Thursday, August 3, 2017

Back to School Device Boot Camp

As summer break comes to a close, many teachers have already begun to think about the upcoming school year. Decorating classrooms, planning lessons, and searching for “first week of school” activities on Pinterest are a few things that teachers begin working on during the final weeks of vacation. If you will have technology (iPads, Chromebooks, etc.) in your classroom, you should also be thinking about how you will introduce those devices to your students. As a classroom teacher, I always liked to plan a “Boot Camp” during the first week of school to introduce my new students to the device that they would be using for the school year. The following post will include a few things to consider when introducing devices to your new class, as well as what I, personally, like to include in a device boot camp.

A Few Things to Consider
Before school begins, and you are planning your first week activities, consider the following questions regarding the devices that your students will be using. Even better, discuss these questions in your grade level planning time so that you and your teammates are on the same pages as far as expectations for devices.
  • How will you label and store the devices in your classroom? Will devices be numbered? Or will the student’s name(s) be on the device somewhere?
  • How will the charging procedure go? Will there be a class job for collecting and plugging in the device? Will devices be charged every night? Or only when needed?
  • Is there a device “acceptable use” agreement/policy for your school site or district? If not, will you create a contract between you, the student, and the parents that outlines what is and is not allowed? Here is an example of a contract I created from my students several years ago. What will be the consequence for a student breaking that agreement?
  • What are your expectations for students downloading/using specific apps? Will you give specific guidelines for using the camera on the device? Will students be allowed to change the background/wallpaper? How will you focus on digital citizenship lessons and activities?
  • Will your students be taking home their device? If so, what will happen if a student forgets his/her device or brings it to school with a dead battery?

What to Include in Your Device Boot Camp
During the first 1-2 weeks of the school year, I take my new students through a very detailed device boot camp. Here are some areas that I address during my device boot camp.
  • Explain the very basic functions of the device, including turning it on/off, power save mode, home screen, organizing folders, camera usage, screen brightness, volume, wifi, etc. When you explain these things to your new class, you will quickly see which of your students are familiar with the device and which are not. This will help you find your helpers who can troubleshoot device issues for their classmates (and sometimes for their teacher too).
  • Discuss device care with your students. Model how to carry the device and how to plug it in. If students will be using headphones, model how the headphone jack should be used. How about USB ports? Describe how to plug something into a USB port the correct way.
  • Explain the DOs and DON’Ts of using the device in great detail. Here are some that I like to include in my device boot camp. I also like to have these posted in the classroom somewhere.
    • Put the device to sleep when not in use.
    • Practice Digital Citizenship while using your device at school (or at home). The free resources from Common Sense Education are some of my favorite lessons!
    • Think of your device as a tool for learning, not a toy for entertainment.
    • Use common sense with your device.
    • Use your device to be creative, collaborate with others, communicate, and for critical thinking.
    • Remember that your device is school property and a teacher/administrator can look through your device at any time.
    • Use your device camera, unless instructed by your teacher.
    • Open an App or website, unless instructed by your teacher.
    • Attempt to log in to your school device with a personal account.
    • Try to download or delete apps, unless instructed by your teacher
    • Use your device to send inappropriate comments, photos, or for cyberbullying.
  • Include some fun “get to know you” type activities in the device boot camp. Let students practice using the device for fun, so that they become familiar with the apps that you will be using throughout the year. For example, take selfie and and type a few sentences about themselves, respond to a flipgrid prompt, post something in seesaw, create a Google slide deck as a class, etc. Start with one or two apps, then build from there. You could even do an “App of the Day” for the first couple weeks, to familiarize your students with the tools they will be using throughout the year.

Incorporating a device boot camp in your “first week of school” plans might seem overwhelming. However, in my experience, setting clear expectations with technology at the beginning of the year saves time later, and also sets students up for success. So, as you plan those team building activities, laminate homework folders, and create colorful name tags, I hope you will also plan for a device boot camp for the upcoming school year.

Heather Love-Fleck, SDCUE Innovative TOSA 2017

Heather Love-Fleck is an EdTech TOSA for Oceanside Unified School District. She provides support in the area of educational technology, helping teachers and students implement tech as a tool for meeting learning objectives. Heather has been teaching for 10 years, working with students in grades K-8. She shares her innovative classroom ideas with colleagues by presenting at district-level professional learning opportunities, as well as larger conferences, such as the National CUE and SDCUE Tech Fair. Heather was selected as the SDCUE Innovative TOSA for 2017. She shares her EdTech ideas and classroom lessons on her blog and on Twitter @mrslovefleck.

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