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Tagged With: tech lab

How to Teach a Tech Lesson–the Movie

I get lots of questions on how to deliver a tech class. What’s included? How do teachers blend it with other learning? How do you answer all the student questions?

Here’s a video with the answers to those questions and more. I’d love to hear how your tech class runs–add a comment at the bottom:


Categories: Classroom management, Computer skills, Videos | Tags: , | 2 Comments

How to Organize Your Classroom–the Movie

Last week, I shared ideas on how to set up your tech classroom. Today, I want to share a video:


Categories: Classroom management, Videos | Tags: , | Leave a comment

How to set up your tech classroom

IMG_0103I’m reposting this for the start of a new school year–as a reminder to all my fellow tech teachers. Go geeks!

If you teach technology, you want to set the lab up so it’s inviting, non-intimidating, but doesn’t hide from the core ‘geek’ theme. In fact, from day one, exclaim that fact, be proud of your nerd roots. 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. Your colleagues assumed you received an upload of data that allowed you to Know the answers to their every techie question. 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?

As you organize your classroom, celebrate your geekiness. Flaunt it for students and colleagues. Play Minecraft. Use every new techie device you can get your hands on. That’s you now–you are sharp, quick-thinking. You tingle when you see an iPad. You wear a flash drive like jewelry. When your students walk into your class, they should start quivering with the excitement of, What new stuff will we experience today?

Here’s a summary of what happens your first day with a class. From this, you’ll figure out how to set up your classroom (no owl themes here. It’s all about bits and bytes):

  • Introduce yourself—establish your bona fides. Share your blog, your background, your awards. Give them website addresses or post them to the class internet start page. You want to be easy to find.
  • Tour the classroom with students. I walk K-2 around—they like getting out of their seats. Demystify any of the tech tools you will expect them to use—where they can get help in solving problems, what’s on the walls, where’s the printer/scanner/iPads/etc.


Categories: Classroom management, Teacher resources | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Take Tech into the Classroom

tech lab--classroomIf you are the tech teacher and teach in a lab, there’s a fundamental truism about students and tech that you know: Students don’t make the connection that tech in the lab is the same as tech in the classroom–just smaller. Whether the classroom has a laptop cart or a pod of desktops, students think that they’ve never seen the programs and icons before and none of the rules they learned two doors down (or wherever your lab space is in relation to the student classroom) applies to tech use in the classroom.

It requires your physical presence in their classroom, speaking to them for the transfer of knowledge to take place.

Here’s how I do it:

Before going:

  • Make sure the class computers work
    • CPU turns on
    • monitors work
    • headphones works
  • Make sure class computers have all the links required for class work and that are used in the lab. Ask the class teacher what those are and make sure they are on both the lab computers and the classroom laptops/pod. These are some favorites:
  • The school website
  • Tech lab class internet start page
  • Typing practice program
  • Google Earth
  • Starfall
  • A math program

If it’s not possible, be ready to explain the differences to students so they can reach a comfort level

  • Find out what the class teacher understands about the computers. Is she comfortable? How are students using them? Has she had problems? If there are reasons she doesn’t use them, what are they and can you solve them?


Categories: Classroom management | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Should Tech Teachers be in the Classroom or the Lab–Follow Up

tech teacherA couple of months ago, I posted an article called Should Tech Teachers be in the Classroom or the Lab? I got the question from a reader and wanted to see what the tech ed community thought about what has become a hot topic among technology teacher, coordinators and integration specialists. I summarized the common thoughts on the subject and received quite a few thoughtful responses from readers.

I also cross-posted the article to LinkedIn and wanted to share those responses with my blog readers. You’ll find them an important contribution to your knowledge on this subject, with lots of anecdotal stories and varied viewpoints. Enjoy!

Gail Flanagan • Using technology as a tool in all parts of the school day integrating it into the students and teachers day. We implemented 1:1 iPad for a 6th grade team and mini pilot of iPad carts for the rest of the school. Digital natives use the iPad intuitively for collaboration, organization, creativity, productivity and communication. Keyboarding, word processing, spreadsheets and multimedia presentation tools are still used with laptops and desktop computers.
Lucky to be a teacher of Middle School ~ Allied Arts computer class. We reassess the standards to adapt to essential questions of what to know using technology in everyday lives and 21st century skills,

Dale McManis • Around classroom technology integration and professional development for teachers I really like the work of Dr. Karen Swan-Research Professor, Research Center for Educational Technology / College & Graduate School of Education, Health and Human Services, Kent State University. 


Categories: Classroom management, Education reform, Teaching | Tags: | 2 Comments

Should Tech Teachers be in the Classroom or the Lab

The following question was posed by one of my blog readers:Face people on Cement wall texture background

I love your site and all the valuable information you put out to help others. I wish I would of found it sooner. Thank You!

