Tech Double Shot!


Issue # 13 - 1:1 Reflections

For those attending last week's Doris Post Assembly, we were treated to a thoughtful speech on students' responsibilities in our 1:1 program from So-Eun Kim in Grade 10. (For those who missed the speech, you can find the full text here.) In her speech, So-Eun cites a study which states that "Across all grade levels, 80% of students reported that they switch between studying and technology somewhat often to very often." She also confesses to observing herself and others get off-task, speculating that the 80% figure likely also applies to our own student body.

But what I liked most about So-Eun's speech was that she talked about what a privilege it is to have a 1:1 program and the responsibility that she and her fellow students share in trying to do better. When discussing the talk with one of my own students later in the day, I was struck when one of them said that she "felt bad" after hearing the speech because she knew that the statement also applied to her. Out students know that they have a responsibility to use their devices for learning above all else, but they need reminders from us to keep on the right path. And we, in turn, need to tools to help them battle their inner demons.

So with that introduction, here are some reminders and tips to help us towards a strong finish in the first year of our 1:1 program.

Shot 1: The Rules of the Road

Dwight students either signed a contract or completed a test to demonstrate their understanding of their responsibilities in our 1:1 program.

For your reference, here are the main documents outlining students' responsibilities in our 1:1 program:

For Grades 4-6

iPad Student and Parent Contract

For Grades 7-12

1:1 Driver's Manual and 1:1 Driver's Test

The Driver's Manual can also be found on the Faculty and Student portals in MyDwight.

Edits for next year's Driver's Manual, Driver's Test have already begun. Please feel free to offer your suggestions on how these could be improved.

Shot 2: You're In the Driver's Seat

There are, of course, times when the teacher needs to be in the driver's seat, so here are some simple, low-tech tips for classroom management with laptops or iPads.

  • Have clear expectations about when students should and should not be using their devices. Many of us begin lessons by instructing students to put away their devices, but we also need to set expectations for group discussions, independent work, collaborative work, etc.
  • Hold students accountable. Students may get distracted from their work, but the work still has to be done. Busy students who are engaged in challenging, meaningful work just won't have as much time to play Group work can be another way to encourage accountability to peers, so long as the peers are not conspiring to keep each other off-task. Timed activities are also good for adding some immediacy to an assignment.
  • Investigate suspicious behavior. If you suspect that a student is off-task, ask to see what they are working on. Students may use the "three-finger" swipe to hide what they are doing, but you can also ask to see what they have open on their device. On a Mac, ask students to press the F3 button to see what they have open in other "spaces". On an iPad, have the student double tap the home button to see which apps have been used most recently. Is there a game open that they've just fled from when they saw you coming? Is a distracting video hiding just one space over from the Google Doc that you've assigned? It may take some time to follow through, but one close inspection may go further than a hundred quick glances against a stealthy student.
  • Check the browser too. Students need help managing their tabs (just like we do). But if a student has 20 tabs open, it is probably too many for him or her to keep track of what is and isn't open. And it also makes it harder for us to tell what they are working on. In my classes, I often encourage students to close their open tabs to just the ones that they need for our class. The old tabs will still be in their history for later reference. (You can also use the browser history to check on suspicious activity. Both Chrome and Safari have a separate section of the menu bar for "History").
  • Keep the problems in perspective. Yes, you did just catch a student messaging another student. But let's not blame the laptop. Students have been writing and passing each other notes long before devices starting appearing in every backpack. And if adults can struggle to resist the temptation to check a sports score or a social media feed, it is many times harder for a kid to fight that urge. We're educators so it's our job to help students build the habits and minds that they live with for the rest of their lives. We can't expect our students to be perfect, but we can remind them of the privileges that they enjoy in having so much technology and the responsibility that they have to use it well.

Hope you enjoyed Tech Double Shot!

Have a great week!