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Technology or Computer Lab Pacing Guide


Technology or Computer Lab Pacing Guide
It can be challenging to know what to teach and when in the computer lab. Six different grade levels, rotating schedules, standards that are complex. No wonder many new tech teachers end up teaching the same lesson 6 different ways when they first get started. I was one of them.

My goal with putting together this pacing guide is to give you an idea of how I choose to structure the year. Please know that there isn't really a wrong way to do this. If you want to start the year with internet safety, for example, do it. If you want to end every year with internet safety, for example, that is great too.

It is probably also advisable to keep things flexible. Things come up. Snow days, field trips, testing, you get it. You won't be able to stick to the pacing most years (which is why you might notice that May on my guide is pretty vague).

It can be challenging to know what to teach and when in the computer lab. Six different grade levels, rotating schedules, standards that are complex. No wonder many new tech teachers end up teaching the same lesson 6 different ways when they first get started. I was one of them.
 Let's jump right into it now. I've made this a PDF so that you can click the resources I curated. Click on the picture above to download this free file.

Kindergarten Tech Lab Pacing 

Kindergarten Tech Lab Pacing
Kindergarten needs to master the mouse and keyboard before they can move efficiently on the computer. You'll see the beginning of the year dedicated to this. The awesome thing, though, is that there are great academic resources available to both practice the mouse and keyboard and reinforce what students are doing in the classroom. Score!
Once these skills are mastered, it is time to move into internet safety, followed by some basic coding.
The PDF version of the pacing guide has the list of resources I use to teach each of these topics. Check them out for more details.

First Grade Tech Lab Pacing

First Grade Tech Lab Pacing
First grade starts with a solid review of the mouse and keyboard. I learned the hard way that it isn't possible to just jump into the content without making time for those foundational skills.
Mid-fall it is time for Internet Safety. This is a unit that hits every skill set in the computer lab so I like to really dig in with 1st graders.
December is a great time for some academic content (math and ELA) so that students are engaged but also preparing for the tougher skills to come in the next units.
1st grade is when I introduce word processing and presentation software. We do really basic things with the software programs while learning to navigate.
Then, it is time for coding! Such a fun unit as first graders explore coding robots while reinforcing some technology vocabulary.
Something I think is really important for first grade is the ability to respond to reading using technology. We accomplish this through tech themed picture books and digital book companion activities.
If there is any time left at the end of the year, we review all of the skills.

Second Grade Tech Lab Pacing

Second Grade Tech Lab Pacing
 Don't tell anyone, but I think 2nd graders are my favorite. They are just so sweet and eager to learn.
Anyway, I like to start the year with a quick tech vocab review and then jump into a keyboarding unit that lasts about a month and a half (depending on schedule). Their hands are finally big enough to reach all the keys on the keyboard so I take this time to establish good habits and efficiency.
After our typing unit, it is time for internet safety. I love these digital activities that reinforce the common sense media curriculum.
December is Hour of Code, so we make it last the whole month!
When students get back from break, we really dig into software programs with units on word processing, presentations, and spreadsheets. I'm always blown away by my 2nd graders abilities to learn these complex programs. I try to keep the lessons as simple as possible so that the academic content doesn't get in the way of learning technology literacy. So far so good.
By April, students have regressed in their typing skills so we do a review unit again, this time including some advanced skills like learning some keyboard shortcuts.
If there is any time left, we do some open ended technology projects that you could call STEM or Makerspace.

