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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Introducing Mobile Technology Into Your Classroom: Structures and Routines

It can be intimidating to try something new in your classroom. This is especially true with technology. I believe that technology should make the work of teachers easier while creating an environment that excites and engages students. Even though I'm coming from an iPad classroom, these structures and routines are great for introducing all one-to-one devices.

Have a System (and Expectations!)

No matter what device you use, have a system. All of the iPads in my classroom's cart are labeled with a student name and number. Each slot is numbered, too. I expect each device to be placed in numerical order (odd on one side, even on the other) when my students return them. That way, I can quickly see which device is missing. When I taught a few groups of students with my one iPad cart, I kept class lists with each student's number taped to the top of my cart. When calling students to retrieve or put away their iPad, I often call out "all even" or "all odd," or give a range like "1-10." Students need to know that they are accountable for the well being of their device and that its wear and tear can be traced back to them. And something as simple as establishing a flow of traffic in your room for returning and picking up devices can lessen transition time between activities.

Be Clear and Consistent

Don't take it for granted that your students will know what you're thinking. If you fail to list expectations early, students will explore their device in ways you might not anticipate. I ask my fifth graders to stay away from their iPad's settings. This means that the background image won't be changed, font size and type will stay the same, and no devices will be given passwords. Be explicit about your expectations, and don't make assumptions. You might ask students to refrain from changing the look of a screen so that apps and icons stay in the same place. Just like many routines and structures in my classroom, I'll post a list of expectations for students to use as a reference.

Start Small

Choose two or three apps or programs to tackle at first. To avoid feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of choices, create a short list of "everyday applications." Start adding one or two new apps a week to build your base. Determine which students are your experts (or could easily become experts), and have them be the first to try out an app. Show them the ins and outs of an app during a free period. That way, when you introduce this new app to the class, you'll have three or four students who can help troubleshoot or answer quick questions for members of their group.

Substitute Regular Activities

Instead of trying something completely out of the ordinary from the get-go, replace one of your usual activities with technology. For example, have students type on virtual sticky notes instead of writing on paper ones. Students can send you an email in place of filling out an exit slip. Practice math facts using virtual flashcards. Use a camera to record a science presentation. Explore an atlas app instead of flipping thorough a textbook. Simple activities will build your confidence (and your students' confidence!) with using one-to-one technology in your classroom.

Are you in a one-to-one classroom? What are some challenges you've faced? What advice do you have to offer? Please share in the comments section below.

Comments (29)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Dawn Huskey's picture
Dawn Huskey
Technology Coordinator for PK-8 Catholic School

Thank you for posting your ideas and organization strategies. As, the technology coordinator, I am at the beginning stages of implement over 100 iPads into my school. I truly appreciate your advice and process.

The challenges I have faced so far include reluctant teachers. We currently have 5 iPads to share and only about 4 teachers use them on a regular basis. Many teachers can't find the time to search for apps that they can use and are nervous about handing the devices to the students.

My new principal is very tech driven and wants to find time in my schedule to support the staff. Have you tried professional development with your teachers? Any advice or resources that you can share?

slash's picture

Great tips!I agree that the issue I come across is the lack of professional development for teachers. Any advice on professional development resources?

Monica Burns's picture
Monica Burns
Educator, Consultant, ADE , ClassTechTips.com
Blogger 2014

Thank you Dawn! It's so wonderful to hear that your principal is very tech driven! I think that supporting teachers as they create lesson plans that utilize a specific app can make them see how an iPad can be used effectively in their instruction. If they feel like there is no time to search for apps, show off one or two of your favorites and how you would use them with students.

JMaybin's picture
JMaybin
Seventh Grade Teacher

I love your strategies to maintaining an organized classroom while still incorporating new technology. At my school, we are currently looking into BYOT: Bring Your Own Technology. The biggest problem I think we are facing is reluctant teachers. It will definitely be a big change but I think it is a necessary one. My biggest concern is finding the applications that would best suit my classroom. I teach seventh grade math and I am not too familiar with many applications. Do you have any suggestions? Again, thank you for the strategies!

Mrs. O's picture
Mrs. O
Seventh grade math teacher from Ohio

Thank you for sharing your routines and expectations. I found them extremely helpful. My school has a one-to-one program and gives each student a netbook during the school year. One of my favorite activities that I did this past year was creating music videos with our video software. My students were struggling with the distance formula, so they wrote lyrics and made dances to remember them. They were allowed to work alone or in small groups. The excitement and enthusiasm was awesome, and the videos turned out GREAT!

Monica Burns's picture
Monica Burns
Educator, Consultant, ADE , ClassTechTips.com
Blogger 2014

JMaybin: You're very welcome! Here are some math apps that I love: http://classtechtips.com/category/math/
Some on this list are definitely for elementary students, but you should find ones that work for your seventh graders too!

Mrs. F's picture
Mrs. F
Business teacher

Thank you for your suggestions about setting up your classroom for mobile devices. Our school is going to 1 to 1 iPad next year so I am very interested in finding out how others are using them. I like the ideas of implementing and becoming comfortable with only a couple of apps at a time. I am already feeling overwhelmed. Your suggestion of just using the device as a substitute rather than a completely new activity is also helpful. Our devices will be student owned rather than school owned. Do you have any ideas that would help to track apps used in that situation? Also, you mention how you have the expectations posted, but do you have consequences of not following expectations? Again - thanks for the helpful start to setting up my own class.

Amy's picture
Amy
4th grade teacher in southern California

Hi, Monica! Since so many of your followers are working in 1:1 classes, I thought I'd share an idea for teachers trying to help students navigate to specific webpages. It's frustrating to have a really great website that you want your students to see on their iPads, but they cannot type the long URL correctly! A brilliant teacher at my school shared this idea with me and it solved that headache. You will need two apps: I-nigma and QR Code Creator (both available from the AppStore). On your iPad, open to the webpage that you want the students to use. Copy the URL. Open QR Code Maker. Click on Add (upper right corner).You will be prompted to give the webpage a name, then click Add. You will see the new listing at the bottom of the page. Click on No Image Available. Paste the URL that you copied into the bar at the top. Click Create and the app will create a QR code for that specific webpage. Click Save. You can use it straight from the app or save it to your photos. Students open the I-nigma app on their iPads and aim it at the QR code on your iPad's screen, or you can project it under an Elmo or SmartBoard. The students will hear a tone when their iPad has read the code and Safari will open the exact webpage that you want them to see! It sure beats trying to have 30+ 9-year olds type in lots of letters/numbers/symbols! You can create the QR codes in advance or, once you're familiar with the steps, on the fly!

Amy's picture
Amy
4th grade teacher in southern California

Hi, Monica, I read your post on using QR codes to differentiate instruction yesterday...brilliant! I tried it today with my 4th graders as we continued our study of the properties and states of matter. My GATE students scanned one set of codes and the rest of the class used a different set. No one really seemed to notice that they were not all the same because each group had 4 different sites they could use. Students worked in cooperative groups (either GATE or regular ed) to collaborate and create posters with the information they found on their webpages. So far, their posters show great detail and synthesis of the facts about matter. Thanks for the idea!

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