Get Moving
If you're stuck in the mud, you need to explore ways to get moving. A good place to start is by looking at how you view students and technology. What's the role of technology in your school? How are students using technology? How do you think students should be using technology?
Explore ways that students use technology as consumers, as collaborators, and as creators.
Students as Consumers
Look at the ways your students are using technology as consumers. Go beyond the basic use of information. For example, ask students to read the information they find on the Internet, but also encourage them to ask questions, solve problems, debate an issue, discuss a topic, or create a communication. The following ideas will help you expand your ideas about students as consumers.
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Explore Options. Use websites to get students started. Use them as discussion starters, story prompts, or topic generators. For example, they might explore a site with basic information and then build on that information or debate an issue. The American Museum of Natural History has a web page called Rocks in the Cabinet that explores the rocks and minerals that can be found in a kitchen. You might use this to get students thinking about the products in their house. They could then use the Internet to learn more about these products such as matches and how they are made.
Replicate Projects. Start with an approach you already use in your classroom such as making a visual map, creating a game, holding a debate, or conducting an interview. Use a website to stimulate an idea. For example, check out the online interview of a dinosaur.
Look Local. Use the Internet to explore globally, but look locally for projects. Start with a topic such as Endangered Environments. Ask yourself: What does a world event have to do with our town? How do global concerns impact our community? What can I do to make a difference?
Combine Subject Areas. Rather than focusing on just one area, combine subject areas together for an interdisciplinary approach. Combine art and history, math and music, or chemistry and poetry. For example, the Elements page shows student poetry based on Chemical elements.
Use the News. Identify current information not available elsewhere. Did you know that Canada has a new territory, there's a new mission to Mars, and there are conflicts happening throughout the world?
Use Live Events. Bring excitement with live projects such as the JASON Project, weather reports, and live cameras and data sites. For example, you can track where the planets are right now.
Students as Collaborators
Think about how students can use the Internet as a tool for collaboration. For example, consider data collection, information sharing, and virtual field trip activities. If you're looking for ideas. Check out LightSpan's Global Schoolhouse Project page where you can search for current online projects.
Data Collection. Explore projects that involve students in gathering and analyzing information from observations, interviews, experiments, and polls and surveys. The Stevens Institute of Technology website provides lots of great online projects.
Information Sharing. Consider a project that would involve students in creating and sharing, creative writing, narrative writing, and descriptive writing. They might create text, visuals, audio, and/or animation as part of the project. The Tall Tales project involved children from Ohio posting their tall tales and asking other classes to join in the fun of writing tall tales.
Virtual Field Trips. Get students involved in a virtual travel project. They could follow a scientific expedition or a historical reenactment. Some projects involve live participation, while others allow delayed viewing. Students can be involved in email, chat, and even video conferencing with scientists, historians, politicians, and professions in any field. Students could follow a project such as Odyssey's USTrek project.
Students as Creators
Finally, students can become creators. They may be publishers, presenters, authors, illustrators, or web developers. The key is to get students involve with designing, developing, and building real-world applications for classroom content.
Web Developers. Try to keep your projects simple, small, and reasonable. For example, each student might add one word, sentence, paragraph, page, or slide to a class project. Everyone doesn't have to do everything as long as they all are a part of the process. For example, check out these student PowerPoint presentations.
Build A Project. Consider projects where the teachers starts the project and students add an element, picture, or definition. Maybe students could expand a project from a previous semester. All projects don't have to start from scratch. For example, consider the lab equipment project. Each student could add to the Inspiration document.
Multiple Channels. Not all students are "verbal-linguistic". Be sure to include audio, video, QuickTime VR, animation, and graphic elements to encourage students with different learning styles. For example, students could do a project related to language and culture that would include QuickTime audio and video.
Review. Use creation projects as a way for students to review and reflect. Students can build a project as a class, in small groups, or individually. For example, you could review the life cycle of a butterfly by creating a class Inspiration document.
Think about mixing all the student roles together into a project that would involve students as consumers, collaborators and creators. Use online projects for ideas. For example, your students might explore an online safari, then make their own.
Ask yourself: What roles are students playing in your classroom with technology? Are they consumers, collaborators, or creators? Maybe they are all three!
Creating Technology-Rich Learning Environments
If your lessons are caught in a rut, consider ways to make them more "technology-rich."
As you consider the roles of students, begin thinking about the effective design of technology-rich learning environments in your classroom. Consider the areas of standards, themes, collaboration, thinking, and starters. If you're looking for ideas for your own professional development, check out the Teacher Tap for some ideas.
Standards. Always start with the end. What do you want your students to be able to do or talk about when they get done with your activity, lesson, and unit. Identify an outcome. Then, locate resources to address the specific outcome. Think about the reading level of the resource as well as how the information is presented. Then, design meaningful activities that will help students work with the information presented. Carefully link these ideas together. In other words, be specific about the kind of learning experience needed to reach your goal. If you want students to be able to explain how atoms interact with one another by transferring or sharing electrons, then you need a page that explains the concept such as this electrons and bonds page. If your outcome is for students to be able to explain how sorting and recombination of genes in sexual reproduction creates a variety of gene combinations, then a tutorial might be the best best. Check out a nice tutorial on cells. If your students have already been introduced to a topic, maybe they need new information and opportunities to practice. The outcome might be for students to analyze the physical and chemical properties used to identify families of elements. In this case, the Chemicool page might be useful or a funbrain quiz. Always match the information and activities to the standard or student expectation.
Themes. Think thematically. Look for topics, lessons, and units that relate to interesting and meaningful experiences. Make the teaching and learning environment exciting. Start with the 42eXplore page for ideas. This web project contains over 100 themes, websites, and activities. Emints and Gander Academy also have good theme pages.
Collaboration. Explore projects, join projects, and create collaborative projects. For ideas, check out the Teacher Tap on Collaboration. If you're looking for a model that includes many different collaborative elements, explore Murphy's Weather project. The Buddy Project and Virtual Architecture page also explain the process of creating collaborative projects.
Thinking. Promote high level questions. For example, ask students to explain, solve, choice, or decide. Go to for ideas. Webquests are good way to promote high level thinking projects. The Teacher Tap: Webquests contains lots of ideas for integrating webquests into your classroom. The San Diego schools have a nice visual map for webquest tasks. Travel Back to Colonial Times is an example of a webquest.
Starters. Create starters for kids such as prompts, templates, book covers, photos, or web page. For example, check out the Nutrition and Bugs KidPix projects. Consider using an electronic postcard as a starter or a website such as
Ask yourself: Are you ready to create effective, technology-rich learning environments? Brainstorm the standards, themes, collaborative elements, thinking skills, and possible technology starters you could use for a particular topic you teach.

Mud Menu
Big Ideas to Small Steps
Get Moving
Bridging the Gap
Return to Eduscapes

Created by Annette Lamb, 04/01.