Dean Groom’s Tips on Classroom Device Acclimation

Dean Groom has a great blog post titled “23 Things about Classroom Laptops.” I reposted some of them below with some notes about how they apply to what we are doing in White Oak ISD.

    • Work avoidance just went digital
      • Laptops present a wealth of opportunities for the strategic learner to avoid work: low battery; lost wifi signal; ‘lost’ files etc., a range of ways to rebel.
    • File Sharing
      • Sharing is a behavioral status currency. A laptop is an excellent way for students to share video and music they have downloaded illegally. Students will share work via flash drives, hard drives as well as emailing it to each other. (WOISD Note: They cannot save anything on the device, so it would have to be on their cloud storage or their USB drives.)
    • Search
      • Learn about ways for students to ‘search’ beyond Google, and create lessons around how information is shaped to appeal to a diverse range of learners. Googling will be incredibly tedious for students. If you don’t know how to use visual search engines, custom Google search yet … now would be a good time to find out.
    • Sage on the stage
      • If you stand at the front of the class, you’ll see the back of laptops, so movement around the class is important. Sitting students in rows doesn’t work like it used to. The best place for the teacher to be is online and mobile – learn to multi-task and be prepared to access and work with students. Expect emails from students after school hours.
    • Learn to use ‘mass’ collaboration tools and create learning spaces
      • Find ways in which one or two students can ‘share’ work with many. Create online spaces where students can use ‘friend-networks’. Do not expect or ask students to work alone as they used to – that is the last thing they find motivating. Teachers will not be provided with these spaces – they need to be created in context with the needs and preferences of their learners. Example: Have a student be the math scribe for the day’s lesson/activities. The notes are posted to the class blog where the other students add to it via the comment section. (WOISD Note: Staff and students have blogs, Moodle, Edmodo, Google Docs, and pretty much any other resource you might need. You should not find a shortage of options.)
    • Digital Blooms (WOISD Note: This is an excellent resource! Moving students to the Create level helps with depth and complexity.)
    • Don’t be boring!
      • Using a laptop to type in answers to textbook questions, print them out and hand it in is absolutely facile. Your textbook is NOT compatible with student motivation towards technology. Boring computer activities lead to work avoidance strategies and self-interest use of the internet. (WOISD Note: Don’t just automate. Innovate. Automation helps with efficiency in normally mundane, needed processes. Use it wisely and sparingly. Innovation is where the students become engaged.)
    • Learn about Inquiry, Problem and Project Based Approaches to learning
      • Social construct approaches work well with technology – but take MORE preparation. (WOISD Note: If you have any interest in receiving very high quality PBL training, contact Mrs. Neely or Mr. Floyd. There are opportunities available.)
    • Music soothes restless minds – or distracts them
      • Consider allowing the use of headphones for study (yes they like music), but also consider how great they are if you are giving them a YouTube to watch or a Podcast. Encourage them to remix, recreate and construct new audio – to put intrinsic interest to positive use. (WOISD Note: The easiest thing is to have kids bring earbuds to class. They can be purchased for a dollar or less.)
    • The whiteboard is no longer the hub of activity – unless you put it online.
      • The board is not the place to ‘look’. Consider how it can be used to work with ‘small groups’ to workshop ideas – and use the laptops as a student management tool to keep them busy and focused on work – not you or the board. (WOISD Note: Moodle and Edmodo are great tools for this.)
    • Get a school mentor!
      • Or enroll teachers on professional learning plan (WOISD Note: Start your own local professional learning network meeting at lunch or in a virtual space asynchronously. All staff have TCEA memberships to access free lunch and learn webinars on a variety of topics. Buck Institute also offers free Wednesday Webinars on PBL based topics. Both TEA and Buck Institute record their online sessions and will provide links for you to view them at your leisure.)
    • Empower and enlist your Library
      • Librarians are teachers with an additional skill – enlist them in your classroom as a team-teacher. Don’t ask them to find online resources for you – that’s lazy, ask them to teach you how to do it, or teach your students. (WOISD Note: With wireless throughout the campus, keep in mind the library and nature center are additional learning spaces to be utilized.)
    • Teachers will use the same strategies as students when the going gets tough
      • I don’t know how, I don’t like to, No one has told me … expect that some teachers really do believe that schools never change and will refuse to change their teaching approaches. You won’t get 100% buy in – even if they nod politely in staff meetings – asking for help is challenging for some – and age is no indication of belief and attitude. (WOISD Note: We are a team. We support each other at all times. Scott is available during the planning process, actual implementation, or reflection time to assist however he can.)
    • Get student advisory / maintainers.
      • Students make great tech experts. Enlist them in general maintenance of laptops – don’t assume students know how to care for laptops! Develop a maintenance and support program and allow students to run it. (WOISD Note: This is a great consideration for later in the year or to being next year with.)
    • Plan for ‘wi-fi’ down times or server failures for websites.
      • Do not make the device the center of the activity – just in the same way we never made the ‘calculator’ the center. A lesson should not fail or win – because of the device or lack of. (WOISD Note: Amen.)
    • If you don’t have a learning management system – get one.  Get Moodle. You can also use Edmodo. Managing digital learning is thought, not labor intensive. (WOISD Note: WOMS has its own Moodle. Consider creating a Moodle course for your students. This will automate the scoring of your already multiple choice, fill in the blank, and matching assessments.)

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