I was talking recently with a couple of colleagues. We were discussing classroom practice, including the importance of setting up routines etc in a new classroom.
The question was posed (though more eloquently stated) of how do you actually integrate tech routines into the classroom. particularly when students are used to something quite different than what you want to do.
This caused me to look back over how I establish routines surrounding tech in the classroom (or rather don’t at times).
One common thread in my practice that has begun to emerge is that I begin students on basic consumer activities: still deliberately chosen, but consumption none the less. This element for me is easy to introduce: it simply involves putting the devices in as a rotation activity.
As I reflect further I notice the following threads.
- Initial introduction: How we treat [Insert device here].
- This is ongoing but involves teaching kids how to put the charger into a device, and building the habit of NOT LEAVING DEVICES ON THE FLOOR TO BE STEPPED ON (something that does annoy me slightly).
- First few weeks: free for all. You choose the app you are on, but it has to be a [insert subject area here]. This seems to build a foundation of trust.
- At this point I generally check on children’s app selections, including random spot checks and looking at the end of the day to see what they have actually been on. I also make great use of the ‘They’re on something they shouldn’t be…” network that children readily have at this age group.
- Next few weeks: Students to be on a specific app.
- I often let them have the music on (because I recognise it) at a low volume: it makes it easier to catch them out when they try mucking around. I make use of random spot checks: “Show me your screen [insert name here].” It’s pretty easy to tell who was doing the right thing in a ten second classroom sweep.
- Around this time I begin introducing complex creation apps (generally in my reading programme as after activities) to some of the more capable students. I begin introducing some of the simpler ones to all other students.
- This is brought in slowly at a pace manageable to me and my present student group
- As the year moves on I begin to have enough troubleshooter students that can help out with tech issues, to start using tech the way I want to use it.
When I look back, sometimes I never get a class to where I want them to be with genuine blended-learning. Sometimes they will excel, and sometimes there is simply a mix.
At the end of the day my teaching is not dictated by the technology (usually – let’s be honest), but by the learning needs of the students. If it will support them in their learning I am 100% for it, but I am very wary of using tech for tech’s sake.
Needless to say I am far behind the 8ball in some ways, but I am getting there.
Whenever it comes to evaluating your tech use, begin with the question: If an EMP was dropped over my country, could I still teach? If the answer is yes, I wholly recommend doing an evaluation of how you are using tech. If the answer is maybe or I don’t know, or no, evaluate your teaching practice and the pedagogy behind your tech before you even start looking in the tech direction.
If there isn’t pedagogy behind your tech choices then is can you really be effectively using of a learning tool?