Classroom Technology Management Strategies

The following pages are part of a class written by Marilyn Western, former 1st grade teacher, and Janine Lim, Instructional Technology Consultant, BCISD. The class is Technology in the Early Elementary Classroom and is available online.

Although this specific list is targeted to early elementary, most of the ideas are applicable to all grade levels.

Introducing Technology, Software, or Activities

  • Small Assignments: Go slow! When using new software in your classroom, such as KidPix, teach students the tools by assigning small activities that use just a couple of the tools. Gradually increase their knowledge this way.
  • Play Time: Another option for introducing new software is to give the students a chance to explore the software before giving them an assignment to complete.
  • Stamp Catalog: Copy the stamps pictured in your manual. Paste them in colorful file folders, laminate and leave at computer.
  • Dynamite Rule: You may “explode” your picture twice in one day. After that, you’re stuck with what you have (unless you want to use your “pencil” eraser tool.)

Whole Class Demonstration

  • Show students the activity as a whole class demonstration using the computer and TV before sending them to work alone at the computer.
  • The idea here is to get the image BIG! Request the largest possible monitor your district can afford. Also, change your font size to a larger size so students in the back can see. Connect your computer to a large-sized television via a converter – just a cable with a box between your computer and the TV that will display on the TV whatever is on your monitor. Going up in price, an LCD panel with overhead or a video projector is a wonderful (but expensive) way to "publish" for your class.
  • What do I do with one computer and the whole class? I can introduce a new website, demonstrate a science experiment with digital pictures, or model a new software game. I can take a field trip to the North Pole or an art museum without reserving a bus, exchange information with classrooms around the world by e-mail, or locate a picture to illustrate a fact.

Reading at the Computer

  • Reading Online: Make the font size large so kids can see it easily.
  • For non-readers, have several classroom 'experts' available. Select 3-4 students and 'inservice them' during a morning recess. Have them practice the program and/or complete the project during the next couple of recesses. Then intro the computer project & experts to the class and let 'em go!


  • I learned long ago just how important location is to computers. Keep the monitor perpendicular to windows – the sun can wipe out your monitor’s images, or can make your students squint into the light. Of course, water and electronics don’t mix, so keep away from the drinking fountain/sink area, and make sure your students know that magnets are not friends to your computer.
  • Keep your computers out of major walkways – the cords have a tendency to jump out and grab passing students. Plan for sufficient space to have a small group of students around the computer for teaching purposes.
  • You should be able to see your computer monitors from wherever you happen to be perched for your direct instruction groups. You know how to use your teacher eyes and ears when you are busy with one group and other groups are on their own. Obviously, if the busy buzz of kids on computers suddenly gets loud with laughter or very whispery quiet, it’s a good time to take a peek at the screen.
  • For upper grades, having a log (a sheet of lined paper on a clipboard or a small notebook) is a good idea. Students can sign in with name, date, time, and software program, URL, or project title when they sit down to work. They can end with a short sentence or two about what they’ve done during their computer time, something neat they’ve learned, what their plans for their next session are, their problems or successes.
  • An extension of the log idea is to have a clipboard/notebook for each computer in your room for reporting tech problems (include the date, time, program/URL, what was done just before the problem occurred, and what the exact problem was). This would easily allow you to look for patterns to computer problems.

Scheduling Ideas

  • 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.
  • Use the computers you have as a Center during Reading or Math instruction. Kids rotate thru Center in pairs. If you don't have enough computers for a group of 6 students, call the center the Tech Center. Some can be on the computer, others can use a GeoSafari or listen to a cassette tape or watch a video in a corner of the room (point the tv/video into a corner of the room and keep the sound low. I call this the Theater Center) or record themselves reading & play back as they follow in the book one more time. Use any tech you have available.
  • 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.

Lab Management Ideas

  • Use cups on top of the computer. Red cups for 'help', green cups for 'everything's ok' , blue cups for 'I'm on the Internet'.
  • Or Blue cup says “I found something cool!”
  • 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.
  • Three before me rule: ask 3 other students BEFORE you ask the Teacher!
  • Ways to ask for help: red cup, name on board, ask an expert.
  • Save to disks only if you have to – save to server is much better!!!

Student Helper Ideas

  • Use peer teaching. Each week have a different student in charge of the computer. They should have learned whatever program is used that week.
  • Intro the '3 before me' concept. Tough for younger students to get the hang of (teachers are similar to the All Knowing) but will eventually pay off.
  • Have a different student each week who serves as "Computer Assistant." 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.
  • Cooperative learning groups get more students involved in using technology (or having a say in it)
  • One student in charge of keyboard, one in charge of mouse (KPS is heavy on mouse use).
  • Encourage student “Experts”.
  • It’s easy to pre- and post-assess students’ knowledge if you have the time to have students sit down at the computer individually. Most of the time, you can have students partner up. For most computer projects, one is in charge of the keyboard, and the other takes over the mouse. Students can choose to change "jobs" half way through their project if they wish.
  • You can also show two students a new program or computer operation during recess, giving them another 20-30 minutes to explore and become proficient. The next day, they are the "experts" who teach other students the ins and outs of this new skill. The "experts" you choose should not necessarily be the techies in the class.

