Hi all,

School officially starts on Monday (25th) and I am not anywhere ready for this school year. Between having my classroom relocated to a new building with a smaller classroom area and very little storage, a new co-teacher, a new principal and the Olympics I am way behind in my planning or organization for that matter.

I teach at an international school in Beijing so the Olympics has not just been watching them live on television but actually watching the LIVE. I was at the pool when Michael Phelps won number 8.But that is beside the point. My problem right at the moment is I am still struggling with the best way to use my integrated technology classtime.

There are 2 periods a week. The first one is supposed to be taught by our IT support person but he struggles as he is not a teacher and only knows the basic software. He is open to suggestions of what to teach as our curriculum is very vague and weak when it comes to IT objectives. I need to know what to suggest to him. Any ideas.

The second period I have emarked for research strategies and learning. I run this period but am also, again, not sure where to begin with this sort of instruction.

On the plus side, I am quite tech saavy so that helps. If anyone has a curriculum,or websites or ideas that I can look at and borrow heavily from this year I would appreciate it.


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Dear Heather,
I work at an elementary school (PreK-6th) in Jacksonville, FL/USA. Since last year we are INTEGRATING technology into the curriculum. Mostly is project based and revolves around Global Studies and Digital Storytelling. Through these projects, students are being exposed to 21st century skills, such as collaborating, communicating and connecting. "Traditional" technology skills, such as learning about certain programs (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc) are embedded in the process and not taught as an isolated skill. This year we are emphasizing "Creating" which is on top of the Bloom's Taxonomy.
I was excited to read that you are interested in integrating Technology with your 4th Graders. It just happens that our 4th grade is the target grade for the country study of China!! It would be wonderful if you wanted to collaborate with them on a project. Video Conferencing, Wikis, Blogs, .pen pal exchange, etc.

Please check out our school's China Blog, when two teachers traveled physically to China in 2006 and took our students virtually along.

You can also read about our geography integration out, featured on the National Geographic Education Foundation blog:

If you want technology integration ideas, especially in the elementary school, please check out my professional blog at

Please contact me, if you are interested in collaborative technology projects with our students.

Looking forward to hearing from you
Silvia Tolisano
aka Langwitches
Silvia, I discovered your blog last year during the K-12 Online conference and was fascinated by your approach with virtual travel. What a fabulous idea.

I am trying to sort everything out in mind and figure out how things would work in our school.

While there is an definite support for technology at our school as it is part of our motto, we seem to be spending all of our time keeping up with the hardware and very little on actually adequately using what is available. We are still struggling to put together a 5 year umbrella IT plan but it seems to me that it focuses mainly on hardware and not integration.

I find myself frustrated that there are very few teachers at my school that are interested in actually using technology in the classroom. Everyone supports our IT classes but there doesnt' seem to be much of an interest in all the amazing things that are out in the blogesphere etc. I feel very alone.

Maybe in an international school that is normal as we all are on one or two year contracts and so each year there is a turnover and you start over again.

I am just rambling now.

I agree that it is somewhat frustrating that every two years you seem to be starting over again. But at one point EVERY 21st century teacher needs to get started in integrating. When they move on to the next school, they will bring their experiences with them and add a new perspective to the new school.
Since you are a classroom teacher, you can start integrating in your own walls with your group of students. Yes, it would be nice to have 1 laptop per child available, but it is not necessary. As long as you have an internet connected machine in your classroom, add a microphone and speakers, maybe a webcam... you are ready to roll to start communicating, collaborating and connected with the rest of the world.

I spoke with our 4th grade teachers and they would LOVE to collaborate with you and your students. The collaboration can be as big or as small as you want it to be.

Let's e-mail for more details.

Hi Silvia,

Sorry for the delay in answering. I am certainly open to collaborating on a project. One of the goals I made for my class this year was to participate in a project as well as learn to podcast with my class.

My school email is heatherd@bj.ycef.com or you can reach me at toadie1951@gmail.com.

I look forward to hearing more.

Dear Silvia,

I am responding to an email that is very old but I need your help. One of your Grade four teachers did contact me and we were beginning discussions when there was a bit of a stop in communication due to an illness in her family. When I was preparing to respond back I got very ill and was out of school for almost 2 weeks and during that time my school computer had a glitch and I lost all my emails including our conversations. Then one day while at home recovering i decided to clean my home emails out and dumped everything only realizing afterwards that I had also got rid of the discussions with your teacher, who's name I have forgotten.

