Managing a Classroom full of Technology by @jrsowash

Managing a Classroom full of Technology

Guest post – John Sowash (@jrsowash), ElectricEducator.com
Enter for a chance to win a copy of John’s book “The Chromebook Classroom”  at the bottom of this post.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” That’s what Uncle Ben Parker said. The same is true in a Chromebook classroom. Chromebooks provide access to the world’s information…but they also provide access to ALL of the world’s information.

How can you encourage your students to remain focused on the tasks at hand and not wander aimlessly around the internet. Here are four ideas to help.

1. Be engaged!

The best way to ensure your students are using their time and technology wisely is to be engaged with them throughout the class period. You must be on your feet (not behind your desk) actively participating in the class (not grading papers), working directly with individuals and small groups of students.

Many teachers ask me if there is “lab monitoring” software that will allow them to see every student’s screen at once. While such software does exist, it is not a replacement for active classroom management. Technology is not a babysitter.

2. Re-arrange your room

The physical layout of your classroom will have a significant impact on your ability to engage with and monitor student activity. Make sure you have ample room to move between student desks. I also recommend that you configure your room so that approximately 25% of your students’ screens are visible no matter where you stand in the room. It is NOT advisable to have all of the screens facing the same direction.

I taught HS science and my room layout could not be adjusted (too many gas and water lines!). I would frequently teach from the BACK of the room so that I was able to keep an eye on what students were doing.

3. Don’t be boring

The #1 reason that students get off task is that they are bored! It’s hard to blame a student for wandering the internet if there isn’t anything interesting going on in class!

One way to increase the amount of student engagement is to use an interactive presentation tool like Pear Deck or Nearpod. These two tools mix direct instruction with formative assessment. It’s easy to ask a multiple choice, short-answer, or interactive question during your instruction time.

Kahoot, ClassKick, and EdPuzzle are three more tools that require active engagement from each of your students. The more engaged they are, the fewer issues you will have.

4. Don’t freak out!

While it is important that we help our students focus on learning, we don’t have to freak out about every little thing that they do. Is it okay for a student to check up on the playoff scores? To play music while working? To watch a quick video?

I learned this lesson when I was a student teacher in a school that had a strict “no phones in class” policy. One student was particularly distracted during any individual work time. The smallest noise would catch his attention. One day he asked if he could listen to music on his phone. “It helps me focus” he said. I said sure. He was much more productive from that point forward.

It all comes down to classroom culture. The ultimate goal for every teacher is to create a classroom culture that consistently communicates the expectation that each student will get their assigned work done on time and that it reflects their best effort. As long as students follow this guideline, the teacher does not need to micromanage student activity.

Have faith that your students will rise to meet your expectations. Those that do not, will quickly face additional scrutiny and evaluation to ensure that learning goals are accomplished.


Classroom management is one of several struggles that teachers in 1:1 classroom must prepare to address. This, and many other topics, are discussed in my new book, The Chromebook Classroom. I will be giving away 2 print copies of my book to readers of Alice’s blog! To enter, just enter your email below! Everyone will receive a free excerpt of the first section of the book!
Chromebook Classroom book

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