Every teacher should ask themselves this question? The reality is technology management will look different teacher to teacher, between grade levels and most certainly subject to subject. Thats OK! Being proactive in August makes the rest of the school year much better.
Let me begin by stating I teach 6th grade science, focusing on physic and matter. Science is a perfect fit to use technology daily, if I so choose. Many times we have lengthy discussions about what science occurs outside of school, which I love. Not all subjects have that same daily use. Good technology is that which motivates and reinforces learning in the classroom. So if it works for the teacher, its good technology for him or her.
When I started in the classroom back in the mid 90’s, each 2nd grade teacher had to do everything exactly the same. There is still a bit of that mindset sprinkled in many schools. It's always great to share the learning from other educators, but make no mistake, each teacher must do what works in their classroom.
I begin each day by using the “Daily Alarm” chrome extension playing music for the start of class bell. The music goes for one minute and when it end, devices need to be closed. I really want their eye contact when I’m doing direct instruction. Students know to look at the screen to see what is on today’s agenda while I’m taking attendance.
As we start class I review upcoming events and today’s activities, with devices closed. After completing a mini discussion, they can open their device or agenda to end/review calendar items and I suggest making a plan for their workload. Now we are moving forward with our digital or traditional lesson, using devices to support our learning.
The technology management tool that has worked really well, at least in 6th grade, is what I call the Community Firewall. The internet is our internet, with many amazing things to learn from it. Yes, there are icky things too. I encourage students to look out for each other to share the learning as well as monitor if someone isn’t using their device appropriately. Some students will call out their buddy on the spot, while others will talk to me in private after class.
Of course I need an attention getter phrase or sound. I have tried many different things, but what has been most effective has be simply saying “eyes”. Which means I need their eyes for the next part of my lesson. I remind the class that if they can refrain from sneaking screen views, leave their device open. Otherwise close it until that portion of direct instruction is over. Something as simple as saying “eyes” is an effective way to gather the class attention most of the time.
There will always be students struggling with their device management. Should one or two students dictate the classroom use of technology? I don’t think so. By having a classroom management system, that reinforces behavior rules that will help my room better achieve and own their learning. Oh yes, it will provide me with some sanity too.