Open Office + Two Real Life Tech Tips

So either you read this title and you went, "Big der, I know all about Open Office, next blog please," or perhaps you were thinking, "She has an office at school?"
Anyway, as part of our poetry unit, we made a class poetry anthology.  Each student typed their poem using Open Office.  I had done it before with fourth grade, wasn't sure about doing it with third grade, but those kiddos proved once again how awesome they are.

Open Office is basically free Word.  We have it downloaded onto the laptops on our WOW cart.  Why not use Google Docs?  I actually heard some of you asking that in my head.  Two reasons:

1.  You have to log on.  Which means setting up a different account for the class to use or figuring out the log ons for the every students to use their district account.  That's not happening.  Plus, they are not always log on savvy.  And someone locks themselves out of the account because they mistype their password 72 times.  And I don't have access to their account.  And it requires a tech person.  You see the downward spiral here?

2.  This is the main reason.  Google really really really wants you to use Chrome.  Which means some of their stuff is not really working that well outside of Chrome.  I do not need to deal with this and a room full of third graders.

So why not use something easy and free and no log on required?

Here's how it went down:

Day 1: Quick Class Review of Open Office and Play Day
This is where Tech Tip #1 enters.  Anytime you're going to use a new program where kids are expected to make a product, you should have a play day.  Trying to create a product and figure out a new program at the same time is stressful for grown ups, so I have to assume the same holds true for kids.

And now it is time for Tech Tip #2.  YOU CANNOT ASK ME ANYTHING UNTIL YOU HAVE TRIED ASKING EVERYONE AT YOUR TABLE FOR HELP FIRST.  Yes, I'm yelling.  Those kids will suck the life out of you when using technology.  I'm not sure why this is true.  It's new, they're nervous, they're excited, but you will make yourself insane running all over the room trying to help everyone at the same time.  Then you'll end up vowing never to use technology again because "Those kids can't handle it."  Actually they really really really can handle it.  They just need to try handling it together.  You should be the last resort.

Day 2: Tech Tip #2 still applies.  Type poem and illustrate using pencil.  Because it will be copied.  Because the copier doesn't copy crayon well. Because if I copy marker, the color won't look nice.  You will explain this 67 times.

Day 3: We're still applying Tech Tip #2 here.  Type and illustrate another poem.  You will only need to explain the pencil illustrating thing 19 times today.

After an extended time (which involves me copying and binding 42 of these and wondering why I do this every year), we have a poetry performance.  And it's wonderful, and the kids love it.  They amaze me every year with what they can write.


  1. LOL. Megan, love the Tech Tips. I haven't heard of Open Office and I will definitely check it out for when my class writes their poetry anthologies and my big kids write their research reports.


  2. I have never heard of Open Office before. I one hundred percent agree with all of your tech tips. I taught my 3/4's PPT this year and by playing around and teaching each other they far surpassed my expectations!

    Looking From Third to Fourth

  3. Two very good tech tips! fact, priceless! I wish I had thought of that before the first time we used Ipods as a class! :) Oh well, we all survived! ;)

    Creating Lifelong Learners

  4. This post just made me smile. I spent almost two hours in the computer lab this week while my fifth graders were typing up a RAFT writing piece they did for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Oh my gosh! It was the longest 2 hours ever. I had to put the old "Ask 3 before you ask me" rule into place within the first five minutes. You're right though, they can and do figure it out together. Thanks for the tech tips and the smiles!

  5. HAHAHA! I've never heard of Open Office before so I'm about to go there. I haven't ventured into teaching my 5/6 graders how to use any technology yet. Oooopps! Actually, in our elementary school only 1 teachers has and that has been 6th graders and ppts. We aren't a tech school. Yet. :)

    Thanks for the info!!

    I Run Read Teach