Many of the teachers I work with are excited to integrate technology into their classroom, but have a difficult time getting off to the right start with it. In many ways, the technology piece can be more challenging in the classroom because students are so accustomed to having free reign with iPads, laptops, and smartphones. It may prove difficult to get students to stay on task with technology, and this difficulty often results in teachers using technology less and less. Here are a few tips for setting standards with technology from day one in the classroom.
- First, set clear rules. If you have a specific station in your classroom for iPads or computers, post the rules there. If the iPads or laptops are used at student desks, you may want to affix the rules to the device itself.
- Second, consider student contracts. Depending upon the age of your student, you can go over the rules for the device and provide a contract for each student to sign. A contract can include agreements to complete required work by using the device, providing appropriate care for the device, and following rules related to saving work.
- Third, use the built in accessibility tools on your device. Two real lifesavers on the iPad are Guided Access and Stop Playing. This way you do not have to spend as much time and energy reminding students to stay in the assigned app, freeing up time and energy to use the technology for instruction.
- Fourth, be specific! If you are using the iPad for an assignment, don’t put “iPad” on the schedule. Instead, put the specific app your students will be working in. If you’ve created a game in SuperSpeak, you can write “SuperSpeak” on the schedule, or even write the name of the specific game they should be playing.
- Fifth, provide choice. It is not necessarily essential that your student complete a task using the computer or iPad. If the use of technology is creating problematic behavior, you may want to provide a choice, such as: “You can film yourself reading your poem aloud or you can recite it for a group of three peers.” You can also provide choices within technology. For instance, you might say “You can record yourself reading your poem aloud or take pictures that illustrate each line of your poem.”
Just like anything else with teaching, it takes time to figure out how technology will best fit in your classroom. Try out these tips, but also talk to colleagues to hear what is working best for them. You’re bound to run into obstacles along the way, but ultimately introducing technology in effective ways can improve learning outcomes for your students.