Yesterday, a frustrated teacher pulled me out of a meeting requesting assistance. She explained there were several students in her classroom playing games on their iPads. Her frustration and sense of helplessness was evident in the tone of her voice, and the look on her face. By the time our short conversation concluded, it became apparent that she was blaming the technology for the lack of control in her classroom. As a high school technology coordinator, this is a message I hear frequently.
When things don't go well, technology provides an easy target. All of us have encountered frustrating instances when technology fails us, and while it's true there are times when technology interferes, or distracts students from learning, often teachers will mistakenly blame technology for classroom management issues.
Here are some suggestions to better manage your 1:1 classroom.
- Classroom management should focus on the students. What worked previously in managing the students will continue to work, even in the technology supported environment.
- Anticipate the worst, hope for the best. Have a plan to deal with off-task, or disruptive behavior.
- Be attentive to instructional design. Create and use lesson plans that emphasize student learning
- Challenge the students to be continually active and engaged. Leave no time for off-task behavior or boredom
- Differentiate and personalize student work. Accommodate ability levels, learning styles, and learning challenges with a variety of learning, and assessment options.
- Empower students by helping to make their learning personal and meaningful. Inquiry-based, connectivist, constructivist lessons will create opportunities for students to take responsibility for their learning. (self-regulated learners)
Student Management Strategies
- Facilitate learning and promote attentiveness through proximity. Move around the learning area and use distance to influence behavior.
- Set expectations for hands-on, hands off time for learning tools. If the teacher closes the iPad, only the teacher may reopen it. The technology tool time out.
- Take time to practice putting the iPads into sleep mode. This instant on, instant off capability comes in handy when requesting undivided attention from students.
- Foster a learning community that thrives on collaborative work. Create back channels for students to stay engaged during classroom discussions (Today's Meet, or Twitter chat)
- Use timers to help students stay focused and on task. Time limitations and expectations help keep students on a challenging, but productive pace.
- Clearly share expectations and guidelines with students. Empower students to help create and communicate behavioral expectations. Model digital responsibility, social media etiquette, and digital learning for your students.
- Use the room layout to influence learning experiences, and promote periods of cooperation (pods) vs. periods of independent work or assessment (rows).
- Take time to practice using the iPads for specified purposes. Establish procedures to deal with technical issues when they occur. Identify student tech leaders who can assist you and other students with technology use.
- Identify tell-tale signs when students are off task. These may include; screen-fixated eyes, typing off normal pace, color reflections that don't match the rest of the class, reactions or emotions that don't match the activity.
- Technology won't fix pre-existing student management issues
- Boring lessons are still boring with technology
- More technology doesn't necessarily mean more, or better learning
- What are your consequences for misbehavior? Is there complete classroom awareness?
- Just as with learning targets, establish clear behavioral expectations and practice them often.
- Keep learning at the forefront. A classroom of compliant students doesn't necessarily mean the students are learning.
What strategies do you use for effectively managing a 1:1 learning environment?
References & Resources
Effective Classroom Management, Ronald Morrish
Classroom Management Tips, Edutopia