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Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies 

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Classroom Management Strategies

Why use computer technology in the classroom?  What is it's purpose?  Most often, computers are seen as something extra to work on once the class work is completed. Computers used in this format are often used to practice specific skills, reinforce, or extend a skill that is being taught in the classroom.  Most often there is some sort of software that students will use to work on specific skills.  However, technology can also be used in ways that will help students and teachers accomplish something better, faster, neater, more efficiently, and more in depth.  We can teach our students to use computers as a tool, just as they might use a protractor or compass as tools in Geometry. When computers are used as tools, you are using some sort of productivity software: Hyperstudio, Kidpiz, and PowerPoint are three examples of productivity software. When using computers as a tool, students are creating a product such as a word processed document, charts and graphs, a piece of art, or a multimedia presentation.

Which philosophy will you use with your students? Most literature suggests some of both;  they both have their own place within a technologically oriented classroom. 

Once you've decided to have students create a product using computers as tools, you'll find the need for certain management strategies.  

  • "What do I do with only one computer and 20 or 30 kids?" 
  • "What does the rest of the class work on while other students are working at the computer?"
  • "How do I teach or work with a class, when a student has problems or questions on the computer?"
  • "What do I do when the computer crashes or simply won't work?"

It is the intent of this web page to help you, the teacher, manage your classroom while students are busy creating multimedia projects.  A variety of strategies will be presented.  Choose the ones that work best into your current classroom management system.  


Classroom Management Strategies

Strategies are divided into three categories. There is some overlap between categories, however, I've tried to break things down into a logical pattern.



Student Expectations

1 Computer  Multiple Computers Mini Lessons
Software Tips /Posters
Computer placement
Storage/ File Management
Students as Teachers
Acceptable Use Policies
Rules/ Behavior 
Getting Help
Acceptable Use Policies




Scheduling - 1 Computer Classroom
Many options for scheduling are available. Choose a scheduling strategies based on how your classroom 
schedule is currently setup. Most projects will be group or class project with the work divided up and placed into the same presentation.

  • Assigned Time -  If you have your day structured in larger thematic blocks of time (for example 90 minutes for Language Arts, 60 minutes for math, history, or science) this strategy may work for you. Generally, when you schedule large blocks of instructional time, instruction will take place all at one time, near the beginning of the block.  Groups will be working on different things, while you move around the room, helping and guiding as needed.  One of these groups would be computers, where children are working on a project.  
    • Group in mixed ability groups
    • Chose group names
    • If an individual activity is assigned, students take turns at the computer based on who is prepared and ready with their research.
    • If a group activity is assigned, each student is responsible for one aspect of the project.
    • Each group will have computer time during the same block but on different days.  In this way, other work is still being completed, students are not "missing out" on worksheets or instruction.  
      • Fox example:  You have a Language Arts block of 90 minutes daily.  Students are working on a book report as part of their L/A assignment, only this time you would like the report to be done with illustrations using multimedia software.  
      • After the "lesson" has been taught on grammar, reading, writing, or whatever students will be working on that day, they will then begin their small group activities based on the assigned tasks.  One group's task on Monday is to work on the book report using the computer.  (If they have not read the book or taken notes, they do not yet use the computer.)  
    • Groups are rotated daily giving each group an opportunity at the computer during each block throughout the week.
  • Hang a string with a paper clip over the computer area.  Attach different color sheets of paper as it is time to rotate groups.  This only works if your group names are colors!  A student could be responsible for changing the sheets at the appropriate times.
  • Equal Access to computers can also be an issue.  Perhaps use Popsicle sticks with the student's names and two jars.  One jar is labeled "NOT YET" and the other "BEEN THERE" or some other name.  As students go to the computers, they move their sticks from one jar to the other.
  • Simply schedule computer time around your "teaching" time. Post a chart indicating the time frames throughout the week that different groups can visit the computer.  The only exception is when you are actually in the "teaching process".  
  • Create a poster chart with two large columns and enough clothespins for each student.  Label a clothespin with each child's name and place it on the "NOT YET" side.  After the students have been to the computer, they move their clothespin to the "BEEN THERE" side.  On the 'been there' side of the chart, list the other activities students should work on.
  • Free Computer time could be organized with a Sign-Up Sheet.  If someone was absent, or the computer crashed, or needs more legitimate time on the computer, they could sign up.  The teacher would determine the priorities for work over play time on the computer.
  • Hold a Class Meeting- this works well for upper grade students.  Sometimes, the students come up with great ideas on how they can use the computer equitably and still get other class work finished.    