Third Grade Tech Lab Pacing

Third Grade Tech Lab Pacing
Third grade jumps right into word processing after going over the lab rules and procedures. I love this unit. They come out the other side total pros because we spend about 8 weeks going through each skill in a structured but meaningful way.
After our word processing unit we dig into digital citizenship with 4-5 weeks of lessons. Then, time for a typing bootcamp.
You see, the 2nd grade unit we did won't retain the skills forever. Every year students need to keep working on keyboarding otherwise the bad habits will sneak back in. So, we do what we call typing olympics for 4 weeks using a variety of typing activities.
Sometimes (depending on the schedule) we end up doing a week of Hour of Code in the middle of our typing unit, but its fine. It gets done.
After break, we do units on presentation software and spreadsheets. Again keeping the academic content mild so that students can really understand the programs and not get bogged down with reading.
Next comes some lessons on the basics of online search. Students are learning what search engines are and how to use them to find information. I make it engaging by using digital breakouts (it is like those escape rooms you've probably seen, but digital).
By April we have to review keyboarding so I do it in a way that also prepares students for their standardized tests. The activities are similar to those found on computer based tests.
If there is time left in May, we work on coding with robots and do some Makerspace time.

Fourth Grade Tech Lab Pacing

Fourth Grade Tech Lab Pacing
The fourth grade year starts with tech vocab and technology troubleshooting. I think it is really important that students this age can successfully troubleshoot basic tech problems. We also take the time to make sure students understand the technology standards we use. I love that they get a deep dive into what each standard means, and I get materials for bulletin boards for the whole school year. It is a win-win!
Then comes a unit on Internet Safety. I love Digital Passport by Common Sense Media for 4th graders. We reinforce the skills with some digital breakouts.
4th grade is when students really learn the online research process. Everything from how to narrow down a search to taking notes to creating bibliographies. It is an intense unit but it thrills the 4th grade teachers to see how their students' skills develop.
We slip in Hour of Code but don't worry, we do a full coding unit later. If there is time before winter break, I like to reinforce the online research skills with some digital breakouts. It is wild before Christmas!
When they come back, they learn about spreadsheets, word processing, and creating presentations with engaging lessons.
Before we know it it's April and time to prepare for online standardized testing. I try to keep this review engaging by using another digital breakout (can you tell my students love them? They don't even know they are learning).
We end the year with an advanced coding unit using a variety of resources. You could hear a pin drop in the room while students are learning these skills. They take so much brain power.
By the way, my 4th and 5th graders type for 10 minutes at the beginning of every session so that is why you don't see a dedicated typing unit.

Fifth Grade Tech Lab Pacing

Fifth Grade Tech Lab Pacing
I really push my 5th graders to be as independent and responsible as possible on their devices. This starts with lessons on troubleshooting and they also learn the ins and outs of our technology standards the same way the 4th graders did.
Then it is time to review online research. I keep this at about 3-4 lessons that go over narrowing down search results to find relevant information and evaluating websites. The skills they will need for our next units.
We go further down the rabbit hole of tech vocab than any other grade level. Students learn even obscure terms while also reviewing their keyboarding skills.
Once that is done, it is time for internet safety using a variety of resources.
December is time for lots of coding activities and I try to use different coding languages than they have learned before. They love it.
We spend the winter doing lessons on spreadsheets, word processing, and presentation software. I like to come back to these programs every year and go a bit more advanced each time. It really reinforces the skills.
In April it is time to review TEI (technology enhanced items) for their online standardized testing. We do this with a digital breakout and some google slides activities.
Just like in 4th grade we end the year with coding. We use a variety of resources and languages.

Phew! Now you have my whole plan. If you're looking for any specific topics that aren't included, email me and I'll do my best to help you find resources.

Technology or Computer Lab Pacing Guide

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Brittany Washburn
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Everything You Want to Know About Giving Grades in the Computer Lab


Testing students in the tech lab comes with challenges! Time is always one of them, then paper, student accommodations, grading, and more.

Testing students in the tech lab comes with challenges! Time is always one of them, then paper, student accommodations, grading, and more.

When possible, use anecdotal records in the computer lab

Most of the stuff we need our students to do can be demonstrated. Can they hold the mouse correctly? Can they show me where the home row keys are? Can they use coding terminology while problem solving with a small group? You get the idea. 

This is ideal for anecdotal notes because it is very clear cut. Either they are doing it or they are not. 

