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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Laptops in the Classroom

Laptops in the Classroom

Related Tags: Classroom Management
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First off, let me say that I am very lucky to be teaching in a Middle School with 1-to-1 laptops. I try to use them as much as I can, to the point where some of my students have actually asked that we do more projects on paper! With this great new technology does come new challenges, the internet is a virtual smorgasbord of impulsive options, and students do not always stay or do what they are supposed to. Many teachers at my school seem to think that they cause more problems than they solve, and I refuse to believe that. After all, middle-schoolers want to learn consequences regardless of the medium. My question for all of you is, acknowledging that of course an engaging lesson is the best classroom management tool, do you have any tips for classroom management when using laptops? One suggestion I've gotten is to take the students out of groups and instead put them in rows so that I can see all of their screens, but this seems like the trade-off (considering the amount of group work we do) just wouldn't be worth it. In addition, I circulate so much that having all the screens facing in one direction wouldn't matter. My school also does not have access to screen-watching software for all of the teachers, so that option is not there. Thank you for any suggestions!

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Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

One teacher at Science leadership Academy said this: "When I need their attention, I ask students to put their screens down for a few minutes while we have a discussion, etc. Afterwards, it's screens up and kids do what they need to."
Even if students are chatting on facebook or whatever- it' really no different than when students used to pass notes in class, and at the end of the day, they are still responsible for their work and classroom performance. I think screen watching all the time shouldn't be a goal- unless you think there's a problem, why not trust the kids to do the right thing most of the time? They might just surprise you and live up to the trust you place in them.

Matthew Kitchens's picture
Matthew Kitchens
Seventh-grade reading/ELA teacher from Ennis, Texas

In January, I'll be piloting a laptop program for my district. I'm to have a bank of 25 laptops in my room - the first such laptop cart at an intermediate school in my district. I plan to use the computers at least once a week. I've conceived "bellringer" activities that incorporate the laptops, so that we are using them, but not all period. In addition, my classes will also utilize them to post comments on discussion boards at www.MyBigCampus.com.

My GT class will definitely use the laptops to finish their book review podcasts, which can be reviewed here: http://www.ennis.k12.tx.us/webpages/mkitchens/mypodcast.cfm.

I will harness the laptops to transform my blog into a vlog. Check out "My Two Cents" here: http://www.ennis.k12.tx.us/webpages/mkitchens/myblog.cfm?blogid=4206

Jessica Piper's picture

My students work with laptops very, very frequently and they know that if they are busted on a site they shouldn't be on, the work is still due but must be completed in ink (yikes! can you imagine writing an ENTIRE essay//;-) I also make sure to utilize sites like google docs and chat with my students while they work. I also send out time reminders so that they stay on task...I can be in all areas of the room while sitting in the middle of the class.

I hope this helps.

Kay Butler's picture
Kay Butler
HS Mathematics and MS/HS Pre-Engineering teacher, from South Louisiana

As a middle school teacher of Pre-engineering (and high school teacher of mathematics), I occasionally assign on-line research projects. Depending upon the project, students may work individually, in pairs, or in small groups. However, I require "notes" from ALL students - these are NOT to be "copied and pasted" from internet websites. Students must summarize their research and submit their work daily via GoogleDocs. This requirement helps to keep students on track - I also schedule "free time" slots for students to explore fun yet academic websites to provide an occasional "break" from serious work. Students know that they are responsible for completing any unfinished work on their own at home with a loss of work ethic points for the assignment being submitted late. To avoid homework and loss of points, students usually spend their time wisely. Of course, there are those few students who go "off task" regularly, but you'll figure out who they are quickly! Gentle reminders are usually enough to get them back on task. Best wishes for a productive 2011-12 school year! :)

Misty Burright's picture
Misty Burright
I am a NBCT visual arts teacher who has transitioned to the classroom.

We do not have laptops, but iPads. I challenged my students to create a video to help teachers watch out for off task behavior. I know it's not exactly the same, but maybe could get you thinking:)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaMh_bpWqBU

Jessica's picture
Jessica
Building Confidence in Students, One Child at a Time

Great Post! Thanks for sharing this post! Its true that technology has played a major role in our lives. Every human being is dependent on technology. Now, with the coming of latest and modern gadgets, it has become a great help for all of us.

Ms. Michelle's picture
Ms. Michelle
Why do you need a summary

1. Make a blog or use some kind of website available for your students to communicate and talk to you, even during the class time.
2. Make sure that by the end of the class period that they turned in something they learned. You could put up questions on the whiteboard and have the students turn papers in (require them to be written) and you could grade them and give them a participation grade.
3. Unless you absolutely MUST use a laptop for the class, you should not use the laptops all day every week. this is also harmful to people's eyes and can cause one to obtain reading glasses.
4. Encourage students to be quiet, or finish their work earlier, or basically remember their manners and let them have 5 minutes of free time to play games on the laptop or something.
5.Add more projects and let them do projects with 2-3 people. No more, no less. ( I a group of 2 or 3 is just enough. 4-5-6 is just too much, unless it's a huge project that has an equal amount of work available for those people.)
6. Teach without the need for students to get on a laptop. It's really not that necessary.

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