As a tech educator, it's difficult to find a substitute teacher who is comfortable delivering my technology in the classroom-infused lesson plans to students. Even if the sub is knowledgeable in the subject matter, she or he doesn't have intimate knowledge of what this particular student group knows about software, websites, problem solving, and more, which can be scaffolded for the current lesson. Nor does she know my organic expectations of students such as the level of independence and self-direction I expect during class. When I started teaching tech, my generic sub lesson plan looked like this:
- Practice keyboarding for 15 minutes
- Visit inquiry-themed websites
That was fine -- don't get me wrong; it promotes student learning while avoiding a meltdown by the teacher -- but I now have better options that keep momentum going while I am away for professional development or recovering from an unexpected illness.
This collection of six stand-alone technology in the classroom lesson plans is designed to complete important techie learning tasks, assess existing knowledge, or integrate technology rigor into class inquiry. They require little domain-specific knowledge on the part of the sub, asking primarily that she or he supervise activities and encourage critical thinking, problem solving, and transfer of knowledge on the part of students.
Next time you need an emergency lesson plan, try one of these.
Working in teams of two, students fill out a blank template of key placement.
Here's how this goes:
- Divide the class into pairs.
- Give groups five minutes to memorize key placement, then ask them to turn over all the classroom keyboards.
- Give groups 15-20 minutes to complete the sheet.
- Those who identify a predetermined percentage of keys correctly can have the next 1 minutes to visit websites you've selected as supportive of class inquiry. All other students will retake the quiz.
Knowing key placement is an important part of any keyboarding curriculum and should be assessed once a grading period. Because this is often difficult to squeeze in among other activities, having the sub administer it is a great solution.
Your prep: Copies of the blank keyboards to pass out to students.
Substitute teacher knowledge: no tech knowledge needed.
Students play an online simulation on a topic that ties into class inquiry. The best simulations require critical thinking and problem solving so the sub should expect students to use those skills as they work through the simulation of their choice.
- Point students either to an assigned simulation that ties into class inquiry or to a list of themed simulations such as this one. Be sure the list includes either choices they have registered for in the past or those that require no registration.
- Put required questions (if any) on the smartscreen for students to refer to during their play.
- Let students work in pairs as they select the website and get started.
Remind students that these games require them to be risk-takers to take responsibility for their own learning. They shouldn't expect the sub to answer how-to questions.
Your prep: Provide a list of appropriate websites. You might talk with the grade-level teams for their ideas or for general knowledge of topics they are currently covering. If logins are required, provide the sub with access to the teacher dashboard so she or he can assist students who can't remember their logins. If appropriate, include a list of questions that students can focus on as they work.
Substitute teacher knowledge: no tech knowledge needed.
Students continue Khan Academy lessons already begun as part of a class-wide or school-wide program.
Your prep: Have student accounts set up and introductory lessons completed. Make teacher dashboard available so the substitute can use as needed. If you haven't set up student accounts, have the school IT folks there to assist.
Substitute teacher knowledge: N`ominal tech knowledge; nominal math knowledge. Here's a downloadable free lesson plan on using Khan Academy in your classroom.
The Digital Citizen
Draw a student on the smartscreen and have students add all the digital devices they use on a daily basis.
Here's how to play:
- Discuss the meaning of “digital,” “technology,” and similar concepts. Have students name the digital devices they see in the classroom -- iPads, phones, printer, computers, and more.
- Break the class into groups. Ask them to take 15 minutes (or longer if you have time) to develop a list of digital devices they use on a daily basis.
- While students are discussing, draw a student on the smartscreen with lots of space around him/her for adding words and pictures.
- As a class, discuss the devices student groups came up with and add them to your smartscreen student.
Your prep: Provide access to classroom smartscreen so sub can draw and label the digital student
Substitute teacher knowledge: no tech knowledge needed.
Students engage in a gameshow-style competition to assess student knowledge on a specific or general topic.
Here's how to do this:
- Prepare the gameshow assessment prior to the sub's arrival by filling the template with appropriate questions and answers. You can use a variety of formats, including (click links for free templates):
Hollywood Squares/Jeopardy! Templates
Mind n Mettle
- You might create several so the sub can select the one she he is most comfortable using. This preparation will be time well spent on your part: You can use them for other assessments.
- Break the class into teams.
- Explain how the game works (each is slightly different).
- Display questions on the smartscreen. Points for the first team to answer.
- Play will vary somewhat depending upon which game is selected.
Your prep: Complete game show template with appropriate questions and answers; provide the sub with access to your smartscreen.
Substitute teacher prep: no tech knowledge needed.
Students create a drawing using ASCII art that supports class inquiry.
Here is how that's done:
- Working independently, search Google Images (or the appropriate image website used in your school) for a picture that ties in with the selected class inquiry. Single images work best.
- Open a word processing program and add the selected picture as a watermark.
- Type over it with appropriate letters. Color some or leave them black against white.
- Delete the watermark.
