Frequently Asked Questions

Copies of Materials

1. Does the copyright notice mean I can’t copy ANYTHING?
No. You can copy anything from the books for yourself, even multiple copies for students, but you can’t copy the entire book for any reason.  For that, you need a multi-user license.
2. When is it illegal to duplicate?
It is only illegal to duplicate if you copy the entire book for any reason.

Credential Credit

Depending upon your state, the Ask a Tech Teacher professional development may apply toward the renewal of your credential. Please confirm this with appropriate personnel. To assist you, we supply 1) hours in class, 2) Certificate of Completion, 3) completion of your State’s required form (i.e., 77-21B for Illinois).

Curriculum vs. Lesson Plans

1. What’s the difference between the curriculum and lesson plans?
The curriculum builds on itself year to year. It’s purpose is to teach skills while integrating with class inquiry. The Lesson Plans are designed solely to support inquiry. The teacher decides which lesson suits her/his student group.
Here’s how you get the one you want:
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    • If you want a technology curriculum, select the K-12 curriculum textbooks.
    • If you want a selection of lesson plans organized by topic, grade and software, select the PBL or lesson plan bundles that suit your projects.

2. The curriculum seems repetitive.

It is–on purpose. A ‘curriculum’ is a course of study unfolded over time based on a pedagogic curriculum map for the subject area. The Edglossary defines it as:

“…typically refers to the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn, which includes the learning standards or learning objectives they are expected to meet; the units and lessons that teachers teach; the assignments and projects given to students; the books, materials, videos, presentations, and readings used in a course; and the tests, assessments, and other methods used to evaluate student learning…”

If you select one of our three curricula (tech skills, keyboarding, digital citizenship), you’ll see that each lesson/unit builds on itself, scaffolds lesson-to-lesson, and gives students time to do and redo. The goal is always to achieve overarching ideas that require a much greater amount of time than one lesson plan ever would.

Lesson plans, on the other hand, provide step-by-step directions for completing a project. Their goals can typically be achieved in much shorter amounts of time because they focus on one skill. These are perfect for PBL (Project-based Learning).

3. Does the curriculum cover broad topics such as decision making, critical thinking, problem-solving?

Those are topics that are thoroughly covered in both ISTE, Common Core, and higher-order thinking needs of the 21st Century student. You’ll find a lot of tie-ins. For example:

    • Grades K-8–#4 in Scope and Sequence, itemizes skills for Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
    • Grades K-8–#5 in Scope and Sequence, itemizes skills for Digital Citizenship
    • Grades K-8–#3 in Scope and Sequence, itemizes skills for Research (and information fluency)
    • Grades k-8–address ‘problem solving, critical thinking’ as a fundamental skill to be reinforced with every lesson. It is introduced as a unit in 2nd grade and grows from there. In fact, every grade level includes a unit on this subject to reflect its importance in a student’s educational growth. ‘Problem solving’ is a skill that tech is uniquely suited to teaching (as is math). By 3rd grade, students participate in a ‘Problem Solving Presentation’ where they are encouraged to teach each other how to solve problems (the oral presentation also supports Common Core speaking and listening skills). By 4th grade, students participate in an ‘Evidence Board’ to share how they transferred tech knowledge from the classroom to other parts of their life. 5th graders use blogs to write articles that critically think about a particular topic.
    • Grades K-8– address digital citizenship skills every time students use the internet. There are 17 topics covered between K-5th (when it is age-appropriate) with a chart for tracking student progress.
    • Search skills start in kindergarten with a unit on ‘Explore the Internet’. In 3rd grade, students learn the intricacies of internet search/research, as well as how to stay safe in the online environment. In 4th grade, students cover 3 units throughout the year on search/research for classroom educational needs.
    • Decision Making is covered throughout the SL K-8 curriculum. Starting in kindergarten, students are expected to think about their approach to a project and decide if that’s the right way and why. The teacher always asks, Why this program and not that one? When students use visual organizers, the teacher discusses this approach-different ways students learn and share. By 7/8th grade, students get options for address projects, sharing information. They pick any of various approaches as long as they can support their decision.
    • Excel training (spreadsheets) begin in 1st grade and always includes a discussion on critical thinking, problem solving, decision making
    • Presentation skills start in 2nd grade (with PowerPoint) and always include a discussion on how best to communicate ideas, information to listeners. What options might students select? Which is best for what? This includes software, online tools, widgets, graphic organizers, infographics (8th grade)
    • 2nd grade–Unit 12 is about Problem Solving
    • 2nd grade–Unit 23 is about finding pictures on the internet (search/research and digital citizenship)
    • 3rd grade–Unit 4 is on Problem solving
    • 3rd grade–Unit 15 is on Search/research
    • 4th grade–Units 6/7/24 are on search/research
    • 4th grade–Unit 23 is on data analysis
    • 7th grade–Unit 4 is all about Problem Solving
    • 7th grade–Unit 10-12 is on Digital Citizenship
    • 7th grade–Unit 16-18 is on Search/research
    • 8th grade–Unit 5-7 is on Digital Citizenship
    • 8th grade–Unit 8-9 is on Search/research
    • 8th grade–Unit 11-12 is on Problem Solving

