Day One with Laptops

Last week, a cabinet of laptops arrived at our school. We’ve got six weeks to share 15 computers as part of our district’s technology initiative.

When I started unloading the computers in my room, students stared in amazement, then started cheering.

“Whose are those?” they asked, crowding around. “Can we keep them FOREVER?”

Within minutes, they were all hooked up, so comfortable with the new technology that the classroom atmosphere immediately changed from distracted hubbub to quiet hum. Computers, it struck me, are their comfort zone, their ball caps.

Our first order of business was to “play around” with the new tools. But before I could get around to announcing that, the students had already logged on and started exploring. After about fifteen minutes, we shifted gears to a familiar activity—word-processing. Students had already started a rough draft on our field trip, and so half the class started typing up their written work. The others continued to work on their rough drafts.

I didn’t let them type for long, because I wanted to teach them how to save to a flash drive. None had ever done it before, so I taught two kids, who then watched me teach two more, then those two went out, and those other two watched them—you get it. Because of the level of need in this room, I tend to run it like a one room schoolhouse or a really big family—kids need to teach other kids. I explain to them why each of them HAS to be a teacher in my room. It is not optional. I NEED them to help me when it comes to things like this.

Not having enough computers for all students actually resulted in unexpected benefits. Some students opted to work in pairs to complete their written work, pooling their knowledge in order to get the best results.

Of course, we want to get beyond typing skills (although, as I watch my students, I realize how desperately some of them need practice). But for today, I am satisfied with what they’ve learned.

Legoman guards pencil (aka, old technology) while students play with laptops! 



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