This is an authentic method of practicing keyboarding without drills and games.
Your prep: none.
Substitute teacher prep: Nominal tech knowledge; no required materials. Click here for more detail on the lesson plan.
Students challenge their knowledge of common computer and technology problems they encounter daily. These may come from your classroom observations, student suggestions of what causes difficulties when they use technology, and core classroom teacher observations. You can also include shortkeys your want students to know.
Here's how you play:
- Divide the class into teams. Pass out copies of common problems your student group faces. Give 10 minutes to study the list. Collect the papers before beginning.
- Have students elect a group member who will answer for the group. While the group can confer on a problem's solution, only this one person can provide the answer.
- Give Team One one of the problems from the list. They get five seconds to solve it. If they can't, move onto the next team. Repeat until a solution is revealed or all teams have had a chance.
- Go to Team Two for the next question and repeat process from above.
- Each right answer gets one point.
- Continue until you run out of time.
- Team with the most points will get a school-appropriate prize.
Your prep: Provide a list of problems that students can be expected to know how to solve.
Substitute teacher prep: No tech knowledge needed.
All of these lesson plans are easily accomplished by a qualified substitute teacher and will provide both formative and summative assessment metrics for your class. For more ideas, here's a thorough list of substitute lesson plans from the Georgia Career, Technical and Agricultural Education and ELA Common Core Lesson Plans.
More free lesson plans:
Common Core Writing–Digital Quick Writes
Common Core Reading–What if Students Don’t Like Reading
Great (Free) Lesson Plans
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of dozens of tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum,K-8 keyboard curriculum,K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and dozens of books on how to integrate technology into education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a tech ed columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.
Resources >> Browse Articles >> Utilizing Technology
5 Fun Internet Activities for the Classroom
Fun and games on the internet can also be a learning experience that enhances curriculum.
If you want to spice up your lessons and get your students motivated, using the internet is a great way to get started. There are many free sites that offer fun and games for students that teachers can use as educational tools. Some applications focus on reading and science, while other offer tools that you can apply to just about any subject. Don’t be intimidated- try using technology in your classroom.
What it is:
Tumble Books is an incredible site that reads popular stories with kids in an interactive book. The Tumble Books site also has fun quizzes, puzzles, and games that correlate with the different books. Students can have the story read to them, read it on their own, and have individual words sounded out for them. When students are finished with the story they can take a quiz on the book to check for comprehension or write a book review.
How to integrate Tumble Books into the classroom:
Tumble Books is wonderful for emergent readers, remedial reading students, and independent readers. Because the level of support is adjustable, the same Tumble Book can be used in your classroom with every student regardless of reading level. Set up a reading center in the one computer classroom or each student can work at their level in a computer lab setting. These interactive books are popular with students and increase student phonics, reading comprehension, and reading strategies. Encourage students to read with Tumble Books at home as well…a great way to extend the learning day! Students can take a quiz on the book when they are finished or write a book review for other students to read. Everything about this site is amazing! Instead of popping in a video on those indoor recess days, use a projector and have the kids read along with a Tumble Book. Split the class into teams to play the games, they can take turns coming to the computer during their turn.
I have linked to Tumble Books through the Toronto Library. Schools and libraries can subscribe to Tumble Books for a very reasonable yearly subscription. Tumble Books also has a free 30 day trial that you can sign up for before committing to a subscription.
Learn about blogging with your class as an educational tool. Read now.
Connect with sites that offer interactive curriculum enhancement. Read now.
- h4. Geography
Geography lessons can be made more fun with these free sites. Read now.
- h4. Phonics
Make phonics more fun with active internet activities. Read now.
- h4. Math
Website for math can help students practice and perfect skills. Read now.
- h4. Web 2.0
If you don’t know what Web 2.0 is or how to use it, this article is a must read. Read now.
What it is:
Ad Decoder is a web game created by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. The game teaches students how to decode advertisements to learn the difference between real and ideal as well as some of the tactics that advertisers use to get them to buy a product. Students flip through a virtual magazine full of advertisements and try to decode the messages the ad sends off. When students scroll over the message the true message pops up.
How to integrate Ad Decoder into the classroom:
Ad Decoder is a great tool to use with students to promote a positive self image and character development. It helps them recognize advertisements and the true messages they send. It can also be used to teach students how to spot ads both on the web and in magazines. (Those advertisers are getting so sneaky…ads are starting to get really good at blending in with the good stuff!) Use the online Ad Decoder tool and as an extension activity, have the students go through other magazines and “decode” the messages in the advertisements. This should spark some very interesting discussion!
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has some other quality student activities including food and nutrition, physical activity, safety, and more. Check out the other quality activities and games on the site!
What it is:
Kerpoof is a free online creativity center where students can create their own pictures, stories, and movies. The Kerpoof studio provides students with scenes, characters, and props. Students use these tools to create stories that can be printed out or movies that they write and direct. These can be saved right on the website so students can revisit their picture, story, or movie.
