Make your own free website on

Managing the One-Modem Classroom

Description:  All this Internet stuff is great – but you have only one computer in your classroom. Learn management techniques and instructional strategies for making the most of your single Net connection.

Objectives:  In this session, participants will:

  1. Become familiar with basic classroom management techniques necessary for successful Internet integration.
  2. View and discuss sample online activities and projects that can be used with only one Internet connection.
  3. Explore creative and innovative ways to use technology in the one computer classroom.

Session Outline:

I.          30 Students + 1 Computer = Chaos!

II.         Ideas for Using Technology in the One Computer Classroom

III.       Projects and Strategies for the One Computer Classroom

IV.       Quickly Locating Needles in the Haystack: WWW Search Strategies

V.        Resources for Getting the Most Out of One Computer in the Classroom





SI.    30 Students + 1 Computer = Chaos!

·       The Ideal – A computer for every student would be great. Wireless networks and increasingly smaller portable computers will revolutionize classroom use of instructional technology. But the question remains: When will this technology make it down to the classroom level?

·       The Reality – Some schools are fortunate enough to have nearly every classroom equipped with a networked computer capable of accessing the Internet.

Ø     How do we take advantage of this connection to enhance our curriculum?

Ø     How do we help students comprehend the nature of the Internet and teach them to become discerning 'consumers' of information?


II.     Ideas for Using Technology in the One Computer Classroom

Room Arrangement

·        Easy student access

·        Easy teacher access for presenting, modeling, and process writing etc.

·        Away from direct sunlight, water, magnets, and chalk dust

·        Easily supervised

·        Provide enough space for small group interaction

Management / Scheduling

·        Consider equity

·        Sample methods are:

o       Use 3 x 5 recipe card file with student names to identify computer users for each day. Have students cycle through to complete project. (Color coding Monday through Friday with student names many be helpful.)

o       Take weekly schedule and assign open blocks to students.

·        Consider the project when allowing computer time. Some projects many take more time.

·        Be creative when seeking additional available computers.

·        Provide opportunities for cooperative learning.

·        Post computer rights and responsibilities, guidelines for help, and expected behavior near computer station.

·        Display posters using computer terms and commands.

·        Emphasize the importance of preplanning so that time on the computer is efficiently used.

·        Create two folders, one for completed projects and one for work in progress. Have a checklist available so that, after each session, students can indicate whether project is complete or additional time is needed.

·        Use peer partnership/mentors/volunteers

o       Consider having students work in pairs or small groups.

o       Consider computer skill and specific assignment when pairing students

o       Change partnerships according to needs.

o       Students need time away from the computer for brainstorming, planning, and revising project.

o       Peer critiquing of computer projects is a key.

o       The use of "trained experts" among class members is helpful.

o       Consider the use of computer buddies to introduce new computer skills.

o       Trained parent and community volunteers can provide assistance with more involved projects.

Classroom modeling

·        Model computer project for the week.

·        Provide a sample of the completed work for that session.

·        Provide students with a step by step checklist. Have students sign and attach the checklist to completed project. Be sure to include a proofreading checklist.

·        When teaching a computer skill, templates can be very valuable. When using a template, each student or team can rotate through the activity and the original will not be altered or lost. This allows for a more self-guided lesson.




III.     Projects and Strategies for the One Computer Classroom

These links offer practical ideas on using the computer's Internet connection as a tool to accomplish curriculum objectives.

·       Sources For Online Projects

Ø     Intercultural E-Mail Classroom Connections

Ø     Scholastic Online Activities

Ø     The Global Schoolhouse - Alphabetical List

·       Creating Online Projects For Your Classroom

Ø     How to Design a Successful Project

Ø     Examples of Classroom WWW Projects

Ø     Another Online Project In Action!


III.       Projects and Strategies for the One Computer Classroom

Sometimes we think the only way we can use the Internet in school is for every student to be "plugged in" and "hands on." While it is certainly convenient to have that option, there are possibilities worth exploring in a single-computer classroom.

Here are some:

  1. Using the Internet to introduce a unit.

    You can pre-select a set of sites that are related to your topic. Perhaps you want to show something on a current event, or on a global issue. Sometimes you can find something especially powerful like the Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust which contains not only journals and artifacts, but examples of art and music from the Holocaust victims.
    Site Location:
  2. Use a web site to enrich a unit.

