Technology Lesson Plans and Activities FAQ

Technology Lesson Plans and Activities Frequently Asked Questions

Have you been checking out my Technology Lesson Plans and Activities but you have some questions? Have you bought the resource but you're not sure where to start? This post holds the most frequently asked questions and answers (and will be updated as needed) so keep reading!

Technology Lesson Plans and Activities FAQ
Technology Lesson Plans and Activities FAQ

If you're considering purchasing, read this section:

Question: Love this idea! What platform will the students be using? Are they done in google drive? Like an interactive notebook?

Answer: Thanks for your question! They are on a website I built for my class when I was a technology teacher. The lesson plans and rationale pages are for the teacher (and administrators, right?) and the website is set up to just click and go for the students to complete the activities.

Question: I am interested in purchasing this package. I'm one of your followers and when I looked at the information you shared in your note to us, I saw I can statements. Are these included in what in this bundle? 

Answer: Great question! On each lesson plan there are I can statements typed in under the standards. They aren't in poster format in this resource but I do sell the posters separately. So I guess that leaves it up to you whether or not you want to write them on the board yourself or get the pre-made posters. I hope that answered your question. Thanks!

Question: Do these include google apps or MS Office?

Answer: MS Office- word, powerpoint, and excel lessons are included for grades 1 and up. 

Question: Is a subscription required in order for some of the lessons to be used?

Answer: If you want to use the lessons for digital passport from common sense media (4th grade) then you will need to make a free teacher account. There are optional "early finisher" activities like Moby Max and discovery education that could be used if you have an account but there are tons of other options if you don't. 
Technology Lesson Plans and Activities FAQ

Question: Hello, previously I've noticed your stuff is geared towards pc use...are these Mac friendly lessons?

Answer: Eh, some but not all. From grade 1 up, there is at least one unit in each grade level on MS office products, so if you don't have those programs then you won't be able to use the lessons. The lessons that are web based (keyboarding, research, Internet safety, etc.) would probably be fine. Sorry that doesn't answer it for you, but hopefully now you can make a more informed decision. Thanks for asking before purchasing!

Question: On the last page of the preview you have a page from your tech planning binder. Is the binder included with this?

Answer: No the binder is not included but I used my lesson planning template for all of the lesson plans in this resource. (Why reinvent the wheel when I love the lesson planning page, right?)

Question: From one busy teacher to another, thank you for all your time and effort in this bundle! I'd like to purchase the bundle, but I'm a bit unclear as to how many extra licenses are required. I am the one and only computer lab teacher, however I see 15 separate classes per week (2 Kdg, 3 first grades, 2 second grades, and so on). I just wanted to be clear on how many licenses I need to purchase so that each section of each grade is able to use these lessons in the computer lab. Thanks in advance!

Answer: Great question and thank you so much for asking before purchasing. Based on your classes you're good to go with one license. It is good for up to 5 of the same grade level of students. I hope it helps and saves you tons of time!
Technology Lesson Plans and Activities FAQ

Question directly for the 5th grade lesson plans: Are these lessons simple enough they could be used at a Technology Center that students could complete on their own each week or do they need to be "taught" or "teacher guided"?

Answer: The 5th grade lessons require VERY little teacher instruction. Only a few of the lessons require any teacher direction to get started. If you have a few students that could be "tech helpers" for when students get stuck during the lesson then you'd be all set.

Question: I'm looking for a real preview. Can you help with that?

Answer: In the k-5 bundle there is a sample rationale and lesson plan page. I've also put this website together for an extended preview. 

If you've already purchased, read this section:

Question: Would you be adverse to me recreating your website with the pacing/websites that work for my campus. I wouldn’t post your lesson plans themselves at all. Just create a similar site with some of the links you’ve already found as well as make changes so it would be tailored to my school! One example that I can think of is that we use Chrome instead of Internet explorer. I’d love to post my own “Chrome” videos.   

I’d also love to have a “I’m sorry” tab that’s a form I created so they can actually fill it out. Please let me know. I want to respect the work you put into this. I’d be happy to link to your blog and give you credit in any way you want.

Answer:  The answer to your question is an emphatic YES! I used these lessons in my lab for 3 years before I decided to share them with the world. My goal was to make the lives of other technology teachers easier. 

My hope is that every teacher who purchased these lessons use it as a starting point for creating their own custom website and lessons. You know your students and what they need. Just like any resource on TpT, as long as you're using it for your own classroom and not trying to resell my proprietary information, then you have free reign to use the knowledge as you see fit. 

Question: What do you think is the best way to share the website links with my students?

Answer: Have you started building a class website yet? I think the easiest way to share the link is on a class website that your students access. You could certainly also share through google classroom if that is how you are set up. If not, they really only need to type the website once and then bookmark it to come back to each session. 
Technology Lesson Plans and Activities FAQ

Question: I found a broken link in one of the lessons. Could you please fix it?

