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Technology Integration Ideas for the Elementary School Teacher

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  • About Me

    I have been in the field of educational technology since 1988. I began as a computer teacher for Futurekids Inc. in Los Angeles. Soon after, I purchased one of their first franchises, which I operated for three years. In 1997, I began Computing for Kids, a computer enrichment program for young children, which operates in local private schools in Southern California. I earned a Master’s degree in educational technology in 2008 and for the past four years, I have served as the technology specialist at a private elementary school, teaching students in grades 1 – 5 in a computer lab setting.

    My goal with this blog is to provide elementary classroom teachers with Internet resources that will enhance their curriculum. Some websites are very simple to integrate into a lesson, and others require a more thorough approach. But there is something for every level of comfort with technology.

    Please let me know what you think!

Eyes on the Solar System

Posted by Computing for Kids on September 29, 2011

Eyes on the Solar System  is a 3D environment full of real NASA mission data. It gives students the opportunity to explore the cosmos from their computer. They can fly with NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft and see the entire solar system moving in real time. Students ride along with the Juno mission to Jupiter, whose purpose is to discover the origin and evolution of Jupiter and our solar system. 


Posted in Research, Science, Technology | Leave a Comment »

NASA Kids Club

Posted by Computing for Kids on September 22, 2011

NASA’s Kids Club features interactive games for Grades K-4 on space and technology.  The subjects include the solar system, rockets, addition, “guess what number I’m thinking of,” and NASA spinoffs (everyday items developed from NASA research).  There are five levels depending on your students’ grade level.  This site provides a fun and interactive introduction to NASA and space.

Posted in Math, Science, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Brain Pop GameUp

Posted by Computing for Kids on September 8, 2011

Increasingly, educators are recognizing the impact educational games can have in their classrooms: games engage and motivate students.  Launched at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) annual conference in June, BrainPOP’s GameUp addresses this challenge. GameUp contains a collection of free online games that coordinate with the BrainPOP curriculum.  The games include supplemental information for teachers such as how to use the game in a lesson, which curriculum standards the game is aligned to, as well as a link to one related BrainPOP topic.  BrainPOP games and related videos cover the subjects of science, social studies, English, mathematics, arts and music, and health and technology.

Posted in Geography, Internet Safety, Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Google Advanced Search

Posted by Computing for Kids on September 3, 2011

I am always looking for search engines that are kid friendly.  While many are visually appealing and somewhat useful, their results can often be limited.  What I found intriguing about Google’s new advanced search feature (which came out in December 2010) is that you can specify the desired reading level.  This feature is based primarily on statistical models built with the help of teachers.  With this model, they compare the words on any webpage with the words in the model to classify reading levels.

To conduct an advanced search with this feature:

1.  Click on Advanced Search just below the search box on the Google homepage.

2.  Next to “Reading level” within the “Need more tools” section, select your desired reading level (basic, intermediate, or advanced) or choose to show all results annotated with reading levels.

3. Click Advanced search at the bottom of the page.

By selecting the “Basic” reading level, you can limit the results you get to only sites that elementary age students will be able to understand.

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Welcome Back to a New School Year!

Posted by Computing for Kids on August 27, 2011

Like many of you, it seems to me that this summer just flew by!  You may be back in the classroom this week, or will be in the next few weeks.  It may be overwhelming to think about how you might integrate technology into your lessons when you have sooooo many other things to think about.  But once things settle down and you find a moment,  consider how technology might enhance a lesson, or two.

Students love to use technology, whether it is playing games at home or creating a project at school.  Children are naturally drawn to its potential and interactive qualities.  By including technology in your lessons, you will already have their interest and attention.   When thinking about how to integrate technology, remember to choose a tool to integrate into a lesson plan because it will enhance the overall learning experience.  Don’t use technology for technology sake.  It must be purposeful and meaningful and connect with curriculum goals.

