When we start looking for new programs for the students and us to use, I have run across programs that are fun and exciting, but not very useful in the classroom. They are great games for the students to practice and use outside what we are learning, but do not make my job easier or let the students use the computers for actual learning. So that has been our goal, find programs that we can use instead of paper-pencil, or can take the place of another activity instead of adding something else to our day.
I love our Readabout Program by Scholastic. It has helped the students read Non Fiction better and in turn that helps their Fiction reading become better. We have always done some sustained-silent-reading time for the students. Readabout fits right into a day or two of that program. We do not have to take other time during the day to use that program.
The Wiki has taken part of our reflection writing and 5-minute writing practice and put it together in a medium that the students can not wait to write on. Information and homework has been more available to them and we have less problems with homework and assignments not being completed.
So our job here is to find programs that work with us, with what we are already doing, that will excite and engage students in learning. That is what it s all about. The students and them learning... and us being able to play. But mostly the learning thing.