Managing Technology in the Elementary Classroom
“How do I manage the new iPads in my classroom?” “How do I keep track of the Chromebooks themselves and who has them during the day?” ~ As I continue to invest time and energy in my professional learning endeavors and read other blogs and Twitter feeds, I have noticed these common questions arise when it comes to using new technology in our classrooms.
Device Sharing? Not Optimal but Can Be Managed
If you are fortunate enough to have iPads or Chromebooks in your classroom, more than likely, you do not have a enough for every student, known as a 1:1 ratio and most teachers are even sharing devices with other teachers depending upon how your administration has set up managing those devices. I have my own very strong opinions on this topic and that is that students NEED to have access to the same device everyday. They take a strong ownership role in the maintenance of a device that they are familiar with, like keeping it charged, where to store it when not in use, maintaining the apps, updates and memory limits not to mention how the device is handled everyday. It is also a huge time saver if a previously entered login on a device can be utilized in an app or browser. If not, I have a previous post on what I use to keep track of student logins that may be helpful to you. (See – iPad Management Tag) But even though the accessibility to tech is not always in our control, we do have to be very discerning about what we do with them to best develop our 21 Century learners.
I have found that most teachers are excited about implementing new technology but are highly intimidated by the time necessary to learn how to manage them in a way that works for them and the ability to access experts in a timely fashion or at least someone that has some background to help them along. I can think of many times that I set up a workflow for a lesson, only to have an unexpected barrier come up and no one to ask for help. My “Plan B” is usually a hard copy choice or dry erase group activity. I have certainly learned that no situation is perfect and we all deal with slow bandwidth at times, (My students have named this- “The Waiting Wheel of Doom”) a dead battery and even that same device that just will not complete the task you have initiated at least 10 times. Yes, some of you know just what I am talking about. 🙂
We are all learners when it comes to leveraging technology to best personalize learning for our students, so it can be a daunting task to not only decide how to use them to fit our pedagogical responsibilities but how to keep up with the day to day tasks of who has the devices, when and what are students doing when they have them. Let me just encourage you my friend, that it is all worth it! The first few months are a bit frustrating at times but when you get to the place that can walk around your room, with ALL students engaged and independent, navigating through programs and helping each other…it is an incredible feeling! Seeing their projects and creativity is amazing to witness.
You Can Do IT!
I myself, have 15 iPads of my own for my second graders in a daily 2:1 situation as a result of a grant I wrote in 2013. I also have inconsistent access to a cart of 30 iPads or for a 1:1 experience at times. I have to say that once you experience a 1:1 situation, it is hard to adjust to anything else. Seeing the efficient use of highly engaged academic time and flexibility of student creativity is irreplaceable! Not to mention the limitless opportunities to differentiate lesson content. On a daily basis, I am reminded that our students are digital natives and thrive in their “Natural Habitat”. Now, please understand that being a primary teacher for over 20+ years, I am a huge advocate of children having hands on writing experiences and face-to-face communication as well but that is another heavy topic for another post. 🙂
Most of my blog posts are curriculum driven, as many other bloggers are doing, knowing that we are our own best asset and sharing with others is crucial to our success. However, I think it is also very helpful to see how other teachers are managing their devices in their classroom. Here is what has worked for me and my iPads but this system can also easily be used for any device.
You can see the chart on my wall that displays a list of partners assigned to an iPad with a numbered background. I have tried stickers with numbers written on the outside and they do not stay on very well so I used an oil based marker that I found at a craft store, to write the assigned number of that device on the outside front cover. There is an “A” partner and a “B” partner. On certain days, I assign either the A or B partner to an independent task or I have them partner up using the splitters that you can get on Amazon for about $4 to $5 each to connect their headphones. The bigger white splitter with green wires connects up to five headphones and is called a “Rock Star” for multiple listeners. As you can imagine, it is the preferred gadget of choice for me and my kids. Now, with 15 iPads and 26 students, that leaves three extra that are not actually assigned to anyone so I use them for that one student that really needs to get on a project or I keep them at my reading table for reading or math intervention activities. I would love to hear how you manage your devices! I am always looking to improve my classroom management. 🙂