Computer Discipline

I’ve seen a vast wide range in norming student computer etiquette in classrooms. From being laissez-faire and figuring, “well the school of hard knocks will eventually teach ’em if they are fooling around on their computers”, and looking the other way as students hack away getting themselves further down a rabbit hole of negative consequences. To the opposite point of view of wearing that commando uniform and not allowing students to open their Chromebooks or log-in until the word “go”. Having volunteers that organize the Chromebook cart and plug them in each day. And Holding a hard line of “No Fidgeting on the computer.” “If you must fidget, do it on the desk, notebook, or something else, but not the computer.” The latter is the style I’ve embraced this year. When the kids come into class, the computer numbers, along with student names to which they are assigned, are projected onto the front screen along with the day’s Pear Deck log-in code. So, students must use a particular computer each time. This way, we can track down any problems to a particular student. I usually have started my 6 different Sessions (for 6 academic classes) before the students arrive. That way I don’t have to open any new sessions throughout the day, only close and save them with the name of the class period. The computers are all over the desks, and the kids immediately begin rearranging the room placing Chromebooks on the tables of other students they know, but haven’t yet arrived. So I praise and reward them for helping out their neighbors. As a result, there’s less wasted time, and class begins much more efficiently. They aren’t allowed to open them until I give the word, and once we’ve started on the day’s lesson, I begin to move to the rear of the class as my teaching center. I’m looking at all the monitors from behind, so it’s easy to catch any kids unconsciously flickering screens from light to dark and back, or spinning the screen, or tapping furiously on the keys. I just don’t allow it, so they may get one warning, and then if it continues, I just close it and whisk it off the desk. As harsh as that sounds, I haven’t had to do it once this year – so far. As student responses begin to proliferate on my Pear Deck Dashboard I’m reading what students are entering, writing, or drawing in real-time. I begin dialogues with different kids openly so all the students get hints about what I’m looking for in their answers. Some answers are selected for projection on the front board because they may illustrate a concept I’d like them to see. I suggest they share with neighbors for inspiration and modeling. They usually end up being meta-cognitive about why they didn’t “get” something, and learn things quickly that help break misconceptions in these sessions. This year our school will initiate its inaugural “1-Web” program where every 6th grader is issued a Chromebook in January. The plan is that they keep this computer for the next three years they go to our school, or any middle school in BVSD. The goal is to have well behaved and mannered computer users when the second semester starts and they will all become responsible computer owners. Only yesterday I allowed a student to look on another page, outside of the Pear Deck we were on, for research on their science project. This was the first time anyone has been allowed to go to another website not directly related to the current lesson. So I’m already “loosening up.” šŸ™‚