The Effective One Computer Classroom
Prepared and compiled by Janine Lim, Instructional Technology Consultant, Berrien County Intermediate School District

Classroom Discussions
You can use almost any educational software or Internet sites from the front of the classroom to guide and direct student learning and to inspire discussion. It helps to create roles for the groups so each person has a perspective to help guide the discussion.

  • Decisions, Decisions series and the Choices, Choices series from Tom Snyder Productions at or (800) 342-0236.
  • Internet Projects can be done with one Internet connection in the school. Even teachers with an Internet connection at home only could do many of these projects.
  • Internet Projects can also be done by kids working in teams. When I taught, I had my 5th and 6th grade students team up with the Kindergarten students to draw a picture and write a sentence about it. Simple paint programs such as Windows Paint or KidPix can be used for this. I emailed the files to a teacher in California who posted them on a web page.

Devices for large group presentations

  • Scan converters
    • Converts computer video signal to NTSC video
    • Computer must have an external monitor connector.
    • Use with large screen monitor (27" or larger"
    • Do not always work with Mac & PCs
  • LCD Projection panels
    • Most common computer projection device.
    • Many different models from different manufacturers
    • Wide price range
    • Insist upon color, active matrix technology
    • Usually can be used with Macs and PCs - different cable.
    • May need a splitter cable for simultaneous viewing.
    • Some allow other video sources to be connected. (VCR, Video disc, etc.)
    • Some have built-in audio.
    • All require a high Lumen overhead (see next column)
    • Good all-around classroom device
    • Overhead Projectors for LCD Panels
    • LCD Panels should be used only with overheads that have a transmissive optical system
    • Must have a fan
    • Must output 3,500 - 6,000 lumens or more
  • Multimedia Data Projectors
    • Not all projectors are data projectors - check
    • Look for 650 ANSI lumens of output
    • Image size - 21" to 300" diagonal
    • Zoom Lens is nice
    • Bulbs can be expensive - check .. life
    • Check for Mac & PC compatibility
    • Splitter cables for simultaneous monitor viewing can be expensive
    • Remote control is nice
    • Most have audio amp. & accept other video sources
  • Hints for selecting presentation equipment
    • Buy the best you can afford
    • If purchasing LCD panels, you must also have high lumen overhead projectors
    • Never use less than a 27" monitor in a classroom
    • Whatever device you choose, make sure that all the cables you need are provided or you purchase them
    • Before you buy, make sure your computer has an external monitor output terminal. Be from Missouri: Try the equipment in the places it will be used most. Try it in the room that you think will be most difficult.

-details on display devices by Jim Bembenek

Cooperative Learning/Learning Centers
Bible/Worship Center: Praying for the 10/40 Window
or Misson Island
This is a web site that I created this as part of an independent study one summer. The main section lists the countries in the 10/40 window and includes Internet activities in Social Studies, Language Arts, Bible, and Math (and sometimes other content areas). It is appropriate for approximately grades 3-8.

KidPix Studio as a learning center
KidPix Studio lends itself to great 5-10 minute activities for lower elementary classrooms. This KidPix site has 101 activities for KidPix Studio in language arts, social studies, and other areas, plus many other helpful hints.Here's a sampling of the ideas:

  • Have students draw a map of the classroom during orientation in the fall.
  • Write a rebus story.
  • Tell main idea of a story with the SlideShow.
  • Use stamps to illustrate place value.
  • Have students sort stamp objects.
  • Create an alphabet book on a topic you're studying.
  • Make a slide show of the students in the class for Open House in the fall.

Teacher Created Materials or 1-888-343-4335 now offers 12 KidPix Activity Kits that are very inexpensive. They cover topics such as Weather, Seasons, Creepy Crawlies, My Country, Native Americans, Plants, Animals, and more. The KidPix Software is included in the kits.

Neighborhood Map Machine and its companion Community Construction Kit from Tom Snyder Productions at or (800) 342-0236 and other such software can also be used with teams. This software allows students to explore map skills and create maps of communities. You can also print buildings and place them on large maps (6x6).

National Inspirer is another great title for Social Studies from Tom Snyder Productions at or (800) 342-0236. Students plan trips around the US and practice map skills while collecting natural resources.

Office Projects

  • Use Word drawing tools to create a Venn diagram and compare.
  • When researching on the Internet, use Word tables to keep track of information from the Internet (URL, date downloaded, author, date published, title, etc.)
  • Make a greeting card in Word to or from a historical person.
  • Create a poster or sign advertising something or a happening at school; supporting or opposing a historical issue or current event issue; giving weather information; about an issue, etc.
  • Use Word to create a newsletter featuring the current topic of study.
  • Create an acrostic as a review on unit of study.
  • In Excel, students create a grade sheet to keep track of their grades. Teach averages.
  • In Excel, students create a word search, using a cell for each letter. Change font to answer.

Thematic unit stations
Here's a brief sample lesson using ideas from the Chocolate theme book from Teacher Created Materials or 1-888-343-4335. This lesson structure was adapted from an idea from Kathleen Johnson and TIES of Minnesota. Teacher Created Materials makes other Technology theme books that are excellent resources.

Divide students into 5 groups based on the goals of the topic and create at least 5 stations or tasks. These could be projects, worksheets, hands-on activities, reading, and more. If you have one computer, one of the activities will be on the computer. If you have more, change the activities to match your situation.