     There are several museums online. If you're studying American History, for example, you could show students images of art from the Colonial Period or artifacts from the Civil War. The Library of Congress has a wonderful site for this purpose: American Memories.
    Site Location:
  3. Use an activity site to involve the whole class in problem-solving.

    While the topic might not be an exact content-match, the Arctica site is a great one to use to involve students in logical thinking. It's set up like a choose your own adventure and has terrific graphics. Arctica is a mystery which was revealed in weekly episodes. The setting is a cabin on a ship in the Arctic which was used by anthropologists searching for remnants of an 1883 expedition. Now that the student contest is over, all the episodes are available. Students read through the clues and submit their hypotheses.
    Site Location:
  4. Involve students in an online adventure.

    Since you only have one computer in the classroom, you wouldn't be able to do EVERYTHING that is possible in these activities, but your students would still benefit. GlobaLearn is a FREE online activity. This company mounts live expeditions all over the world. This spring they feature an expedition to the Eastern Mediterranean. Participating students interact with GlobaLearn's remote expedition teams via their World Wide Web (WWW) site. At each stopping point, the team is hosted by a local school child who offers a personal introduction to the local community. The host child serves as the starting point for ensuing investigations into the history, traditions, industries, and physical resources of the community. Using laptop computers and digital cameras and recorders, the explorers capture their discoveries daily and send them, via satellite uplink, to GlobaLearn's server in Connecticut. In minutes, GlobaLearn's home staff formats the materials for the Web site. Once the materials are posted, they can be viewed by anyone with access to the World Wide Web. OnlineClass is a terrific source of online activities. These require a subscription fee, but they are very high quality and offer teacher support materials, online support, and access to guest experts. The current history/social studies project (concluding in June) is the North American Quilt which focuses on geography, ecology, and cultures. Mississippi Adventure helps students understand the impact of the river on the ecology, economy, and people.
    Site Location:
    North American Quilt:
    Mississippi Adventure:
  5. Publish student work on the Internet.

    One of the best examples of quality student publishing I've ever seen is the What did you do in the war, Grandma? site. This site represents a collaboration between high school students and a university. The students conducted oral interviews of local residents and the university supplied the technical support.
    Site Location:


IV.       Quickly Locating Needles in the Haystack: WWW Search Strategies

Choose the Best Search Engine for Your Purpose

Information Need

Characteristics of the Search Engine

I want an overview of my topic.

I have an idea for a broad topic.

I need to narrow my topic.

Subject Directories such as Yahoo and LookSmart organize information as “subject trees” from general to specific topics.

I want a small number of relevant hits and an idea of what’s in each document before I go to each page.

Excite hits have excellent summaries. When you find a relevant hit, you can submit a “query by example” to locate similar pages.

What’s available on the Internet for my topic?

Meta search engines such as MetaCrawler, Dogpile, and FindSpot searches and integrates major engines.

I want quality, evaluated sites that have reviews and ratings because I have limited time.

Magellan’s smaller database containing descriptive reviews of sites.

Lycos TOP 5% Home reviews and rates the “Top 5%”

WebCrawler is a smaller database with relevancy ranking

I need to do a pinpoint search because my terms are narrow.

AltaVista is a massive and fast indexer of full text, good for very specific searches.

Is there an encyclopedia of information on the Internet?

Information Please searches Information Please Almanac, Entertainment Almanac and Sports Almanac, the Columbia Encyclopedia, and the Random House College Dictionary.

I have common keywords that probably appear in many documents and should make my search specific.

HotBot is a fast, powerful search engine with ranked results and many options for defining a search.

I have common keywords in a phrase like New in New Orleans or A in Vitamin A that cannot be ignored.

Ultraseek includes words in a phrase that other engines ignore.

I know the date of an event and am looking for more information.

HotBot limits by date.

I need programming language (e.g. JavaScript, ShockWave) web pages or information.

HotBot Super Search limits by programming language.

I need scientific information to back up the research for my science fair project.

AltaVista rated best for finding scientific information on the Internet.

