Elementary Computer Lab Strategies

Supporting New Consumers of Technology Effectively

Preparing 21st Century Learners

In a world where students will be expected not only to be consumers of technological content but creators of it as well, it is paramount that students are exposed to this content early on in their education. Still, such a transition to digital learning requires as much support as possible - which is the purpose of this guide. Used collectively, these strategies should minimize the amount of frustration felt by students and maximize the amount of instructional time dedicated to valuable experiences. As always, please feel free to contact me for help executing any of these strategies.


Chris Brockman

Introductory Video

This short video walks students through the basic elements of a Windows computer, discussing the features they will likely use. This might be used as an introduction to the first few computer lab sessions students go to. The video is available via the link below.

Windows Introductory Video - Kindergarten through 2nd Grade

WIndows Introductory Video - 3rd through 5th Grade

Parts of a Windows Computer Graphic

Keyboard Shortcuts

Piloted by Bedminster Elementary School Primary Grades

In order to help students recognize the keys they will use often, stickers can be applied to the keyboard to help these keys stand out. Below is a poster of the keyboard that can be downloaded to your computer and edited according to sticker placement or appearance.

Please note: This is definitely a cooperative project. While effective, this strategy does take time, and is most effectively completed in groups or as grade levels.

Keyboard Hints

Desktop Shortcuts and the "Magic Number"

Piloted by Lorrie Petersen, Bedminster Elementary

While bookmarks and settings we rely on every day do not travel between computers in the district, there is an easy way for students to access these settings. In this way students should use the same computer each time - a magic number, if you will. If the student uses the same number computer when going to the computer lab or when using a laptop cart, links and shortcuts they place on their desktop will remain there.

What does this mean, really, for instruction? Using this strategy a link to Symbaloo could be applied to the desktop, easily bringing up all of the Internet links you would like the student to look at with one click. It also means that shortcuts to network folders, such as the Dropbox and Handout drives, can be created as well, dramatically minimizing the amount of clicks a students needs to complete.

- Student Dropbox Instructions

- Student Handout Instruction


Discovered and Piloted by Peg Volak, J.M. Grasse Elementary

Symbaloo revolutionizes the way students access guided resources on the Internet. In this case images replace text, allowing students to click on a picture to navigate to a given resource. The teacher might project the image of the icon they are looking for to better identify which link they want the class to use. For this purpose a PowerPoint with all of the images has been linked below. In addition, the district Launch Pad has been converted to Symbaloo, which you can use immediately, or create your own using the tutorial below.

Pennridge Elementary Launch Pad Symbaloo Page

Pennridge Elementary Launch Pad Symbaloo PowerPoint Slides


Symbaloo Tutorial

Evaluating Digital Content

The amount of effective content available on the web is truly endless, but there is also a tremendous amount of content that is distracting or misleading for students as well. In this way, I have designed a resource for teachers to integrate the evaluation of online content into their predeveloped lessons. These lessons can be tailored to fit curriculum needs and time constraints, and are downloadable in .pdf format for quick printing or in Microsoft Word to make alterations. Hopefully these lessons will help expand the conversation about appropriate material online and interpreting that material safely and accurately.

Evaluating Digital Content

Interactive Presentation Tools

Seldom, beyond Computer Lab time, do your students have access to a computer at a one to one relationship. During lab time, one excellent use of this opportunity is to employ interactive presentation tools to gather responses from students and efficiently analyze how they are interpreting the content being discussed.

One of the strongest tools for this purpose is Nearpod, a way to add interactive elements to a traditional PowerPoint presentation perfect for computer labs. A tutorial is given below on how to use this great resource.

Nearpod Tutorial