Monday, September 16, 2013

This Week in My Computer Lab Classroom ~ Primary Grades

I absolutely love teaching writing and technology in the computer lab! All my students, kindergarten through fifth grade, love working on the computers. After three years, I've learned a lot and have fine-tuned my lessons and projects. It's so rewarding when my students come in at the beginning of the year retaining what I taught them last year!

Here's a peek into my current lessons and projects with my
kindergarten, first, and second graders.


At the beginning of the year, my goals for my
kindergarten students are to teach them to:
1. hold and use a mouse properly.
2. navigate a website.
3. recognize capital and lowercase letters.

Many of these little ones are in need of serious hands-on instruction on how to hold and use a computer mouse!

Another issue with kinders is that they don't all know their capital and lowercase letters yet. That's a problem for any assignment that requires typing, even their names. It's confusing for them because the letters are printed on the keyboard as capitals, but when typed, they are lowercase. 

To practice mouse skills, website navigation, and letter recognition, I have my kinders begin with the alphabet section of the website For many of the them, I have to place my hand over theirs to teach them how to double click to open Internet Explorer. Fortunately, we have a quick link to Starfall on our school's home page. 

My students absolutely love this website! They learn so quickly. By the second week almost all of them can double-click on their own. 

First Grade

Many of the first graders were in my class as kindergartners, so it makes things go a bit easier. 

With my first graders, I start by reviewing mouse skills and
keyboarding skills. My main focus it to teach them to:
1. use the shift key to capitalize.
2. space correctly.
3. punctuate.
4. double-click.

 Using the shift key to capitalize is such a difficult thing to teach young children! I model holding the shift key and pressing a letter on the Smart Board, and we even have a little chant to help them remember. Still, some of them just don't understand. I must get around to every student and make sure that they can shift to capitalize. 

The main program I use with first graders at the beginning of the year is Kid Pix. Most of my students are proficient Kid Pix artists from kindergarten. I'll assign students to draw a picture on Kid Pix and type sentences to describe the picture.

Here are some of my current assignments:

I'll make an example picture like the ones above. Then I'll type sentences for students to complete. Each week I'll have more sentence parts for students to complete. Once they are pretty proficient with their keyboarding, I'll have them start writing their own sentences. 

Here are some student work samples from last week:

I love how their dogs turned out! My students are often disappointed that their pictures don't print in color. I tell them to enjoy the colors on the computer, and that they can color in their pictures at home.

Second Grade

I've had most of my second graders in first grade and 
some of them in kindergarten too.

With second graders I do a quick review of:
1. basic keyboarding - using the shift key, punctuation, one space with the spacebar, backspace, and using two hands to type.
2. how to save in Microsoft Word.

Then they're ready to dive right into a writing and technology project. We started a project where they create their own robot on Kid Pix:
They love it, and I'm so impressed with their creativity!

Next, I created a prewriting graphic organizer template on Microsoft Word. Students give "facts" and information about their robots and explain where/how they got it, what it looks like, and what the robot does. 

This activity is modified for the computer lab from my 


I have to be flexible, because there are many times throughout the school year when I must leave the computer lab and teach my classes in another (computerless) classroom due to computerized testing. If I'm in the lab, I'll make a computer template. If not, we'll use pencil and paper for our writing projects.

I hope you enjoyed this peek at my week with my primary students.

Stay tuned for third, fourth, and fifth grade writing projects!