I need mathematics or statistics information

MathSearch located material concerned with research-level and university mathematics.

I can describe my topic in a sentence (natural language).

Infoseek and Ask Jeeves! allow natural language searches.

I need information on a proper name (a place, person, or object).

AltaVista and Infoseek use capital letters to force an exact case match on the entire word.  HotBot person search will retrieve the name in both reversed and normal order (Picasso, Pablo and Pablo Picasso)

I wan web pages from a geographic region.

MetaCrawler can search by continent.

I want web pages from an Internet domain (e.g. schools)

HotBot can search by Internet domain (e.g. edu, com)

I want to search for images and sounds (photos, art, designs, logos, videos, music, noises), media types (Java, VRML) or file extensions (.gif).

Lycos Media, HotBot Super Search, The Amazing Picture Machine, Yahoo! Computers and Internet Multimedia can all conduct searches in this way.

I need a quotation

The Quotations Page

I need the lyrics to Rock, Pop, Oldies, Folk, or other songs.

International Lyrics Server

I want to get advice and opinions from others.

Reference.COM and DejaNews search archives of Usenet posts (Usenet is especially strong in computers, the Internet, science, recreational activities, sociology, psychology, and k-12 education.

You can also join a discussion group on a topic at Liszt.

I want to browse.

Lycos and Yahoo are subject directories with short descriptions of sites.

The Internet has tens of millions of sites at this point; growth is exponential and bibliographic control does not exist. To find the proverbial needle in this immense haystack, you may use two basic approaches: a search engine or a subject directory such as Yahoo, A2Z and Magellan. Subject directories are fine for browsing general topics, but for specific information, use a search engine.

All search engines do keyword searches against a database, but various factors influence the results from each. Size of the database, frequency of update, search capability and design, and speed may lead to amazingly different results.

There are also metasearch sites or metacrawlers that send searches to several search engines at the same time.  Since metasearch engines do not allow for input of many search variables, their best use is to find hits on obscure items or to see if something is on the Internet.  Some of the best-known ones are Dogpile, Inference Find, WebCrawler, and Metacrawler.

Here's a set of FAQs on how to use Internet Search Engines and Subject Directories for those of you wanting to find information on the Internet but not sure how to go about doing that.

FAQ#1: What's an Internet search engine?

One way of finding information on the Internet is to use a "search engine". This is an Internet tool that will search for Internet sites containing the words that you designate as a search term. It provides results back to you in the form of links to those sites that have the term(s) you're looking for.

For example, if you wanted to see if there were any math lesson plans on the Internet that you could borrow, you might enter "math and lessons and plans" as your search term. After a brief wait, you would receive a web page with dozens of links to sites that had those particular words somewhere in the site.

It's important to understand that search engines DO NOT search the Internet itself. They DO search databases of information ABOUT the Internet which the company hosting the search engine has developed. Each search engine looks through a different database and that's why they each will reach different results from exactly the same terms. The degree of detail recorded by search engines varies greatly. For instance, some may enter the entire text of the document into a searchable field and others may only enter a short description. This is only one way in which search engines differ. Another difference is in the level of sophistication employed by the search engine when it looks through its database.

FAQ#2: How does a search engine know about the millions of documents on the Internet?

Search engines do not search the Internet itself, but instead search a database of information about the Internet. Thus, when a document is placed on the Internet, it will only be found by a search engine if information about that document has been recorded in the search engine's database. There are at least two ways a search engine finds out about a document. One way is for the publisher of the document to register it with the engine. If a document publisher wants to ensure that a document is "found" by search engines, then the publisher will usually register with as many engines as possible. The second way that documents get registered is if the search engine company finds it as part of its research routines. Some search engines use "spiders" or search robots to search the Internet and gather information which is subsequently recorded in the engine's database.


FAQ#3: What's an Internet subject directory?

Subject directories organize Internet sites by subject, allowing users to choose a subject of interest and then browse the list of resources in that category. Users conduct their searches by selecting a series of progressively narrower search terms from a number of lists of descriptors provided in the directory. In this fashion, users "tunnel" their way through progressively more specific layers of descriptors until they reach a list of resources which meet all of the descriptors they had chosen.

