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3 Connected Classroom Steps for the first week of school.

As the start of the school year and professional development days start popping up on your calendar, I thought I’d share some ideas I have about getting the school year started off right not only in the physical classroom but in connected spaces as well.

Set Digital Procedures Early

We know that good classroom management is all about setting procedures on how the classroom runs day in and day out. Whether it’s where the homework basket is or the classroom job chart and how it works. Those structures that run the physical classroom must be set and practiced early on until they become routine.

The same goes for our digital procedures. The sooner you can set procedures for how computers are used, how we handle them and how they will be used in the classroom the better. All too often I find these procedures do not make their way into the first few days of school and then are added on later in the school year. By making your digital procedures just as important as your physical procedures you send a message to students that technology isn’t an “add-on” of something we’ll do every once and awhile for fun. But that it’s really a key part to the way learning happens in the classroom.

Start with Search

I challenge every teacher that within the first week of school to do at least one min-search lesson. You can find lesson plans that I have created to help facilitate this process here. By starting to teach the skill of search early on in the school year you open up a world of learning opportunities that you can take advantage of the rest of the year. If you are a Middle School or High School teacher and you’re in a BYOD or 1-to-1 environment have students use A Google A Day to practice their search skills and then have a class discussion about what tricks they use to find the answer. You can teach them some of your tricks as well (see lesson plan link above).

I challenge every teacher that within the first week of school to do at least one min-search lesson.

Preparing for the “When” not “If”

One of the biggest fears I hear over and over again from teachers is what IF a student accesses an inappropriate site. If you can just accept that we all do everything in our power to make sure it doesn’t happen but it’s still going to happen you then put yourself in an educational mindset. It’s not what IF they see something inappropriate, it’s WHEN they see something inappropriate what do they do? As part of your procedures for the year, every teacher needs to have a procedure of what you want students to do WHEN they see something they know they are not suppose to.

It’s not what IF they see something inappropriate, it’s WHEN they see something inappropriate what do they do?

In my third year of teaching back in 2001 I had 7 computers for 32 students in the classroom. The Internet filters were no where near as good as they are today. But I knew that if I was going to take the students on the Internet I needed to have a procedure in place for what to do WHEN they saw something that made them feel uneasy or they knew they weren’t suppose to.

The procedure for my 4th grade class and every class I taught after that was the same. You either turn off the monitor or shut the screen to your laptop and raise your hand. It’s a simple procedure but an effective one that was used by my students almost every year I taught. In 2001 it was a girl who misspelled yahooligans.com. As soon as she hit enter the screen starting to fill with inappropriate images. She did exactly what we had practices, shut off the monitor and raised her hand. I praised the girl and the class as a whole for handling the situation perfectly. I reported the incident to my principal along with the address to the site so that the tech team could block the site and that was that.

Set your procedures early, prepare for the worse, and then teach the single most important skill of the 2015-2016 school year. The skill of search.

That’s my first week of school thoughts. What would you add or advice do you have for others?

Header Image: flickr photo shared by r.nial.bradshaw under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

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