Going back to school with 1:1
Guest blog post by Jen Roberts
Next week I start another new school year, my 23rd actually. For the last ten new school years I’ve had 1:1 laptops in my classroom. In the current version those are Chromebooks. I thought it was time for a post about the things I do specifically to prepare for school with 1:1.
I begin every year asking myself how I can leverage the laptops my students hold for more creation, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication, Yes, the four Cs. My team and I have conversations about this as we plan our year and iterate on what worked last year. If you want a copy of our planning spreadsheet you can find one here.
I like to make sure all the Chromebooks are clean and working before the year starts. I often leverage a helper for this task. One of my own children or a former student is usually willing to help for an hour. Together we get all the computers out of the cart. Turn them on. Clean their screens and remove any former users from the previous year.
Set up my Google Classroom classes. I like to have one class per period. I make sure to color code them differently. I love being able to add my co-teacher and student teachers as collaborators to those classes. Note: If you have a student teacher be sure you create the class and add the student teacher. Last year I did the reverse and it got a little tricky when she left at the semester.
Update my class blog. When I started teaching with 1:1 there was no LMS I could freely access, and the paid ones used by universities were out of my reach, so I started a class blog and I still use it to post our daily plan and any links students will need. (More about why I love the blog.) At the beginning of a new year I write the posts for the first week of school and schedule them for each day of the first week. I know those early days will be hectic and scheduling these posts in advance gives me peace of mind. I can always go in an edit any of them that need to adjust for circumstances.
I am lucky to have had a head start teaching with 1:1. Many of my colleagues are still in the early stages of teaching with laptops for their students. So, once I have my major preparations taken care of, I take a walk to see who needs my help. I find that if I show up at the door, my colleagues remember things they had been meaning to ask me, but hadn’t had time to put in an email. Some want to show me something they learned over the summer. Some need help troubleshooting, or connecting equipment. Some want to set up a coaching date, or request a workshop. I know the time I spend helping them will make a difference for their students, so it is always worth it.
Jen Roberts is the co-author of POWER UP: MAKING THE SHIFT TO 1:1 TEACHING AND LEARNING. She is a classroom teacher, an adjunct instructor to pre-service teachers, and a strong supporter of student centered instruction. She blogs somewhat regularly about her best practices at Litandtech.com. Find her on Twitter @JENROBERTS1.