Thursday’s Tip: Managing a Classroom Full of Computers

Classroom computers
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With the implementations of 1:1 classrooms and iPads everywhere, teachers have new management challenges they must face. Classrooms will not become magically efficient without specific procedures and norms set. The following are a few suggestions that are essential to successfully managing a classroom full of computers:

  • Label each laptop (A-B-C, 1-2-3, etc.) and assign corresponding labels to students. This will encourage responsibility for each student to return the laptop to the cart and make sure it is plugged in.
  • Laptops must always be picked up with two hands! Students should practice this and demonstrate they can meet this expectation before they ever turn the computers on.
  • Limit the number of students at the laptop cart to 3-4 so as to avoid traffic jams and accidents due to crowding.
  • Assign one “expert” equipment manager to make sure all laptops are in the cart and connected.
  • Assigning one maintenance specialist to inspect laptops on a regular basis insures laptops have been cleaned.
  • For schools where laptops can be checked out froma central location, a student receives a green laminated card.  The card reads “laptop # (staff or “helper” fills the student number in with a dry erase marker), out for service.”  The student places this card in their slot of the cart. With a quick look, all laptops were accounted for.
  • If a student loses privileges, they receive a red card.  The card says “lost privileges until” and the date the student can receive the laptop back.
  • Keeping a Google Doc of student names, offenses, and the date they receive their privileges back is an easy an accessible way to monitor laptop use.
  • In situations where the laptops need to be carried to another room, schools are purchasing canvas bags for students to use. This might be an easy way to safely transport laptops or iPads.
  • Keep idle hands busy. When facilitating a discussion, have students utilize Web 2.0 tools or some sort of educational portal to share their responses so that all students are showing their thinking simultaneously.
  • Keep a list of log in and password information. Students forget and often need help remembering.
  • When all is said and done, practicing routines until they are second nature is probably the most important action a teacher can take in any classroom management situation, particularly when dealing with computers.
  • Spending the first two days of the school year for students to learn specific laptop skills is a good way to get them acclimated so that the real work of learning can start right away.
  • With a team of teachers, each teacher can take one (skill-logging on, saving to the server, how to find programs, how to search effectively, etc.) and teache just that skill. Students can then go through a rotation of each teacher to learn these basic skills.

What steps have you taken to manage the technology in your classroom? What lessons have you learned from having computers in your classroom? What questions do you still have in regards to classroom management and technology?

Zac is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center and would like to thank Ruth Henslee, Chris Lohman, and Carmen Marty for their contributions to the list above.