So for every day grades in the tech lab, this is what I recommend doing. To get started, you have to do a little planning ahead. Choose what you're looking for that day. Choose how you'll record it. Consider how you'll use this information to inform your instruction in the future. 

There are great digital tools you can use to collect the data, but even a checklist on class rosters with the performance metric is a great option. 

Choose the system you'll use, but I recommend the I, P, M system.
I= introduced
P= progressing
M= met 

This works well for something that has a firm goal that is measurable. Put a date in your notes for the specific student along with the letter to show where they are at that day. 
Testing students in the tech lab comes with challenges! Time is always one of them, then paper, student accommodations, grading, and more.

Next comes formative assessments in the tech lab

Entrance and Exit Tickets are awesome for formative assessment. 
Testing students in the tech lab comes with challenges! Time is always one of them, then paper, student accommodations, grading, and more.
SOME PEDAGOGY FOR USING EXIT TICKETS
1.Set a specific amount of time for students to complete their Exit Tickets.
2.Examine the tickets carefully. It can be really helpful to sort the tickets into piles of “don’t understand” “got it” and “not sure”
3.Make note of the students who self-scored very high but clearly didn’t understand the topic or skill.
4.Consider starting the next lesson with interesting ticket responses or with a graph or chart that highlights common responses. Use it to inform your instruction.
5.You don’t always have to collect a physical answer. Use these questions to ask a verbal Exit Ticket question.
6.Depending on the topic, allow students to work in small groups to come up with their answers. This really reinforces the communication standards.
7.Consider starting class with one of these questions. It can provide you with instant insight into what they know already and how your lesson needs to be paced.

Whether you do your exit tickets on paper or digitally is totally up to you and your student requirements. 

These are some of my favorite digital tools for formative assessment:
If you want to start using exit tickets, but you don't have time to come up with the questions, I have a set of 240 exit ticket questions for grades k-5

On to cumulative assessments for tech class


The time will come when there is no choice but to take the time for a "real" assessment of your students' knowledge. 

The main difference between the exit tickets and a test is that it will be for a grade so students shouldn't be able to work together or see each other's answers. This makes some of those digital tools unusable for graded assessments. Google Forms is still a great option. 

I usually take a backwards approach to assessment questions in the tech lab. What I mean by this is that I write all of my questions before I even begin the unit. I start with the end in mind. This makes it so that I can shape my lesson essential questions and exit tickets to reinforce the questions students will be asked. It makes for a much more comprehensive tech program that makes sure standards are not only met but mastered. 
Testing students in the tech lab comes with challenges! Time is always one of them, then paper, student accommodations, grading, and more.

Some things to consider:
Starting with the youngest students, you'll probably have to read the questions and answer choices to your Kinder and first grade students so that requires some planning. 

I always read tests aloud in the tech lab because it just makes it easier with student accommodations, pacing, and student understanding. It isn't meant to be a reading test, you know?

For grades K-1 it is best to stick with short assessments. 10 questions should be more than enough to get an understanding of their knowledge. 
Grades 2-3 can handle up to about 20 questions, and grades 4-5 can answer 30 multiple choice questions. 

Testing students in the tech lab comes with challenges! Time is always one of them, then paper, student accommodations, grading, and more.
Students are growing more and more accustomed to digital assessments, which is awesome because most of them are self-grading! If you do need to use paper, I recommend making an answer sheet that only takes up about a quarter or half page. Then you can either make one class copy of each test, or project the assessment questions on the board for all to see and read the whole test to the class. Either way it saves a lot of paper. 
Testing students in the tech lab comes with challenges! Time is always one of them, then paper, student accommodations, grading, and more.

If you're interested in pre-made assessments, I have them available for these topics already:
  • Technology Literacy
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Procedures
  • Keyboarding
  • Coding
  • Internet and Research
  • Online Testing
  • GAFE
  • MS Office
Testing students in the tech lab comes with challenges! Time is always one of them, then paper, student accommodations, grading, and more.


Testing students in the tech lab comes with challenges! Time is always one of them, then paper, student accommodations, grading, and more.

