Start The New Year With Technology

I was on Pinterest the other night just looking through classroom pins and, of course, many teachers were pinning ideas for the beginning of the school year.  But what became apparent to me was that none of the ideas that I saw used any technology, but each idea could so easily be transformed into a technology-rich lesson.  (Don’t get me wrong- they are all GREAT lessons/ideas- I am just a Technology Integration Specialist- so looking for the tech- OK?)  So, if you are interested in using more technology in your classroom this year, let’s start from DAY 1!  Here is how to transform some of these ideas:

1.  About Me Graphic Organizer:

This first cool idea comes from the Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher blog.  A graphic organizer is a great, visual way to for students to learn about each other about the beginning of the year and also reminds students how to use an organizer for subject areas.  Instead of drawing, have students create beautiful, visual graphic organizers with Popplet- which is available as an iPad app (I suggest the FREE version: Popplet Lite) or online  Students can easily add boxes of information that can contain text, images (imported), drawing, and videos (in the web version).  I prefer the iPad app over the web version since the web version requires students to log in with an email-based account.
2.  About Me Poster:
About Me posters are incredibly commonplace in the classroom.  How much money have you spent on these pre-printed forms over your career?  Isn’t it time we made them more interesting- or personal?  This is a great time to try Discovery Education’s NEW Board Builder tool with your students!  Once you (the teacher) are logged into your account, you need to set your students up with accounts.  When your students log into Discovery Education, they have a special place where they can interact with Discovery Education content including use of the Board Builder tool for creating poster-like content.  Students can add images, text, video, documents, and links to create a content poster with their own media or they can incorporate the media directly from Discovery’s resources.


3.  What I Did This Summer
This cute idea from A Love for Teaching blog has students drawing a scene from their summer adventures in a pair of sunglasses.  It is a great visual that will have students sharing about their summer fun.  However, with the addition of the Common Core standards that we will all be implementing, this is a perfect time to pull in some of those standards (such as writing from experience).  To add some technology, have students write up a little story about their summertime fun (using tech here would be good, too) and then have students choose/highlight the key words from their story to add a Tagxedo image.  The Tagxedo image is an image created of words that upon viewing should convey the basic story to the viewer due to the choice of words (character, setting, description, etc.) without reading the entire text. comes with a variety of images to choose from, but if you need a specific image it can be uploaded.  The Tagxedo images are just as visual to hang in the hallways or on a bulletin board and add writing to the mix!


4. Getting To Know You Venn Diagrams

I love this idea from  Everyday the teacher has a new “Do you like?” question at the beginning of the day.  Students add their pictures to the Venn diagram to answer the question and to indicate that they are present for the day.  Venn diagrams are a great way to teach logic skills, similarities, differences, sets, comparing, and contrasting.  Instead of using hoops and photographs as suggested in the original article, set this up on your SmartBoard (or interactive whiteboard) so that students can move their virtual images or names into the diagram each morning.  If you don’t have images of each student, have your students create an avatar (a representation of themselves) with a fun avatar creator such as Do you like using Venn Diagrams for small group or pair activities in the classroom?  ReadWriteThink just put out a new iPad app called Venn Diagrams.


5.  Call For Parent Volunteers- and other nasty paperwork!
Every classroom needs parent volunteers and various other information that needs to be gathered- but STOP sending all that paper home!  Convert all of your forms to Google Forms where you can neatly collect all of your information from parents in one place and it will never get lost or damaged in transit.  Save the paper only for families that really need it.  If you have a gmail address (whether personal or school) you have Google Forms!  Click on the Google Drive link at the top of the screen when you are in your email and then click the CREATE button and get started!  You can email your form to whomever you desire once it is created (and you can even embed it on your web site).  Plus, you can pick pretty themes with no design skills at all.  When parents submit a form all of the data is stored in your form file where you can access it at any time- no more paper to wrangle.


6. First Week Graphing

Graphing Our Favorite Summer Activity comes from Madden’s Monsterous Masterminds.  Graphing is a fun way to use real-world math while learning about the students.  There are some great technology tools that will allow teachers to create interactive graphs with their students on their interactive whiteboards as they are discussing various topics.  Recently the iPad app Haiku Deck has added a graphing feature to their presentation app.  This allows teachers to search for an image that represents the discussion and then to instantly graph the results (such as in the middle image labeled transportation- how students get to school).  Just connect the iPad to the interactive whiteboard to share the magic with class.  No iPad?  Try a website such as the Data Handling Site by Primary National Strategy.  Here you can graph your data with a bar graph or pie chart.

There are so many more ways to use technology to transform your beginning of the year and “getting to know you” lessons.  Share some of your favorites in the comments below.  I hope I have inspired you to think about integrating technology more this year as you begin the new school year.


Originally posted on

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  1. Laura Smith said:

    Great ideas!! I’m the same way – If I see an idea, I try to find ways to make it tech-based instead

  2. Donna Miller said:

    Karen, these are great ideas. I start school in 8 days and look forward to using some of these – thanks for sharing!

  3. Lisa West said:

    Even though we’re halfway through the school year, I’m so excited I found this post! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  4. Barbara Berndt said:

    I teach pre-K and it is always a challenge to use technology in the classroom. I love the idea of doing an “All About Me Poster” Can I set up accounts for parents of pre-K?

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