KEEP MOVING FORWARD!
The key to success with technology in the classroom is to be persistent.
Trying anything new can be frustrating but technology has a way to make you want to give up. Don’t! Anything worthwhile requires patience and commitment! Stick to it because you can do it!
If you find an app or get devices and try it without a trial, it won’t be fun. This is a common mistake made by most teachers. They get some nominal or quick training on a device or technology and then get excited about using it the classroom. This is good. It’s good to be excited and to want to try new things in our classrooms, but you have to crawl before you can walk.
Find a small group of students in your class, and try what you want accomplish with that small group. Let them know you’re trying something new and you need help and want their feedback. This way if something goes wrong, it’s easier to tackle and it’s not so difficult to manage.
There is nothing more intimidating than trying something with a large group of students and it not work the way you expected. It frustrates the teacher AND the students. It also shakes a teacher's confidence in the tools and causes them to avoid using them in the future.
On a district level, before you buy a lot of devices or software buy just a few and try them out with pilot groups. Or get some trial software or a small number of licenses and try them with the teachers and schools in your district who are forward thinking with technology. It’s always good to start with a trial and understand how it will work in your buildings and classrooms.
The sage on the stage approach doesn’t work with technology.
If you want to have devices in the classroom, you have to be able to see how the students are using those devices. Move, move, move. Be mobile in your classroom. Be active. This keeps kids honest and on track (for the most part).
Take control of your classroom by controlling how and when students use devices. If you’re in a part of your class or lesson that doesn’t require technology then make sure that devices are off and under their seat or in the cart. If they don’t have the devices, they don’t have the temptation. Then when those devices are up - move, move, move.
You can also talk to your IT staff about tools like LAN School that allow you to see every screen in your class right from your computer screen. This is another great way to police student activity on the internet and on those devices.
And the biggest tip I can give you for using devices in the classroom is to require evidence of the work. If you give students a project over a span of time, say a week or two weeks, then require evidence every day. Kids are not unlike us. They will procrastinate and not do the work in class. They will do it all the night before and turn it in. That means they have two weeks to play around on the internet and distract kids in your room.
Require something from them daily. Require evidence or progression. This helps keeps students honest with their devices.
Hopefully these few tips help. I would love to talk to you about more in depth about things you can do in your district or classroom to get the most out of the technology you’re using. Feel free to reach out to me!