Tag Archives: Classroom Management

How to Empower Your Faculty in a Mobile Learning Environment

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Introducing a new technology into the learning environment can be an intimidating experience, even for seasoned educators. However, with careful and intentional planning on the part of administrators and educational leaders, they can become powerful tools as part of your curriculum and pedagogy. Here are eight ways that administrators and school leaders can empower their faculty to successfully adopt technology in their curriculum.

Is the Technology on Your School or in your School

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Greg Kulowiec, in his talks on iPads and other mobile devices, is fond of asking “Is your technology on your classroom or in your classroom?” Using technology because it’s there, or because you’re “expected to” can be a path to failure. Instead, when choosing a tool, be it a device, a software platform, or another instrument, consider your educational philosophy, objectives, and vision. In his article, 5 Critical Mistakes Schools Make with iPads (and how to Correct Them), Tom Daccord argues that you should explore and examine your curriculum, learning objectives and goals, and pedagogical vision. Perhaps you are in the process of adopting technology at your school in the form of a 1:1 or BYOD; or expanding an existing program, however, don’t just throw technology at existing educational problems. Instead, make meaningful choices.

Reexamine Learning Spaces

A traditional learning environment, with students in rows looking at the teacher, is not an environment conducive for learning with mobile technology. Mobile devices are just that, mobile! Look at restructuring learning spaces to be more conducive to your learning environment. This could include having students work in pods or even taking their classroom outside of the physical building. Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs argues that forward thinking schools are fully redesigning the concept of what a school should “look like.” If you want to see some amazing, innovative architecture look at the cutting edge designs of Fielding Nair International. The Hilbrook School has some great tips on this in “5 Steps Towards an Intentional Learning Space.”

Bring Faculty into the Discussion

All of us in education are advocating for the children. We want our learners to be successful. Teachers are also stakeholders in this experience, in fact, likely the most passionate ones! By bringing them into the decision making and implementation process, you foster their investment, promote buy-in, and can readily address their needs and concerns. Teachers are your greatest allies, use them!

Technology Must be Education Focused

The transition of technology in the classroom has been a rapid one. Many schools are still scrambling to catch up. Because of this, technology often still falls under “Operations” (akin to utilities, car-pools, maintenance, etc) as opposed to “Education.” If you are introducing technology into your curriculum, then youmust ensure that your technology has an educational focus. To this end, it’s important that Educators and Educational Administrators be directly involved in the decision making process for hardware, software, filtering, and more, just as they decide other school supplies like notebooks, textbooks, and pencils.

Professional Development and Mobile Learning

The most important and powerful thing you can do to empower your faculty is to provide them with meaningful, relevant, and dedicated professional development time. In a time when schools are experiencing budget shortfalls, Professional Development budgets are often the first ones slashed. However, remember that when introducing a device into the classroom, even your veteran teachers are back to year one. Their curricular thinking, classroom management, and lesson planning are being entirely restructured and shifted. Professional Development should be tiered and scaled appropriately; do not put AP Science Teachers in curricular training with elementary school science; do not train all teachers with an “introduction to email” course. Instead, professional development should be leveled (Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced), as well as focused on appropriate grades and subject matter. I also encourage you to not add training to already busy schedules. This should be dedicated training time in lieu of other experiences. In addition to in-house opportunities, arrange for funding and provide time off for teachers to attend conferences, participate in webinars, and take classes. While it is great to organize internal opportunities for professional development, look to bring in outside instructors such that you can tap their expertise and let teachers hear from a different voice.

Tap Peer Teachers

One of the best resources that you have are your teachers. Tap your power users and those who have greater social influence in your schools. Even if you make it clear that approaching your Tech Director or Department Chair for assistance is not a “penalty,” it can still be in the back of their minds. A peer is less intimidating. Additionally, they know that their fellow teachers have the same students and work conditions as they do. Their advice and ideas often carry more weight than a Tech Director with decades of experience.

Don’t Lock it Down!

If you allow your teachers to be their best professional selves, to personalize their tools and devices, you give them ownership of the technology in their classrooms. If you send the message: “This item is fragile and dangerous. You can’t be trusted to use it properly, install software, or explore,” then you can’t expect them actively want to use and explore with these devices. I am not saying it should be the wild, wild west. However, set a reasonable use policy and trust your faculty to be their professional selves. By managing their own devices they can explore new tools, become more comfortable, and therefore feel empowered to use it in their classrooms.

Allow Time for Learning and Growth

New devices come with a learning curve. While you can minimize it, there will be some growing pains. Do not make technology adoption a high stakes game for your faculty. Allow for mistakes and failure. One of my favorite podcasts,Freaknomics, posted an episodea few months ago entitled “Failure is Your Friend.” By failing, you take risks, learn, and advance. So don’t just tolerate failure, celebrate it! If you want an innovative environment, then you must celebrate the process of innovation, which includes failure.

Building and fostering an environment where your faculty feels empowered to use mobile devices requires an intentional process on the side of administrators. Respect them as stakeholders, support them professionally, and allow them to explore and take risks. You will be amazed at what they can do!

