Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip(s): 7 Classroom Management Ideas for the Technology-rich Classroom

Image created by Amber Paynter
Over the past year, Cherry Creek Schools has experienced an increase in classroom technology access, especially with the infusion of Chromebooks, updated student labs, and a stronger wireless network.   Providing us with some exciting possibilities for teaching and learning, expanded access also presents us with some other considerations.  Amber Paynter posted about Digital Citizenship last week, and this week's tech tip is focused on another implication: classroom management.  Here are seven things to think about when teaching in a technology-rich environment.

cc image courtesy of thriveschool.org
1.  Maximize the layout of your room.  If possible, arrange seats/tables/desks so that you can easily move among them and can see multiple screens at once.  Some teachers have different arrangements for different activities (desks/seats facing the periphery during independent work, facing front during direct instruction), others use designated areas in the room for technology activities (like stations or centers), and others use mirrors around the room to provide multiple "eyes" in the room.  Keep carts placed where they won't block access to doors, and keep the cord tripping potential to a minimum.

2.  Assign specific devices to specific students.  One of the best ways to keep our devices in working order is to assign students to specific devices every time they are used.  This not only provides an accountability measure, but it also helps when files might need to be temporarily stored on a device.  (If you won't have consistent machines/devices on a regular basis, have printed copies of your roster handy so that you can track who has what and when.)

3.  Have a student helper (or helpers) for cart management & tech support. Students can be a great help in the classroom.  A student whose responsibilities include unplugging & handing out machines and storing/plugging them back in helps manage the distribution and collection of technology while minimizing chaos in front of the cart.  Using a tech tool with your class?  Some teachers use "Ask 3, then me" to help manage the tech questions during class.  Have your class "tech-sperts" be the go-to for questions about the tool so you are free to work with students on the more important aspects, like the content.

4.  Establish verbal (or other) cues for putting technology "on hold."  It might be flashing the lights in the room or using a specific phrase, but be sure to let your students know how you will communicate when devices need to be "sleeping" or inactive.  Some teachers have the "45 degree rule" for laptops, some call for Technology Time-outs, and others have "face (down) time."  Sharing your cues with parents can also help them manage technology at home -- the more consistent we can be between school and home, the better.  (A side benefit to sleeping machines is battery life -- having nap time for devices will likely increase how long they can be used before charging.)

5.  Use proximity, but also consider using a management tool like gScholar.  Perhaps our best behavior management strategy is physical proximity, so be sure you can easily move around the room (see tip #1). A management tool like gScholar (currently in beta), is a solution for the Chrome browser.  gScholar lets you see which Chrome browser tabs are currently open, send messages to student screens, close open tabs or send URLs to the class or individual students, and capture screen shots (class-wide or individual kids).  Proximity is undoubtedly effective, but digital management tools can also be helpful since it's difficult to be everywhere at once. (For more information, contact your school's technology coordinator/building tech or your feeder's Technology & Learning Coaches.)

cc image courtesy of snapperworth
6.  "Catch" students doing something right and celebrate it.  While you may have to deal with off-task behavior at times in any learning environment, be sure to give public and private props to students who are following directions, doing outstanding work, and being good digital citizens.  You can use badges in Schoology, a free tool like Class Dojo, or whatever you choose to create a positive classroom environment that reinforces what you want to see in your students.
7.  Use COLE 3.0/Schoology to structure activities.  While Schoology can be used for any learning activity (offline or online), it's especially powerful for technology-based activities. Schoology lets you post directions (both in written & audio form), sequence the steps you want students to follow, differentiate lessons, link to specific learning resources, host submitted digital work, give assessments, and provide digital  feedback.   And because its web-based and available for iOS or Android devices via the free app, it can be used flexibly in our mixed device classrooms. 

Most of the tips listed above are good for any learning environment (structured activities, consistent routines and procedures, positive reinforcement, etc.).   Technology may elicit some additional management considerations, but thoughtful approaches to how that looks and works in your classroom will go a long way.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks! I love the "ask 3, then me"! I'm totally going to incorporate that!