Planning is a big part of any initiative. Here’s how to plan a better one-to-one program
The word is out. We hear every day from teachers who tell us their school will be going one-to-one this school year. Their classrooms will be equipped with a laptop or tablet for every student, and in many cases, the students will get to take those devices home at the end of the day. For some teachers this is overwhelming; for others it is exciting, and for a few it’s just plain scary. Wherever you are on that spectrum we have some advice to help you move forward and make the most out of these new resources in your classroom.
We both teach in one-to-one classrooms. Diana’s students have iPads that they take home, whereas Jen has a cart of laptops students use daily in her classroom. We’ve both been teaching with one-to-one in some capacity since 2008, and we also both coach our colleagues who are new to technology integration. If you know your school is going one-to-one this year, there are some things you can do this summer to get yourself geared up. Here are the top ten things we find ourselves telling teachers over and over:
Relax. Integrating technology into your classroom is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take a few years before you and your students are completely comfortable with a range of digital tools and the ways they can enhance learning. Try not to worry about “keeping up with the pace of technology.” Realistically, none of us can do that. Just jump in where you can, and start getting comfortable with one thing at a time.
Learn the nuts and bolts. Your school or district will likely offer some professional development about this process. It probably won’t be enough, but take advantage of what is offered. Ask questions. Then, find your own training. For technical aspects about how things work, you can often find helpful tutorial videos on YouTube. Try searching for what you want to learn. For example, searching for “How to make a Google Form” will leads to several helpful videos that you can watch and use to practice at your own pace.
Log in to your Learning Management System (LMS). Most one-to-one programs include a recommended, or required, LMS. This is a password protected portal just for your class where you can post assignments, and discussion questions, and collect students’ digital work. Setting up your class pages on your LMS may take some time initially, but it will save you time later. If you have access to your LMS over the summer, try logging in and looking around.
Start with a problem. As teachers we spend our summers reflecting on changes we want to make and challenges we want to solve. We know plenty of teachers who start by using their LMS or their one-to-one devices to solve one pesky classroom issue. Commit to trying one tool or strategy with your students that you hope will help. Don’t try to change everything about your teaching practice all at once. Digital classrooms aren’t built in a day.
Plan to collaborate. Digital classrooms need digital resources. Many you can find online, but some you will want to make yourself or customize for your students. Digital resources are very easily shared. Generally, I collaborate with my colleagues by sharing a planning Google spreadsheet and then different people add links to articles, videos, or sites we can use to go with the curriculum. We use Dropbox to share documents we have created, graphic organizers, and student activities. Starting this process before you are busy with the day to day needs of being back in school will save you time in the long run.