I know many teachers are extremely reluctant to use technology with students.  It is the fear of the unknown.  Choose just one lesson and one technology tool and think about ways to integrate the two.  I have many ideas on this blog to help you get started.  It could be as simple as using a website to reinforce a skill students are learning.  Once you try something, you will find that it isn’t as difficult as you might think.  You don’t need to be tech savvy.  You just need to have the desire to try something new.

I wish you all a wonderful, innovative school year!


Posted in Professional Development, Technology | Leave a Comment »

When it Comes to Keyboarding … Practice Makes Perfect

Posted by Computing for Kids on May 22, 2011

It may not always be fun, but practicing keyboarding skills is very important and should be developed early.  As soon as a student begins to use the computer, proper keyboarding skills should be emphasized so that bad habits don’t develop.  In the primary grades, the focus should be on using both hands on the keyboard and getting used to using the thumb for the spacebar and pinkie finger for the enter key.  By third grade, students should be practicing their keyboarding skills weekly with a good keyboarding program that progresses with them.  Once the skills are developed, it will provide the foundation from which all other computer skills will build. Below are some great, free online keyboarding programs that anyone can use at school or at home.

A great place to start is a primer on keyboarding fundamentals.  Computer Applications Simplified has a page of information that teachers can use to introduce the concept of proper keyboarding skills.  It discusses the importance of both speed and accuracy, and gives tips on how to type certain words, such as holidays and numbers.

My all time favorite free, online typing program is BBC Typing.  Although it doesn’t save your progress, it is an incredibly engaging program with adorable characters that encourage you along the way.  There are 12 levels and a keyboard showing the proper fingering to refer to as you type.

Peter’s Online Typing Course is not as engaging as BBC Typing, but it offers lessons with tips for learning how to move from hunt and peck to a touch typist.

Davis Typing is another very basic typing program that progresses from the homerow keys to typing numbers and symbols.

Typing Web is a great option for teachers whose school can’t or won’t purchase a keyboarding program.  Teachers can keep track of student progress and students can log in and practice at home.

Find the Letter is a great place for primary grade students to start.  It shows a letter at a time and students have to find it on the keyboard.

Similarly, Key Seeker has students press one letter at a time; a great way to become familiar with the letters on the keyboard.  This program also shows pictures of things that begin with the letter, so it is a great one for students learning to read.

Place the Letter gives students the opportunity to click and drag letters and numbers onto a blank keyboard.

Keyboard Climber is a engaging challenge for students as they find and type the letters they see.  As they type, they help the monkey make it up the three levels, beginning in the tree level, then in the sky, and finally to space.  It is fun and motivating.

Posted in Keyboarding | Leave a Comment »

Treasures! Language Arts and Computer Literacy

Posted by Computing for Kids on May 12, 2011

Treasures by Macmillan Mcgraw-Hill is a wonderful reading-language arts program that includes student activities, teaching guides, and scoring rubrics. It also has a leveled reader search to help students find books that meet their needs.  There are lessons for students from Kindergarten through 6th grade.  Each grade level includes lessons on Oral Language, Research and Inquiry, and Spelling and Vocabulary.

Technology is integrated in many of the lessons, particularly with Research and Inquiry, which makes it ideal that interactive technology lessons are included.  The Computer Literacy Lessons are a set of comprehensive and interactive technology lessons that covers topics such as using the mouse and keyboard, the Internet, Word documents, PowerPoint, databases, spreadsheets, and email.  I have used many of the Computer Literacy Lessons in my computer lab with great success.  Each lesson includes an explanation and demonstration of the skills and then a fun and interactive practice activity.

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Tech Savvy Teachers

Posted by Computing for Kids on April 22, 2011

Beyond the projector, or even SmartBoard, many teachers are uncomfortable with the idea of integrating technology into their curriculum.  There are some teachers that just don’t want to learn something new.  But I think more often than not, it is a lack of time teachers have available to learn new tools and methods of instruction, as well as the lack of support from administration.

