Getting Started with Tablets in the Classroom

Version 4

    By Suzy Brooks

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    Suzy strives incessantly to make strong, positive connections with her students, their families, and her colleagues. It is through these relationships that she has found the encouragement to share her knowledge and enthusiasm for all things technical. Visit her blog to learn all about life in her classroom at http://blogs.falmouth.k12.ma.us/simplysuzy/

     

    You are lucky enough to have tablets in your classroom for student use? Awesome! Not sure exactly how to get things rolling? No problem! Your students will help you every step of the way, so involve them right from the start.

     

    Why Tablets?

    Plan on having a conversation with your students before you even take out the devices. Ask them to consider the following questions:

    • How can we use tablets in our classroom to help us learn?
    • What costs were involved in making these devices available to us?
    • What are some concerns that teachers and parents have when allowing students to use tablets in school?

     

    It is important that students have a clear understanding when it comes to the valuable nature of these devices. Not all classrooms are lucky enough to have these opportunities, and students should know that this is a privilege to experience. When it comes to implementing tablet learning in classrooms, there are hidden costs beyond the cost of the device, including training, insurance, protective cases, and storage. Be sure that students discuss the “big picture” so that they will be invested in the success of the program.

     

    Rules of the Road

    As a class, come up with a short list of rules for responsible tablet use that will be easy for students to remember. Rules should focus on student and tablet safety to ensure program success. My students came up with six rules, which are easy to understand, remember, and explain. Our rules are posted in the classroom and sent home as well.

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    Driving Skills Test

    Most tablets and mobile devices require similar skills for general use. Though students will learn far more as they experiment with their devices, they should have basic operational abilities to begin with. I want students to explain the Rules of the Road as well as our Mobile Device Driver’s License so that I know they are clear on expectations. At the start, all students use devices on our carpet, making it easier and safer to get going. We spend 10 to 15 minutes per day working on skill development; we call this “tech time,” and it lasts for five to eight days. Over the course of a week or so, I test each student one on one. Once they earn their driver’s license, they can leave the rug and work anywhere in the classroom.

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    Licensed to Drive

    Students who are ready to work independently on a tablet should be able to demonstrate basic mastery. Using the Device Driving Skills, I assess each student’s level of understanding and hand over the driver’s license when the student is ready. At that point, “tech time” fades away. We stop learning how to use the devices and start using the devices to learn! As a teacher in a mobile device classroom, you should maintain sharp vigilance. I have had to revoke a few licenses over the past two years to maintain the integrity of our program. Students learn quickly to follow the rules and focus on the learning opportunities these tablets can provide.

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    Enjoy the ride!

     

    —Suzy Brooks

     

    This lesson plan is brought to you by Intel Education. Follow @intelEDU on Twitter for more great lesson plans and ideas like this one.