This year I have had the exciting adventure of teaching my Technology class in our K-2 classrooms using a netbook cart.

Some kindergarteners practicing using the trackpad with Starfall.

I have been teaching in a lab for over 3 years, but I had never taught using laptops and I had never taught using a cart before or teaching in a classroom rather than a lab (It is a dream!). I could imagine what some of the challenges might be and planned (pretty well if I do say so myself) for them, and I also laid out a plan for teaching procedures in order to cut down on the time spent on management of the devices, thereby leaving more time for learning with the devices.

 

Here are some things I’ve learned along the way:

  • Take your time to teach procedures. Sure it may be October and we may not have accomplished much, but man can my kids handle the equipment well.
  • Motor skills can make the trackpad difficult. It’s worth it to take the time to let them get used to it while using  a simple website, though. 90% of my Kindergarteners can successfully click and scroll. For those with vision issues, they can use the touch screen feature. For a couple with a lot of difficulty, I will be bringing in a little mouse.
  • Think about what the students need to be able to do independently. Do you really want to spend the period helping kids navigate a site? Spend an entire class period on the navigation buttons and make sure every kid knows where they are and what they do.
  • Once procedures are fairly in place, put the responsibility into the students’ hands. Why should you be giving out headphones when a first grader can do it just as well?
  • Have a procedure for when it’s time to stop working and set the expectation for what students should be doing with their hands during modeling or instruction. I have kids put their hands in their laps until it’s time to use the netbooks.
  • Make sure the programs that you want to use are on the desktop or the taskbar (Windows) if you are working with little guys.
I’m sure that I will learn a whole bunch more in the coming months, but I feel pretty confident that we are ready to jump in to more complicated work. I couldn’t help but smile yesterday as I sat back and watched

One first grader was in charge of passing out the netbooks. Another was passing out headphones.

some of my first graders facilitate passing out the netbooks and headphones. We really underestimate children sometimes. If we model and teach them the responsible way of doing something, then we can trust that most of the time they will live up to our expectations.

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