Scheduling with Multiple Computers
Assigned Time

  • If your computers are not all networked, assign students to a computer.  All of their work is done at this computer. This makes it easier to manage their projects.
  • If your computers are all networked, use a networked folder from the server and store their documents on the server.  In this way, students can use whatever computer is currently open.  
  • Try to keep the groups with mixed abilities.  This way students can help each other in the group.
  • Many of the items listed above for single computers will also work for multiple computers.


Because many technology projects require work and planning in advance by the students, they will probably not all be ready to go to the computer at the same time. See the scheduling section in order to work out a schedule to be sure all students get their computer time. In addition consider the following:

  • When you don't have a lot of time for a particular project, but you still want to create something well suited to your unit of study, consider having the students work in pairs or groups. To monitor students computer time within the group, use an egg-timer.  This way one student will not monopolize the computer.
    • Each group member has a job.
      • Researchers
      • Graphics Engineers
      • Audio/ Video Engineers
      • Computer software engineers - those students responsible for putting the slides or cards together.
    • Children should change jobs on different projects in order to learn all the aspects of a multimedia presentation.
    • At the end of the project, have students write a "narrative" about how they contributed to the overall project.
  • Introduce the Activity to the whole class at once.  This works well no matter how the project is to be completed.  
    • Explain the objectives of the project.
    • Develop a time frame and time line for completion.
    • Provide project directions and post them near the computers.
    • Provide Software Help Tips and post them near the computers.
  • Designate a group of students who can be the Student Technology Specialists.  Teach these children a little more depth in various areas.  Perhaps have a specialist in 
    • Text - cutting, pasting, formatting, etc.
    • Graphics - inserting, modifying, formatting, creating watermarks, etc
    • Audio/  Visual - inserting an audio or movie clip, record a sound on a selected slide, narrating an entire presentation, etc.
    • Animation - Custom animation, order, sequence, and special effects
    • Transitions - Slide Show finishing touches, timings, 
  • Use a Progress Chart to Monitor Group Progress - this could be a laminated store bought chart, or a chart created on the computer.  List the areas in the order you want them completed.  As each section is completed it is checked off by the students. There could be a slash for "working on it" and an "x" when it is completed.

Management Strategies

Software Tips

Post tips for various aspects of the software your students are using. Different "How To's" come in handy and will save you a lot of time and energy.  Examples include: inserting clipart; narrating; adding slides/ cards; saving; opening a file; creating a folder on the desktop; and anything else you choose.  Make you own or copy and print some of the information from the Software Tech Tips page.  These "tips" can be made into posters and placed on the wall near the computers or placed in a small binder for student/ teacher reference.  


Keeping information in binders can be a helpful means of sharing projects and ideas year after year.

  • Software help tips and cheat sheets.  Its easier than going through a full software manual!
  • Frequently asked questions - answered in one place
  • Technology  Projects and Lesson ideas and unit support materials - these can be ideas you would like to use as well as those you have already used.
  • Scheduling information
  • System information - passwords, configurations, backup information, etc\
  • School/ District technology plan
  • Technology Standards
  • Curriculum correlations with  a particular unit incorporating technology

The Mini Lesson

  • Teach mini 5 minute lessons that focus on only one aspect one element.
    • Teach how to open, close and save a document correctly and in the correct place.
    • Teach about the undo button! (This is one of the first things I teach my students.  If they lose something, I tell them not to touch anything else - if they haven't you can usually get it back for them!)
  • Teach how to change the font and size of the text as well as explain where to use these modifications.
  • Teach how to import pictures, resize them, wrap text, place in document.
  • Teach how to record a sound or narrate a presentation.
  • Teach how to spell check and edit a document
  • Teach or remind students how to set margins.
  • Keep the lessons short and to the point. (Try using a timer to stop yourself after 5 minutes!)
  • Teach how to use the Tool/ Software to be used  to the entire class.  Perhaps teach  it in steps requiring the text to be input before the graphics, animation, and audio are entered.
    • text
    • graphics
    • audio
    • animation
    • transitions
    • extras
      • Students may have to work out their project in order.  At first, you may also want to limit the number or graphics, animations, or audio clips permitted.  Perhaps in proportion to the amount of research completed.  Otherwise you may end up with a project filled with animated graphics but no real content.

