.


Tip #5

Don’t do work that you don’t have to.

My shop contains lessons ready-made for you to teach.  Get everything you need in one swoop with the Software Technology Lessons Bundle For Grades 1-5, or check out a wide variety of other software lessons!

I love integrating literacy and tech lessons together. It was challenging, but I created 9 eBooks to teach students about Software programs we use regularly:




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Understanding the function of software as well as how it interacts with corresponding hardware are foundational skills in computer science.  Here are a few tips for teaching your students all about it!


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5 Tips for Teaching Students about Hardware

5 Tips for Teaching Students about Hardware


Understanding the structure and function of hardware is a foundational skill in computer science.  Here are a few tips for teaching your students all about it!

Understanding the structure and function of hardware is a foundational skill in computer science.  Here are a few tips for teaching your students all about it!


Tip #1

Use analogies.

Help your students understand the function of individual pieces of hardware by comparing them to things students are already familiar with.  For example, you can compare a monitor to a window and a computer tower to a brain.


Tip #2

Review vocabulary.

Computer science is a field that has a great deal of subject specific vocabulary.  Furthermore, a great deal of that vocabulary consists of words that have entirely different meanings in other contexts (port, key, mouse, etc.)  Don’t assume students know the right terms for what they’re working with, or let students continue to work with technology they don't know how to refer to correctly.  Be sure to incorporate learning the definitions as well as simple item-to-word correlation, as this will enable students to begin to recognize hardware even with significant cosmetic differences (among other things).


Tip #3 

Broken hardware can be your friend.

Build up a store of “dead mice”, broken keyboards and other defective hardware from wherever you can get them around your school.  Bring them out for students to handle and practice with.  Students can begin working on skills such as typing, maneuvering mice, plugging in usb or headphone jacks and opening and closing laptops/chromebooks without risking damage to your schools inventory of functional hardware. 


Understanding the structure and function of hardware is a foundational skill in computer science.  Here are a few tips for teaching your students all about it!
Tip #4

Consult standards.

Use national computer science standards such as those put forth by CSTA or ISTE to get a clearer idea of what you should be teaching.  Many hardware standards involve not only knowing how to name and correctly use hardware, but also how to troubleshoot it.


Here are a few particularly relevant guiding standards from each to start you off on the right foot:

  • CSTA K-12 CS Standards 

  • 1A-CS-02 K-2

    Use appropriate terminology in identifying and describing the function of common physical components of computing systems (hardware).

  • 1B-CS-02 3-5

    Model how computer hardware and software work together as a system to accomplish tasks.

  • 2-CS-02 6-8

    Design projects that combine hardware and software components to collect and exchange data.

  • 3A-CS-02 9-10

    Compare levels of abstraction and interactions between application software, system software, and hardware layers.


  • ISTE Standards for Students 

  • 1 Empowered Learner:

    1b - Students build networks and customize their learning environments in ways that support the learning process.

    1d - Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.

  • 4 Innovative Designer: 

    Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.

  • 6 Creative Communicator:

    6a - Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.


Tip #5

Don’t do work that you don’t have to.

My shop contains lessons ready-made for you to teach the Parts of a Computer in various themes, Computer Fundamentals, and more!

Check out these eBooks that teach students about computer basics, including hardware:




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Understanding the structure and function of hardware is a foundational skill in computer science.  Here are a few tips for teaching your students all about it!




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Brittany Washburn
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How to Use Choice Boards with Your Students

How to Use Choice Boards with Your Students


What are choice boards?  A choice board is a graphic organizer that allows students to choose from different ways to show their learning. Choice boards are set up in a grid, generally with 6-9 squares (although you can include more or fewer if desired).

What are choice boards?

A choice board is a graphic organizer that allows students to choose from different ways to show their learning. Choice boards are set up in a grid, generally with 6-9 squares (although you can include more or fewer if desired). 





Why use them?

  • Choice boards are easy ways for teachers to offer choices, and kids tend to respond very well to the freedom and respect that being offered choices gives them. It lets students have some agency in their own education.  

  • They are usually designed to be reused on multiple assignments within the same subject.  Vocab assignment planning done for the entire year?  Yes, please!

  • They provide a built-in mix of stability and variety to meet the needs of every personality.

  • The level of difficulty of the activities can vary or stay consistent.  

  • You can require that students complete items from the choice board in a specific way, such as choosing three choices in a row, pick one at a time with the goal of having completed every activity on the board once over the course of a quarter, or you can simply let students choose at random. 



What are choice boards?  A choice board is a graphic organizer that allows students to choose from different ways to show their learning. Choice boards are set up in a grid, generally with 6-9 squares (although you can include more or fewer if desired).
How to implement choice boards in your classroom

  • Choice boards are a great hub to host early finisher activities. Never scramble for an answer to the question “What can I do now?” again.

  • Choice boards can be great tools for learning as well as assessment. Load up the board with different research resources, experiments or broad guiding questions and use them when starting on a new subject to get students hooked.

  • Since choice boards offer so much variety, it is often good to pair them with learning tasks that students are doing over and over (such as vocab, spelling or math skill practice) to balance out the monotony.  It also saves you from doing planning that you don’t need to just to tweak tasks slightly so students stay interested.

