Managing Computers in the Classroom

How can we keep students on task when they have a window open to the entire world of knowledge and entertainment in front of them?  Devices in the classroom can be amazing but, alas, can also be a major distraction.  Allow me to share some tips on how I managed computers in my classroom.

Proactive Suggestions:

  • When I was teaching, the students collaborated on a set of “Agreements” as to how we behave in the classroom, including how we use computers.  We printed it up in large print, everyone signed it, and it was displayed prominently on the wall in the classroom.
  • I often opened up the Renzulli Learning Live Student Activity Ticker on the big screen during work periods and students enjoyed seeing their name show up, so it was a means of positive reinforcement to stay on task.
  • Apply other positive behavior reinforcements to use with the devices in the classroom.

Sometimes you just have to be Reactive:

  • I also implemented a “3 strikes you’re out rule” so that if a student was found off-task on the computer multiple times, he or she lost computer access for the day (or longer) and had to complete the assignment in another way (ie on a worksheet, or by watching another student and taking notes).  I left the strikes in place day to day, they did not get “reset”! Parents were also notified of the infraction.
    • Using the Chrome “reopen closed tab” feature is a quick way to prove a student was off-task!

Additionally, there is lab software designed specifically for the education environment.  I used to use NetOp (there is a free trial) when I taught in a computer lab. Another top-rated one now is NetRef.

I hope these suggestions are helpful to you both within Renzulli Learning and also using electronic devices in the classroom in general. Devices in the classroom certainly do require a lot of rules and understandings/agreements with your students, however they also open the window to the entire world of knowledge and experiences into your classroom!