Answer: Of course. You know how websites are, changing things around whenever they want. I'm happy to fix it! I set aside time on Tuesdays to do this, so as long as you don't need it tomorrow then you will see the update after Tuesday. 

Question: It looks like there are only about 30ish lessons for each grade level, but your product description says it is enough to last a year. Am I missing something here?

Answer: Several lessons are units and/or will take more than one week to complete. I've also learned in my experience that each teacher will need some built in weeks to do school-based lessons like teaching students how to use a program, or time when they are kicked out of the lab due to testing and such. These lessons are designed for one 45 minute session each week and should be more than enough to get you through your school year. 

Question: My administrator thinks these lesson plans and activities are great and thinks I should share them with the district. I wanted to check with you first because of the licensing. What would we need to do?

Answer: Thank you so much for checking with me and not assuming. The license you purchased is for 1-5 users (classes of students for each grade level), so if you're district is larger than that then it will need to purchase additional licenses. They can reach out to me directly for more information

What other questions do you have about these resources? 

Let me know in the comments or email me directly. 

3 Tips for the First Week in Technology

The first week in the technology lab is so important. Get started on the right track with these 3 tips:

3 Tips for the First Week in Technology

Tip #1: Logins

Your students are going to need to log in to the computer. While it may be tempting to hold of on having them log in the first week, you shouldn't! This procedure is the most important one in your classroom, so they need the consistency from day one. 

I always print out my class lists with student log in information because I teach my students how to look up their number without my help. I put a folder on the back counter with all of the lists, separated by day of the week that they come to the lab. Each sheet has the teacher's name at the top and then the list of student names and usernames (no passwords). I encourage students to memorize their usernames and passwords, but some just never get it. By giving them the option to look up their username every week, it takes the stress out of it, and they don't have to bother me to get it. 

You at least will need the list in digital format for the first week so that you can look up the login information for the students who do not remember theirs. Since classes change so much in the beginning of the year, I could see the benefit of holding off printing them until things are more settled. 
3 Tips for the First Week in Technology

Tip #2: Rules

I'm sure you thought long and hard about what your computer lab rules should be. The first day, your students come in, sit down, and you go over the rules. Then what?

My advice to you is to have your students DO something with the class rules. For example, my older students (grades 4 and 5) make a poster using MS Word or PowerPoint on the first day. They are allowed to play with the fonts, clip art, and borders as long as their finished product has the class rules. By the way, this makes a great display to show off in the hallway! With my younger students, they draw a picture of the most important rule. 2nd and 3rd graders caption theirs, but K and 1 just draw out a picture representation of which rule they feel is most important. I love to use the ABCYa! Paint tool for this, but you could certainly use a different program or even do it on paper. 

3 Tips for the First Week in Technology

Tip #3: Early Finishers

You've planned this amazing first day lesson. Your students are logged in to their accounts and using digital tools! Then, 2-3 kids raise their hand to say they are done, and there are still 15 minutes left before the session ends. 

Always have a firm plan for early finishers. I have a page set up on my class website with early finisher activities- websites with learning games. I also have a classroom library with great kids books related to technology themes. I make sure my students know from day one that these are their only two options. No "helping" friends, which is really just a distraction in the computer lab. No bothering me, either. Is that terrible? I like a peaceful classroom where everyone is working hard and knows what to do. 

3 Tips for the First Week in Technology

So, now you have three solid tips for starting the year on the right track with your technology students. These are things you can have prepared before the students even start. Did I forget anything crucial? Let me know in the comments. 

Looking for some ready-made first week activities? Click here to go to my sample technology lessons website. 

3 Tips for the First Week in Technology

Getting Started as a Technology Teacher

Are you a new technology teacher or just interested in learning how another technology teacher gets organized at the beginning of the school year? This post goes over everything you need to know to give your students a great start.
Getting Started as a Technology Teacher

Setting up a class website

Your first order of business is to decide where and how to set up your lessons. As a technology teacher you're going to ask you students to go to a lot of websites, and typing them in can be such a hassle. Having a class website that houses all of the lesson links and activities will make your life easier and save time for your students to complete the actual lessons. 
Getting Started as a Technology Teacher

There are some great website building platforms out there and you can use any one you like. I build mine in Weebly because I like the ease of the click and drag interface. Each lesson I build has some basic components that are the same, so using the features in weebly I am able to copy a page and then just change out a few elements for each lesson. Click here to see an example website I have set up.
Getting Started as a Technology Teacher

Formatting technology lessons

I have two formats that I like to use for the different levels of learners. The lesson for students K-2 is going to look different than 3-5. 

