Monday, October 14, 2013

Do Sweat the Small Stuff

It’s often the small details that help make a laptop or tablet program successful. Whether it’s a BYOD or your school owns the devices, it doesn’t make sense to hand them out unless your school culture supports it. Teachers and support staff are working with students to learn how to use the devices in their classes, but students need structure around the care and use of the devices.

Below is a list of some of the things we have done at our school:

  • It’s an expectation that students come to school with their device fully charged. We have a few extra power cords, but students may not check them out. Their options are
    • 1) leave their device to charge,
    • 2) stay in the computer lab with the charger to work, or
    • 3) not use their device for the period.
  • Devices are not allowed in the cafeteria during lunch. They get stepped on! Instead, we ask students to store laptops in the library and computer lab. But there’s an added bonus. Because they have to walk by my desk, students often let me know if they are having a problem with their computer or have a minor repair that needs to be made. We find that we have much less overall damage.
  • Students need to leave their devices in their gym locker while at extra curricular activities. We alert coaches and advisers at the beginning of each quarter. The ski team came up with a great way to keep their devices. They have a large rubber tub. Students put their devices in it during practice. Parent volunteers take turns keeping the bin secure.
  • Decorate cases. Students are all about personalizing. We all have the same cases with a label on them with the student’s name and their advisor. However, they often get mixed up. Putting a ribbon, key chain or a piece of duct tape on the handle or side, help make the case stand out in a crowd. Some advisors have case makeover parties!
  • Three strikes: If a students leaves their laptop unattended or isn’t following a guideline, they sign “The Book”. Every student has a page. They write:
    • date (we start over every year)
    • what happened
    • what the outcome was
    • what they will do differently next time
The first time they sign, it is a warning, second time is an after school detention, third time is a loss of take home privilege or other appropriate consequence. This works really well because the students fill it out.
  • Collect the devices at breaks. It’s expected that students and teachers are on vacation. In advisor group, the advisor checks each computer and marks down on a spreadsheet from the tech department, anything that might need to be repaired. They also list if a student is having a problem. At the end of the day, we take the last 10 minutes of the period right before vacation to send students to their advisor group. The advisor checks the computers in and brings them to the computer lab. The advisor calls home if a student has not turned theirs in. This allows the tech staff to check them over and make a plan to pull in any computers that need to be repaired after break.
  • At the beginning of the year, students present the “roll out”. This outlines anything new and goes over our guidelines. Often there are some humorous reminders to go with it. After the presentation, advisors then go over the technology guidelines with their students. A smaller trusting group allows for students to ask questions in a safe environment.

It takes time and patience but the small details are often what makes the program successful. It’s been said “it takes a village….” I believe it takes a school!

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