For example, if you were using the Yahoo subject directory to find math lesson plans, you would start at the top level of the directory where there are approximately 15 general categories, including "arts and humanities", "government" and "education." Selecting "education" would lead to a list of about 35 descriptors, including "higher education", "magazines", and "teaching." Selecting "teaching" would lead to another page of resources all about teaching - including "English", "K-12", and "Math." This last choice would reveal a number of actual resources for the math teacher.

It's important to understand that a subject directory will not have links to every piece of information on the Internet. Since they are built by humans (rather than by computer programs), they are much smaller than search engine databases. Moreover, every directory is different and their value will depend on how widely the company searches for information, their method of categorizing the resources, how well information is kept current, etc.

FAQ#4: What's better - a search engine or a subject directory?

There is no hard and fast answer to that question. A lot depends on the personal preferences of the user. Some people like directories because the user can control the search pattern, varying the path through the descriptors if another descriptor looks promising. Directories allow users to browse and to be more vague or general in their search term. Search engines leave the searching pattern to the computer program and can be used to find more specific resources.

A weakness of directories is that you must depend on the descriptors provided by the company. If these are not specific enough for you, then your search may be unsuccessful. As a result, directories can be good for finding general information, but not too successful in locating specifics. Also, the number of resources that you can find in a directory is generally far less than through a search engine.

A weakness of the search engines is the very extensive amount of hits that they can produce. A general search term could produce thousands of hits - far too many to be of much value. Knowing how to conduct searches is a skill and there is a learning curve. The next several FAQs provide information on how to develop search skills.

FAQ#5: How can I improve my use of search engines?

You can get better results from an Internet search engine if you know how to use wildcards and "Boolean operators." Wildcards allow you to search simultaneously for several words with the same stem. For example, entering the single term "educat*" will allow you to conduct a search for "educator", "educators", "education" and "educational" all at the same time.

Boolean operators were named after George Boole (1815-1864) who combined the study of logic with that of algebra. Using the boolean operator "and", it is possible to narrow a search so that you get quite a limited set of results. Another common operator is "not" which acts to limit a search as well. The boolean operator "or" has the opposite effect of expanding a search. Using boolean terms, you can have the search engine look for more than one word at a time. Here are three examples of such search terms.

endangered and species

insecticides not ddt

university or college

FAQ#6: What's a wild card and how do I use it?

A wild card is a special character which can be appended to the root of a word so that you can search for all possible endings to that root. For instance, you may be looking for information on the harmful effects of smoking. Documents which contain the following words may all be useful to your search: smoke, smoking, smokers, smoked, and smokes. If your search engine allowed wild cards, you would enter "smok*". In this case, the asterisk is the wild card and documents which contained words that started with "smok" would be returned.

FAQ#7: How do I narrow a search?

The boolean operator "and" is the most common way to narrow a search to a manageable number of hits. For example, with "heart and disease" as the search term, an engine will provide links to sites which have both of these words present in a document. It will ignore documents which have just the word "heart" in it (e.g., heart transplant) and it will ignore documents which have just the word "disease" in it (e.g., lung disease, disease prevention). It will only make a link if both of the words are present - although these do not necessarily have to be located beside each other in the document.

For even more narrow searches, you can use "and" more than once. For example, "heart and disease and prevention" would limit your search even more since all three terms would have to be present before a link would be made to the document.

The boolean operator "not" narrows the search by telling the engine to exclude certain words. For example, the search term "insecticides not DDT" would give you links to information on insecticides but not if the term "DDT" was present.

It is possible to combine two different operators. For example, the term "endangered and species not owl" would give you information on various kinds of endangered species - both of the words "endangered" and "species" would have to be present for there to be a hit. However, you would not get information on any owls that are endangered since the "not" term specifically excludes that word.

FAQ#8: How do I widen a search?

The boolean operator "or" will broaden your search. You might use "or" if there were several words that could be used interchangeably. For example, if you were looking for information on drama resources, using just that one search term might not give you all that you wanted. However, by entering "drama or theater", the search engine would provide a link to any site that had either of those words present.

For even wider searches, you can use "or" more than once. For example, "drama or theater or acting or stage" would provide a very broad search indeed.

