6 Considerations as We Go 1:1: A Letter to My Colleagues
Beth Box wrote this letter to her colleagues regarding their fledgling 1:1 program. It was originally posted on her new blog, Beyond the Chrome Dome.
As we journey into the unknown waters of being a 1:1 school, I know many of you are a little stressed out. Chromebooks aren't getting where they're supposed to be. It seems like everyone is short chargers, and kids (not many, but some) are refusing to pick them up in the morning.
If it's any consolation, we're not the only school that has experienced these issues, and we certainly won't be the last.
That's not at all helpful.
My goal with this blog is to provide you all with as much help and guidance as possible to help make going 1:1 a positive experience for all of you, teachers and students alike. Getting these Chromebooks is a GOOD THING even if it might not feel that way right now.
We're only in the first few weeks of implementation. It's only natural that things be a little messy at first, but they will level out after a while. Here are some tips to help smooth things out a little more quickly.
#1 Don't Assume That the Kids Know Where Their Chromebook Is
It's going to take the kids a few weeks to figure this part out. Schedules are still changing which means ChromeHomes are changing. The master list of student computers was sent to you and all students and it live updates. Any time we add a student or find out a student has moved, we update the list to reflect that. Check the list often.
#2 Label Your Chromebooks
Even if a kid knows their Chromebook is in your room, when they get in a hurry they have a tendency to just grab a Chromebook and not worry about who it actually belongs to. I wouldn't recommend putting something like an Avery label on a Chromebook because those are hard to pull off at the end of the year.
Instead, take a Sharpie marker and write their name on the front. While it will rub off in no time, it will help them identify their computer while they get used to this process.
#3 "Catch" Them With Their Chromebook
If you want the kids to carry their Chromebooks you have to give them a reason to! If you're encountering some resistance, try rewarding kids for bringing a charged up Chromebook to class. You can give them extra credit or something else that you think they might like.
#4 Make Chromebooks Difficult to Live Without
If a kid is adamantly refusing to bring their Chromebook to class, don't make it easy on them! Don't give them paper copies of what you're doing in class. That's just creating extra work for you!
Have them copy their work down … all of it. Make them create their own print version of everything in their own handwriting.
Now, if a kid checked in late or they bring their Chromebook every day and they forgot this one time, you might not want to be as hard on them. That's clearly an isolated incident, but if a student has created a pattern of resistance and you've done everything you can to try and show them how valuable these Chromebooks can be, you might have to make things a little uncomfortable for them.
#5 Start Small
Students aren't the only ones resistant to Chromebooks. I realize that not all teachers are on board with the whole "technology" thing. I understand the fear, doubt, and aggravation, but the fact of the matter is this is the world our kids live in. We have to adjust to their needs if we want to do our jobs as teachers.
If you find that you're not "thrilled" about these Chromebooks, just try something small. Why not move your Bellwork to a digital format? Instead of collecting reams and reams of notebook paper every week and having kids get zeros on Bellwork because they lost their papers, have them do their Bellwork on a Google Doc.
They can share a Doc with you one time and add to it for the rest of the week, quarter, semester, or even year! After they do that, you can put the Chromebooks away for the rest of the hour until you start feeling the itch to try something new.
#6 Chromebooks Will Not Fix Everything
Just having easy access to technology will not magically take care of all your discipline and academic problems. Some students will still act out and some will still refuse to work. That's just the way it goes.
What Chromebooks WILL allow you to do is become a facilitator of learning, provide faster feedback, and give your students a wider range of academic experiences. Used effectively, Chromebooks might not fix every problem you've ever encountered, but you'll be surprised to see how much more buy in you'll get from your kids.
I know we're experiencing some growing pains, but I promise it's going to get better. Going 1:1 is an amazing thing that we can do for our students but only if we make the effort to use them as meaningful learning tools. The aggravation will begin to subside once wireless issues and ChromeHome confusion settles down.
Just remember, we're doing this for the kids. Whether we like it or not they are going to work in a digital world, and it's our job to prepare them for that.
About the Author
Beth Box is a middle and high school teacher in Okeechobee County, Florida. She has been teaching for seven years and enjoys discovering innovative ways to use technology to engage her students with her content. Beth gamified her civics course, which is now a model in the industry.