"Most educators will expend the effort needed to integrate technology into instruction when, and only when, they are convinced that there will be significant payoffs in terms of student learning outcomes." (Means, 2010)
Whether your class is using tablets or Chromebooks it is essential for teachers to establish routines and procedures for the use and management of technology. When effective classroom management strategies are in place the focus of the lesson can be on the learning objective instead of on the technology.
Typical Technology Classroom Management Strategies:
- Establish a digital workflow
- Guidelines for who to ask when student is stuck
- Routines for login and password management
- Transitions between tasks
- Allowing time for students to explore new programs
- Regular integration of digital citizenship
- Classroom arrangement
- Routines for who is plugging in and unplugging devices
- Procedure for students and device "checkout"
- Modeling expected technology use
These strategies may take on different forms in different classrooms and will vary by grade level. Many teachers in Central Unified are already implementing these strategies in their classrooms. The following are descriptions of how these strategies are currently being utilized, some of the teachers that are using them, and photos of excellent classroom management in action.
1. Establish a Digital Work Flow
Suzanne Awtrey at Roosevelt is kicking off her students' educational experience by using Seesaw: The Learning Journal with her kindergarten students. Seesaw is compatible with both tablets and Chromebooks. In addition to allowing students to chronicle their learning through images, video, and writing, Seesaw allows for a connection between home and school since parents are able to access their student's digital portfolio.
Cindy Escandon, first grade at Biola Elementary School uses QR codes to help her students navigate to websites, apps, and videos to support instruction. Students can use a QR code reader app on their tablet or a Chrome App on the Chromebook to quickly access digital content.
2. Guidelines for who to ask when student is stuck
Teachers around the district use several different strategies to help students who are having a difficult time navigating new digital programs. In Lisa Papaleo's second grade class at Liddell, students are encouraged to ask other members of their table group for help when they are having trouble navigating their tablet. If group members are not able to assist the student, the student is instructed to put their head down on their desk as a visual cue that the student in struggling. Lisa also encourages students to become tech "experts" in her class. She has a special lanyard at a student can wear to signify that they are an expert in a particular skill and are authorized to assist other students.
Another popular strategy is "Ask three before me." Reminding students that they should seek the assistance of three classmates before seeking help from the teacher.
3. Routines for login and password management
Many school sites utilize these account cards. Amy Grigsby, a fourth-grade teacher at Polk, laminates one set of the student account cards that she distributes to her students and retains a backup set for students who have misplaced their copy. Often times teachers keep a class list of student account and password information in a designated folder for quick easy access.
4. Transitions between tasks
Teachers use multiple strategies to help students transition between different technology tasks. One popular
visual cue for students is the Spotlight Poster. Common Sense Media has a digital copy of the Spotlight Poster available for printing. The idea is to use a cue, such as a paper clip to signify when students are expected to use technology and for what purposes.
The same verbal cues that students are accustom to for other classroom activities can be modified to help students transition between technology-based tasks. Cindy Escandon guides her first-grade students through new routines by having the students stand up and act out the steps of the process before they even pick up their tablets.
When students are first introduced to a new technology program it is essential to allow students adequate time to explore the new tool. When Amy Grigsby first introduced her fourth-grade students to Google Classroom this year she allowed students time to click on all of the tabs and links. That way when it was time for students to follow her directions for navigating the site, students weren't distracted by all of the possible places that they could click.
6. Regular integration of digital citizenship
Although students are expected to complete three specified digital citizenship lessons using the Common Sense Media curriculum, Technology PCC members discussed the importance of students' ongoing exposure to digital citizenship. While Common Sense Media is an excellent starting point, digital citizenship discussions about plagiarism, appropriate peer interactions, and social media etiquette can be interwoven into existing content-based lessons.
7. Classroom Arrangement
When starting the year, Tilley fourth-grade teacher Richard Kelly intentionally sets up his classroom so that he can observe all student devices from the back of his classroom. Eventually, Mr. Kelly adjusts the layout of his classroom so that students are working in groups, but this happens later in the school year when students have learned to navigate their technology.
Other teachers, such as Lisa Papaleo, arrange students into groups from day one so that students can rely on each other for technology support before turning to her for assistance. While Amy Grigsby is allowing students to have a choice with flexible seating in her classroom. Students are given the option to stand at bookshelves around the perimeter of the classroom, sit at traditional desks, or even sit on the floor at a low table.
8. Routines for plugging in and unplugging devices
In most Kindergarten through second-grade classes, teachers have found that charging cords last the longest and remain reliable when the teacher is the one responsible for plugging in and unplugging devices. With older students, some teachers designate a student with this job. Since having reliably charged devices is essential for successful technology integration, it is essential that teachers devise a deliberate routine that will best serve the needs of their specific classroom.
9. Procedure for students and device "checkout"
Since all devices are going to be maintained in the classroom this year, it is important that teachers devise a routine for the timely distribution and collection of devices. With class sets of tablets, many teachers either numbered or labeled the tablet with student information under the flap of the case. Chromebooks and carts will be delivered to classrooms with numbered devices and charging bays.
While students can log into their accounts and settings from any Chromebook, the daily checkout process of Chromebooks will be faster if students consistently utilize the same device. Student "ownership" of a single device will also allow for less time to be spent trying to determine who is at fault for damage to devices. One option is to have a class list of students with their assigned Chromebook number taped inside the door of the charging cart. For younger students, establishing a list in alphabetical order by first name might be easier than using the students' last names. For secondary classrooms, a folder or sheet protector list of Chromebook number assignment for each period will help with managing device deployment.
10. Modeling Expected Technology Use
The best way for our students to understand what we expect for them to be doing with technology is for us to show them. The consistent use of routines, procedures, and expectations by teachers will allow for students to spend less time focusing on the technology and more time concentrating on the learning objective. After all, technology is not intended to be the focus of instruction, but rather the tool teachers use to facilitate learning, provide timely feedback, and allow students to have access to resources beyond the classroom walls.
Means, B. (2010). Technology and education change: Focus on student learning. Journal of research on technology in education, 42(3), 285-307.