In this series I would like to reflect on the use of Chromebooks in a 1 to 1 setting for this past school year. Most references in this topic are from science class, but I believe they can be applied to any classroom.
As I look back, there are clearly some winners and losers in terms of education quality in my classroom. Overall the winners include
It was much easier to get materials out to students, less paper shuffling and a very efficient class set up. Watching video clips for instruction was a breeze. Simply plug in head phones and click a link and everyone was where you needed them. Possibly my favorite aspect was the ability to group and reteach struggling students. This was largely due to recording classroom instruction, posting all assignments in Google Classroom and having materials quickly available for students. This allowed me to accelerate those who mastered content by sending them to the next module. Reflecting on the low points there were also some losers. The two biggest I would suggest are. . .
Kids will be off task on a digital device, no matter how good they are. Adults will do the same. So one of the biggest issues I see is how easy it is to play a game, look up a YouTube video or generally not get your work done. In the pre-one to one days it was easy to visually monitor who was on and off task. You looked around the room and if a kid wasn’t working, your redirected them. But in a one to one classroom, its very difficult to notice. Every student is looking at a computer screen but not every student is working on task. There is a myriad of little pop up games that kids can use online, so its important to physically place students where you can easily monitor their work. The other major issue I see if the loss of physical writing skills. 1 to 1 classrooms make this too easy to gloss over. Everything is digital, kids frequently copy and paste and the ability to construct meaningful thoughts on paper is increasingly difficult. I don’t believe writing on a computer and composing on paper are the same skills, this would be a great education research topic.
As I look at the future and how I will manage my classroom this year, I will be creating structured time to write and think that don’t involve Chromebooks. This involves the use of simple exit tickets, that students write and reflect on their classroom experience. I will still maintain a physical notebook, I believe the idea to collect thoughts and create on paper is a fundamental skill that every student needs.
I would like to experiment with instructional delivery with a 2 to 1 model. Having two kids to one computer. With the idea that they are using the device to learn and create together, reducing the one on one off task time.
In closing, the idea that Chromebooks (laptops, iPad you name) are magical in an educational settings is not necessarily the case. They are an educational tool like anything else we use in the classroom. A thoughtful implementation is necessary. Additionally, kids need to understand that there are basic timelines and expectations to get work done. With this in mind I look forward to teaching these behaviors prior to the start of regular instruction. My lessons will look like this:
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