I have a question and would love your insight ... I teach lower school Computer Class to grades 1-4 at a private school in Columbus, Ohio. Our Technology Vision for 2015 is to get the students out of the computer lab, where they now learn computer skills based on classroom themes, and move me into the classroom where I would be the “technology integration teacher” alongside the classroom teacher. I would help with Smartboard, Ipad, laptop lessons integration, etc. I think this is a good idea and have been told that this is the trend in education but have not gotten real clarity on why and how this transition should take place.

Here are my questions: Do you see the benefit of technology integration into classrooms as I stated above? Is this the trend in education? If so why and how do you make this big transition? My feeling is that students need to learn computer skills such as formatting a document, searching the web, tools within PowerPoint, etc…This is much easier in a lab setting than classroom. Should we have both a lab and an itinerant technology integration teacher?


Categories: Classroom management, Education reform, Teaching | Tags: | 2 Comments

19 Free Posters For Your Tech Lab


Not free anymore–that ended in 2011–but available here.

Oh, there’s also a bonus lesson on how to teach a 45-minute tech lab to lower school. (more…)

Categories: Classroom management, Teacher resources | Tags: | 6 Comments

Book Review: First Grade Technology: 32 Lessons Every First Grader Can Accomplish

First Grade Technology: 32 Lessons Every First Grader Can Accomplish on a ComputerFirst Grade Technology: 32 Lessons Every First Grader Can Accomplish on a Computer

by Structured Learning

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a find. Students start with basics and move forward into fun and challenging tech projects that are tied into classroom inquiry. By the end of the school year, they–and their parents–can’t believe how much they’ve learned. This 50-page book has a year’s-worth of age-appropriate computer training in KidPix, PowerPoint, Google Earth, beginning keyboarding, computer parts, vocabulary with step-by-step lesson plans, examples of completed work, vocabulary builders. Everything meets and exceeds ISTE, NCLB standards. Students learn hundreds of computer skills while exploring math, science, literature, problem-solving, critical thinking. (See the publisher’s website at for free downloads and more details.)

I found it easy to use, straightforward, nonthreatening. I like the entire series. There was a marked change in how much students learned after six years using this curriculum and any other that I’ve seen. If your school is on a budget, buy the pdfs.

View all my reviews

Categories: 1st, Classroom management, Lesson plans, Teacher resources, Web Tools | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Just Another Day In Computer Lab

Today, my guest blogger is Kristi Richard of South Bend, IN (Go Notre Dame!) She’s a web designer, owns her own freelance business called Studio 545, and

[caption id="attachment_4333" align="alignright" width="338"]TECH TEACHER Where’s the blue one go?[/caption]

volunteers one day a week to teach computer basics to grades six , seven and eight at Our Lady of Hungary Catholic School. In her words, “Our Lady of Hungary … received a nice donation of computers and internet service to get a computer lab up and running. I was asked to teach basic computer skills to the kids, and have enjoyed working with them for about four months now. I only work one day at week with the kids, but I have developed quite an appreciation for what teachers go through nine months out of the year!”

Kristi and I met online chatting about tech teacher experiences and she had me in stitches telling me about her escapades. I asked her to write a post so I can share it with you. Enjoy!

Sometimes the kids in my 6th – 8th Grade computer lab look at me as a computer genius, but I am thinking to myself “Whew, glad that worked, now remember what you did, Kristi”!

My second week of teaching this lab, my priority was trying to remember all the kid’s names. But shortly after the kids came in to the lab, all of a sudden four computers including mine went down. We are on a network, so I am thinking, “Now what do I do??” I kept myself under control and did what the tech guys always ask you to do. 1) are the cables plugged into the back of the computers (check!), 2) are the computers turned on (check!) . . . 3) are they plugged in correctly? So there I was, Mrs. Richard, on my hands and knees, ass in the air as I was looking under the lab desks to check the monstrous mess of cords, plugs and cables that hook up twenty computers along this section! I could hear the kids giggling at me while I continued to struggle in tight quarters trying to figure out which cord/cable/plug hooked to the computers that went out. Then came the hot flash . . . jeeze, not now!

After about seven minutes of searching, I saw it . . . the extension cord to a power strip was wrapped around a girls ankle and had come unplugged. She didn’t have a clue! She must have sat down and wrapped her ankle around the cord and just yanked the cord out of the power strip. NO CLUE as she sat there working away on her computer with this cord wrapped around her ankle! I unwrapped the cord, and debated for a second if this was the right cord, or if I would set off a huge power surge and kill a row of computers if i plugged it into the empty outlet. What did I have to lose? I was just a volunteer and I was dying under here! They applauded when I plugged in the cord and the computers went back on – it worked! “Mrs. Richard, you rock!!” (I thought to myself as i backed out from under the desks, face sweaty and red).

At 52, I am getting a bit old to be crawling around under desks. But somehow . . . I love it!

If you have a funny story you’d like to share with readers, email me at or leave a comment here. Chances are, lots of other tech teachers and parents will relate to your experience.

Categories: Classroom management, Humor, Teacher resources | Tags: , | Leave a comment