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The One-Computer Classroom

What's the best way to use the one computer I have in my classroom?
What strategies should I use when doing large group activities with my computer?
What's the most effective way to organize small group activities with only one computer?

teacherAlthough many schools have computer labs, portable laptops, and multiple classroom computers, many classrooms are still dealing with a single computer in the classroom. Frustrated teachers ask, "What can I do with just one computer?" Let's explore the options:

The One Computer Classroom: The Possibilities

As you explore the possibilities, think about how the computer can be used. First, brainstorm teacher uses and student uses. Then consider the range of applications and specific activities. Teachers can use the computer for administrative tasks, while students can use the computer as part of a center or station. Both students and teachers can use the computer for assessment, presentation, accessing information, communication, and production and publishing.
Teacher Use. Administrative applications include professional productivity (i.e., letters, worksheets, puzzles, problem sets, labs, handouts, bulletin board materials, lesson plans, tests, forms, newsletters, calendars, reports, certificates, graphic organizers, and seat charts), data collection (i.e., electronic gradebook, attendance, student information, and mail merge), and information board (i.e., announcements, reminders, class introductions, slide shows: back to school, open house).
Student Use. Student applications include using the computer as a creation tool (i.e., production and publishing center: email, word processing, database, spreadsheet, graphics, multimedia) and learning tool including information center (i.e., Internet, CD-ROM, video, resources) and activity center (i.e., drill & practice, problem solving, decision making, and simulation software).
Both Teachers and Students.
The following activities can be accomplished as a large group with one computer and a large monitor.
Assess. Teachers can develop and direct pretests, quizzes, post tests, and other kinds of large group administered assessments. Students can take these assessments as a large group. Teachers can also check understanding as they work through a unit.
Present. Teachers can use the computer to direct the class's attention to large group instruction that previews, motivates, provides context, provides information, illustrates concepts, model san activity, leads inquiry, demonstrates a concept, stimulates discussion (i.e., debate, role play), asks questions (i.e., problem solving, involves students (i.e., decision making), and reviews. Students can share their ideas through presentations (i.e., speeches, oral reports, multimedia projects, review activities).
Access Information. Teachers can use Internet based information for professional development, instructional development, and content area information and resources. Students can access information as a group including reading and research from a single large screen using Internet and CD-ROM resources, as well as resources the teacher creates.
Communicate. Teachers can write and receive professional email including principal to teacher, teacher to student, teacher to teacher, teacher to parents, and class to class. They can share professional materials such as lesson ideas and class projects through email, chats, threaded discussions, web pages, and listservs. Students can write and receive group email as a class. They can participate in class projects such as ask-an-expert, book buddies, and collaborative data sharing.
Produce & Publish. Teachers can lead a group in production and publishing (i.e., brainstorm ideas, prewrite, compose, edit, revise, build charts and graphs, make concept maps, create web pages, build presentations, and create timelines). Students can contribute to large group projects (i.e.,, class magazine, class book, class presentation, timeline, class journal, creative writing, Inspiration document, Kidspiration project).
Download a One Computer Classroom: Possibilities PDF file for an Inspiration document with a wide range of ideas.

The One Computer Classroom: Across the Curriculum

As you explore ways to integrate technology into the curriculum, start with reading, writing, and mathematics. Consider large group activities using your computer and a large monitor.
Reading. Use informational websites, fiction websites, CD-ROM, and presentation software to present reading materials. Use technology to help students in making connections, questioning, visualizing, finding importance, and synthesizing content-area reading materials.
Writing. Use word processing, Inspiration, page layout software, web page builders, reference resources, and checkers in writing activities (i.e., narrative, descriptive, definition, explanation, analysis, classification, comparison, and argument). Use technology to help students in prewriting, composing, revising, editing, and publishing various group written and multimedia products (letter, email, story, poem, journal, report, lab, translation, caption, editorial, photo, chart, graph, graph, diagram, music, sounds, animation, video).
Math. Use informational websites, calculators, visual mapping, and spreadsheets to explore math concepts across the curriculum. Use technology to help students in calculating, visualizing data, and solving problems.
Download a One Computer Classroom: Across the Curriculum PDF file for an Inspiration document with ideas for one computer across the curriculum.

The One Computer Classroom: The Issues

Using one computer in the classroom can be both frustrating and fun. There are issues related to using the computer as part of large group activities and small group activities. There are also some general management concerns.
Large Group Activities. Large group issues include connecting to standards, keeping it simple, modeling concepts, incorporating PowerQuests, exploring Internet resources, involving students, and facilitating group activities.
Small Group Activities
. Small group issues include exploring center approaches, providing effective support, considering center activities, encouraging collaboration, exploring scheduling options, building realistic expectations, and finding help.
Management Considerations. Management issues include considering hardware needs, considering timing of projects, and thinking about equity.
Download a One Computer Classroom: Issues PDF file for an Inspiration document for ways to address these issues.

The Computer Computer Classroom: Links and Resources

 Lists of Ideas for the One Computer Classroom

Articles about the One Computer Classroom

Links for the One Computer Classroom


Brainstorm Ideas for the One Computer Classroom

Use ALPS: How can I design curriculum, brainstorm possibilities, and sketch ideas? to explore activities for your one-computer classroom.

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