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Brittany Washburn
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Teach Coding Concepts Even if You Don't Know How to Code


Most people who haven't done it before think that it requires some special program or software to get started. I'm here to tell you it can be done without using computers. In fact, I guarantee you're teaching coding concepts already!
Without even knowing it, we are teaching coding concepts in the classroom every day. You know that saying "All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten"? Well, it definitely applies here.

I'm writing this blog post to encourage teachers to do something that might seem scary or too hard - teach coding.

Most people who haven't done it before think that it requires some special program or software to get started. I'm here to tell you it can be done without using computers. In fact, I guarantee you're teaching coding concepts already!
Grab this FREE Coding in the Classroom Starter Kit and then follow along below.

The Vocabulary of Pre-Coding Concepts

Most people who haven't done it before think that it requires some special program or software to get started. I'm here to tell you it can be done without using computers. In fact, I guarantee you're teaching coding concepts already!
This is where the only change comes in. When you're doing a craft or other creative project in the classroom, you use common vocabulary like patterns, directions, steps, amounts, problem solving, etc. These are all pre-coding concepts! I challenge you to try to use the vocabulary on the right side of this chart as you teach your next creative project. 

Here are some every day examples of these Coding terms:

Most people who haven't done it before think that it requires some special program or software to get started. I'm here to tell you it can be done without using computers. In fact, I guarantee you're teaching coding concepts already!
 A maze is a great example of an algorithm that students complete all the time. Mazes require students to follow multi-step directions with conditions (like if I run into a wall, I have to turn around and find another way). 
Most people who haven't done it before think that it requires some special program or software to get started. I'm here to tell you it can be done without using computers. In fact, I guarantee you're teaching coding concepts already!
 Cause and Effect is a lot like conditionals in coding. IF you do this, THEN something happens, or ELSE something else happens. 
If I remember my username and password, then I’ll be able to use the program, else (otherwise) it won’t let me in.
Most people who haven't done it before think that it requires some special program or software to get started. I'm here to tell you it can be done without using computers. In fact, I guarantee you're teaching coding concepts already!
 Debugging is really just like problem solving. Students do it all day long.
Editing is a great example of debugging. Any time we look for something that is missing or not right, and take the time to fix it, we are debugging. 
Most people who haven't done it before think that it requires some special program or software to get started. I'm here to tell you it can be done without using computers. In fact, I guarantee you're teaching coding concepts already!
 Breaking a problem into parts is decomposing. This term might be familiar from math lessons.
Typing is a great example of decomposing when students are first learning the keyboard layout (before they memorize it).
Most people who haven't done it before think that it requires some special program or software to get started. I'm here to tell you it can be done without using computers. In fact, I guarantee you're teaching coding concepts already!
 Students make patterns all the time. In coding, repeated patterns are called loops.
It is really helpful to be able to add loops to a block of code instead of having to type out each part again and again.
Most people who haven't done it before think that it requires some special program or software to get started. I'm here to tell you it can be done without using computers. In fact, I guarantee you're teaching coding concepts already!
Every time students put things in a specific order, they are sequencing. You are probably familiar with this term from ELA, and it also applies to coding.
A programmer has to think through a sequence of events to make sure the outcome is correct.

Am I starting to convince you yet?

Books you can use in the Classroom that teach Coding Concepts

The following books are great for demonstrating behaviors that are beneficial for STEM and Coding in the classroom. They have themes like not giving up, troubleshooting, and problem solving, which are critical to open ended activities like coding. Many of the stories also teach actual coding skills like conditionals, sequencing, and following an algorithm (but remember they are using the crafting vocab not the coding vocab so be sure to point out the differences to students). 
You can find Technology Themed Picture books and any of the following books in my Amazon Recommendations List

These books are all about Problem Solving
I'll run you through an example.

Level 1: Sorting
Students can sort by a lot of different variables and conditions, like size, color, and shape. Have a material available for students (like Lego bricks) to sort multiple ways. See if students can even invent their own ways to sort the same set of pieces. 

