I can still remember getting assigned computer lab time my first year teaching. THANK GOD! I loved computer lab time because I could put the kids on a few games, and I could take a breather! Looking back, I am ashamed to say that I used the computer lab as more of a classroom management tool than one of education. Sure, there were some educational games the kids loved to play.. and I mean.. they were educational, right?
Heading Down The Hall
Staying on Task
If planning simple tasks like spelling drills, math drills, or easy grammar practice games, etc.. You will want to take in a timer. (I use a kitchen timer) Make an agenda on the board of the activities that the students get to participate in during computer lab time. Each activity can be given a 15 minute time window. When the timer goes off, the students are to go on to the next activity. This system does multiple things: It lets the students know that you are prepared and have set expectations for their time in the lab, it prevents a certain level of boredom which can deter behavior problems, and it can cover multiple skills all during one computer lab session. Keep in mind, you may vary the time you allot for each activity. It solely depends on the type of activity you are doing. I suggest screening ALL internet learning activities and programs before assigning them.
Easy Review Activities
There are also some computer activities that you will want to assign for the entire time. We will talk about those next, but first, here are some websites that I like to use during my computer lab time to review skills and allow students extra practice. (I do NOT suggest doing these every time you go to the lab. These activities lack rigor and depth of knowledge, and are only suggested as extra practice.)
My Favorite Computer Lab Activities
Research – I don’t have a specific website for this activity because there can be many. I love using the computer lab to do research. Students can pick their own topic, or the teacher can provide one for them. The teacher can provide graphic organizers or templates to guide student learning. For a free and easy introductory research template that includes citation support, check out my Research Writing Template.
How do you use your lab time?
Computer lab time can be a game changer for us teachers who don’t have a lot of technology in our classrooms. I would love to have my very own ipad station… but I just don’t. I know some schools who provide an ipad for each student! Wow! I am lucky to have a couple of computers in my classroom that work! I want my students to have access to technology as some of my students still don’t even have internet at home! Unfortunately, I will have to find fun and creative ways to integrate technology while providing meaningful and rigorous activities using the web. I am slowly learning what is effective, and what is just “fluff”. I need your help!! What do you during your lab time?? Have you found resources that spark a deep level of learning? What is motivating for the students?