Because this is a curriculum (not a project book), these themes are woven throughout the K-8 activities. The teacher is always prompted when there’s an opportunity to reinforce ongoing themes (such as ISTE’s six). Teachers using the curriculum can join a co-teaching wiki, and chat with an experienced teacher using the curriculum on a weekly basis, to be sure all tie-ins are covered. These are free (info in the book on how to access).

Curriculum and Standards

1.   Is the curriculum aligned with ISTE and/or Common Core?
Yes-each lesson in K-12 are aligned as well as the overarching Scope and Sequence included in the book.
2.   Is the curriculum aligned with TEKS?
We’re looking into that!

Freebies

Did you know we offer a whole lot of freebies to anyone who visits? Here are some of them:

      • each book includes a free sample from the book on the website, often including full lesson plans
      • we offer free lesson plans here on a wide variety of topics, software, and tools
      • join our SL Newsletter with weekly tips, reviews, suggestions for teaching and get 10% off on your next purchase

Check back often for more freebies. Zeke can’t seem to control himself.

Keyboarding

1.  What does the K-8 Keyboard Curriculum provide that a program like Type to Learn doesn’t?
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Type to Learn drills students in keyboarding. An excellent tool for that purpose. The K-8 Keyboard Curriculum uses programs like TTL as tools to learning keyboarding, but goes much deeper, differentiating for a wide variety of student learning styles, making keyboard learning more authentic and relevant to students. When they get tired of one exercise their progress plateaus so we offer many ways to perfect keyboarding-drill, games, online sites, quizzes, challenges, finger exercises, projects, rubrics, checklists of skills, and more. All of these are great tools and we weave them together into a curriculum that will keep students motivated and improving throughout the year.
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2.  What does the Keyboard Curriculum license provide?
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This provides every student in the class/school/district (depending upon the license selected) with a copy of the keyboard curriculum. This means they have easy access to monthly lessons, how-tos, rubrics, project samples, practice quizzes, grade-level expectations, yearly homework, graphics (showing how to hold the mouse, for example), check lists (the grade level Scope and Sequence, for example),  quick links to websites they need, a place to take notes on their keyboarding, articles enabling older students to ‘dig deeper’, and more. In  this way, students can be more independent and self-directed in their learning, work at their own pace rather than a subjective class pace. This is great both for students who need more time on a topic and for those who ‘get it’ fast and want to move on. They can even easily spiral up to the next grade level.
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3.  Can you tell me more about the license?
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The site license provides 1) a book that guides you through the confusing steps of establishing a keyboarding program for your school, and 2) 15 self-paced one-hour videos taking students through the lessons. Most of the materials are created by third parties-Type to Learn, DanceMat, BrainPOP-so must be accessed and managed separately, and paid for separately (in the case of Type to Learn). What the book does is pull all important resources together in one spot for you to make sure you’re using the most effective tools, at the right time, with ideas for integrating them into your core classroom inquiry (for example, Word/Google Docs projects that focus on both typing and a classroom unit). You could compare it to Common Core Standards. They aren’t a curriculum. The school has a curriculum that is enhanced by Common Core.

NOTE: Depending upon the multi-user license selected (room, site, district), these can vary. 
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4. How do I pick between Essential Guide to Keyboarding and 2-volume Ultimate Guide?

