Managing Technology Use in Your Classroom
This article is from the TEACH archives, some information may not be current.
By Karen Hume
Don’t let classroom management concerns prevent you from making effective use of technology in your classroom! Check out these tips and please add some of your own:
- Help students recognize that technology in the classroom has to serve a learning purpose. Have them complete preparatory work away from the equipment. For example, storyboarding before creating a video or a PowerPoint/Keynote presentation ensures that students will know what they are going to do and can get to work right away. According to presentation experts Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds, preparing “offline” also means that ideas aren’t constrained by the templates provided by the presentation software.
- Teacher Kris Odette uses the word Click to indicate that when he or a student is speaking to the class, everyone needs to turn off their computer monitors or put down their hand-held devices.
- Give each student a colored sticky note. Anyone who is having difficulty with a task can quietly signal you by putting the sticky note on the top corner of the monitor or desk.
- Actively monitor student use of the technology. Walk around the classroom, looking over students’ shoulders to check such things as windows that have been minimized at the bottom of a computer screen. It’s good to trust your students, but they need to know that you expect them to be focused on learning.
- Arrange classroom seating so that it is easy for you to move around the room and get to students quickly. If you have to weave through a path of desks, chairs and bodies, it’s much more difficult to stop a problem at an early stage.
- Post anchor charts that provide technology tips or put them in a binder near the computers. A teacher of secondary design and technology classes had good success with providing software instructions in several different forms—as podcasts, screen captures, and step-by-step instruction sheets.
- Take full advantage of student expertise. Students often know more than we do about a technology, and teaching someone else what they know is a great way to reinforce their own learning and foster a caring classroom community. When you don’t have to be the technology expert in the classroom, your time is freed up to manage your real area of expertise—the teaching/learning process.
- Establish at the beginning of the course your policies for how to name, store and share files. Many of these policies may already be in place in your school or district; making sure that you and your students understand them will go a long way toward preventing mishaps and misuse.
- When you have a limited number of computers or hand-held devices available for group activities and students have to share, consider assigning specific roles to group members. If everyone has a specific job to do (even though some may not get to actually touch the device), it’s much easier for students to focus on the learning goal.