Managing the 21st-Century Classroom
iPads, cell phones and the overall use of technology brings along some new challenges for managing the classroom.
Thankfully, most of these challenges can be easily avoided! Here’s a guide to managing technology in your classroom, with a variety of resources brought to you by bloggers like myself!
Before your classroom iPads get into the hands of students, do yourself a favor and get organized. The more you prepare your iPads for easy access, maintenance, and storage, the less time you’ll waste in class (which ultimately means more instructional time using technology).
Make your own iPad Cart
If your iPads came with a cart or as a Learning Lab, then you are in good shape. These devices make for effective storage and charging.
Carts can be pricey, but they aren’t your only option for effective classroom iPad storage. I love this homemade version that I read about. It’s not as portable as a standard cart, but it will save you thousands, which means more iPads, accessories, and apps! For tips on carts, syncing, and security, check out this informative Edudemic article.
Use The Number System
Consider naming or numbering your iPads and assigning each student an iPad that they will use every time.
This helps students take ownership over the devices, which ultimately prevents careless handling. It also allows students to save information to their devices without the need to sync or save to a network folder or Dropbox.
This blog article includes great ideas about color-coding your iPads and using the Home screen for easy locating.
Preparing for student use
Most 21st-century classroom management problems can be prevented before your devices get into the hands of students.
Decrease students’ ability to visit an app or website unrelated to class by using the Settings application included on all iPads. Disabling apps or setting restrictions is easy and reversible. My article on setting up iPads in the classroom will walk you through the ins and outs.
As with any new classroom endeavor, build in time to create and review iPad classroom expectations. Generating this list with students can be an effective exercise. Make sure your class doesn’t leave out important expectations like appropriate online discussion/messaging (respectful, professional) and use of the Internet and apps.
One way to decrease time spent “meandering” around the iPad when using a new app or starting a new assignment is to use a VGA cable. Model for your students how to use the features of even the simplest apps to avoid wasted time on the iPads. Our students need to see and hear directions, so this device ($29.99) is worth the investment.
QR codes make access to websites, e-mail, images, and more quick and foolproof. Install a free QR code reader on each of your devices, or use Google’s Goggle application. Make sure your camera is enabled so QR codes can be scanned! For more ideas on how to use QR codes in the classroom, check out this blog post.
If QR codes aren’t your thing, you can quickly add favorite Web pages to your Home screen in just a few seconds. Visit the Web page through Safari and click the icon shown in the photo below:
Click Add to Home Screen. (See Figure on Right.) And voilà: this Web page now appears as an app directly from the Home screen of your device. The downside to this process is that it can’t be synched. You will have to do this for each iPad in your classroom.
Essential management APPs & accessories
Keeper Password & Data Vault: Add this app to a teacher iPad to manage the dozens of passwords and PINs used on your classroom iPads.
Timer+: I use this app daily to pace my classroom routines and keep students on task.
Class Dojo: This is a free Web-based app that makes point-based tracking and rewarding positive behaviors easy and efficient.
VGA Cord: This is a time saver and a good instructional tool.
Surely, you plan to use video and sound on your iPads. Having multiple devices “sounding off” at once can cause a noisy ruckus. Make sure to invest in a pair of headphones for each iPad to help manage classroom noise.