Kindergarten through second grade generally has a "must do" activity and then learning games for early finishers. When I first started teaching technology I got some push-back from the kindergarten team because they thought their students were just "playing" on the computers. I had to show them the standards and explain how important knowing how to use a computer mouse is to the ability to do more complicated lessons in the future. I take the whole first quarter to build this skill (along with logging in to their accounts and navigating to the class website). The websites I choose for mouse practice nearly always have an educational component to them that will help in the classroom. Whether it is number sense or letter sounds, my students are developing multiple skills at one time. I'm sharing this tidbit with you so that you can plan how to address the issue if it is brought up for you! 
Getting Started as a Technology Teacher

To decide what to include in my lessons, I use the ISTE Standards for Students. At the beginning of creating all of my lessons, I laid out a plan for including each standard enough times for students to master it. I guess you could call it a pacing guide, but I didn't complicate it with time limits at this point. It was basically just a spreadsheet of the standards on top and the grade levels on the side with Xs for which standards I wanted to teach in each grade level. By the end of 5th grade everything was covered to mastery. I made myself a whole binder of forms to organize it. Click here to check out a blog post I wrote about it. 

3rd through 5th grade has three components to each lesson. I love to start with a warm up activity like keyboarding for the first 10 minutes of class. On my class website I set up a page with keyboarding practice options and taught my students to go directly there once they logged in. After keyboarding comes the directions and the bulk of the lesson. I love making screencasts of the directions so that students can watch as many times as they need to and refer back when necessary during their lesson. It means more prep time for me, but it makes class run so smoothly! So the lesson page includes the objectives, a video of directions, and the links to the lesson activities. At the bottom there are directions for what to do if they finish early and usually a link to direct them to the early finisher activities. See what I mean here

In addition to early finisher activities online, I also keep a classroom library that they can use if they finish early. I leave that option up to each student. Here are some of my favorite technology themed books:
*These are affiliate links to Amazon. If you purchase one of these after clicking through from my blog I will receive compensation.

Organizing your Computer Lab

When I first walked into the classroom that would be mine (the computer lab) I was so excited! It had been an old science lab but now it was 5 rows of computers and I was ready to get started. As I worked on organizing it, I realized it was lacking. I had no open wall space for displays because there was one whole wall of windows, two whole walls of upper and lower cabinets, and then the SmartBoard and a small whiteboard area. I had to find a way to project the lessons onto the SmartBoard, I needed a space for a teacher desk, and where in the world would I put the technology vocabulary terms? 

It wasn't until about 6 months in that I was finally happy with the setup. I chose to completely deconstruct the first row of computers to make room for a projector cart and carpet space. Luckily the computers in the front row were those awesome all-in-one Lenovos. They didn't need to be hardwired to the internet so I was able to move them to another part of the classroom. This made space for a desk for me, too! Well, a table not a desk, but at least I had a place to sit when I was planning. 

I used the upper cabinets for my word wall. I laminated technology vocabulary terms and taped them to colored construction paper, which I taped to the cabinets. It brought color to my room, which I didn't even realize was missing until it wasn't. So now I had solved almost all of my organization problems- except displaying the I Can Statements, which my Admin requires. 

Since I never write much on the whiteboard, I decided to use this space for the I Can Statements. Yay for magnets because that is exactly what I used for this purpose! Each week I would choose the corresponding I Can Statements for each grade level K-5 and post them on the board. Occasionally if a group was off by a week I would have to change it out for them, but it was manageable because I had all of my I Can Statements in a binder, laminated and ready to go. 
Getting Started as a Technology Teacher

Managing Your Computer Lab Classroom

Ok this one I didn't figure out until my 3rd year. It was a group effort between myself and the other specialists at my school. 

The first thing that I did that completely changed my technology teacher life was laminate and velcro a "hand" and a "name tag" for each computer station. It blew my mind that students would put their hand in the air for a questions and then wait and wait and wait without getting any more work done until I could go help them. And the question was usually something like "I can't find the q key." It was maddening. So in comes the laminated hand to save the day. Students could "raise their hand" by moving their "hand" from the side of their processor to the corner of their monitor. They could KEEP WORKING while waiting for me. Aha! 

It was also really difficult for me to learn 600 names. I remedied this by having them always put their name on their dry-erase name tag while they are logging in. Yes I would have to replace the dry erase markers every few months, but it was totally worth being able to call a student by name. 
Getting Started as a Technology Teacher

The specialist team at my school also did a scoring system as a way to motivate students to behave. They started with 5 points every class and only lost points if their voice level was too loud. At the end of the quarter the class (from each grade level) with the most remaining points would get a fun reward. It worked really well for us and we had great classroom teacher buy-in because they wanted their classes to keep all 5 points. Read more about this system in THIS blog post if you want the full scoop. 