Level 2: Patterns
Students start to recognize and create patterns out of the materials they have available. Have students recreate patterns or invent their own, and then talk about how repeating patterns are loops of the same thing over and over. 

Level 3: Meaning
In coding, pieces of data and patterns are assigned meaning. Students can do this with their crafting materials and patterns. Let's say they have 4 red blocks then 1 blue as their pattern. They can assign a meaning to this loop. Let's say they call it the letter A. In fact, they can use these same 5 blocks rearranged to make other letters and whole words. 

Level 4: Create their Own
Challenge students to make their own patterns with meaning. With it they can create coded messages to have other classmates solve. This is all part of thinking like a computer!

Materials to keep in the classroom for Coding activities

  • Pattern blocks
  • Painter's tape
  • Clay
  • Pom poms
  • Cotton balls
  • Graph paper
  • Rulers
  • Stamps
  • Straws
  • Magna-Tiles
  • LEGOs
  • Foam blocks
  • Wood blocks

Examples of Coding Crafts to have Students Complete

  • Marble Run
  • Rebus Story
  • Maps and Roads
  • 3D Structures
  • Puzzles
  • Block building with narratives
  • Synchronized dramatic play
  • Pegboard or other grid patterns

I hope this gives you lots of ideas and the confidence to call what you're already doing CODING in the classroom! 

Most people who haven't done it before think that it requires some special program or software to get started. I'm here to tell you it can be done without using computers. In fact, I guarantee you're teaching coding concepts already!

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Brittany Washburn
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Tech Tips and Tricks for Teachers


Tech Tips for Teachers

In this blog post I'm compiling the tips and tricks I've shared on social media into one location. 

Keyboard Shortcuts

ctrl+shift+t will re-open the most recently closed tab

Tech Tips and Tricks for Teachers

Tech Tips and Tricks for Teachers




Browser Extensions

A Green Screen teleprompter like CuePrompter helps students create professional videos

Tech Tips and Tricks for Teachers

 Type right on PDFs with a browser extension like Kami

Tech Tips and Tricks for Teachers

 Pin Tabs in Chrome so that students can't close them

Tech Tips and Tricks for Teachers

Block web page ads with a browser extension like AdBlock

Tech Tips and Tricks for Teachers

 

Miscellaneous Tech Tips for Teachers 

Save portions of a PDF so that you don't have to share the entire file with students using the Print function

Tech Tips and Tricks for Teachers

 Ideas to get started with Podcasting in the classroom

Tech Tips and Tricks for Teachers
Bookmark this blog post and come back to it for more tech tips and tricks. Have one that you think should make the list? Let me know your best tech tips and tricks in the comments!
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40+ Free Educational Websites For Middle Schoolers!


40+ Free Educational Websites For Middle Schoolers!

I just compiled this mega list of FREE educational sites for middle schoolers. I broke it up into a few different categories so you can direct your students to whatever their interests may be. Some are more education and some are less educational. Some are more game-like, and some are more knowledge based, and others do a good job of combining the two. Show your students this list, and see where it takes them!

These free educational websites are all about reading, writing, literature, history, and news.


40+ Free Educational Websites For Middle Schoolers!

Here are your random educational games with a little bit of everything...

Here is a list of what can seem like the never-ending options of math and science games for middle schoolers:

Tech teachers gotta have their list of tech skills and typing games for students--here are a few:


Adding on to the tech skills and typing skills, here are a few Social Emotional Learning, Safety, and Digital Citizenship games:


For those students who want to really work on their Art, Music, and general Creativity


What are your favorite FREE educational sites for Middle Schoolers? Let me know in the comments below!




40+ Free Educational Websites For Middle Schoolers!

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Brittany Washburn
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It's Time to STOP Cyberbullying


From kids to adults, cyberbullying is running rampant. As tech teachers, there is a responsibility to teach students about being good (and aware) digital citizens. If our students aren't the perpetrators or the victims - they're the witnesses. In this post I’m going to cover what cyberbullying looks like, what to do about it, and how to stop it.

