Friday, August 11, 2006

Get Ready for a New Year!

Making technology a part of your daily class routine doesn't have to be complicated. A few minutes of preparation can have a lasting affect on your students. The first place to begin is to have a management plan for your classroom and or using the computer lab. Anticipating what you want the students to do in these situations can make your life a lot easier.

Label It!
Elementary teachers label everything, so make sure you label your the parts of your computer or have a poster with the parts labeled close by.

I Need Help!
Regardless of whether the students are using the computers in your room or in the lab at some point they are going to need help. Having a plan to address student needs can save your sanity!

1. Use Student Experts- Train two or three students to complete the computer center activity for the week. You can make this part of your weekly job chart. When another student has a problem, they know to ask the "Computer Experts" first. If they can't solve the problem, the expert can alert the teacher of the problem.

2. Red cup- Each computer has a red Solo cup next to it. When a student has a problem, they place the cup on the top of the monitor or other designated spot. One note about the cups- they can get noisy when dropped on the table, so make sure the places they are put are fairly stable so the cups don't fall off.

3. Red Post-It Flag- This works like the cups. The flags are located on the side of the monitor. When a student has a problem they move the flag to the top of the monitor. Just make sure to have plenty of these on hand.

Managing Equipment

To keep your computer looking nice and neat when the students are finished try these tricks.

1. Headphone hooks- For wayward headphones, purchase plastic household clips with the removable sticky foam and place them on the side of the computer or monitor. When students leave the computer they are to hang the headphones on the clips.

2. A Nice Neat Computer Station- Take a photo exactly how students should leave the computer station when they are finished. Place a copy of that photo next to the computer. Have students use that as a guide for putting up the equipment.

3. Make a computer part "Place mat" for your keyboard and mouse. Trace the outside of the keyboard and cut out the shape. Use clear contact paper to attach it to the table. This shows students where their keyboard should be when they finish. The same idea applies to the mouse. First, using a piece of construction paper, trace a mouse pad. Then trace and cut out the outside of the mouse. Glue that to the center of the paper mouse pad. Use clear contact paper to mount it to the table. When students leave the computer their mouse should be placed on the cut out of the mouse.

The first few minutes
When you bring students to the computer lab, it can take a few minutes to get each computer set up especially if you're working with young students. One way to keep students on task while they are waiting is to play a quick game of Simon Says with computer parts.

Have the students stand next to their chair while you're getting the computers ready. Say things like "Simon Says to touch the top of the monitor. Simon Says touch the top of the mouse. Touch the CPU." You can have your student expert to check to see who is doing the right thing. You can also put your student expert in charge of the game by using word or picture cards and have them act as Simon and call out the parts.

Last but not least- Computer Rules

Just like any other area, there should be rules for a computer center or computer lab. Here are a couple of sites created by teachers to get you started with creating your own set of computer rules.

Do you have a great idea on managing a computer center or computer lab? If so, please leave a comment to share your idea!

Until next week...
Happy Computing!