My new educational technology page is called Geek Files. It lists all my tech pages and bilingual Web Quests.

Including technology:
How you can get started now

Classroom technology use is now an area in which Texas classroom teachers are evaluated under PDAS. Technology use can be intimidating, if it brings to mind long hours spent deciphering an arcane user's manual, or noisy and expensive drill-and-kill skill games. The truth is that with a few simple tools, anyone can begin to meaningfully incorporate technology into the curriculum.

Open-ended titles, such as Kid Pix, Hyper Studio, Claris Works, (and Claris Works for Kids) offer the best opportunities for integrating technology into the curriculum. They adapt readily to integration in a thematic unit, they appeal to different intelligences and learning styles, they are an attention-grabbing and motivating method of presenting new content, and they allow students to create their own projects in a variety of exciting formats.

Programs such as these advance basic computing skills (keyboarding, mouse operation, file management, cut and paste, drawing ), as well as higher-order thinking skills (application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation) in the course of creating a project about a particular topic.
The Texas TEKS for elementary technology applications are available online:

Graphic Organizers-
Students may use the Claris Works drawing program to design and/or complete any one of a number of different organizers: a story map to identify story elements, a story board to sequence events, or a Venn diagram to compare and contrast story elements. Almost any graphic organizer can be easily re-created in Claris Works using only the circle, square, line and text tools. The teacher may set up the organizer beforehand, or more advanced students may create their own.
(Science, Social Studies, Language Arts)

Electronic Storybook-
Claris Works includes a slide show function which is both versatile and extremely simple to use. To create a slide show, simply create a word processor document. Each individual page becomes a separate slide. Student created drawings and digital photographs can be included in the slide show. An electronic storybook may be as simple or as complex as desired.

An alphabet book, with one page per letter is a great beginning project for early elementary classes. Each student chooses a letter, and creates a page for that letter with illustrations and words beginning with their letter. This class project, when completed, may be exhibited as a slide show, or the pages may be printed to create a class "word wall." This is a great early publishing experience for students, and an exciting presentation for Parent Night.

A more sophisticated storybook may be created using Hyper Studio. This program is a bit more complicated, but the results are interactive and eye-catching. Try a "choose your own ending" story!

Instead of a storybook, you may like to create an electronic book based on your current thematic unit. Student-created text and illustrations can be compiled into an informative slide show or paper book which makes a nice addition to the classroom library.

A good source for useful photographs for storybooks is the World Wide Web. Even if your classroom is not connected to the internet, you may collect the photos beforehand and save them to a disk. Students may insert one of these photos into their project.

(Images gathered from web sites may legally used in classrooms for educational purposes under the "Fair Use" provision of the Copyright Act. Projects using these photos may not be published without permission of the owner of the images. If in doubt, e-mail the webmaster of the site where you found the image, and ask for permission.

(Language Arts, Science, Social Studies)

Online Literary Anthology-
Publishing is the crucial final step in the literary process. Your students can share their writing with the world. After students have written their final drafts, they type them into the Claris Works word processor. (All stories should be saved in the same file.) Then, you simply save the file as "HTML," and upload it to your school's web site. Your technology specialist can help you with the uploading as well as making your web page fancier. It is easier than you think!

The anthology may also be printed out and bound into book form. Anthologies make great gifts for parents!

Note: For privacy and security reasons, do not identify your students on the web page by last name or photograph. Use first names only and a group photo. Your students may also draw self-portraits to use instead of photos.
(Language Arts)

Puppet Show-
A very basic computer project is to design stick puppets in Kid Pix or the Claris Works painting program. Students paint the character on the computer and then print it out. When the drawing is glued to a piece of tagboard, and a popsicle stick is attached, the student has a puppet which may be used to retell a story, or to present a play. You may also like to try designing masks in this manner.
(Language Arts, Science, Social Studies)

Design a Book Cover-
Students can use Kid Pix or the paint program in Claris Works to design a book cover for a story the class is reading. A book cover may include the book's title, author, illustrator, an illustration of a main event from the story, and a summary or review of the book. These painless book reports make an interesting bulletin board display for the class or school library.
(Language Arts)

Survey & other data collection projects-
The spreadsheet program in Claris Works can be used even in the primary grades to collect data and create graphs of the results. Teachers may want to prepare and format the spreadsheet beforehand. A simple two-column table is all that is needed to classify data and display results as a graph. Students may wish to experiment with different graph types to determine which is most appropriate and meaningful to their particular project.

Students can graph science project measurements, survey or election results, in projects which integrate mathematics and content area instruction.
(Math, Science, Social Studies)

Story Problems-
Students can write their own story problems in Claris Works or Kid Pix, and illustrate them with clip art.
(Math, Language Arts, Science)

Time Lines-
Students can create autobiographical time lines in the drawing program of Claris Works, noting important events in their lives which they personalize with digitized photographs and drawings.
(Math, Science, Social Studies)

A few tips to make your technology use more productive:

Materials: Have plenty of computer disks, printer cartridges and paper on hand. These items are as indispensible as crayons and folders to students in the technological classroom.

Save your work and share: If you create a particularly exciting project, save it! Projects can be shared between classrooms, and last year's student work is an excellent introduction to next year's thematic unit.

Classroom technology continues to evolve, shaping instructional practice as it grows. We, as teachers, can be a part of this evolution. Whenever we create a new use for the computer we have in our classroom, and share our inventions with our colleagues, we are contributing to the technological revolution which will define the classroom of the future.

Web resources which will help you get started:

My bilingual links page:

Some of these projects are adapted from Instructor Magazine.

This article is available online at

Permission granted to educators to reproduce and distribute this document, provided no alterations are made to the content, and authorship is properly attributed. Any other use requires written permission of the author.
Copyright 1999-2000 by Julianne Hammink.