Managing Technology in the Classroom
Establishing rules, expectations, and procedures early is A MUST for blended learning. My students logged on to their Chromebooks on the 2nd Day of school. For some kids, this was the first time they had ever used a Chromebook, whereas other students were already teaching me tricks. The transition to 6th grade is always interesting, because the kids come from 4 or more different feeder schools, all of which have different procedures and exposure to technology. In 6th grade, I am also trying to build the foundation of expectations for their future as a Raider. For these reasons, I have to be very purposeful with my rules for technology. These are my basic rules for survival (learned through trial-and-error) in a blended learning environment:
1. Assign each student a number. I assign numbers alphabetically and use these them for everything. Each Chromebook is numbered, so students use their assigned Chromebook everyday. If someone mistreats a Chromebook, does not plug it in, etc. It is easy to have a conversation with the particular student.
2. Sanitize before and after each use. Since we can't clean these Chromebooks, I require my students to use hand sanitizer when they get their Chromebook at the beginning of class, and when they return it. This was not one of my original rules at the beginning of the year. I started this policy after an icky flu season.
3. ALWAYS shut down and plug in your Chromebook after use. I ask students to put the Chromebooks back in the cart with the charging port facing up. This procedure is consistent with the other Chromebook / laptop carts in the building.
4. Always carry with two hands, watch where you're going. This rule came about when playing Quizlet Live. The game randomly shuffles students into teams. The kids always like to shuffle after a few founds. I ask students to make sure all their belongings are neatly under their desk before we start moving around the room. They have to wait for directions, and then I say, "you may move." They are expected to walk slowly, and to pay attention to where they are going.
5. No eating or drinking with a Chromebook on your desk. We give our students a chance to eat snack between first and second core. I ask kids not to eat at their desk if they have a Chromebook or have "cheeto fingers." Students wash their hands before they use their Chromebook if they have eaten snack. They frequently struggle to remember to keep their water bottles on the floor.
6. "45" or close your screen when I am talking and / or giving instructions. Unless they need to follow along on their Chromebook, students know to "45" or close their Chromebooks when I am speaking or giving directions. On the rare occasion a student is doing something they shouldn't be doing on the Chromebook, it is usually when I am giving directions. This policy has helped tremendously!
Although I still feel like I have more to learn about managing technology in the classroom, these 6 rules have a great starting place this year!
Students are expected to follow rules and procedures in class. If they do not follow procedures, they will lose the privilege of using a Chromebook.
Each week, I assign jobs. I have two technology assistants for the week. At the end of class, they check to make sure all Chromebooks have been returned and plugged in. They will give me a thumbs up to let me know everyone is ready to be dismissed. Occasionally, they will take it upon themselves to organize the cart and/or fix the cords.
My team uses monetary system for responsibility and participation in class. This money is turned in each Monday for a weekly grade. Technology assistants are "paid" for their work that week. Sometimes students will lose a dollar if they are not following procedures.
I love the idea of having students sign a contract at the beginning of the year. I had one student this year who repeatedly misused technology. After losing his privileges, his mother was not happy. I this it would be a good idea to have parents sign the contracts as well. It was awkward having to make that phone call and explain that a student who could not use a Chromebook for a while.
Some people in our middle school cohort said they used a contract this year. I would LOVE to see a copy if anyone is willing to share. :-)