Teacher Tap

Get FIT! Fired Up with Information and Technology

Exercise your mind through using technology for Practice, Tool, Authenticity, and Lifestyle. Whether you're exercising your body or your mind, each child and each teacher is unique. The tools, techniques, and technologies have evolved. Use the wide variety of resources and technologies to differentiate, address learning styles, promote multiple intelligences, and facilitate learning.

A Brief History

Explore a brief history of fitness as well as technology in education.

Let's use Google Notebook to organize ideas and resources. Or, try Google Docs.

Technology & Practice, Tools, Authenticity, Lifestyle

Draw on the natural interests of young people and design exciting, authentic learning environments. Make technology part of your classroom lifestyle.

bugsElementary Example - Young children are fascinated by bugs. Connect social studies, economics, science, math, and communication arts activities to insect exploration. Use a variety of resources for learning.

Middle/Secondary Example - Any sport or hobby has potential as an authentic way to explore social studies, economics, science, history, math, health and communication topics. Trace the changes in fish populations in a trout pond.

Although not all students will be interested in math, science, and fish, consider other connections. The contemporary nonfiction adventure called The Wild Trees by Richard Preston might get students interested in The Tree by Colin Tudge and a study of natural history. Use the author websites as a way to learn more about the topic and extend the inquiry.

Tie history to literature and investigate the history of oysters with the book The Big Oyster: History in a Half Shell by Mark Kurlansky or cod by reading Cod by Mark Kurlanksy. Tie these histories to local, national, or world history. What other key resources such as spices or salt have played a role in history? Find these connections in books such as Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. Use the PBS website to draw students into this exploration of history, geography, and science. Watch Richard Preston on the Daily Show or Jarod Diamond on the Colbert Report to get students interested.

Join a Nature-based Project - These projects provide a wealth of data for student analysis as well as a chance to participate in a large-scale project.

Join other Online Projects - These are all projects that involve collaboration among teachers and students around the world. Also, look for projects at Global Schoolhouse Registry.

Try It!
Explore some of the suggested resources. What roles does the technology play in teaching and learning?


Saving Time and Increasing Efficiency

Analyze the time you spend on specific tasks each day. How can you save time? How can you be more efficient? If you do it twice, automate it!

Look for ways to save your time and your student's time. Turn over projects to students.

Teacher Resources

Why reinvent the wheel? There are thousands of great units and lesson plans already on the web. Use the following resources to get you started:

Use the following approaches to locate new ideas for teaching materials:

  1. Thinkfinity/MarcoPolo Search Tool
  2. Apple Learning Interchange - great examples of technology applications
  3. Scholastic - Teachers, Librarians
  4. PBS Teachers
  5. Discovery School Lesson Plans
  6. National Geographic Leson Plans
  7. New York Times Lessons
  8. State Lesson Resources: LessonLocator-Indiana, LearnNC, Utah Education Network, Wisconsin (Do a Google search for the state and the word lessons)
  9. Find more links at Starting Points and Lesson Plans from Teacher Tap

Teacher Helpers

Examine your communications to students, parents, and others including letters, emails, grade reports, and newsletters. If you use the same content more than once, create a template or at least a list of ideas that can be recycled. Share these in a folder on your server, so everyone can use them!

Try It!
Use a few of the following helpers (i.e. notetaking, rubricmaker) from 4teachers.org or Tech4Learning. If you're building lots of rubrics, try the rubric maker.

If you find yourself grading objective assessments by hand, automate it! Use online multiple choice quiz makers and other tools that check results. This is also good practice for online testing. Also use these tools as process checks to be sure students are ready for the next phase of learning.

Make school to home communications easy using a blog. If you're getting students involved with blogs, you can create draft postings all at once and post them throughout the semester.

Consider class management tools that provide ways for students to hold discussions, take quizzes, and upload/download assignments

Student Guides

Create student directions, tutorials, handouts and other guides to facilitate learning. Think about differentiating instruction. What concrete examples will be necessary for some students. Can you provide visual support in the form of screen shots? Can you provide audio support by recording audio directions?

Creating Screen Shots

In many cases, it's useful to have a "screen shot" to demonstrate how a software package is used. Here are the directions for making a graphic that can be pasted into Word or attached to an assignment. You can also have students produce screen shots to show their work.

Windows Screen Capture. The PRINT SCREEN key allows you to capture the Desktop or individual windows. You'll have to look for this key on your keyboard, it's placement varies with the type of keyboard.

To capture the entire screen:

To capture the current window on your screen:

Macintosh Screen Capture. If you have Mac OSX, it's easy to use the built-in key commands for grabbing a screen.

If you have Mac OSX, you can also use the Grab Utility. This allows you to capture windows that are open.

Smart Board

Sometimes it helps to get students involved in whole-class or small group activities. A Smart Board can be very helpful. Try out some websites that work well as whole-class resources such as CyberPatterns from PBS Kids.

Many exhibiting lessons would benefits from the use of a Smartboard.

Read the lesson Creative Problem-Solving with Ezra Jack Keats (K-2). Think about how graphic organizers could be used by small groups on a Whiteboard to compare each of the books.

Learn more about Engaging Learners the SMARTboard Way.

Embrace all Technologies

Embrace all technologies. Starfall provides primary children help with reading, while the Doppler Shift Interactive helps high school students explore frequency and wavelength of light and sound waves.

Look for ways to differentiate using technology. For instance, some young people need audio support for reading. Use resources such as audio CDs that go with books like Mahalia Goes to College by John Lithgow or Take Me Home Country Roads by John Denver. Consider Playaway Digital audio books.


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