Setting Rules Giving Choices

After much consultation with my peers, viewing the provided video clips and CoETaIL readings I have to honestly say I have come to the conclusion that students will be students and classroom management will be classroom management. Even though the integration of laptops into our classroom and schools today provides us with new challenges in the end the ways in which we handle these challenges in the classroom is not all that different from the ways in which we managed them prior. We need to make sure our kids know the rules that we as teachers and school set and that we are consistent in enforcing them; actively engage our students with lessons of high interest for their age group in order to keep them from “daydreaming” and choices, choices, choices.

Some rights reserved by Sarah Sutter

Schools have put into place a set of guidelines to help safely steer our students in the use of the technologies provided including the Internet.  The Acceptable Use Policy was a great place to start when it came to making sure my kids were safe and on task. Making sure your kids not only know and clearly understand your schools AUP can really help nip any issues in the bud. When I have seen potential issues arise I have never hesitated to review the AUP with my class. They signed it and their parents signed it. It’s an agreement. A contract. No excuses. It’s not to say that kids won’t test boundaries, but when they do and there is consistency in the consequences they will more likely then not learn accept and respect those rules if they wish to continue partaking in the use of the schools laptops. I always try to role model these best practices as well whenever I can. When they see you doing it on a regular basis it becomes more obvious as to what the expectations are and truly how unreasonable it is to have them in place.

Keeping students actively engaged is vital to good classroom management with a laptop program. Lessons need to be created that are of high interest. Know your students well. No matter how much planning you put into a unit nothing ruins it more for say a middle school class if it is “uncool” or not practical. We have standards to teach and not everyone is interested in the same things, however with the abundant amount of resources and options out there today every student can find someway of making the dullest topic interesting to them. When I can I try to give my student the opportunity for exploration and let them ultimately make the decision for which tools they decide to use for the assignment. It is that comfort zone that keeps students feeling safe, focused and engaged.

I’ll admit that technology is not like any other tool we’ve had in schools before and the access to information that it provides at our and our students fingertips in almost immeasurable.  The temptation that this provides to stray is great, but it’s when that curiosity is harnessed and utilized that our students can really excel.

4 Comments

  • March 1, 2012 - 2:52 am | Permalink

    Andrew I agree that students have to be reminded of the AUP agreement. This the first year at my school with laptops for the 4th/5th graders. I don’t have much experience implementing an tech integration plan, or creating one for that matter. I created a basic AUP to get our students started using the laptops. My principal asked me why I was creating the AUP. We have a Student Technology Code of Conduct in our Parent/Student handbook. I insisted that because of the added responsibility for using a laptop, and the students being older, a specific contract needed to be used.
    I think there is a balance between keeping students focused and on task, and letting them stray off and follow and their interests related to the assignment. Allowing this kind of personal differentiation keeps the students interested. I feel like I need to loosen up in this aspect, let the kids mess around with the tech and topics more. I think I’m just nervous of what they will find on the World Wide Web if they do reach it.

    • Andrew Dragonetti
      March 8, 2012 - 11:48 am | Permalink

      Sounds like a good idea to having a classroom contract, at least until your school decides to revisit and revise its current AUP to better suit your schools changes.

      It is hard to loosen up and there’s always a limit. I think a lot of where that limit is comes with knowing your kids and those dynamics change every year. Kind of keeps you on your toes!

      Thanks for the comment! Good luck!

  • March 1, 2012 - 7:59 am | Permalink

    Tons of good points here! I really like this point:

    Know your students well.

    I’ve been having a few conversations with colleagues lately about the fabulous ideas and inspirations students can come up with if you involve them and listen to them. The more you engage with your students, the better the outcome will be. Of course, this is nothing new, it’s just exaggerated through the use of technology.

  • Andrew Dragonetti
    March 8, 2012 - 11:50 am | Permalink

    I can’t believe how much I learn from my students. It would be silly to not utilize their “natural” tech knowledge in the classroom!

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