More Scheduling Ideas

  • 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.
  • Sample Schedules for your classroom computers. Adapt them to your own situation.
  • Have Free Play sign up 1st thing in the morning, use Centers during Language Arts and have Thematic Groups in the afternoon for research and reports with small groups.
  • Schedule times for individuals or small groups to be on computer
  • Who’s turn on the computer??? Craft sticks, clothespins, charts, sign ups
  • Cycle students through your computer in several different ways. You can assign times for students. Janie knows she will be on the computer every Monday from 9-9:30. She sets a timer for 30 minutes, and calls up her math project. When the timer goes off, she quietly saves and closes, then whispers to David that it is his turn on the computer. Twelve students can work on one computer within an hour and a half on Monday through Thursday. Fridays are catch up days for students who were absent, or didn’t finish. Janie and David are pretty good in Math – it won’t hurt these two to miss 30 minutes of direct instruction once every two weeks to work on a math project.
  • During Language Arts time, rotate small groups of six or seven through the computer center, direct instruction with you, an art project, and a phonics scavenger hunt. Students change centers every 20 minutes (completing all four centers in one day), or every 45 minutes (completing all centers in two days) depending on the amount of time center projects will need.
  • During thematic studies, cooperative learning groups can take turns seeking information and creating their presentations. Younger groups may consist of a reader, keyboarder, mouser, recorder, resource person, and a timekeeper. Older groups may have similar jobs, but more responsibilities as scriptwriter, graphics, introduction and title slides, bibliography or credits slides, and scanner.


  • Have students plan their use of the computer before they get on it. For example, have them write their slideshow before putting it on the computer.
  • Use storyboards as organizational tools.
  • Create templates for students to “drop in” their work
  • Brainstorm & plan on paper first.
  • Give kids rubrics so they know what to aim for.
  • Get more table space: use copy clips (attaches to the side of the monitor and holds paper up)
  • Velcro your speakers to the side of your monitor!
  • If you have a say in it, purchase computers with towers – gives you more space!
  • Place monitor on table so students look straight at it or down a little. Check for correct posture.
  • Use headphones! KidPix Studio is VERY audio intense!
  • Have a Plan B ready just in case. This is technology we’re talking about here and reliability isn’t always one of its assets.
  • Run through the lesson yourself before presenting to your students. Just how long will it really take, what are the skills students will need before they can tackle this project, what is a realistic timeline?
  • Do as much offline as possible. Students should be prepared to start work as soon as they sit down at the computer. Their ideas should be written on paper, revised and edited before they are considered ready for the computer. Computer time is valuable!

Making Class SlideShows in KidPix

  • Teach kids to put their name on their work and save to a slideshow. When everyone has finished an activity or learning center, you can easily run through the work by playing the slideshow. When you have students save items for the slide show, create a separate folder for the assignment. This will help you keep organized. Here's an instruction sheet you can laminate and use with your students.
  • Take a week to rotate students to one computer (3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon for 5 days would allow 30 students to create their own slide in 1 week).
  • When each student is finished s/he should save to 1 folder in SlideShow. Make sure each student saves the picture with his or her own name. When all students are finished, it will take just a few minutes to combine all pictures into one slideshow.
    • Have a list of students posted next to the computer. Show the 1st student what to do (a sample that you have created for yourself to show them, but not leave up, will get their ideas rolling). When the 1st student is finished and has saved his/her picture, s/he can lightly tap the shoulder of the next student and show them what to do before resuming his/her class work.
    • Assign each student 20 minutes on the computer. When they sit down, they can set a timer for 20 minutes and work till the bell rings. At that point, they can save and call up the next person. Save some time each day for students who need to finish up.
  • Be sure all students have a page in the SlideShow.
  • Give all students a printed copy of the project to share with their parents.
  • Have the slideshow available during Open House or Conferences so students can take their parents thru the slideshow.
  • Give students time to plan their picture BEFORE they get on the computer.
  • Rule: You can erase the whole picture only 2x.
  • Print out the SlideShow and bind together for a class book.
  • Create a “code” for saving pictures: A for Art, N for Nutrition, etc + student’s initials. All slides for one slideshow will be grouped together and students can easily locate their own slide for editing.
  • If students are creating their own slideshow, save with their initials and a number (title slide is 1, next slide is 2, etc.)
  • Kid Pix slides can be printed, the pages, laminated and assembled in book format.
  • Take dictation if you want everyone to have a chance by the end of the week!
  • Don't record sounds for the individual pictures; this is done later when assembling the slide show.
  • Rearrange the pictures in your slide show by dragging them from one truck to another. Blank trucks will not show up on your slide show.
  • It is very important to save the slide show file in the same folder with the pictures. If you move the show to another computer, or to another drive, you must move the separate picture files, too, and they must all be located in the same folder.
  • OR… you can choose File/Save as StandAlone. This one file contains the show and pictures; it is larger and is read-only (cannot be edited).
  • Never save your slide show as a StandAlone without first saving it normally!

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Last Updated July 12, 2010

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