Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Computer Sites that Enhance Learning...FREE!

Today's students live in a "techy" world.  Technology impacts them on a daily basis:  how they play, how they communicate, how they learn.  Their future careers will demand a "tech savvy" individual. Our classrooms should model this "techy" environment and prepare them for their future.

For the primary student a balance of technology and traditional education is important.  They are learning to read, write, and communicate.  Yes, all of these things can be done using technology but a tad of the traditional is also needed.  As much as I love to see my kiddos reading online I also love watching them snuggle with a book and read by turning pages as they hold it in their hands. While enhancing keyboarding skills our 1st graders still need to hold a pencil and learn to communicate using traditional methods.
My 1st grade classroom then is a balance of all of the above.

Today I want to share a few FREE programs that can help you meet the diversified needs of your students while promoting online learning.  They will fit perfectly with Daily Rotations or Diversified Learning periods.

Many of you may have learning pads and apps.  For you that is a blessing.  For those who do not a little more effort is required.  In another blog I will share with you how to make a "touch pad" page for your student's computer.  It is not difficult to set up images that with a click of the mouse or touch pad will take your student to the program assigned for the day.

Organizing students and planning ahead is key.  I am not a fan of "put the program on and let the students go at it" on a daily basis.  Instead I promote making connections to your daily skills.  If it is pronouns you are studying find activities that provide practice and review for pronouns.  If you have enough computers for each student you can easily diversify and identify specific tools for each student.  More planning...yes!  But in the end the time spent will pay off.

Below are 4 of my favorite sites.  I hope you will feel free to add to these with some of you favorites under comments.  I also like each of these sites because they allow for differentiation by choosing different grade levels.
I added Scholastic because it is the perfect tool for...I am finished!  What can I do now...spin and find out!  The links are there for each site so you can have a peek.

Because I like to assign activities and plan for my computer assignments here is the form I use.

On my pages each picture is hyper linked.  So when I go
to slide show I can easily connect to the correct activity.  The group activities are for daily rotations.
I have 6 computers in my room.  Beanie Babies...YES...I got tired of "I NEED HELP"...now they just set their Beanie on the screen and they know I will be there as quick as I can. The room remains quiet and I feel less stressed.  The other tool on the computer is a number line for math activities.
We also have a grade level cart of Chromebooks.  I use them as much as I can for entire class experiences.

This is not a great picture but shows how I group kiddos.  It allows for flexibility. I can easily move the students pictures from group to group and the cards are laminated so I can erase the daily activity.  
I made this page editable for you.

Here is my lesson plan for a week.

Does this take time...YES...but I can reuse it or save it for next year.
Again each picture is linkable.

Below is a page I would provide if we were to go to the computer lab.
Otherwise I would send presentations in Doctopus.
We use Kid Rex as a safe Google search engine.

 On this page kiddos are using the site I gave them to gather information.
If done online the frog is linked to the site.
Most times I would do this paper, pencil with students using the computer site to find the information.
In class we would do the prewrite found below and then the final write would be  handwritten but in most cases a document prepared in Office or on Google Drive.

Just this one post has a number of items that I could go into more detail about.  Please comment and let me know what you like or what you would like to know more about!!
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 Hooray where I always have something to cheer about.  Today I am cheering for tech savvy classrooms!


  1. I love ABC Ya and Starfall! Such great free sites! I love the idea of using a beanie baby to signal they need help. Smart idea! Thanks for sharing!

    First Grade Garden

  2. This is awesome! I'd like to learn more about the touch screen page you mentioned. Thanks!!

  3. My favorite is the "beanie baby".
    It saves my nerves and my hearing:)

  4. Excellent post! I love the advice about the number line/100s chart. My school really focuses on UDL/accessibility to tools, so this is great tip. Your student pictures/chart made me think about a good idea for my classroom. I can create a chart that has my student's goals posted and what websites they need to visit. And I can provide them with a choice of what website they should go to . :) Thank you for the post.
    Colleen Carson

  5. We are grtting class set of chromebooks next year. I am trying to get into this. I will be following...stalking YOU! THANKS! wendy 1stgradefireworks@gmail.com 1stgradefireworks

  6. Thanks for the fabulous tech integration ideas!