Happy New Year! As we begin a new month, in a new year, many teachers will have the opportunity to explore new ideas with new devices.  Whether you are using Chromebooks or iPads, before introducing portable devices to your students, you should consider these five steps.

1. Set Clear Expectations

Students will be excited about using iPads or Chromebooks from the beginning. As teachers, a goal should be to make sure that students understand how these new devices fit into your classroom curriculum and culture.

Take the time to initiate discussions about responsible use and digital citizenship:

  • How do we represent ourselves online?
  • How do we interact with others?
  • What are our community expectations and responsibilities?

If students play a role in the creation of class rules, expectations and policies, then they will be more likely to adhere to them.

2. Get Organized

Bringing iPads/Chromebooks into the classroom raises numerous questions about organization and workflow, particularly when working with shared devices or students who do not have email. To make distributing content or collecting work, a little easier, consider the following:

  1. Consider a standardized naming scheme for files and projects. i.e. Save all projects with the same format: section-lastname-project. This will make it easier for students to find work on shared devices
  2. Organize files/folders via Google Drive, or create folders on the iPad homepage so that students are familiar with how to organize themselves digitally.

3.Start with Small, Meaningful Activities

The multitude of available apps can make getting started seem completely overwhelming. And while some teachers may be comfortable with just letting students play to see what they might discover, others may not be ready to let students loose on the device.

One of the great benefits of iPads/Chromebooks is that you and your students now have access to a photo and video camera. Leveraging only the camera app, teachers can create short video tutorials to demonstrate how to use specific apps, explain classroom procedures, or create ReadAlouds for storytelling. While students can interview each other about their holiday break, share thoughts about current events, review reading books or discuss favorite iPad apps.

4. Include Time for “Tech 10”

While these devices are incredibly user-friendly, that does not mean students know how to effectively use the device to support their learning. In fact, Rebecca Davies wrote a wonderful post, The Digital Native Myth: Why we still need to teach kids HOW to use the iPad. To help students, consider building in a “Tech 10,” ten minutes set aside every day to teach specific iPad/Chromebook skills.

5. Start Creating

The power of these portables is how they can be used as a creation device. This does not imply that students need to create massive projects right off the bat, but you should start considering how they might leverage a few tools to begin demonstrating their knowledge and understanding.

Using Keynote or Google Slides, show their problem solving in math review, create a video about a reading book, or publish a Public Service Announcement (PSA) about appropriate iPad use in the classroom. While younger students can create picture books on George Washington, or use an app to draw maps of their neighborhoods.

While we may all be eager to just let students get hands-on with the devices and “just explore”. There is nothing wrong with starting small or using CTN services for support and resources. Ultimately, the goal for integrating these devices should be to redefine the learning process and transform your classroom.

Submitted by: Angela Russell, Instructional Media Specialist