        • The Ultimate Guide:
              • is Common Core compliant
              • includes more detail/images/how-tos on each activity than the Essential Guide
              • expanded detail makes it perfect when keyboarding is taught across grade-level classes, often by teachers without a background in teaching keyboarding
              • is aligned with new K-8 Student Workbooks
              • includes enriched assessments (to reflect changes since the 2012 publication date of the Essential Guide)
              • includes a detailed timeline of what to introduce when, by week and/or month
              • includes a slightly-expanded research section
              • responds to reader requests since the Essential Guide’s 2012 publication (which is why it’s over three times as long!)
              • can be enriched with student workbooks and videos
              • can be a student-directed activity when student workbooks and videos are used
        • The Essential Guide
              • is more compact (less than a third the size of the Ultimate Guide)
              • covers all essential keyboarding material in one book rather than two, and as such, is more portable and affordable
              • is available in print or digital (Ultimate Guide: K-5 is available in both formats, but the Middle School volume is only available in digital)
              • is perfect for teachers looking for a curriculum map of activities more than how to do them
              • has no associated workbooks or videos
              • well suited when keyboarding is taught by one teacher

Links

1. Some of the links don’t work.
Unfortunately, links break over time. We update every few years, so try to keep them current, but that’s not always possible. Contact zeke.rowe@structuredlearning.net for questions on links you require.
2. Do you have an online link collection that is updated more often than every few years?
        We do! Go to AskaTechTeacher.com and you’ll see our entire collection. 

Platform

1. I have Macs and it looks like the books are written for PCs.
The books are platform-neutral. The focus is on skills and projects rather than delivery method. For example, kindergarten mouse skills are the same whether they use laptops, Macs, PCs or Chromebooks (but not iPads). Third grade ‘table’ skills are the same whether they’re learned on a Mac or a PC. It does require the teacher to translate skills to their particular platform, but the order they’re presented and their integration into the school’s curriculum is the same regardless of the computer selected.

Price

1. Why is the website price different from ****?
There are several reasons why the price you see on this website (run by the publisher) may differ from one you see somewhere else (say, Amazon):
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    • The price you’re looking at may be for a special that has expired.
    • The price you have may be in one of our books/ebooks. Those are current only for ‘a while’ after publication. We’re always adjusting pricing to serve customers (I just lowered three in the last five minutes).
    • The price you’re thinking of may be for an earlier version of the book/ebook than what is currently on the website.
    • The vendor may be having a sale (Amazon does that often).
Products
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1. I don’t know which book to purchase.
Send a note to Zeke Rowe (see email in Question #4). He knows the SL books as well as anyone and what he can’t figure out, he’ll find someone who can.
2. Where can I get real-time help?
 Help is available through:
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    • Our author blog, Ask a Tech Teacher
    • Zeke Rowe (see email above)
    • Kali Delamagente (our tech-teacher-in-residence) (kali.delamagente@structuredlearning.net)
    • Mentoring-we work one-on-one with teachers via virtual meeting platforms and/or email. Prices vary depending upon requirements.
    • Training-we train faculty to use the curriculum. Prices vary depending upon requirements.

3. Can I substitute items in the New Teacher Survival Kits?

Absolutely. Just let us know which items you want to switch. As long as it’s a similar value. we can do it.
4. What’s the difference between print and digital?
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Here are the most popular reasons teachers purchase a print book:
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    • to have a book on their desk
    • to have easy access away from the computer
    • to take notes in it-how a particular lesson plan worked from year to year
    • to share it with grade-level teachers so they can collaborate on a project (yes, you can share with an iPad, but you can’t really leave the device without giving up everything else on it)
    • it stands nicely on a book shelf, quickly available and a reminder of your resources

Here are popular reasons for purchasing digital:

    • to display on a class screen for students or at faculty meetings
    • links are active
    • images are in full color
    • have all books on an iPad-no carrying armloads of books
    • easy to print one page-say, a rubric or a sample and duplicate it for a class. That’s much more difficult in a print book
    • to be able to zoom in on pages for easier reading and viewing of details
5. Are 55 Technology Projects Vol I/II the same as in the curriculum textbooks?
The project may be the same, but the lesson doesn’t include the additional pieces that are included in a tech weekly lesson (outside of completing a project that integrates tech into subject matter). These lessons:
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    • are great for PBL
    • call out higher-order thinking skills
    • are well-suited to a classroom rather than a tech class

