Here are some helpful suggestions as teachers to consider that I put together from various resources back in 2008 when my school first handed out laptops to our 8th grade students. What was true on that first day of laptop deployment is as true several years latter.
I have also included some of the Technology Public Service Announcement Videos I created to help reinforce expectations for students and two of my favorite Infographics on Technology in the classroom. They are short and great to help lead discussions with students.
Have a well clear behavioral objective for how you will use laptops in your classroom. It is important to have a clear objective in mind on how this tool will help enhance the instruction and learning of your content. Realize that some of our students will have the internet at home, and other students will not. Plan for these differences in our students and have them in mind with how you will incorporate laptops into your curriculum. If you need help in developing lesson ideas that integrate technology, please contact a member of the Technology Team.
Victory Is Different
Students will come into your classroom with different levels of understanding and competencies in computer use. Use differentiation by providing for some choice in projects and use. Know that “Victory” for each student is going to be different. Some students will amaze you with their ability, and other students will have small achievements in technology uses throughout the course of a year. Technology projects should have a grade based on the content, not just on the pizzazz of it.
Start Small, And Then Grow
Start small, and then grow in how you use laptops. Think about the following: How much time in class will I dedicate to using computers? How will I know if students are demonstrating that they have earned the right to use the laptops in the classroom? How will I know when we (both students and teacher) are ready to try something new?
Roll With The Punches
It is very important to always have a “Plan B” so if the network goes down, or if some students do not have a laptop that day, you have options available for your students. Always create back-up copies, or have other ideas in mind to safeguard you from potential problems.
Do you know what students will do when they finish early? Some students will finish early, and others will barely get started. Have a plan ready to go with students on what you want them to do if they finish early. If you don’t, students will find something, and it might not be what you want them to get into. Find enrichment websites, projects, or pre-teach expectations on what you expect students to do when they finish early.
Utilize Student Leaders
It can be a daunting task to get around to all students who experience problems while working with computers. Create a culture of collaboration in your classroom and use those student leaders who know what to do, to help out those students who are struggling.
You Are In Charge
Just because students have laptops, it doesn’t mean that you have lost control of how you run your room. Remember, you are still in charge. It is important to pre-teach laptop expectations and to clearly go over laptop procedures with your students. Stress to students that the laptops are a “learning tool,” not a toy to play with.
Lids Down and Put-Away
Pre-teach to students your expectations on when computers need to be out and when computers need to be put away. This fits nicely into our BoysTown Social Skills of “Being Prepared for Class” and “Following Instructions.” You might want to let students know on the board if they will need their laptops for that day, and if not they need to keep their laptops in their bags under the desk. If you are giving instruction, you will want students to keep their lids completely down, otherwise you will find yourself talking only to yourself.
Move With A Purpose
Use proximity with students to help keep tabs on what students are doing on their laptops. Don’t sit back at your desk, but move around looking for the tell-tale signs that students are off task: kids are fixated on the screen for long periods of times, students typing faster than normal, students head remain in a downward position longer than normal, or students seem to be all looking at one student’s computer screen.
Have a plan on how you want to arrange your desks, chairs so that you can better monitor students when they are on the laptops. For direct instruction, rows work best so you can see what is on the screen. If students are in groups, use the “Move with a Purpose” mentioned above so you can adequately check on all of your student’s screens throughout the lesson.
Be consistent with the 1-1 Classroom Management Guidelines your school has established. If they haven't, think about creating one as a department or team of teachers. Together as a team, you can make this a very successful model.
Technology Public Service Announcements
Basic Computer Expectations
Carrying Your Laptop and Protecting From Spills
Charging Your Laptop Each Night
Backing Up Is Smart To Do
Safely Secure Your Laptop
Be Academically Honest
Be Careful What You Post Online
Be Internet Smart
Beware Of The Cold