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General Lesson Ideas Using the Computer and Internet

Australian Teacher Integrates Book, Support Disks and Website into Comprehensive Teaching Resource

Computing teacher Jennifer Elwin at Pembroke School in Adelaide South Australia has published a creative, diverse computing resource book (with accomanying disks) developed for students aged 8 - 16. Computer Skills for Integrated Learning is fully photocopyable and the disks allow teachers to modify any ofthe examples.

Her changing web site at includes several downloads of work examples (such as this map drawing exercise) for both IBM and Mac and there is a full coverage of the material, applications and details. A bonus is this series runs on ClarisWorks, a truly cross-platform application you likely are already familiar with.

Translate a Poem:

Overview: Students can have fun with this exercise, and have communication with other classes in other countries on the Net.
Resources: Teacher: a poem in another language. Student: pencil, paper.
Teacher Preparation: Locate a class in another country (optional) or someone who can translate the poem.


Write on the chalkboard or give students a copy of a poem written in another language.

Have students write what they think the poem is saying.

Either give the students the translation, or e-mail the "guesses" to the other class and have them write back with their comments and the translation.

Variations/Options: Your students can research existing poems, perhaps looking for familiar ones the foreign class may be familiar with; use this as a poem writing exercise as well; take the time to discuss the poem in class - what the students like or dislike about it.

What's Your Type?:

Since everyone with a computer is a graphic designer by default, we might as well know the terminology. Have your kids look through magazines at the type in headlines, comparing how the X-height changes from face to face. Then discuss the subjective differences between the various X-heights; is one more pleasing than another? (X-height is the height of the lower case "x" compared to a capital "X" of the same typestyle.)

Quick News:

Need your students to check in on the top news stories first thing in the morning? The Yahoo News Summary at lists about 10 headlines with a paragraph of content for each. No graphics, downloads quickly, reads easily.

Describing the Internet to Elementary Students:
If you're explaining the Internet to your students, try this exercise that graphically illustrates how information is sent. Have some of your students stand in a circle with the rest in the middle, everyone about an arm's length from each other. Write a sentence on a long piece of paper like adding machine paper, and cut the paper into three or four segments. Designate two people as the starting and end points, and have your class pass the pieces of paper from point A to point B, using different routes for each piece. When the pieces have all arrived at point B, have that person arrange the pieces in the proper order. There! You've just illustrated how packets of information are sent over networks and compiled at the other end.
Teaching with the Internet:

In the short time our site has been online, one particular type of question keeps coming in by e-mail. It goes something like: "I'm new to the Internet, and I desperately need help with (fill in the blank with a teaching subject)." If you are just beginning to feel your way around the online world, it can look like a monumental task to find the teaching information you're looking for. Well, a new book landed on our desks recently that is written by teachers, for teachers and gives a good overview of what the Internet can be, and can't be, for educators. Teaching with the Internet: Putting teachers before technology by Douglas R. Steen, Mark R. Roddy, Ph.D, Derek Sheffield and Michael Bryan Stout is published by Resolution Business Press, and they can be reached at on the Web or by e-mail at for more information. The book is easy to digest, and was handy for us to brush up on areas we haven't had much experience in ourselves, like newsgroups. You're sure to see more references to it here in the upcoming weeks.