  • Group 1 reads books on Chocolate such as Chocolate by Hershey by Betty Burford, or Chocolate Dreams by Arnold Adoff and writes chocolate poetry (cinquains, similies, equations, 5 senses poems, and other kinds) and the ultimate edible paragraph (a wonderful paragraph writing activity from TCM's book listed above. (These could be wordprocessed on the computer.)
  • Group 2 tests various hot chocolate drinks for dissolving ability and taste. Data should graphed and the results written up in a lab report.
  • Group 3 reads about the science of chocolate and uses the information to do a chocolate crossword puzzle.
  • Group 4 takes class survey information (the survey would have to be done as a class before breaking into groups) and creates bar graphs on favorite chocolate bars and other questions answered by the class. This could be done with Graph Club from Tom Snyder Productions at or (800) 342-0236 or any spreadsheet software. The class would need previous instruction on how to use the software.
  • Group 5 researches a country where cocao trees grow and prepare a travel brochure advertising the country. (This could be done on the computer too).
  • Another group could look at previously bookmarked Internet sites to find information about chocolate. Another group could read print-based info and create a graphic organizer that has a focusing question.

The teacher floats from group to group as facilitator. Groups can remain stationary for a set amount of time, or could move to the next group each day until all tasks are completed. Not all groups would do all 5 tasks but all groups would have had technology use as least one day.

Units I have that could work with this format:.



"Smart Chalkboard"
Inspiration from Inspiration at or (800) 877-4292 can be used to brainstorm a story, essay, or topic with students. You can then easily make it into an outline, or print the web/graphic organizer for students to write from or to guide their study.

Slide shows can be created in ClarisWorks, KidPix Studio, Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Persuasion, or Corel Presentations. These can be student created to supplement reports, or lecture supplements for you as teacher. Slide shows with student work or important information can also be automated and running at parent teacher conferences or open house.

Wacky Web Tales is another software package/Internet site that can be used from the front of the classroom to give practice with parts of speech. Created by Houghton Mifflin at or 1-800-733-2828 and available for $15 for one computer or $35 for your whole building.

Daily/Weekly Routine Internet Activities: Visit a site a day or each week - build time into schedule for one short activity like the following suggestions. Make it a whole class activity. You could even have this routine be one of the weekly chores in your classroom.

Technology Curriculum Integration Ideas

Quality Instructional Sites Listed by Content Area

Lesson Plans
You can find some excellent technology integration lesson plans at this site:

Technology Integration Units
These are created by teachers as final projects in AVLN classes.

Classroom Management Tips
Plan Ahead

  • Have students plan their use of the computer before they get on it. For example, they should plan searches (write down key words, etc.) before getting on the Net and create storyboards of their HyperStudio, KidPix Studio, or slide shows before creating them.
  • Teach students new software by assigning small activities that use just a few of the tools. Gradually increase their knowledge this way.
  • Plan carefully for the time in the computer lab each week (if your school is set up that way). Teach kids as much as possible before going to the lab so that the time spent there is as efficient as possible.
  • Show students the activity as a whole class demonstration using the computer and TV before sending them to work alone at the computer.
  • Design projects to be completed in small parts, so that directions do not become too complex. Have instructions clearly spelled out and in small chunks.
  • Create templates for projects so that independent work can occur.

Pair Kids at the Computer

  • Use the one computer as a station with pairs/groups of kids. This works well if you are doing projects or problem-based learning. Students work on the project, and the computer is one of many activities to solve the problem or do the project.
  • Pair students at the computer. K-3 Have one use the mouse and the other use the keyboard. The next time they use the computer they switch roles. 4-6 Have them switch who uses the computer by dividing up the tasks.
  • Most kids are so fascinated with technology that they'll teach themselves just about anything you can load on them, as well as work peacefully together for fear of losing computer time. A small team of kids can have a corresponding team that works with them, with each team sharing with the other what they learned while the other was otherwise occupied either at the computer or with conventional classwork.

Creative Sharing of a Limited Resource

  • Use the computer for whole class demonstration or as a lecture supplement. Tom Snyder software is created for this plan. Net sites can be used this way as well. You'll need a projection device such as an LCD panel for this. If you have a parents' group, explain to them the purpose of the LCD panel and they may help raise the money for it.
  • Put the computer on a cart and share with the teacher next door. This works well if you are team teaching. Be sure you have time to talk and schedule the computers.


  • Think about how you schedule time on the computers. Remember equal opportunity. If you let the students who finish work first go to the computer, the students who are kinesthetic learners and need to be on the computer don't get the chance.
  • Put a timer and a student roster next to the computer. Teach the students how to set the timer for 15 minutes and to tap the next person on the shoulder when they are done.
  • Have a class schedule posted where students rotate at 15 minute shifts all day, even during direct instruction. This schedule is at different times during the week, so students don't miss the same class instruction each day (Student A starts Monday at 8:15, Tuesday at 10:00, Wednesday at 12:30, Thursday at 1:45, and Friday at 3:00). Since they are in the classroom while working on their assignments, they still hear all the necessary instruction.
  • Here's an idea from another teacher: I have three computers in my third grade classroom. I use "blind mice" to rotate students to the computer. The mice were once candy holders that were given to me (found at K-Mart). I introduced the mice and explained the procedure for using them. I then have task cards at each computer so the students know what to do when there. I also have a list of students with the task card. The list of names allows the student at the computer to know who is next. If a question arises, they are to go to someone who has already completed the task first. If that person cannot answer, then I will help. I try to put a student who is fairly computer literate as the first person so I know there will be a reliable helper. By Michelle McComas,

Computer Assistants

  • Have a different student each week who serves as Computer Assistant or Tech Buddy. If students have a question, they are to go to the Computer Assistant for help. If the Assistant doesn't know, then they can ask the teacher.
  • Use peer teaching. Each week have a different student in charge of the computer. They should have learned whatever program is used that week.


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Last Updated September 20, 2011

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