Establishing an Effective Chromebook Classroom

Technology is evolving and has become an important part of our classrooms. Managing a technology-infused classroom can sometimes be a challenging task. We are constantly changing our lesson ideas, instructional approaches and classroom management strategies. Here are some things to consider when setting up your Chromebook classroom for the 2019/20 school year.

Space

When you are setting up your classroom space, consider how students will be working and how you will see students’ screens. Creating an environment that allows for movement, collaboration and group work, increases accountability amongst students and lets you move freely throughout the room. Flexible seating options can be set up around the room in ways that you can quickly see students’ screens at a glance. More information about flexible seating can be found here.

Classroom Norms and Responsibilities 

During the first few days of school, develop clear classroom norms for technology use with your students. Have students create posters of the norms to put up throughout the classroom. Refer to these posters often and consider revisiting and changing them with students as the year progresses. Chris Taylor shared a great example of how to co-construct digital citizenship responsibilities in this blogpost about Jennifer Casa-Todd’s Social Leadia Responsibility Policy. Other examples of technology norms can be found here and here. Teacher-Librarian Jessica Long created these digital citizenship posters with students at David Bouchard PS.

Setting Expectations

Before using technology each time, make your expectations clear. Share when, how and why you will be using it. Develop signals for when the devices should be opened and closed. Some common signals include saying, “Pac-Man your screens!”  “Acute angle!” “Lids down”. Some teachers have a sound signaling device that lets students know that their attention is expected. Like all classroom management strategies, it is important to move around the room during technology use and be consistent in your expectations. If students are not taking their hands off the keyboard and eyes off the screen, ask them to completely close their lids. For students who do not demonstrate respect for the classroom expectations and responsibilities, ask them to self-reflect and share why they are having difficulty. For students who consistently have difficulty, it may be time for a tech timeout and you might provide an alternative task. Remember that every student signed an acceptable use policy. Hold them accountable and enforce the policy. Don’t be afraid to take the Chromebook away if a student is not consistently following the rules and expectations.

Teaching Strategies

A highly successful teaching strategy to consider is flipping your classroom using a tool like Youtube or Flipgrid. Flipping involves teachers sharing their lessons digitally by recording them in advance. Students watch the lessons at home, then ask questions and complete the homework during class time. Students can form study groups in the classroom and help each other to complete assignments. Students can also record their own tutorials on your classroom grids.

Keep students accountable by asking them to summarize their learning during lessons and at the end of the class. This can be done using a quick exit ticket using an online form, playing a game of Kahoot, using tools like EdPuzzle or Pear Deck, or simply answering a question in an online learning management environment.

Using a learning management system like Google Classroom also allows you to give real-time feedback to assignments, helping to keep students engaged and on task.

Model good digital citizenship skills. Set up a class social media account. Students can help you decide what to share. Using the stream in Google Classroom or commenting on a shared Google document are great ways for younger students to learn to post and reply to each other appropriately. Connect with other classrooms and experts around the world with tools like Skype or Flipgrid. 

Use the Chromebooks in a variety of ways. Give your lessons a boost with a professional resources like EduProtocols Field Guide, Ditch that Textbook or Shake Up Learning (all are available from the DDSB Media Library or on Overdrive/Sora) which give simple strategies and structures to make your technology infused lessons more engaging. 

Book your Tech Coach for more ideas!

Chromebook Techsperts

Students need to have a solid understanding of what they can do with their Chromebooks to use them effectively. Create class “Techsperts” who can give regular technology mini-lessons. Or, consider creating a class Flipgrid where students can share their technology tips with each other. There are several DDSB videos already created about Chromebooks, and many many more can be found on YouTube. For students using Chromebooks for the first time, providing them with an orientation is important. If you are uncomfortable with Chromebooks, talk to your Tech Coach. They can provide you with resources to get you started.

Other helpful tips for managing technology:

Set up a charging routine. Have a student in charge of plugging in the Chromebooks at the end of the day. For older students who charge at home, consider asking your teacher-librarian to purchase some extra cords that can be signed out of the library when needed.
Websites like Common Sense Media, MediaSmarts and Google’s Be Internet Awesome have heaps of digital citizenship lessons. Use these lessons as a starting point but also refer to them again and again throughout the year as situations arise in your class. Take some time to enjoy learning alongside your students as they build their digital citizenship skills. Share your own experiences, ask questions and listen.

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