3a. Model effective classroom management & collaboration

Reflection

Like any tool, technology can be used for a variety of purposes–some more productive than others. The challenge when equipping students for digital success in the classroom is to help them understand that there are times to play and times to work. Adolescents aren’t always the best at self-monitoring, so coaches and teachers need to be equipped with clear rules for technology use.

Expectations are especially important when students are using technology to collaborate. While students would never dream of reaching over their desk and erasing a partner’s paper, they don’t always make this connection to digital collaboration. As I explore in my first piece of evidence, being deliberate about planning for digital collaboration can prevent these type of issues.

My other evidence for this substandard is a reflection on how I established classroom norms for technology use early in the deployment of a 1:1 Chromebook program. I’ve included a contract I used with great success.

Evidence: Planning for Student Success with Digital Collaboration

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Even before the availability of technology in the classroom, group projects have gotten a bad rap. Students worry that the work will not be shared equally or that other’s actions (or inaction) will impact their grade. Teachers likewise want to ensure that collaboration results in all students accessing the content.

The benefit of using technology to facilitate collaboration is that students’ actions can be easily quantified and qualified. Features like the Revision History within Google Apps will reveal each student’s contribution to an assignment in color-coded format. Posts on a discussion board or LMS platform also make a student’s level of participation apparent. However, what can teachers do to eliminate the need for this “got you” approach and instead be proactive about ensuring the success of digital collaboration?

Carefully and intentionally structuring courses and projects is one way that teachers can ensure students have meaningful digital collaborations. Just as it is essential to teach students rules and routines at the beginning of the school year, it is also essential to explicitly plan for and teach collaboration. The time investment made up front will pay off when learners are able to fairly and successfully participate in the online learning environment.

In my 2018 blog post (linked below) I explore ways to proactively teach collaboration. One of the most valuable takeaways for my own classroom use has been a list of questions that students can use to establish group norms.

Evidence: Technology Contract

During the first years of my former school’s 1:1 device roll-out, I had many opportunities to learn what worked and didn’t work in terms of classroom management when using technology. The biggest issue I experienced was students who were using technology for purposes other than the day’s assigned task. Whether bored and intentionally looking for distractions or having good intentions in believing in their own capacity for multitasking, my middle school students had trouble using technology only for the intended purpose.

The school utilized Go Guardian, a monitoring program for Chromebooks which I found to be effective and easy to use. The three features I utilized most were the ability to see all students’ screens in real-time, the ability to view students’ history, and the ability to control the screen students see. Compared to other monitoring tools, Go Guardian was consistently reliable and free of odd glitches.

In order to avoid simply being reactive, I also drafted a contract for the class-set of Chromebooks my students used. Other than my concerns about students’ potential to waste precious class time, it was imperative that students knew expectations for treatment and handling of the device itself since it was shared by multiple students throughout the day. One student’s carelessness in dropping the device would result in multiple students losing the ability to use the device.

Below is a copy of the contract I used in my classroom. This contract was separate from the school-wide Acceptable Use Policy which students and parents also had to sign. I required the contract to be signed and returned before students were assigned a Chromebook number for daily checkout. I ensured that my department head and principal were on board with the contract and its content before sending them home. Utilizing the contract greatly reduced the number of incidents I had experienced in prior years.

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