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Three Tips for Managing a Classroom with Devices

This is reblogged from my post at Daily Genius.

When adopting technology in the classroom, one of the key concerns for educators is classroom management. Often, they believe that with devices come three options:

  1. Ban devices outright (Good luck!)
  2. Lock them down
  3. Open your classroom up to the Wild Wild West!

However, I have found that many traditional methods of classroom management readily translate to a technologically rich curriculum – with some modification.

RESTRUCTURE THE CLASSROOM

Most of us teach in “traditionally” structured classrooms – the teacher is in front and the students sit in rows looking at the teacher. However, this is a poor setup when students are using devices. With screens faced away, it’s easy for students to give into temptation and get off task. After all, the teacher can’t see what they are doing.

Moving away from a teacher-centered learning space and building on a student-centered learning environment is an important shift that often involves switching up your physical classroom setup. Having students work in pods or other creative, flexible learning spaces helps you to keep a more effective eye on the class. Don Orth shows how to Hack Your Classroom in this video about the Hillbrook School’s iLab.

At Eanes ISD in Texas, Carl Hooker addresses the power of a flexible learning environment in his post “The Obituary of the Student Desk.” After deploying devices, he quickly realized that the physical learning space needed to adapt to the new technologies.

A more student-centered learning space then lends itself to a more student-centric teaching style. Instead of lecturing at the front of the room, move around the classroom while students collaborate and create. If you notice that students quickly close a window or switch an app, then you can have a quick conversation with that child. Matt Scully from Providence Day School also suggests that you keep an eye out for “iPad eyes;” that look students get when they are off track or zone out and need to be brought back into the lesson/activity. These behaviors and corrections are similar to what teachers have done throughout time when students are passing notes, whispering, or doing other work during class.

DEVICE CUES

Cell phones are a popular tool in the classroom today. At the same time, they are used for 21st century note passing and can become a concern for academic dishonesty. In my classes, if we are using cell phones for quick reference look ups or a buzzer activity (using Socrative or Kahoot!), my policy is that cell phones stay in front of the student, face down on the desk, unless they are actively being used. Students are then less likely to give into that Pavlovian response to the text message buzz when the device is in front of them. Also, having to reach for it ensures that you, the teacher, notice their actions and confirm that they are on task.

Sometimes, it’s not appropriate to use a device at all! During quizzes and tests, I collect cell phones and put them in a basket. I don’t want good judgment to give way to temptation. Additionally, we sometimes put tech away because it has become a distraction or even an deterrent to the learning activity. I believe that class culture is the most important aspect of the school community. If technology is interfering with our community, it goes away. Since I know my classes and their unique dynamic, I can adapt based on the circumstances.

How you approach technology use in your classroom should not be “one-size fits all.” You know your classes, their personalities, and your culture. Shift your policies on a case-by-case basis; choose a solution that works for your individual class and activity

CHANGE YOUR VIEW OF DEVICES

If you want to effectively employ laptops, tablets, and smartphones, you must shift your view of the device. We often see these tools as extensions of long established technology: they are word processors and communication tools. However, today’s devices are far more robust and significant! View them as portable creation, consumption, collaboration, reference, and organizational tools.

Too often, we see these tools only as consumption devices – nothing more than glorified eReaders or Internet research tools. However, they can also be used as powerful creation devices that allow students to demonstrate their understanding in a variety of different ways. Instead of having students do traditional tasks (that are limited in their ability to collaborate and share) such as type out a response or make PowerPoints to give in-class presentations, a student can capture video and images on their phone, edit them using an app like iMovie or MovieMaker, and share it to the world via YouTube.

I love to use phones in my class as a buzzer system for bell ringers or review games. Using PollEverywhere, I can create moderated back channels or use flexible questions to check for understanding. Kahoot! is another popular platform because students compete against one another for points, and if they exit the app (to check a text message for example), they are locked out.

By shifting your learning space, adjusting your observation methods, and tweaking your lessons, you will not only limit distractions created by devices, but also build a more robust, 21st century classroom. The great thing about the internet is that it can help you with building these type of lessons. For more ideas, check out the resources on Edutopia and EdTechTeacher.

Looking to learn more integrating technology into your classrooms? Join EdTechTeacher this February 9-11 for their 2nd annual iPad Summit in San Diego. They will also offer Summer Workshops in cities across the US beginning in June.

5 Tips for Classroom Management with Mobile Devices

This is reblogged from the original post at Edudemic and is the premise of presentation I will be leading in November at Miami Device.

When adopting technology in the classroom, one of the key concerns for teachers and administrators is classroom management. I am often asked if there is a way to “lock down an iPad screen” or “ensure students cannot go to inappropriate websites” (e.g. Social Media). In other words, how do we keep students on task and ensure that they are not distracted by the novelty of gadgets or communicating with friends via texting or social media? Often, teachers will take up devices (such as mobile phones) to avoid the issue of students texting or checking Facebook on their phones (eliminating access to a powerful, pocket computer in the process).

