What to Do When Computers Are Scarce
Technology seems to be everywhere we look, but for many teachers, finding enough computers for students can be a daunting task. To best leverage the resources available, teachers must use technology in creative ways. This week, we focus on getting the most from a limited number of computers.
This Week's Tips
Schedule Semester Projects Early (Monday)
Assign your larger projects (reports, presentations) early so students have maximum time to incorporate limited technology resources before the project is due. Schedule a few students per week on the classroom computer(s) to work on their project during class time. This gives them a chance to work independently on the large assignment. They can “catch up” on class notes or activities with a peer.
Use the Buddy System to Share Computers (Tuesday)
Create a “buddy system” to increase student access to classroom computers. Ask other teachers in your school if they are interested in a computer time-share arrangement. Plan a schedule that works for the group. During specified periods, send students to another classroom to use available computers. Return the favor when it is the other teacher’s turn. Students must use hall passes and demonstrate appropriate behavior while in another room.
Use the Computer as a Presentation Station (Wednesday)
Ask your technology coordinator to help you set up your computer as a presentation station using an LCD or other projection unit. This enables your students to use the computer right along with you as you teach. You will be modeling effective use of technology in the learning process. This works well for multimedia presentations, storyboards, time lines, and surfing the net. If you visit Web sites during the lesson, give students a handout for taking notes, with the URLs listed.
Focus Computer Time (Thursday)
Prepare computer-based lessons carefully to improve time management. Provide detailed instructions for the activity so that students don’t waste time figuring out what they should be doing. Post the Internet address and clear directions for the assignment near the computer. As students work independently or in small groups, they can rotate through the computer learning center. Continue to monitor computer use during assignments.
Prepare for Mobile Labs (Friday)
Schedule your mobile (laptop) lab at least twice during the quarter, more if possible. When your turn comes, be ready to get students started immediately on a writing project, WebQuest, or other guided research. Ask around to determine if other teachers are not taking advantage of the mobile lab. If so, you may be able to schedule additional periods to utilize the laptops.