At John F. Pattie Elementary School, our students spend most of the year in Office 97. This page explores our projects, ideas and planning techniques.

Why Have Them at the Elementary School Level?

Computer Labs Make the Best Use of Office Suite Software
and Complement Classroom Use

The One Computer classroom.

There has been much said lately about how to teach and integrate technology in a one - or few - computer classroom. However, little is said about ways to make effective use of a computer lab for integrating technology. Suite software such as Microsoft Office 97 (or 98 for Macintosh) can support lab projects which are efficient and fun and go beyond what is possible in a classroom with only a few computers.

The Staffed Computer Lab.

Well managed computer labs can help students use today's technology to pull and stretch core curriculum topics beyond the usual research papers, worksheets and homework. Computer labs can be more than drill, keyboarding and word processing. If there is a knowledgable technologist staffed in the lab who plans with the teachers, then a product such as Microsoft office 97, or any suit software containing word processing, spreadsheet, database and multimedia authoring programs, can give elementary students quite a bit of creative learning.

Lab Technicians Must Bring the Vision. So, how to bring classroom level creativity to fruition? The lab technician must design technology projects with teachers which publish student work in a variety of ways or document a learning process. It is impossible to do this without the joint planning process of lab technician and teacher.

Characteristics of good projects. Lab projects should have the following characteristics:

  • Lab projects should utilize [require!] students' creative processes. This excludes word processing that is merely type and print, except at the most introductory levels.

  • Lab projects should emphasize or teach core curriculum topics such as math, science, language arts and social studies while also addressing technology objectives. Students see computers at home as game machines with some educational application. At school, students need to learn that computers are most commonly used in our society as tools. In school, computers are tools of learning.

  • Each lab project should teach new methods (i.e. new technology) for expression or documentation. There is way too much in computer technology for any single program or technique to become stale. Build, but don't repeat!


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