Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Logistics and agency- an important model of classroom organization

When a classroom teacher first gains access to a cart of Chromebooks (or laptops, or iPads...) she also gains a number of untold logistical challenges. Even before a teacher thinks about how to support students in working and collaborating efficiently and effectively online, she has to think about how to establish routines in the classroom so that students can take out and put away the devices without a creating a learner logjam at the beginning and end of class. Strong logistical systems can help establish a culture of responsibility and translate to on-task behavior. When students play a part in strong systems, they develop agency.

In the Prezi presentation above, East Middle School literacy teacher Ellen Lewis shares the setup of her cart and her method for assigning Chromebooks to students. Her Prezi is worth watching for a few reasons:
  1. It is a great example of how a teacher can use an web tool like Prezi to create and deliver engaging interactive content.
  2. She shares a tight, replicable model for how to organize a cart- important instructions that don't come with the cart or the Chromebooks.
  3. She alludes to how this setup ties to classroom accountability.
Since I struggled in the past with finding the right setup and system for a cart in my own classroom, I appreciate how Ellen's example can shorten others' learning curve. 

Maybe most importantly, I've talked with teachers who felt overwhelmed by the introduction of a cart of Chromebooks (or laptops, or iPads...) to their classroom workflow. There can be so many logistics to manage, like how to support students in navigating the web responsibly, that cart organization, because it is an afterthought, can become a daily frustration for teachers and students. Students can feel nagged while picking up and putting away the machines, and teachers can feel like students don't respect expensive classroom tools. 

A tight system like Ellen's sets students up for success and models responsible organization and systems thinking. Students who play a daily role in keeping digital tools safe, secure and organized develop agency about their ability to contribute to high functioning classroom that uses digital tools strategically. 

What systems do you have that might shorten another teacher's learning curve? How do you set up students for success with digital tools? - Joe Dillon

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This is a professional blog associated with the Ed Tech Department of Aurora Public Schools. Comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated, but please keep in mind that this can be used in classrooms and viewed by anyone.