  • For graded projects, make sure you have arranged things in such a way that students will truly just be showing their knowledge in a different way.  You don’t want one section of the board to need to be graded on a 15 point scale, while others only need a 10 point scale to fulfill.

    • On a related note, another variety of choice menus are based on just that - a point system.  Teachers assign each task on the board a point value, and every student has to do enough of them to add up to a total such as 10.  Some students will choose to do five 2 point activities, while others choose a 6 and a 4.  Once again, you just arrange activities so that doing enough of the small ones will result in the same amount of learning as doing larger ones.

  • Classes that have never seen a choice board before will need training and practice before this method becomes as effortlessly self-sustaining as it is intended to be.  Include clear written instructions right on the board whenever possible, and check their work often in the beginning to make sure they understand how to complete it properly.


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What are choice boards?  A choice board is a graphic organizer that allows students to choose from different ways to show their learning. Choice boards are set up in a grid, generally with 6-9 squares (although you can include more or fewer if desired).

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Brittany Washburn
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Top Teaching Tips for Tech Teachers

Top Teaching Tips for Tech Teachers


Top Teaching Tips for Tech Teachers

I interviewed two tech ed teachers, asking them to each give their top 3 tips for fellow tech ed teachers.


First up, Kathy Weir, who has been teaching for 20 years.  She was a former classroom teacher for grades 1,3,4,5, and a former K-8 specialist for PE and Technology. She also served as the technology integration specialist and tech coach for a K-8 school district. She is currently an Elementary Technology instructor but due to COVID, is also doing a lot of PD and tech coaching.  Here are her top 3 tips for fellow edtech teachers:

“1. Limit the number of online resources you have students accessing during distance learning. Make sure these websites and software are easy to navigate with little or no guidance. When possible, explore the ability of tools already familiar to students as well as native tools within your school’s choice of platforms. 

2. Whenever possible during live sessions, limit the number of resources students have to access during that live session. Fewer tabs open equals better Wi-Fi connect for students. Better connect for the student could lead to a higher level of engagement and lower level of stress and frustration.

3. If offering PD, reference the SAMR model. Teachers may be feeling overwhelmed in learning a lot of new tech tools. The SAMR model can celebrate the transition teachers are making with remote learning and highlight how teachers are elevating the learning experience for their students with the integration of technology.”


Next we have Beth Hamlin, a K-1 Remote specials facilitator and Middle School Technology Teacher.  She has been working in education for nearly 2 decades and loves presenting and sharing creative ways to utilize G Suite tools, Chromebooks, Computer Science, and other technologies such as 3D printers and Raspberry Pi. 

“1. Don’t try to do it all. There are an incredible amount of resources, tools, and ideas. It can get really overwhelming. Try having a goal or two for the year or part of the school year in what you want to improve or explore. 

2. Don’t try to know it all. We often think we have to know the tool before we share it with students. We need to make sure the site is safe and meets our requirements for compliance and privacy. I find students love the ability to play and explore with you. Celebrate their findings.  Be inquisitive with them and allow them to be part of the evaluation process. It gives students more buy in. 

3. Simplicity/ Consistency-  Especially this year, when our learners are not in consistent environments, it’s important we not introduce too many different places or logins. If you have multiple places students need to log in- try to make the login the same. Single sign ons are helpful. Families are at various stages of stress, trauma, and ability. The more consistent and clear you make things, the more manageable they can be. If you give 3 sites with different logins to students- it can be muddling. Making videos to explain how to log in (no matter the age level) are very helpful. Even better if you can involve your students and community in creating these help tutorials to help others.  Post these tutorials in one place and also link to them each time students need to use them. Less clicks makes for a better user experience and saves you more time in the long run.” 


I also asked technology education teachers from a variety of different backgrounds to give their top tips to fellow tech ed teachers.  Here is what they said!


  • “Make technology fun! Something the kids look forward to!”

  • “Don’t reinvent the wheel-don’t make it too complicated-it’s ok if it’s not quiet, the best learning isn’t quiet.”

  • “Start a “Done Early” list of extension activities for students that finish early.”

  • “Make a class website! Make sure to pick a platform that allows for a password protected page for sharing files with students.”

  • “Go slow”

  • “Find a few favorite tech tools that can be used for different things and use those. Teach your kids to use them in multiple ways. Don’t feel obligated to use everything. It’s too much for you and the kids.”

  • “Remember that you are a teacher first.”

  • “Use humor and make connections. Tech is a journey not a destination.”

  • “Keep those non tech kids at the forefront of your lesson planning. Start simple to avoid frustration but always have extensions for those ready to fly.”

  • “Remember Developmentally Appropriate, even though students have tech at home, it’s not always used the way you think.”

  • “Reteach reteach reteach”

  • “Let the students explore new tools and see what they can discover on their own. Give general guidelines for projects so students can surprise you with their creativity!”

  • “Create a website that has common educational links on it making it easier for students and yourself."

  • "Don’t get hung up on everything being perfect, allow flexibility. When technology doesn’t work give it grace, I constantly say “I love you air server!” While I say it, I’m doing what it takes to make it work but I'm teaching my students that patience is better than showing anxiety when things don’t work."

  • “Always have a plan B!”

Top Teaching Tips for Tech Teachers


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Brittany Washburn
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