It is possible to combine boolean operators in a complex set of instructions through the use of parentheses, however that topic is beyond the scope of these FAQs. Look for information on advanced search strategies if your want to learn more.

FAQ#9: How do search engines deal with boolean operators?

The short answer to that question is - "not consistently". Some engines allow the use of just a few operators while others provide access to a wide range. Some require you to enter the operator yourself while others have you select the operator from a pop-up box. Some allow you to do any kind of search from the main search page while others require you to go to an "advanced" page to conduct boolean searches.

Some engines allow you to enter several words into the search term WITHOUT a boolean operator. However, some search engine will assume that there is an "or" operator between the words while others assume the desired operator is "and". Check what the engine's default operator is before you elect not to enter boolean operators.

Most search engines are pretty easy to use if you read their help information.

FAQ#10: What's a "meta" search engine?

A meta search engine is a search tool that doesn't create its own database of information, but instead searches those of other engines. "Metacrawler", for instance, searches the databases of each of the following engines: Lycos, WebCrawler, Excite, AltaVista, and Yahoo. Using multiple databases will mean that the search results are more comprehensive, but slower to obtain.

FAQ#11: What are some effective search strategies?

Decide whether a search engine or a subject directory will be the best vehicle. The more specific the information you need, the more likely you will want to use a search engine.

When using a search engine, be as specific as possible. The amount of information now on the Internet can be overwhelming. To narrow down your search results to manageable numbers, use a search engine that allows the use of boolean operators and enter as many keywords as possible.

Get used to more than one search engines. You will develop a preference for a certain engine and it may work well for you but don't forget the other search engines and, from time to time, try another engine or a meta engine to ensure that you have achieved good coverage of the Internet.

Read the "tips" files provided by most engines. You'll be surprised to find out little things that make life easier. For instance, AltaVista allows you to use the "+" symbol instead of writing out the word "AND" when you use boolean operators.


V.      Web Site Resources

1. The One Computer Classroom

Site Location:

Wonderful! This is a webquest designed to help teachers incorporate their computers into their curriculum. It has tips, lesson plans, and much, much more.

2. Using Technology in the Classroom: The One Computer Classroom

Site Location:

This site gives practical and workable solutions to using the Internet with only one computer. They include: introducing a unit, enriching a unit, whole class problem solving, online adventures, and publishing. An excellent site.

3. Spotlight on Success: Elementary Internet in a One-Computer Classroom

Site Location:

This interview describes one teacher's journey from one computer with a modem to a LAN of four computers. It describes the projects he tried, the methods he used, and how well it worked.

4. The One Computer Classroom

Site Location:

Another web site containing strategies and ideas for one computer classrooms. Two important sections: Offline Browsers and Internet Projects.

5. Keep it simple: A Reality Check for Computers in Early Childhood Classrooms

Site Location:

This is a good site for Early Childhood teachers. It gives several ideas and strategies for using the computer as a tool in the classroom.

6. The One-Computer Classroom

Site Location:

This site was originally a mailing list. There are some really good suggestions (like the red cups at the bottom), including a few for Internet work.

7. One Computer Classroom

Site Location:

This is a good web site for explaining computer usage categories: Computer-Assisted Instruction, Remediation, and Extension. Also mentioned are: software for developing writing skills, word processing software, and graphics software.

8. Strategies for the One-Computer Classroom

Site Location:
This site contains information for using the computer as a tool. Though the Internet is not mentioned, several of the ideas are viable.

9. One Computer, One Teacher, and Twenty First Graders

Site Location:

This is a good article on how to introduce a class of first graders to basic computer skills. The ideas are sound and can definitely be transcribed up for older students.

10. Listservs and Newsgroups

Site Location:

This page is a list of educational listservs and newsgroups. There is a heading for Technology-related Education with seven subcategories. The newsgroup is particularly good for educators.

11. The One Computer Classroom

Site Location:

This is a fairly basic site with the same information. But at the bottom, it does have some general tips for using the computer in a whole class lesson which are very helpful.

12. K12 Resource Ring

Site Location:

            This is mostly a resource webring for education, however this particular site has a great deal of             information on the Internet.