Posted in Learning Environment

iPads and Classroom Management

Now that our school year is in full-swing, it’s a good time to reflect on how you’re managing all those devices in your classroom. No matter what type of device you’re using or seeing in your classroom, it’s good to regularly reinforce your expectations regarding technology:

  • Make your expectations clear
  • Use consistent key phrases and non-verbal signals that signal the end of an activity or a transition between activities (“Apples up,” “Screens down”)
  • Have a consistent routine for your students and their devices. Repeat and reinforce this routine each class period.
  • Make tech behavior clear with every assignment
  • Apply consequences as appropriate

Ideas for routines with devices:

  • Devices stay screens down on top of table until it’s an appropriate time for use. You see where the devices are and students can’t hide what they’re doing with them.
  • Devices stay in their backpacks until it’s time to use them.
  • Only use the iPad for class assignments and not cell phones. We provide students iPads that are restricted and don’t have social media opportunities. Research proves that cell phones are the larger distraction, for students and staff.

As you go through your day, watch for the signs of distraction:

  • iPad is moving around
  • iPad is on lap
  • iPad is leaned toward the student
  • Thumbs or fingers are moving feverishly when there are no notes to be taken
  • Frequent double clicks or 4-finger swipes when you walk by
  • Students doing work on phones instead of iPads.

Redirect as you notice distraction:

  • Use proximity
  • Circulate around the room
  • Remind students of expectations
  • Change seating arrangements
  • Be consistent with your expectations and reactions
  • Speak with the student after class
  • Partner with parents

Don’t become outraged when students are initially distracted. Redirect and give them the opportunity to reconnect with you and the task at hand.

Remember, everyday is a new day to start, practice and reinforce expectations

Teaching in a 1:1 environment will involve all of these aspects of teaching. And while you can get by having students use technology simply as a substitute for what they would otherwise do on paper (read, write, work on math problems), there is a much larger world of discovery and creativity now at their fingertips. – iPad Bootcamp for Teachers

Posted in Technology, World Languages

Back to School = Back to Tech

The next school year is about to begin. While sad to say good-bye to the summer vacation, it’s still exciting to see what the new year will bring.  Before our students walk through our classroom doors, there’s a good deal of front-end preparation and planning that we all do. Struggling with technology is not something that anyone looks forward to at this time.  Here are some tips to avoid some of those struggles and help us along the way:

  1. At the beginning of the year don’t try every tech tool that you might have read about or someone told you about. Pick something you feel confident that you’ll use. When you and your students are comfortable using that tool, then try adding something else.
  2. Practice using any tech tool before you plan on using it in the classroom. You never know what problems you might encounter: blocked sites, incompatible software, login issues, tool too complicated for age-level of the user.
  3. Remember that not only are you teaching your respective target language, but you need to teach your students how to use the tool as well.
    1. When working with a new tool that you plan on using for performance assessments, introduce that tool in a smaller assignment to give them experience.
    2. We want the language to be the product, not the technology. We don’t want them to fail because of complications with that technology.
  4. Integrate technology in your lesson planning process, not as an occasional activity.
  5. Some students don’t have the same access to the internet and other tech tools at home. Make sure that there is enough class time available to get these types of assignments done at school.
  6. Technology should always remain a tool and support instruction, not a toy and not the focus of instruction itself. Before using one, ask yourself how this helps your students meet your learning targets.
  7. Always have a backup plan. Technology can sometimes fail. Having a backup plan can save the day and prevent loss of instructional time.
  8. Have a web site. Use what your school provides or try out Google (free). Use this as a place to keep parents informed: Standards, learning targets, unit overviews, important dates, your schedule, links to other sites, policies, class newsletter, etc.
  9. Develop a personal learning network (PLN). Use twitter! There are so many teachers using twitter as professional development and collaboration tool. You’ll be able to learn, ask questions, and share with fellow educators all over the world! Search for the following world language related hashtags: #flteach, #langchat. There are more, but these can get you started. Visit https://twitter.com.
  10. Find educational blogs to follow. These can provide ideas and inspiration. Here are some ideas:
    1. http://mmeduckworth.blogspot.com
    2. http://langwitches.org/blog/
    3. http://zachary-jones.com/zambombazo/
    4. http://community.actfl.org/ACTFL/Blogs/ViewBlogs/
    5. http://teacherbootcamp.edublogs.org/
    6. http://marisaconstantinides.edublogs.org/
    7. http://languagesresources.wordpress.com/
    8. http://deutschlich.wordpress.com/

Why might you put this time and effort into something that’s not the target language or culture itself? Because this is where our students are today. This is the culture in which they are growing up. This is their language and we need to speak it as well. Not only will we identify more with our students, but we can benefit from the world of technology. World language teachers are often isolated (singletons) in their respective buildings. Technology can bring us connections like never before. Through these connections we can become stronger, better informed, and never really alone.