Earlier in the school-year when I told my students we were going to the computer lab, many of them were excited and thought they were just going to do a bunch of this:
But through trial and error (and in-between a whole lot of discipline and raising my voice), the students slowly understood that when we are in the computer lab:
And, like I said, with a bit of learning experience from trial and error, I have learned to teach in the computer lab.
I wanted my students to create online trading cards before creating their 3”x5” character cards. Today’s goal: submit 4 cards within 35 minutes.
Did they meet that goal? Absolutely not! But I like to aim high for my students, but more on that in a bit.
I found this lesson plan from ReadWriteThink, an excellent resource.
But before we did this assignment I went out of my way to make sure I spent the time effectively preparing the computer lab.
First thing I did, I managed to get into the computer lab early enough to turn on all monitors and towers. By doing this I discovered that 3 out of 36 computers were not functioning or missing something. (1) A computer was missing a mouse, (2) another would not turn on at all, and (3) I could not reach the wiring on another computer tower because it was under the desk and against the wall but I knew the tower was not connected to the monitor. Upon discovering this, I removed the chairs from these computers and wrote down on sticky notes describing the malfunctioning.
This preparation served two purposes: to deviate from students wasting time trying to make something that does not operate to work and to inform the next teacher who arrives in the computer lab that the following computers do not work and that it occurred BEFORE my the class started.
Also, to save my ass because I do not want to be blamed for the things that was already broken before I got there.
Having check the computers prior to class helped transition the learning well. I did not have students fidget with computers. I knew what computer did and did not work. And I made sure ADOBE worked on the computer for the program I wanted them to use.
My first class of the day were my test subjects for these new teacher learning experiences, which they usually are. Through this experience I found two more computers that did not function: (4) one computer can not login because it needed some administrative access and (5) the screen on the computer was blurry and could not be adjusted.
Oh, an through my first class, I found out using Internet Explorer was definitely out of the question!
In the end, the lesson went well. Like with any technology, some students lost their projects because they did not listen to my repeated instructions nor did they read the paper that had the instructions. In which case they naturally reacted with a:
No really, they tried staring at the screen looking, clicking anywhere and everywhere, and I am like, “Dude, it’s gone.”
Oh, and I did not assign seating arrangements like I used to. Instead, I had them sit where they wanted and held them responsible for their learning space by having them sign the paper that was taped at their station. This will also help if a student should accidentally (or purposely) damage the computer or save something inappropriate (teens like to change the desktop images) and I would know who it was, or you can look at this as a preventative measure.
Anyway, it was a good day in learning. I finally found a technique of teaching and learning in the classroom.