Computer Placement

We do not always have control over where we can place our classroom computers.  Generally, they will be placed near a plug and the network drop.  The monitors should, however, be visible from various places in the classroom. Teachers should be able to see the computer screens when children are working on the Internet as part of their project.  This is for safety reasons. Even though every child using the Internet must have a signed Acceptable Use Policy (parent or guardian signature), older children still tend to want to explore. There are a variety of ways you can restrict this exploration and still give the child the freedom to use the Internet for research.  Read the District's Acceptable Use Policy.

  • Place your computers away from chalkboards or pencil sharpeners.  The dust from these two items can damage your computer's hard drive.
  • Try to locate a computer in a place where it can be used for full class demonstrations.  The computer can be connected to a television through the means of a small piece of equipment called an "AverKey".  The TV will become a computer monitor and you can effectively teach your mini-lessons. In order to connect the computer using an AverKey, it must be located close to the TV.  

Storage and File Management

Storage and File Management is an aspect of planning you will find worth your time.  Think about what makes sense for you when you want to locate one student's file on a specific topic in one subject.  How are you going to do this quickly, easily, and efficiently.  Everyone is a little different, but the File System Analogy works well for most people. Take a look at it and then create your own based on your particular style or organization.

Saving /Backing Up

Saving will be done in different ways depending on the setup you are using.  If you have only one computer, you can save the student's files on the hard drive, perhaps in a folder called "Student Work"  or something obvious to you.  However, you should also always have a back up of their work just in case of a computer crash.  Believe me, you do not want to explain to your students that all of their hard work is lost - even though you probably didn't cause the computer to crash.  I've been there - and the looks on their faces.  They trust you to be sure that nothing happens - you know - the miracle worker thing!!!  I was lucky -  I was able to recover all the lost work.  I haven't made the mistake since.  

  1. You can back up to floppies - although it is probably the least recommended or safest way - they do not tend to be too reliable.  
  2. You can back up to a zip disk if you have a Zip Drive.
  3. You can back up on a CD if you have a CD Writer.
  4. You can back up you files on the server if your computer is on the network.  In order to back up using the server you will need to contact your site Technology Coordinator.  He/she will contact the district techs so that a folder can be set up on the server for you.
  5. You can back up multiple copies.  
  6. Back up any time students have done a significant amount of work.


Student Responsibilities

Rules/ Behavior

You may need to set different rules when using the computers.  Most children are pretty well behaved.  Generally speaking, allow them to talk quietly or whisper as they help each other.  

  • Sample rules could include:
    • Explain respecting other's work and privacy.  Stay out of other peoples folders or files.
    • Leave the settings on the computer as they are.  Changing desktop settings creates confusion.  
    • Treat the equipment with respect.  
    • No drinks or snacks near the computers.
    • Move carefully when around the computers.
  • Post or explain consequences.  There have been times when students lost the privilege of using the classroom/ LMC computers for damage and theft.  In this case, the assignment will still be required, but it will have to be completed on a home computer, or the old fashioned way - with paper and pencil.

Getting Help

The easiest way I have found to know when students need help is using a green and red plastic cup.  Green means "I'm doing great!" and red means "I need help".  These cups are simply kept near each computer and placed on the monitor or CPU as needed.  Generally, the green cup is always up.  (If you want you can use only the red cup when help is needed.)  If help is needed, the student places the red cup on top of the computer.  Either a Student Technology Specialist or the teacher will know, without class interruption, that someone needs help.  Most of the time, the student can continue to work on something else until help arrives.