Classroom management is a challenging skill which I consistently strive to improve on a regular basis. Often, people believe that managing a classroom that has employed technology requires a whole new approach and skill set. However, I have found that many traditional methods of classroom management readily translate to the technological rich schoolroom – with some slight modification.

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Establish Ground Expectations

Just as I start out the school year with “Class Rules” that we make and agree to as a group, we also establish expectations for when we use technology. The general topics are: civility, staying on task, and adhering to the honor code. In reality, this is no different than I would expect in a non-technology classroom. The one additional rule that I add, as it pertains to smart phones, is that when not in use they are to sit, face-down on the desk in front of them. I have found that having students “put them away” can create temptation and they are more likely to “sneak a peek” at them from a pocket or a sleeve. However, if the phone is always face-down on the desk in front of them, they are less prone to “sneak a peek” at a text from a friend or check their Facebook status and are more likely to stay on task when employing it during my lessons.

In addition to establishing expectations, you may also want to ensure that you lay out consequences for violating your established policies – this can be loss of technology privilege, a note home, confiscation of the device, meeting with the Dean, or whatever else you decide is necessary in order to ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them and the natural consequences of violating them.

Let them “Get the Giggles Out”

If I’m introducing a new tool, app, piece of software, or device, I often give students some time to “get the giggles out.” For example, if we are using Today’s Meet to do a Backchannel, they have 2 minutes to say hello to all of their friends. If we are using iMovie on iPad, I will encourage them to make one silly video before they delve into the assignment. Some of the problems of using new technology arise from the novelty of the device. Let students get past the initial excitement so that they can be more focused when they delve into their work.

Engagement is Key

I will be the first to argue that as educators we are not entertainers. Lessons should be engaging and require students to stay on task at a solid pace in order to complete them. Ensure that the assignment requires students to stay engaged; this can include playing to their passions, setting firm due dates for assessment, and scaling the assignment for students who finish faster. Students become bored when they are not challenged or find their assignments meaningful and engaging.

One of my favorite uses of cell phones during the class, for example, is to engage in bell-ringer exercises (activities students must complete at the start of class) or exit-tickets (something they must complete before leaving). Using an app like Socrative, students can use their mobile phone to complete a brief activity that is then assessed. Not only does it keep them focused on a task, but it provides meaningful assessment for the teachers to gauge student progress.

Get the two Eyes, two Feet App

Carl Hooker, an educational technology innovator on the cutting edge, coined the phrase “the two eyes, two feet app” in response to faculty and administration concerned about inappropriate use on cell phones, tablets, and/or laptops. The biggest shift for educators when technology enters the classroom is that you cannot be static or stable. The best way to ensure that students stay on task is to walk around the room, look at the work they are doing, discuss and engage with them about their progress. The more active and mobile you are in the classroom, the easier it is to ensure that your students are on working on what they should be. If you notice that children are quickly closing browsers windows when you come near or “double tapping” the home button on their iPad (a sign that they’re switching apps) then take the time to investigate what the student is doing and have a discussion with them if necessary.

Know When to put the Technology Away

Even though I am the Director of Educational Technology, my classes are never “all tech all the time.” Sometimes, it is not appropriate to use technology for an assignment or activity in class. In those cases, the technology goes away – in fact, I’ve been known to collect cell phones during certain activities (like mid-term exams or quizzes). Use the appropriate tool for the appropriate context – and sometimes that is a pencil and paper. Beth Holland and Shawn McCusker wrote a great article on this topic entitled “When to Put the Tech Away in a 1:1 Classroom.” As Shawn argues, when technologies interfere with class culture, it’s time to put the tech away!

Overall, classroom management is an organic and individual process. You must find what works for you and with what students. I will admit that I have classes that are easier to keep on task than others, students that are more readily distracted than their peers, and activities that just do not succeed as I hoped. At the end of your activity, pause, assess, and adjust as needed!

Jennifer Carey will be presenting a workshop on “Mobile Devices and Classroom Management” this November at Miami Device. Space is limited and filling up fast! 

The iPad, Apple TV, and Classroom Management

©Apple

Recently, my administration acquired for me an Apple TV to use in conjunction with our iPad 1:1 Faculty initiative (See my article: “Faculty 1:1 iPad 3 Program“). It was a pilot experiment to see if it would be a useful tool in the classroom and possibly worth some future investment. Of course, I knew it would be worth it! I am now cable free when I use my MacBook and my iPad! I can roam freely, project my whole screen quickly, and am fancy free!

However, there was an interesting side-effect that I didn’t anticipate – better classroom management. While giving lectures with a slide show, demonstrating a technique on the computer, or just taking roll I am tethered to machine. Or rather, I was tethered to my machine. Now, I can walk around the room during a lecture, demonstration, or daily classroom tasks.

So, while I’m talking if it looks like a student is distracted, I can quietly make my way to that side of the room. If students appear chatty in the corner, I can now stand in the corner. It is quiet, unobtrusive, and best of all, does not interrupt my presentation. I find myself saying less “Student X & Y, please stop talking and focus.” Instead, I am simply a presence throughout the room. This is especially helpful in my larger, more dense classes. It’s well worth the $99 investment!