There are so many free resources for teachers to teach themselves how to use technology.   I have included sites that provide teachers with tutorials on the basics such as Operating Systems, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, along with newer concepts such as web 2.0 tools designed to enhance a lesson.  Once the basics are learned, teachers can take the next step on the path to technology integration.

Internet for Classrooms not only has tutorials on computer skills, programs and applications, but also includes links to a plethora of resources for teachers and their  students.

Computer Applications Simplified is a great place to start to get the basics explained, short and sweet!  It covers the history of technology (don’t worry- very few words)  to what is the Internet and how to create a document or presentation.

While Computer Literacy Lessons are designed for students in grades K-6, teachers can benefit greatly from working their way through these simple, audio/visual lessons.

Growing with Technology is another site designed for elementary students, but it is a fun way to learn about databases, documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and hardware.

Welcome to the Web is all about the Internet.  It is a step by step set of lessons beginning with what is the Internet to how to stay safe online.  This site is great for anyone who wants to understand how the Internet works and what things like URL mean or what is a browser or hyperlink.

Posted in Professional Development, Technology, Web 2.0 | Leave a Comment »

Class Websites with Weebly

Posted by Computing for Kids on April 1, 2011

Weebly is a completely free resource for teachers and their students to create classroom websites, blogs, and e-portfolios. Teachers can create two websites for free and up to 40 students can create their own website.  Weebly offers a variety of multimedia features that can be easily added using a drag and drop interface.  Photos, videos, audio, documents, maps, and galleries are easily added to create a website within a completely protected environment. Many teachers avoid allowing students to create websites or blogs because of the lack of control.  But Weebly allows teachers to password protect all student websites. You have full control over which websites are public, which are private, and which can be edited by the student.

Another great feature is that there are no ads on the websites that you or your students create.  Typically, free websites include ads which allow the website to remain a free resource.   But Weebly makes it money by charging $10.00 for 10 additional sites beyond the 40 free ones.  It also offers a pro option for $39.95 a year, which gives the user   more features.

Another great option with Weebly is the unlimited number of blogs you and your students can create within your website.  Blogs are a great way for teachers to post homework assignments and keep parents informed on what is happening in class.  For students,  blogs give them the opportunity to express their thoughts and receive comments from others.  It is also a great way to encourage students to write.

Posted in Create, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Solar System

Posted by Computing for Kids on March 23, 2011

Third grade students, according to California state standards, are introduced to the concept of the solar system.  While this is a fun subject for many students, there are some websites that make it even more engaging and interactive.  Below are some sites that allow students to learn the order of the planets, information on each planet, and how they differ.

Solar System Trading Cards is part of the Amazing Space website.  This activity has students answering questions about the planets to earn all of the planet trading cards.

eLearning for Kids has two adorable characters who describe the solar system and each of its planets.  It is an animated presentation that students can pause and play again.

ESA Kids has quite  a bit of text on each planet, so this may not be a good choice for beginning readers.  But there is a section called “fun” that has puzzles, quizzes, coloring books, and competitions, which gives students the opportunity to have their solar system artwork posted on the website.

Harcourt School Solar System has basic information on each planet as well as comets and asteroids.  This is a good choice for students doing basic research.

Kids Astronomy has information on each planet, in the form of paragraphs, as well as fast facts, and an animation of each planet’s orbit.  There is also information on telescopes and ways students can observe the night sky, deep space and the space shuttle.  But be warned, this site does contain ads.  A great feature of this site for teachers looking for planned weekly lessons on the solar system is the “free online class”.  It includes 8 lesson packets with links for students to research the answers.

Kids Newsroom is a solar system virtual journey.  Students can explore each planet, with the option to view many animations to bring the concepts to life.

Welcome to the Planets has profiles on each planet, information on the many space explorers, and beautiful photos of the planets.

A fun site that brings home the idea of the effect of gravity on weight is Your Weight on Other Planets.  Students simply enter their weight and it will calculate what they weigh on different planets.

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