As we all have discovered by now, Chromebooks can be an amazing tool for students of all ages. But to make sure that they help kids learn what they need to, take a look at these best practices.
Best Practice #1 – Establish procedures before issuing Chromebooks.
“Figure out which toys your friends can play with,” I remember my mom saying to me before a sleepover with classmates. “And put the ones you don’t want to see damaged, lost, or stolen away.” It’s advice that I took to heart and shared with my own children before they had friends over.
Setting ground rules can certainly help you avoid trouble and heartache down the line. The advice is definitely worth taking when it comes to inviting students and staff to use any kind of device, even durable Chromebooks, in your classroom, library, or school. TCEA member Erin Laughlin (@MrsErinLaughlin) recommends that you consider your responses to questions like the ones below:
- How will students be issued Chromebooks?
- How should students be advised to transport Chromebooks?
- What happens when there is a substitute teacher in the room? Will students be permitted to take advantage of the Chromebook?
- What should be done when a Chromebook suffers damage?
In response to the last question, one teacher in Fairfield ISD during their Eagle Leadership Academy,pointed out that damage had occurred to a school-owned Chromebook issued to a student. “What did you do?” I asked, wondering if the student was to be forced to reimburse the district or forced to replace the device. “We made sure it wasn’t malicious and then just worked to get it fixed or replaced. No action was taken since this was an accident.” Erin also suggests having rules like these in place:
- No food or drinks should be in sight when Chromebooks are out.
- Carry Chromebooks with two hands at all times.
- Do not get a Chromebook if teacher is out of the room.
- Nothing should be on the desk except the Chromebook unless told otherwise.
- Students should only be on websites assigned or approved by the teacher.
- Have students and parents sign a statement saying they will abide by the rules.
- Have reasonable consequences for students who aren’t following the rules; taking away the Chromebook should be your last resort.
As you might imagine, some common-sense suggestions include assigning a student to be in charge of the Chromebooks, ensuring monitoring of issuance and receipt of devices by class members. Consider including a Google Form to let students report how a Chromebook was damaged. Be sure to label your class Chromebooks so they will be easy to locate in case they leave your classroom. Finally, Kim from Fairfield ISD suggests that the teacher and students get in the habit of plugging in Chromebooks correctly so they are charged for the next group.
Best Practice #2 – Teach Chromebook basics along with digital citizenship.
“You can’t issue students devices until they’ve had digital citizenship lessons required by E-Rate.” These lessons also ensure that you can discuss important issues about caring for other people’s equipment.
In my experience, students often take great care of equipment issued to them when there is a culture of care cultivated in the school as a whole. Keys aren’t ripped off keyboards in classrooms where the teacher makes every effort to care for his/her technology and assigns students the jobs of cable management, removing dust from devices, and cleaning keyboards/screens.
Every device brings its own challenges, and Chromebooks are no different. Providing an overview of Chromebook and Google Apps tips ensure that students feel confident in using new technologies, rather than frustrated.
Best Practice #3 – Promote collaboration.
“My two favorite tools for a 1:1 classroom,” I shared at the recent Tots and Technology Conferences that took place in Galveston and Frisco this past summer, “include Nearpod.com and Seesaw.com.” Each provides tools for sharing your screen with students and collecting their work.
Nearpod serves as a presentation and eyeball management tool for you, pushing your screen out to all student Chromebooks. Seesaw serves as a digital portfolio that collects students’ digital and physical work in one virtual space that is easily shared but manageable.
Note: Scan the QR code shown right using the Seesaw app on your device of choice to get Seesaw Plus for free for 30 days!
Let’s quickly explore some other top tips for promoting collaboration:
- Quiz tools: Other ways to engage students include quizzing tools like Quizizz.com and Kahoot.com. Quizizz allows students to log in with their Google account and all completed assignments are reported and available in Google Classroom.
- Easy video assessment: Use tools like EdPuzzle and/or FlipGrid to take already existing videos from YouTube, Khan Academy, etc. You can also put your own online, adding your voice and questions to create an interactive video lesson. You’ll be able to see how many times your students watch the video or attempt a question, as well as the responses given.
- Share web links with Google Tones: Facilitate the sharing of complex uniform resource locators (URLs) using Google Tone.
- Take screenshots or record video screencasts: Use tools like the Nimbus Screenshot/Screencast extension for Google Chrome to quickly capture your screen for a flipped lesson or explanation.
- Use Google Classroom to create a virtual classroom presence for students, blending in Google Calendar and YouTube videos to facilitate online learning.
- Use badges in your classroom: TCEA member Joe Camacho (@CamachoEdTech) recommends setting up and issuing badges to celebrate student learning and sharing. Students can learn Google Apps tools such as Sites, Classroom, Forms, Docs, Drawings, and Slides, as well as other tools in use like DocHub, Flubaroo, Edpuzzle, Kahoot, Quizizz, creating screencasts, and Padlet.
Another neat tip for promoting collaboration and sharing comes from Erin Laughlin again. She suggests creating a “shark tank” in your classroom, having older students create products that are evaluated by younger students serving as “the sharks.” Older students pitch their solution to a problem using Google Hangouts, bridging the distance between their classroom at one campus and another. Of course, this activity can also be done at even greater distances. If that is of interest, consider the Connecting for a Cause website, where students create a Google Sites web presence that represents their cause.
Interested in learning more ways students can collaborate in a Google Apps-powered classroom? Drop me a tweet @mguhlin and request an in-person workshop.
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