6. What’s a ‘single user license’?

If you don’t purchase a multi-user license (for a room, a school or a district), you are purchasing a single-user license. That gives you rights to use that book for your classes, on multiple devices, in multiple locations, on a class screen, but not copy it and give it to other teachers, students, parents, or anyone for that matter. If multiple people need the book, they each must purchase the book or set up a muti-user license.
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Purchase
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1. How do I purchase?
We use PayPal. You can purchase through your PayPal account or enter as a guest. We’ll even send you a PayPal invoice if that makes it easier. Then, all you do is click the link in the email!
2. Do you take Purchase Orders?
Absolutely–but they must be over $100. If you need special consideration for that limit, contact Zeke (zeke.rowe@structuredlearning.net). He’ll see what he can do for you.
3. How do I purchase large quantities?
If you are interested in purchasing a large quantity of books or ebooks for a group, classroom, conference, or one for every teacher in your District, please contact Zeke Rowe (zeke.rowe@structuredlearning.net). He’ll work out special pricing for you.
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Purchase Issues
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1. I paid through PayPal. How do I download?
Most of the ebooks are auto-download. You’ll find the download link on the receipt.
2. My download hasn’t arrived. What do I do?
Check spam-sometimes unknown files end up there. If you got a purchase confirmation, digital items often include a download link-blue and underlined-in the email. Look for that a little way down the email.
If none of that works, the human in charge of shipments is Zeke Rowe. He’s always available for questions at zeke.rowe@structuredlearning.net. Don’t hesitate to drop him a note
3. I’m sure it downloaded, but I don’t know where it went. Can you help?
It’s probably in your download file. In Firefox, there’s a gray down arrow at the right end of the toolbar that shows you all of your downloads. Or, go to Tools>Downloads. Or click Ctrl+J to bring up the list (that’s probably the easiest way in Chrome).  No worries, though. If you can’t find it, we’ll resend to you as an email attachment. Just let Zeke know at zeke.rowe@structuredlearning.net.
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Purchase-Licenses

1. Why do I need a multi-user license?

Here are reasons we hear from teachers and administrators–why they selected this option and how it works for them:

  • makes it easier for students to work independently on the lessons/projects during class time
  • saves on printing costs–the samples, rubrics, assessments are right there for students
  • allows students to work on their tech when you aren’t showing it on the class screen-during recess, after school
  • allows students to work on tech at home and use the skills more easily on home computers (if you have this license option)
  • gets parents involved in the process and helps them buy-in to the importance of tech in education (especially if you have a license that allows the ebooks to be loaded at home)
  • easily loaded onto iPads for 1:1 schools

Structured Learning

1. How long has Structured Learning been in business?
 We’ve been providing tech resources to the tech ed community since 2004-almost a hundred years. Well, over fifteen.
2. Who writes the SL books:
Many are written by the Ask a Tech Teacher crew and our Tech Ed team. Some are written by you-tech teachers, educators, professionals. If we think your book fits our website, we’ll offer it to our customers.  Click here for more information on that.
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Tax Information

1. What do I need to show my accountant to prove I took a class that contributes to my profession?

We do not send out tax documentation. However, to use our courses as an educational expense write off, you simply show your accountant your receipt, and give him/her our Federal Employee Identification number or EIN#. Please contact zeke.rowe@structuredlearning.net for that.

Updates
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1. How often do you update the curricula?
As often as necessary. I know not a very satisfactory answer! Truth, tech-in-education changes rapidly. Since 2011:
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    • Windows has updated their platform—many times
    • iPads are the device of choice in the classroom
    • Class screens are more norm than abnorm(al)
    • Technology in the classroom has changed from ‘nice to have’ to ‘must have’
    • 1:1 has become a realistic goal
    • Student research is as often done online as in the library
    • Students spend as much time in a digital neighborhood as their home town
    • Textbooks are considered resources rather than bibles
    • Teachers who don’t use technology are an endangered species
    • Words like ‘blended learning’, ‘authentic’, ‘transfer’, ‘evidence’ are now integral to teaching
    • Common Core Standards have swept like a firestorm through the education community, most timed to take effect after 2011

Because of trends like these, we try to update every few years.