I was wondering if you could put us back in touch with each other? I know it is probably too late to work together but I would like to apologize for seeming to have disappeared and to touch base with her. At the very least I would be able to send pictures etc from China.

I appreciate your help and your leadership.


Heather Davis
This is in no way meant to sound like tech people are not valuable assets in schools...but it seems to me that it's kinda silly to have to find time to use computers. If I were you I'd use the tech time as part of my regular day, adding it to time to teach social studies, science, writing whatever. Then get the tech guy to join you to work with the kids when he is assigned to "teach" your kids, he learns, they learn, and you have an extra pair of hands.

Do you have to "teach" computers? Or just integrate them into your curriculum to be used as tools?
Nancy, I have been mulling over your comment and it has certainly given me a lot to think about.

Maybe my question should focus more on how do I do this integration when I only have 2 IT periods a week and one computer in the classroom? To be perfectly honest the whole thing scares me and I am overwhelmed but i am eager to learn...

Am I starting to ask the right questions?
With a limited number of computers and limited time in the lab I can see your problem. Don't worry about what you can't do, think about what you can do. First of all be sure you have thought of all ways you could get more computers in your classroom--talk to the IT people, write a grant, do a fundraiser. Is the lab schedule the best it can be or would 2-3 hour blocks be better for some teachers some of the time?

In the meantime schedule tech appropriate activities around your lab time. Spend the hour or hour and a half before you go to the lab working on the content that will lead to your lab time, for instance---a geography lesson could easily be followed up by an activity using Google Maps; a literature discussion could be followed up by writing in the lab, and so on. The IT person could teach some mini-lessons on fundamentals of sites/software, etc.

The computer in the classroom can be used by pairs for enrichment or review. I did 24 podcasts on one computer in several hours.

This is going to be hard, but harder still are the questions you ask yourself "Is this (time in lab) going to make the lesson better? will the students be helped by going to the lab? Will the lessons be understood? retained? because of computer time?

All kids by 4th grade need to type well to use their computer time effciently--if you can't take your lab time for typing tutors, then assign typing for homework. Here are some online typing tutors, scroll down right side. Let me know if you need more ideas or if you found any new solutions.
Thanks for the suggestions. I checked out your Titanic podcasts and the site. They are terrific. I was wondering what kind of information you gave the children as they worked on the projects. Did you provide the list of websites etc or were they on their own?

I have just had the best time trying the Rock and Roll Typing program and am definitely going to follow your suggestion on using it as homework. It has always frustrated me that we spend so much time on keyboarding. I am a great believer in the students learning to keyboard properly and so I have always insisted they work on the program but it took away from other things I wanted to try. Now I have a better plan. Thanks.

I am considering doing some sort of a Voice Thread for our Meet the Teacher Night next week though we may not have enough time.

Most important - thank you for the questions I should ask myself when I am preparing a lesson. I am posting these on the wall in front of my computer at home and probably by my computer at school also.

By the way, did I mention that I teach at an International School in Beijing, China. :)

I also like your idea of a 2 or 3 period (45 minutes each) block. I will bring it up to someone somewhere. Interesting thought. Hhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Glad I gave you some things to think about! The Titanic project lasted almost the whole semester, I teach in a program for gifted kids and they are with us one day a week. I do an initial search for sites, not because I'm worried about what they will find on the internet but as a time-saver. I think free surfing is a monumental waste of time. They can use the internet but the sites I give them are the most frequently used sites on the topic.

You can see the whole project including links, Titanic in the Classroom here, if you didn't glance around. I bet there are a million wonderful things in Bejiing you could research, can you and your kids travel around freely? N
Grade 4? Keyboarding, podcasting (start with Voicethreads), and games
Thanks. I was just given a great Keyboarding site that the kids can use at home. I find the one we have at school is really boring and it is the same one they used last and the year before that one. I may shift keyboarding practice to homework as I only have 2 IT lab times a week.

Voice Thread is great - I did one last year but wasn't totally happy with my result but you have got me thinking about what else I can do with it this year.



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