There is nothing quite like an organized classroom! Today, we’re going to talk about some simple tips & tricks for technology organization in your primary classroom. There is no doubt about it – technology is a pure blessing to have available to our students. However, with little ones who are still learning how to use and understand technology, it can also be a source of headaches for the elementary teacher.
Let me take you back to my first two years of teaching, and paint a picture in your head. I have a feeling my story might resonate with many of you:
I’m sitting at my small group table, surrounded by six eager first grade readers. We are deeply engaged in a conversation about the differences between lions and tigers. We’re working on comparing and contrasting, and a student has just started to explain a comprehension question I have asked the group. “Hold that thought, Riley,” I say to the student. Across the room, I have a student on the computer with a raised hand. The screen is frozen and he has resorted to turning his computer chair into a spinning amusement park ride instead of working on the website I had assigned. Another student has placed a tablet back into the tablet basket and grabbed a different one because hers ran out of power. I’ll have to sort through which tablet is dead at lunchtime. They will surely be all mixed up by the time I get around to ringing the bell for our next round of small group rotations. Sigh. After restarting the frozen computer and checking on my friends using the iPad, I head back to the small group table. The kids have all forgotten where we were in our comprehension discussion and are now chatting about recess.
Sound familiar? Some of you are thinking, “Been there, done that!” It was not until my third year of teaching when I decided to get strategic about how I was going to organize the technology in my classroom. Let’s go through five simple, easy steps I took to make our classroom run more smoothly. Here we go!
#1:Number or Label Your Computers
I have four student computers in my classroom. At the beginning of every year, I assign each computer a number. I use a velcro dot and place a bulletin board cut-out on the corner of my monitor to attach the number. (Sticky tack works, too!) The numbers are helpful for quite a few reasons:
First, it helps YOU because your students can quickly and easily tell you, “Computer 3 is frozen.” Or, “Miss DeCarbo, I can’t log onto Computer 4.” If something goes wrong with the computer, you can jot the number down on a sticky note and remind yourself to attend to the problem at lunch, or after school. I have found these numbers are also helpful for my technology coordinator. For example, if a computer needs attention, I can email her and explain that “Computer 2 needs updated.” If she visits my room after school and I am not in my classroom, she instantly knows which computer I was referring to.
Next, numbering your computers also allows you to assign students to a particular computer when they choose Listen to Reading or Math on Computer during your literacy and math workshop times. I’m not sure if your students are like mine, but there always seems to be that ONE computer that ALL of my students favor (even though there is nothing special about it). By assigning students to a numbered computer, the students know exactly where to go when they get started during center time. This leaves no room for wasted time in your classroom and helps with smooth transitions within the room.
#2:Color Code Your Tablets Using Tablet Covers
Remember my hot mess story at the beginning of this post? About four years ago, I purchased six Google Nexus tablets for my classroom. I had saved and saved to purchase those tablets, so naturally, I wanted to do everything I could to keep them in excellent condition so that they will last as many years as possible for my students. Six tablets means that I was frequently updating apps, installing new apps, and performing regular maintenance on them. My students were always good about telling me a tablet ran out of power, an app wasn’t working, or the tablet needed updating. But the problem was that by the time I would attend to the tablet in need, I couldn’t figure out which was which! This tip is similar to the one above: color coding the tablets makes your life easier! I could have stuck numbers on the back of the tablets, but since my computers were numbered, it was easier for the tablets to be color-coded. My students would simply tell me, “Orange and Green need charged,” and we would easily be able to fix the issue!
#3: Train Technology Coaches Within Your Classroom!
I LOVE utilizing my Technology Coach badges within my classroom to greatly reduce the amount of interruptions to my small group due to computer needs. At the beginning of the year, I keep a close eye out for 2-3 students who seem “tech savvy” to me. You might be thinking, “Ha! Yeah right, my kids are in first grade. None of them are tech savvy!” I urge you to keep looking for those future tech geniuses. They are the ones that can “x” out of a website without help and you can just tell they have used a computer at home before. I promise every classroom has at least one or two. After I have identified who my Technology Coaches will be, I schedule a few “lunch bunch” days with them. We eat lunch together and then we practice troubleshooting the most common problems we will see in our classroom. My first grade Technology Coaches learn skills such as how to:
*shut down and turn on the computers
*restart the computer
*CTRL+ALT+DELETE to bring up the task manager and close out of programs if the computer freezes.
*turn sound up, down, and off
We practice, practice, and practice these common troubleshooting skills. My Technology Coaches LOVE it! After they feel confident in their abilities, they get to wear the Technology Coach lanyard every time we have our reading and math workshop times. (They don’t wear it to the small group table and they have to prove they are responsible enough to not let it be a distraction.) If a student has a computer problem during our work time, the student must ask one of the Technology Coaches for assistance instead of me. I would say about 8 out of 10 times, the Technology Coaches are able to help the student resolve the computer issue and then both students go about their work again. Ta-da! It’s a win-win. The student gets assistance, and I do not have to stop my small group instruction. (If the coach is not able to fix the problem, the student must make another choice for their center work. They are absolutely not allowed to interrupt me anymore for computer problems.) Try it! I am sure you will LOVE this little organization and management trick!
I simply laminated the cards, punched two holes at the top, and used curling ribbon (or any ribbon) to create the lanyards. Easy and super effective! If you would like to grab a copy of my Technology Badges for free, simply click HERE to grab your free copy.
#4: Use a Dish Rack As A Tablet Organizer
If you’re having a difficult time keeping your tablets tidy and organized, a simple wooden dish rack works GREAT! They are cheap and typically the perfect size to store your tablets while they charge! Students can quickly grab what they need and then place the tablets back into their “home” when it is time to clean up. They also work nicely because it allows for easy access for your charging cords when you use a USB power strip!
#5: Keep Technology Rules Consistent and Prominently Posted
Keep your technology rules posted throughout the entire year, and refer to them often. Technology organization will mean very little to your students if they do not know the correct way to treat the computers and tablets within your room. I love using my FREE tablet rules posters with my students. We spend a lot of time learning each of the six rules. Throughout the year, I ask students to praise their peers who they notice are following the rules and being great Technology Leaders within our classroom.
You can grab these posters for free in my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking HERE.
I hope you enjoyed this post about technology organization and are able to take a few tips and tricks away to use in your classroom. I LOVE sharing organizational posts with my readers. If you enjoyed these tips and tricks, you might be interested in checking out some of my other posts that focus on organization within the classroom. You can read about each post by clicking on the pictures below:
Feel free to use this photo below and add this pin to your Pinterest Board so you can refer back to it as you are setting up your classroom this fall! Simply hover your mouse over the picture and click on the red Pinterest button in the top corner. 🙂