How to integrate Kerpoof into the classroom:
Kerpoof is the creativity tool that can bring your students stories to life. Use Kerpoof as part of your publishing center. Students can use Kerpoof to illustrate their stories, or to create a real movie out of their own writing. Kerpoof would also make a fun writing prompt center in the classroom. This site also provides students with basic movie making skills and would make a nice precursor to an iMovie lesson. Students could plan out their movies on Kerpoof before they begin filming and editing with iMovie. Kerpoof can also be used to teach character education, have students create stories or movies that show emotion and solve problems. Teach the life cycle of a butterfly during science using Kerpoof’s butterfly pavilion scene. User Kerpoof to create life cycle scenes. Students will create a unique login so that they can revisit their stories and movies. Allow students to visit each other’s work during reading time. The site would be best utilized in a computer lab one to one setting. The stories and movies will take too long to just set up as a center in your classroom. If you don’t have access to a computer lab for this activity but have a projector, create an ongoing story or movie as a whole class.
Be sure to visit the teacher area of Kerpoof for some outstanding lessons and ideas for using Kerpoof in the classroom. You can also print out coloring sheets from the teacher area.
What it is:
Childtopia is like 10 websites in one…they have so many cool things going on that I am going to break it down into sections so stay tuned… Childtopia Games is the biggest section with games that are psychologist recommended. Games include: memory games, language, math, skill, creativity, and observation. Each game is broken down by age group making it appropriate for three to nine year olds to play. Games are fun and interactive and reinforce skills that children are learning at school and at home. There are 1400+ games on this site and can be played in 5 languages! The site is completely free but they also offer a CD version available for purchase.
How to integrate Childtopia Games into the classroom:
Childtopia Games are fun and interactive. With 1400 games to choose from you are bound to find one that fits the skill you are working on in any subject area. The games are truly great played individually, as a center, or at home for reinforcement. Childtopia Games are perfect for students who need remedial work. This site is easy for students to navigate and very user friendly.
This is one that you will want to bookmark for easy access!
What it is:
Be Funky is a web 2.0 application that lets students take any picture and transform it into a cartoon or a sketch.
How to integrate Be Funky into the classroom:
Use Be Funky in conjunction with other tools such a Bubblr (see post from the 16th) or software like Comic Life (check out iLearn Technology store for Comic Life). Since Be Funky changes a regular photograph into a cartoon, you can create cartoon comic strips in class. Transform field trip pictures into cartoons and invite students to create a comic strip retell about the field trip. Students can be the star of their own comic strips where they create a comic autobiography. Take pictures during a science experiment and create a comic strip with the scientific process of the experiment.
Be Funky requires you to have an account (this is free but asks for an email address). If you plan on having your students transform the pictures into cartoons you may think about creating one class account for students to use. I wanted to download the cartoon picture to my computer so that I could use them in Comic Life. This is not an option that Be Funky offers so I created my cartoon and then took a screen capture of the cartoon to save it as an image to my computer.
What it is:
Bubblr! is a tool to create comic strips using photos from flickr.com. You can use others public images or images from your own flickr.com account.
How to integrate Bubblr! into the classroom:
Bubblr! would be a wonderful site to use after a class field trip. Have a parent (or yourself) take pictures during the field trip. Create a flickr (www.flickr.com) account for your class. Upload the photos to the flickr account for use in the Bubblr! project. Students can create comic strips with the field trip pictures documenting the learning experience in a fun way. Bubblr! would also be fun to use for character education. Take picture of different scenarios (for example, a student taking a toy away from another student). Upload these pictures to Flickr and have students use Bubblr! to show what the different characters might be thinking and possible solutions to the problem. Bubblr! could also be used to help create a word wall…find pictures that represent words and add the word to the comic. Print out and create a Bubblr! word wall. Pictures can be found by keyword (tags) or by user. When students are finished with their comic strips they have the option of sending them via email, printing, or posting on a blog.
Since Flickr and Bubblr! are online applications, be sure that you have permission to post student pictures on either site.
*iLearn Technology column is dedicated to giving teachers practical tips for integrating technology into the classroom. All of the resources are free to use and simple to implement. This column is a weekly Friday feature, don’t miss it!
Read more about utilizing technology in the classroom.
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Kelly Tenkely graduated from Colorado Christian University with a Liberal Arts degree in Elementary Education. She started teaching in 2003 as a second grade teacher in a public school. In 2004 she made the switch to private school and took the only available opening as the technology teacher. Educational technology has since become her passion. She started a web site for her classroom and soon discovered that other teachers were using the site to aid technology in their classrooms.
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Kelly also trains teaching staff on integrating and implementing technology into the classroom. Training teachers on the use of technology in the classroom led to her blog, ilearntechnology.com, where she blogs daily about integrating technology into the classroom simply and effectively. When she is not blogging, searching for and playing with new technology, or on teaching.monster.com Kelly enjoys scrapbooking, cooking, and spending time with her husband and dog (Aya).
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