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.

HD_Links: Classroom Management

Central School classroom, interior, with students and teacher, Auburn, October 29, 1909

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As the fall moves along, students become comfortable with their new classrooms, teachers, and schedules. Teachers, lulled into asleep by a relatively easy start to the school year, begin to let norms and procedures to slip. The result is a sudden influx in disruptive behavior. This causes teachers to revisit their classroom management. Sometimes it’s just a matter of needing a change and other times it’s a moment to get back to basics.

For those looking for classroom management answers in the middle of October, we have a list of resources for you to check out…

Alfie Kohn is a leading expert in behavior management and educational policy. His website is loaded with excerpts from his many books on these subjects. Order his books from his site or simply follow him on Twitter for some insight into what research says about child development and behavior.

At Teacher Reboot Camp, guest author Alexander Marchuk proposes that the answer to managing behavior (among other factors) is to search out new ways to involve parents. Instead of simply blaming parents, Marchuk offers examples of how increased parental involvement has resulted in better student performance and behavior. When we look for management solutions, we often look at the student and our own teaching practices, but we forget the power that involved parents hold.

David Altshuler wonders if a student’s behavior is more likely tied to the richness of curriculum than to other factors within the student. This post is mostly intended for parents, but it provides a good framework for teachers to assess their curriculum and instructional practices. Are we engaging students enough to hold their interest so that they don’t act out?

NT&L favorite Larry Ferlazzo offers a couple of good resources for answering the classroom management question. On the Classroom Q&A blog for Education Week, Larry gives several valuable tips for addressing disruptive or “unpredictable” student behaviors. This is extremely valuable as every management system breaks down now and again. We need strategies to deal with such behaviors immediately.

The second piece from Larry is on his Website of the Day… blog. Here, he points to an article on how Steve Jobs changed his management style in order to allow his company to thrive. Jobs relinquished some control in order to involve his subordinates. Maybe giving up some of your own control will allow students to become more involved in how their classroom community functions effectively.

NT&L contributor Krissy Venosdale has an interesting post on rewarding gifted students. Although not specifically about classroom management, it addresses the idea that teaching is about addressing individual needs, not seeing how many races can be won or hoops can be cleared. We all know that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs tells us that students can’t attend to academics until their basic needs are met.What needs do disruptive students have? How can we address those needs so that they can concentrate on learning?

How do you manage your classroom so that students can learn in your classroom? What are you doing to readjust your management to meet evolving student needs? How are the norms holding up that you established with your students?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.