Eager new faces file into the classroom with the start of the new school year, many because of their desire to use technology in their classes. As a I have moved from having a few devices in my room to being 1:1, I make sure to start the year by teaching some simple management systems and thinking about how students will learn to use the different devices and web tools throughout the year.
Simple Classroom Management
How will students get devices and put them away? It should be efficient, requiring as little class time as possible, and trouble free. I have a Chrome cart in my room and have created a clutter free path so that students “flow” in one direction to and from the cart. This means students are not bumping into one another, potentially causing devices to fall on the floor. I call small groups at a time to get and return their devices to the cart. This lowers the potential for crowding. Since I teach multiple class periods, first period gets the Chromebooks out and leaves them on the desks for the next class periods. Then my seventh period class returns them to the cart at the end of the day.
It’s important for students to know when it’s appropriate to listen to the teacher and when they can multi-task using the device. I have a “First 5” section on my board telling my students what to have out and/or do in the first five minutes of class. When we use our devices, here are some of the instructions I write on the board:
- Have Chromebook, no login
- Have Chromebook, login to __________ (an assignment, website, etc.)
- Have Chromebook, login, work on ___________ (an assignment, survey, etc.)
- Have Chromebook, login, 45°
I regularly use the 45° instruction. Students know to close their Chromebooks to a 45° angle when given this instruction. This also comes in handy in the middle of work time. If I have to give instructions and want full attention from my students, I will call out, “45”, and they know to stop, close devices to 45°, and listen.
Knowing that there are many levels of understanding in my students’ use of technology, often I will use the following commands when in the process of work:
- “If you need instructions repeated, 45 and eyes on me.”
- “Keep an ear open as I clarify and give suggestions.”
During work time, remember that noise is okay! (No really, you’ll get used to it.) As students work, allow them to talk to each other and ask each other for help. THIS IS FANTASTIC! You cannot get around to all thirty-five students when they need tech help, or any other kind of help for that matter.
When we work and I don’t have an answer to a tech question, I encourage my students to call out, “Does anyone know how to ______? Would you please help me?” There is nothing better than seeing the learning community in action. This empowers my students to take control of their learning and collaborate, exactly what I want them to do.
Learn With Your Students
There is no need to know how to use devices completely. With the quick, changing pace of technology, there is no way we could possibly know it all. As long as you have played with the technology a bit and have a basic understanding, learn with your students. They are faster at learning the new technology and less fearful of pushing all the buttons. You’ll model ongoing learning for your students and show that you trust them to teach.
Your students can become mentors for their peers. I regularly tell my students that I don’t know everything, and if they find anything cool to let me know. Inevitably they figure out many aspects of a device or website before I ever could.
Allow time for students to play. Give five to ten minutes to explore before diving into instruction with a new app, program, or website. Often they must complete a simple task in order to understand the basics of the tool. You should hear the buzz in the room during this time. Students are excited to help each other and usually complete the task before the allotted time is finished. Normally it would have taken me forty-five minutes to teach them step by step. If you know ahead of time that students will be using a new digital tool, have a few play with it before the whole class does, then make a tutorial or have those students lead the whole class in the learning.
With a few simple systems and the understanding that learning is messy, technology has the power to take learning to a new level.
After infusing technology into many K-8 subjects in the past 16 years, Trisha Sanchez is a new 7th and 8th grade Technology Teacher with a computer lab as a classroom. She is always learning with her students and peers and believes in the power of sharing. Follow her on twitter @techishtrish or learnreflectlead.blogspot.com.