Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Capture The Potential Of a 5-Computer Classroom

Classroom Management:  Best Practices
Preparing and Setting Expectations

  • Use whole-class presentations to demonstrate the scheduling process you have developed for computer use and what is to be accomplished when the students use the computer.  If possible, show the whole group a completed project to help them visualize your expectations.

  • Before assigning an activity, work with your students on the skills required to work collaboratively.  As you know, this is a process and must be taught and practiced.  Assign jobs and responsibilities.

  • Demonstrate to the entire class the software that will be used to complete computer projects.

  • Scaffolding - Begin with a simple project with a lot of structure and build to more complex projects with less structure.

  • Before assigning an activity try completing the assignment yourself, or even better, find a student to test the activity for you. This will let you know if the activity can be completed in the time you've allotted and if your directions are clear.

  • Check your web links the day before the assignment begins.

  • Post computer rules clearly visible at each computer and ensure that you have presented them during a whole-group presentation before students are allowed to work on the computers.

  • Make it a class rule that students can help one another but cannot ever touch another student's computer. That way, you can be sure that learning occurs even when students help one another.

  • Don't change desktop backgrounds.  This can cause confusion and impede completion of projects.

  • Always have a backup lesson in case the technology fails.

Classroom Management:  Best Practices

  • Time Management

    • Use templates for student products. Place the templates in the where you can easily access them like in a cloud storage service like Box.com or Dropbox.com. You might even use student-created templates. (Hint: Be sure you have shown the whole group how to access the templates.)

    • Plan your lessons and activities so that every day has specific jobs to be completed.

    • Draw a horizontal line on the board and write each students name under the line. When a student finishes their computer work, they put their name above the line and the next student moves to the computer.

    • In younger grade classrooms, put the students names on the board written on separate, colored paper strips. When a student finishes their work, have them remove their name strip and place in a designated area and the next student moves to the computer.

    • Divide the class into groups of five. One group works on the computers independently. For larger classes, you may need to pair students at one computer. Another group learns a new concept with the teacher while another group works on an off-computer anchor activity related to the concept being taught.

    • Post a schedule. Allow a set amount of time for each student at the computer station. Students are responsible for getting to the station at the appointed time.

    • Draw Popsicle sticks. Write each student's name on a Popsicle stick. Place the can of Popsicle sticks at the computer station. Draw a stick at the start of the day. The person whose name is on the stick will start the day at that station. That student will draw a stick to determine who goes next. For younger groups, color the Popsicle sticks.

    • Establish color-coded groups. Divide the class into five groups. Write the names of each group on a different sheet of colored paper, and post the papers by the computer station. Be sure the students know which color group they belong to. The students in each group will spend time at the computer on a given day (for example, the students in the red group will have computer time on Mondays).

    • Develop a method for timing student computer time for rotations.When working on lengthy technology projects, print out step-by-step instructions. Include some that say "Save your work; do not go any further until you help your neighbors reach this point." This helps less-proficient students solve problems more quickly, keeps the class at roughly the same point in the project, and fosters collaborative learning.

Managing Classroom Behavior and Disruptions

  • Create a binder for each computer of self-help instructions for computer projects, index cards with a ring, or create a classroom FAQ web page.  Use it for those questions you get often and teach the whole group how to locate and use them.

    • Split up the responsibility for creating these cards among your department or co-workers.  If everyone creates 2 or 3 FAQ cards on different common help topics, they may be copied to produce the completed FAQ resource for students.

    • If using an FAQ web page, be sure to spend time showing students how to access and use the page.

    • If using a binder, use dividers to split the FAQ's into related areas.

    • For younger grades, include picture support.

    • "Try three before me" - This method means the student tries three other methods before interrupting the teacher.  Those methods may be:

      • using the help or support feature on a software program;

      • the FAQ binder, cards, or web page; or

      • asking a neighbor who is also working on the computer.

    • Use colored paper cups to signal for help.  For example, a blue paper cup means all is well and a red paper cup means help is needed.  Students should place the red cup on the computer or desk and go back to work while waiting for the teacher to assist.  (Hint:  Go over this expectation with students as a whole group before allowing computer use.)

    • Place clear step-by-step instructions for the students on your classroom website or printed out and ensure one is at each computer workstation.

    • Develop a team of student experts who assist students with computer projects.  Consider rotating this job every six weeks.

    • Create a web page for the student tasks and write clear instructions and provide links to the necessary websites.  This cuts down on wasted time when students struggle to type website addresses and improves the chance of a positive outcome. (Hint:  Before answering questions, be sure that the students have checked the web page.  This teaches them to read carefully and builds independent learning skills.)

Evaluating the Computer Projects

  • Do a gallery walk. After a lesson using presentation software, allow students to walk around the room and view everyone the work of their peers. They might get some good ideas for the next lesson -- and finding something positive to say about other students' work teaches good manners.

    • Use Microsoft Word 2007 and insert comments into Word documents.  Comments are a great editing and motivating tool for kids. Use them to guide drafting and brainstorming and to help students peer edit and work collaboratively on group projects. Following these steps to insert comments:

      • Select the text or item that you want to comment on, or click at the end of the text.

      • On the Review tab, in the Comments group, click New Comment.

      • Type the comment text in the comment balloon or in the Reviewing Pane.

      • When a student moves the cursor over that word or phrase, the comment will pop up.

      • Note:  To respond to a comment, click its balloon, and then click New Comment in the Comments group. Type your response in the new comment balloon.

    • Grade the project in stages  instead of waiting until the end to offer evaluation.  (Ex:  outline, rough draft, final draft)

    • Give points/grade for productive lab time

    • Create or find an  evaluation rubric easily using Rubistar.

      • After clicking on the website, create an account.

      • Once you have an account, login and choose "Find Rubric" from the tabs at the top of the page.

      • Type keywords such as "computer project."

      • Click "Search."

      • Check the results for a rubric that will serve your goals with your class.

      • Click "Print Page" to make a copy of the rubric.

    • Plan for students who finish early by having a web page of educational resources the students may explore.

Project and Lesson Ideas with Student Computers
Learning Centers - Use the computer as an online learning center while other activities are going on in the room.

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