What you can expect as a technology teacher

1. To LOVE teaching
2. To go home on time
3. NO parent phone calls (like ever)
4. Parent teacher conferences aren't for you, but I promise your school will find something else for you to do during that time. Register volunteers, help with the refreshments, the point is you don't get to go home ;-)
5. To play an active role in every single students' education in your school
6. To each lunch by yourself every day
7. To freeze and/or sweat for carpool or bus duty
8. To fix everyone's computer problems
9. To have your classroom phone ring twice as often as a classroom teacher's phone because computers break like all day long every day
10. To be misunderstood and totally on your own when it comes to planning and PD
Getting Started as a Technology Teacher

I think you'll really enjoy it!

Still nervous? Join my Facebook Group, the Technology Teacher Tribe

20 Tips for Teachers New to Using Technology

20 Tips for Teachers New to Using Technology

In this post I want to share with you some of the amazing advice other teachers posted when I posed this question on Instagram: What is your Best Advice for a teacher that is new to using tech in their classroom. 
20 Tips for Teachers New to Using Technology

Almost 300 teachers chimed in with advice! There were some repeated themes, so I've aggregated the advice into this nice list. 

1. Be open-minded
2. Make it meaningful, not just have your students "sit and get"
3. Try out the website or app first
4. Take it slow and ask for help
5. Start small, with one program at a time
6. Have a place to store all student account information
7. Keep a journal or reflection notes
8. Be sure you are monitoring students
9. Have a back up plan
10. Follow great teacher tech blogs
11. Learn right along with your students
12. Go observe other teachers using tech
13. Google it (or YouTube it)
14. Routines when using tech are just as important as all other classroom routines
15. Make sure the website/app/program works on a student computer
16. Turn off the light of the document camera when you're not using it
17. Start with Digital Citizenship
18. Encourage students to take ownership of the final outcome
19. No tech savvy teacher ever started out tech savvy! Practice makes "perfect"!
20. Never give up

20 Tips for Teachers New to Using Technology

What would you add to the list? What advice do you have for teachers new to using technology? If you are one of those teachers, what questions do you have?

Looking for click and go technology lessons? Check these out for grades Kindergarten through Fifth. 

Want to connect with like-minded teachers? Join the Technology Teacher Tribe on Facebook. 

3 Tools for Turning in Technology Assignments

3 tools for turning in technology assignments

3 Tools for Turning in Technology Assignments

This week I went Live on Facebook again to bring you the 3rd installment of my Tech Teacher PD Series. There is only one left and I hope you join us!

Please watch the video below to learn about my 3 favorite tools to use for having students turn in their assignments. 

Technology Teacher PD Part 3
3 easy to use programs for turning in assigned work in the tech lab
Posted by Brittany Washburn on Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The 3 tools

Here are links to get to each one of these tools. Let me know what you use in your classroom.

3 Parts to Structuring a 45 Minute Technology Lesson

Hey tech teacher friends! I recently did a Facebook Live video with my 3 components of structuring a 45 minute technology lesson. In the video you will hear ideas for the following three parts that I include in every technology lesson.
1. Warm up
2. Main Event
3. Early Finishers Activities

I hope you enjoy these tips. Here is my schedule for FB Live over the next few weeks.

3 Things to Consider when Establishing a Classroom Entrance Procedure- For the Computer Lab

3 Things to Consider when Establishing a Classroom Entrance Procedure- For the Computer Lab

If you're a technology teacher then this post is for you! I did a Facebook Live video with 3 tips for establishing a solid entrance procedure for the computer lab. You can check that out below. These are the 3 tips I shared. 
3 Things to Consider when Establishing a Classroom Entrance Procedure- For the Computer Lab

3 Things to Consider when Establishing a Classroom Entrance Procedure- For the Computer Lab

 1. Be as consistent as possible

This just means that you need to make a decision and stick to it. Don't start the year one way and then change your mind. It confuses your students and they will act up. That being said, if something isn't working, take the time to establish and practice a new procedure. 
3 Things to Consider when Establishing a Classroom Entrance Procedure- For the Computer Lab

 2. It looks different for the big kids and the little kids

For this tip you have to watch the video. I go through the procedures I use for 3-5 versus k-2. Tell me in the comments how you do it. 
3 Things to Consider when Establishing a Classroom Entrance Procedure- For the Computer Lab

3. Practice Makes Perfect

You have to do the procedure over and over again to make it stick. If you put in the work now, the rest of your school year will go so much more smoothly. 
Now check out this Facebook Live Video:

Interested in BONUS content? Check out my free email course for technology teachers, where I walk you through everything I do to map out, plan, and assess my students. And because I want to help as much as possible, just for signing up you will receive a free printable template of my daily lesson and reflection planner (and of course some free tips). 

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