3 Classroom Management Strategies to Try Today in 1 to 1 iPad Classrooms
Mobile devices have transformed the K-12 environment in incredible ways. Most of this transformation has been positive; access to resources, uniquely engaging learning opportunities, immediate feedback from assessments, etc., but sometimes the day to day challenges of students with personal devices can be daunting.
The reality is that we live in a world full of distractions and choices. Our learners are growing up in the "Netflix" generation where they can receive their choice of entertainment and engagement opportunities immediately. That will not change regardless of how much me encourage or discourage device usage in our classrooms. The way we really must begin to to think is: do we teach them how to utilize the offerings of internet connected devices to enrich their lives-and prepare them for adulthood and careers of the future, or do we want to close off that access, put our heads in the sand, and hope that someone else will teach them how to navigate the incredibly connected world that they will inherit? I like the idea of professional educators controlling the narrative, and leading the charge!
3. Get to know your device. Use the device to teach. Model proper usage.
The iPad is a very powerful teaching tool. Most adult educators utilize laptops or desktops most often in their learning environment because that has been the instructional technology tool for teachers for over a decade. However, just like for students, we want to model the best uses of the tool. For example, if you are delivering a formative assessment via a digital tool, don't put it up on the screen via your laptop, run it through your iPad and move around the room. If you are creating a lesson to teach about planets or frogs, create an Explain Everything video or Google Slideshow and share a copy of it via Schoology to your learners and move around the room as you explain the topic. If you are teaching kids about how to trace letters create a template on Notability, upload it to Google Drive and put a QR code up on the wall with the url from the template. The template can be customized to your goals because you used your iPad and built it to your specifications. Then, when you want your learners to use Notability, you'll know how it works. Use AirPlay to model how you would properly use Google to search for information on you iPad. The more you use your iPad properly, and responsibly, the more success you will have with your learners using the devices. You have to become familiar with the iPad, just like you became familiar with overhead projectors, film strip projectors, SMARTboards, whiteboards, etc. A great way to learn how to use the iPad better, ecspecially in the classroom is by completing the new iPad Teacher Certification Program!
2. Set clear expectations...collaboratively.
Rules for iPad usage should be personalized to the needs of the learners in your learning environment. Those rules need to be clearly communicated, and instituted consistently and fairly. One idea is to involve students in the rule making process. Even Kindergartners have a vast knowledge of what is safe/responsible behavior, and what isn't. Divide up your class into groups and have them create a digital product such as a PicCollage or an Animoto presentation that lists their views of what should be the rules and responsible uses of the devices, then take the results and combine them with your expectations (making sure to use some ideas from every group) and establish your final classroom rules for proper device usage. That voice will lead to more ownership and buy-in of the rules. Post the rules in multiple places, both digital and physical and create a shared expectation of following those rules. Only then should you utilize strategies such as guided access or parent restrictions to react to rule violations. Finally, have a system in place to inform your learners when it's appropriate to use the devices and for what. I am very partial to the Red, Yellow, and Green Light system. Post a stoplight on your whiteboard and place an arrow on what is okay and what isn't on the devices. RED means that they shouldn't be used, YELLOW means that they should be using the device but only on a specific app or program, and GREEN means that they can use multiple apps to complete the learning requirements. Notice that all of the lights have an underlying expectation of educational usage of the iPads. They are a learning tool first and foremost. Entertainment can wait until they are outside of school time.
Learners will use high powered devices for very low-level educational activities when they don't think of them as learning tools. The quickest way to have problems with student distractibility is to make their usage dangerous, rebellious, or risky for them. Embrace their proper usage, model good behavior, and use them often-striving as often as possible to make learning opportunities aligned with the 4 Cs and the AMR of SAMR. One of the easiest ways to gain traction is to provide students the opportunity to complete regular formative assessments. By regular I mean daily. The data gathered from Schoology quizzes, Go Formative enhanced PDFs, Nearpod presentations, Seesaw Portfolio entries, or unique assessment ideas gathered via the SAS (Snap, Annotate, Share) method with the camera roll are quick, easy wins that provide incredibly detailed data that can be used to inform instruction and to analyze in PLCs. Plus, the SAS method (thank you @ljcallies and @ESM_Erin for that name) will activate the 4Cs in learners and give you a quick idea if they understand the topic.
The regular usage of math apps like IXL is not enough. IXL is incredibly a powerful tool to help practice math skills. The purpose is just that; to improve math skills. It doesn't inspire creativity, transform learning, or help a child get organized. Think purpose first. Think about what parts of your curriculum that you want to shake up, and set your mind to considering how you might better use technology to meet instructional goals, and if you have access to an instructional coach (you do in EP), then please enlist their assistance!