It's Happening in Primary Classrooms
The students start with mouse skills in Tiffany
Simon's classroom in Las Vegas. As the school year goes on they
gain familiarity with all the parts of the computer, and they're
off and running. There?s a lot happening in the primary grade
classroom. Throughout most of my teaching career I taught the
primary grades, later becoming a teacher of technology to students
and other teachers. I interviewed a number of teachers across the
nation about some of the best ideas currently working in primary.
The results are as varied as are teaching styles
among teachers ?? and hardware arrangements vary widely too.
Many teachers? students use the school lab weekly and also have
classroom tools ranging from e-mates and Apple IIes to iMacs and the
latest in multimedia equipment. Teachers are making great use of
digital cameras and nearly all use the Internet both as a teaching
and research tool. Whatever the equipment, primary teachers find
ways to encourage students to expand their horizons as they become
familiar with technology.
Here's some of what they are actually doing
with this hardware in the primary grades.
Language Arts Activities
Barb Ringenberg of Granville, Ill., has students
make books based on the Jerry Pallotta alphabet books. ?Students
research the topic based on a letter. On a template they change the
letter to the one they are doing and then type in the information
from their research. After editing (with the help of a teacher or
aide), the page is printed, and the author then illustrates, she
says. Afterwards, the pages are compiled and bound. The students do
a Daily Oral Language on the computer. The lessons are in the
teacher?s network folder, and every week she distributes the DOL lessons. Students access them and in
groups of four or five work together correcting the sentences in
In Joyce Christman's Dublin, Ohio, classroom,
children write stories on topics that are generated from their
journals. "Parent volunteers type the stories that the children
read from their writing onto Easy Book Deluxe. The stories are
printed and illustrated and the PTO helps the children bind and 'publish' them."
In Debbie MacDonald's, Waynesboro, Ga., class
there are 12 computers in her second-grade classroom; she rotates
the students and they assist each other in working toward achieving
curricular goals. She calls them "learning stations" and the
students spend all day Friday rotating every 15 to 20 minutes.
During the week, students go back to certain stations to complete
Karin Oslanzi's Granville. Ill., classroom
uses Kid Pix slide show in several ways. Students draw a nursery
rhyme they like and write a sentence. During their ?space unit?
they draw their favorite planet and write a fact, such as "Mercury
is the closest to the sun." "Each year they have a Mother's
Day party," she says, "and the students create a slide show
about their mothers. They play it at their party; the students are
very proud of their work ?? and the moms usually are crying
because it is so special."
Andrea McConnell, Tulsa, Okla., takes close-ups
of the students' faces with her digital camera and downloads them
to the school?s server. She reports, "The technology specialist
visits the classroom and trains one 'computer specialist' to
assist the rest of the class. During center time students working at
the technology center will pull up their picture using a Goo program
their image." This process teaches navigation of the school?s server,
hand-eye coordination (mouse skills), and saving. "The students also
help choose photos to go on the class Web site." McConnell prints a
photo of a class event or person and the students write about it and
then put them in their portfolios.
Elaine Boyne, Escanaba, Mich., wraps up the day
in her preschool class with a talking letter experience story that
is typed up and reprinted for the youngsters to take home. If there
are pictures taken during the day they are incorporated. Another of
the teachers uses the digital cam-era at the beginning of the year
to take a picture of each student. She inserts the photos into
Office 97 and makes pages using their names, such as: A is for
Alex, etc., and uses the pages to make a class book.
Class Web Pages
Teacher Lori Antrim of Gaston, Ind., says that
?since using a Web page the parent-teacher communication has been
much improved. The students can access ideas to enhance their
learning on the Web page? and parents can access her weekly
newsletter or archive newsletters for any forgotten information or
field trip permission slips. Student projects are published on the
Web page where the students and parents click to e-mail the teacher.
They're making iMovies in Gwen Johnson's,
Cottage Grove, Wis., classroom. Her second-grade students do all the
camera work and editing. For an author study, "The children talked
about books in a literate way. They created great interview
questions, gave summaries of the stories that they read, and looked
at the story elements. They also made a documentary that showed the
highlights of second grade. Students got to practice all the steps
involved in writing without doing the actual writing," she says.
The children used the computer as a tool to help them ?publish?
their stories. Her students made an iMovie while on a field trip to
the Milwaukee Zoo. "They wanted to know if zoos were the best
place for animals to live. They used the computer to research their
topic and interviewed people while they were at the zoo." Johnson
includes many of the standards in her iMovie projects.
The second-graders in Sue Tarkenton's
classroom in Easley, S. C., take Internet field trips when they
study China. Her computer is hooked up to a presentation TV. They
?visit? the Great Wall and talk with American children living in
China by using <www.chinavista.com/travel/greatwall/greatwall.html>.
They also view the Washington Zoo Panda Cam while they do their
work. The zoo cam is always on at <www.zooatlanta.org/pandacam.html>.
Students watch the pandas play, eat, even see them getting a medical
Christy Falba is director of Technology for the Clark County School
District in Nevada, where the computer is the main tool of technology
in the schools. Asked what the greatest problem is right now with
primary technology she says it's creating "digital equity." "Some
students are coming in with high knowledge of computers and others with
very little knowledge," she says. "The challenge is creating the
equity." She calls this the "Media Generation" "using a media approach
is an excellent way to ensure that students learn." To reach them the
district is using a wide area network between elementary and middle
schools and sharing projects.
As the future unfolds, our students will need to
be able to use all the technology tools as easily as they now use
pencil and paper. These technology tools can enhance the scope of
our students? understanding of the curriculum, as well as provide
scaffolding in the subject areas.
Marsha Lifter taught in Los Angeles for 27
years. She currently teaches and writes books about technology
integration. She is published by FTC Publishing. If you have ideas
you?d like to share, e-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Internet Sites for Primary Teachers and Students
Incorporates art and writing lessons in all curriculum areas
This site has lesson plans for all grades along with some great
poems and songs
Lesson plans on animals, math, science, vocabulary, reading
Physical Education Lesson Plans
Physical education integrated into academic lesson plans
Web education activities
Lesson plans, Webquests, worksheets, sites
Activities and lesson plans for students with disabilities
Educate the Children
Ideas for activities for teachers and parents demonstrate concepts
Enchanted Learning Software
Literature based lesson plans
Site includes lesson plans in Spanish