Technology Lesson Ideas

Elementary Classrooms

Grade: 1-5
Subject: English Language Arts, Technology
Objective: The student will be able to find and understand information from a variety of sources, including the Internet.
Original Post: Search Engine Scaffolding: Free tools help your students become search engine experts

Whenever a student has a basic question in class — i.e. “What’s Paris, France?” — look it up on Qwiki as a class. As time goes by, start having conversations about what students can and can’t learn from Qwiki. How does Qwiki compare to a dictionary? Can you ask Qwiki specific questions or just general questions? As a class, use chart paper to make a list of things Qwiki would be able to answer and a list of things it wouldn’t.

After several weeks or months, once students become more accustomed to using Qwiki for basic facts — similar to an encyclopedia — introduce SortFix to them. First, use it as a class to research a topic. Explain that, sometimes, computers need extra clues to understand your questions and, by giving them additional words, it helps computers answer our questions. Go back to the list the class made with things Qwiki wouldn’t be able to answer. Discuss whether there are any questions on that list that SortFix would be able to help answer. After using both SortFix and Qwiki several times as a class when questions arise, invite students to use the sites on their own for their research projects.

Grade: K-3
Subject: Technology (tinkering)
Objective: The student will be able to create an object to solve a problem or answer a question.
Original Post: Let Them Tinker

Given time and materials, it’s amazing what younger students will build. Work with students on safely using tools like wood and wood glue. If you feel comfortable, allow older kids to use hammers and nails. Then set them loose in a room full of recycled, donated supplies.

Guide students with an objective, like “build a toy you’d like to play with” or “build something for our school garden.” But be sure their goal has a real-world connection. When young students see that they can build something that will be used, their motivation and self-esteem go through the roof.

As problems arise, it’s a great opportunity to teach problem-solving skills. For example, maybe a student will build a bird feeder and then notice that squirrels are stealing all the food. How can the design be improved to keep the squirrels out but let the birds in?

Middle School Classrooms

Grade: 4-8
Subject: English Language Arts, Technology
Objective: The student will be able to find and understand information from a variety of sources, including the Internet.
Original Post: Search Engine Scaffolding: Free tools help your students become search engine experts

Introduce students to SortFix. First, use it as a class to research a topic. Explain that, sometimes, computers need extra clues to understand your questions and, by giving them additional words, it helps computers answer our questions. Have students use the site as they work on research topics.

In their notebooks, have students record their original searches and their searches after they added and removed power words. After several weeks, once students become accustomed to using SortFix, discuss what SortFix teaches us. Tell students you want to know what jellyfish eat, so you’re going to type “jellyfish” into Google. Ask students to help you refine your search, without using SortFix. Ask them to predict power words and infer how you would add or remove words from a search, using Google rather than SortFix. Invite students to start using SortFix strategies on more general search engines, like Google, as they research future topics.

Grade: 4-8
Subject: Technology (tinkering)
Objective: The student will be able to create an object to solve a problem or answer a question.
Original Post: Let Them Tinker

Once students have a strong grasp on circuits and how they work, thousands of tinkering opportunities open up. Students can use motors, switches, and batteries to create complex robots and machines.

Have your students discuss school-wide problems they think they can resolve. For example, maybe they’ll notice that the window where they turn in their lunch trays is always backed up and piled high with dirty lunch trays. Then, have students work independently or in groups to design and build something to solve this problem. Maybe they’ll create something good enough to solve the problem. Maybe they won’t. Either way, the objective has been acheived — in tinkering, it’s process over product.

Grade: 4-8
Subject: All subjects using project-based learning
Objective: The student will be able to organize  and track all the pieces of a long-term project.
Original Post: Timelining for Every Classroom

I work with a lot of middle and high school teachers who utilize Project-Based Learning in their classrooms. There’s a great benefit to PBL — students are engaged, motivated and learn a ton of content. On top of that, though, students also learn important soft skills, like working in a group and time management.

Timelines can be a great help when it comes to those soft skills. Students can use programs like Capzles to plan out their projects — what date they’ll finish their abstract, when they’ll complete their research, etc. As students complete various tasks, they can upload the finished product directly to the timeline (or add a link to their work). Then, everything is in one place and, if it’s a group project, group members can divide the work and then access one another’s completed products.

High School Classrooms

Grade: 9-12
Subject: Technology (tinkering)
Objective: The student will be able to create an object to solve a problem or answer a question.
Original Post: Let Them Tinker

Host your own Junkyard Wars competition, using a room of donated “trash” as your school junkyard. Give students a problem they’re challenged with solving, such as building an underwater robot that can lift an object from the bottom of a pool. Then, have kids compete to create something (using only what’s in the “junkyard”) that can complete the challenge in the fastest time.

Grade: 9-12
Subject: Technology
Objective: The student will be able to communicate information to others, by engaging them in a mission-based video game.
Original Post: Let Them Play: Video gaming in education

Partner with a middle or elementary class in your area. Have the teacher send you a list of objectives his/her students have been studying. Present these objectives to your high school students and challenge each student to create a video game that will both engage younger kids and help them better understand one of the objectives (allow each of your students to choose which objective they’d like to teach).

Have students build video games using Google’s App Inventor, the iPhone Developer Program, ARIS, Flash, or another game development software (like Kodu Game Lab, Gamestar Mechanic or Alice).

Even simple games, like Lemonade Stand, can go a long way if they’re built creatively. There’s a great opportunity for students to create games that help explain major concepts like evolution or even climate change.

Grade: 9-12
Subject: Technology
Objective: The student will be able to follow programming directions in order to build an Android app.
Original Post: iPad Dream at Realistic Price: the $250 Android Tablet

Have students reflect on things they’ve learned in the previous year (you can focus on one class, or let them choose from any class). Tell them they will create an app to help teach one objective to students who will take the same class next year. Challenge each student to create an app that will both engage students and help them better understand the content.

Have students build apps using Google’s FREE App Inventor, which allows students to create apps for Android devices.

Even simple apps can go a long way if they’re built creatively. This is a great opportunity for students to create apps that help explain major concepts like evolution or even climate change.

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