Laptops Teachers and Students

Classroom management for 1-1 computers. I often wonder how we can best manage and especially monitor student behavior. For this week’s Coetail class I watched some clips of teachers explaining how they manage the use of laptops in a classroom environment. These teachers have experience as well using laptops and they discussed various ways to monitor their student behavior. I have noticed that students in our classes waste a considerable amount of time when they use laptops for in-class assignments. Therefore, I am aware that I need to develop better protocols for students who use laptops during class time. I agree with the following strategies and already put them usually in practice

Move around a lot in the classroom and see if they’re on task.  Watch their eyes and see if they’re working on what they’re supposed to be working on. Use timers to keep them on task.

But I would consider a few of these strategies as well:

Walk around with a grade book and pen to grade participation. Tell what’s expected to be done at different parts of the class. Students are all faced in one direction, so from the back of the room each screen is visible. Have daily work sheets filled in showing what they are supposed to be working on to have them stay on task and the teacher will sign that off. They will not get the full points if they haven’t done the work.

Moreover I agree with the following ideas about the most important things that an instructor can do to manage a laptop classroom.

Make sure your lessons are well-developed, high interest, so students want to stay on task, give them some choices, on how to present the product. Simply with or without in the classroom be aware of what is happening in the classroom. Be consistent in expectations and consequences and follow through on it. The realization is that the computer is the tool and not the focus. You need flexibility because it is not a traditional classroom anymore. You need to ease up a little bit and not be the computer police, you try to teach them responsibility and teach them to be responsible

Students need to be aware of what they are you learning and choose the right tool for that kind of learning?  I came across a blog with 23 Things about Classroom Laptops.

Here are some of my favorites and some are good to be aware of.

An interesting behavior – Students often like to ‘waggle’ the screen back and forth in group discussion. They don’t even know they are doing it much of the time, but is often distracting to the teacher. It is a sign that they are in private conversation and off task. Find ways to make them accountable for their own time. Students may ‘prank’ others by locking their keyboard, remapping drives, setting the keys to type backwards, flip the display etc.,

File Sharing – A laptop is an excellent way for students to share video and music they have downloaded illegally. Students will share work via flash drives, hard drives as well as emailing it to each other.

Laptops represent an opportunity to stay connected with friends and there are numerous ways to do that.

Learn about ways for students to ‘search’ beyond Google, and create lessons around how information is shaped to appeal to a diverse range of learners. If you don’t know how to use visual search engines, custom Google search, Wonderwheel yet … now would be a good time to find out.

If you stand at the front of the class, you’ll see the back of laptops, so movement around the class is important. Sitting students in rows doesn’t work like it used to. The best place for the teacher to be is online and mobile – learn to multi-task and be prepared to access and work with students – online after school (great way to build respect).

Find ways in which one or two students can ‘share’ work with many. Create online spaces where students can use ‘friend-networks’. Do not expect or ask students to work alone as they used to – that is the last thing they find motivating. Teachers will not be provided with these spaces – they need to be created in context with the needs and preferences of their learners. Example: Three students take notes; then share with others; who then improve them online.

In our grade 6 team we work a lot with Google Docs and both teachers and students use gmail to communicate and to turn in work. This has proven to be very useful when our school email went down for two days.

Most of all: don’t be boring!!!! Don’t do the same things over and over again. Have your class with a blogpost or comment on it for a minute, or a picture….. End with a youtube for about a minute……let them finish it at home and come back the next day ready to talk about it. Realize that reflection is hard. Model this for your students and be more open about the finish time because deadline learning is so individual. Some need more time like me.

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