From kids to adults, cyberbullying is running rampant. As tech teachers, there is a responsibility to teach students about being good (and aware) digital citizens. If our students aren't the perpetrators or the victims - they're the witnesses. In this post I’m going to cover what cyberbullying looks like, what to do about it, and how to stop it.

What does cyberbullying look like?

Cyberbullying has impact all over the world, and it looks the same in many places. When it comes to cyberbullying, it can look a lot like regular bullying. Cyberbullying is attacking someone through the internet. It can include insults, threats, gossip, rumors, and harassment. Cyberbullying could include hacking someone’s account, or pretending to be someone else to humiliate the victim. It could be in the form of words or video or pictures. It could be on any social media platform, email, or text messaging. The bottom line of cyberbullying is that a perpetrator is purposefully doing something mean to someone else for the sole purpose of hurting or humiliating them. So, it doesn’t really matter how it is done, the intent is always malicious.

For perpetrators of cyberbullying… Remember to emphasize that what a person says on the internet is not private, and will be interpreted in the worst possible light. Even if a student says, “It was just a joke,” it doesn’t matter in a court of law. Whatever the words say, they will be interpreted literally (especially in the case of threatening). Try to always be kind everywhere, including the internet.

From kids to adults, cyberbullying is running rampant. As tech teachers, there is a responsibility to teach students about being good (and aware) digital citizens. If our students aren't the perpetrators or the victims - they're the witnesses. In this post I’m going to cover what cyberbullying looks like, what to do about it, and how to stop it.

What to do about and how to stop cyberbullying?

It seems like every time I do a lesson on cyberbullying, within the next week or two it comes up in class where someone did something that they were just told not to do. Likewise, it’s important to note in the lesson that there may be students in the room who are victims, perpetrators, or witnesses of cyberbullying.

For the victims… There is a good chance that if you’re on the internet, expressing your opinion, someone else on the internet will insult or heckle you (even if you don’t know who they are). So, one of the ways to stay safe is to keep your social media, phone number, and email private. Do not share this information with anyone who you don’t know.

Block people. And if someone continues to change their information to harass, then get help from an adult and report the person to the social platform.

For witnesses… Do something. Encourage the person who is being picked on online. Say something nice. Don’t laugh. Don’t help the perpetrator. Tell an adult about it. Report them to the social media platform. Don’t spread the rumors and gossip. Be there for the person in need.

From kids to adults, cyberbullying is running rampant. As tech teachers, there is a responsibility to teach students about being good (and aware) digital citizens. If our students aren't the perpetrators or the victims - they're the witnesses. In this post I’m going to cover what cyberbullying looks like, what to do about it, and how to stop it.

Flood the internet with good things. One of the ways to “undo” the effects of cyberbullying is to flood the internet with good information about the person who is the victim. Instead of attacking the cyberbully, create lots of social media posts and information that is positive and uplifting to drown out the negative voices. Students can get their friends together, teachers, parents, and push the negativity to the bottom where it can’t be seen or experienced as easy.

From kids to adults, cyberbullying is running rampant. As tech teachers, there is a responsibility to teach students about being good (and aware) digital citizens. If our students aren't the perpetrators or the victims - they're the witnesses. In this post I’m going to cover what cyberbullying looks like, what to do about it, and how to stop it.

More than anything, it is important for witnesses to help the victims, and it is important for students to report and ask for help. The internet is an amazing place, but try not to fight negativity with negativity. Instead, drown out the negativity with positivity.



How do you address cyberbullying in the classroom? What is your experience?

From kids to adults, cyberbullying is running rampant. As tech teachers, there is a responsibility to teach students about being good (and aware) digital citizens. If our students aren't the perpetrators or the victims - they're the witnesses. In this post I’m going to cover what cyberbullying looks like, what to do about it, and how to stop it.

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