Saturday, 8 September 2012

Computer Time

One of the many things that can be difficult for a teacher to manage is ensuring that children have a fair turn.

In my classroom I have a system in place to make sure that everyone has a turn at being the leader at the front of the line, I keep track of who has or hasn't had a certificate at assembly, and I even have a way of making sure that all the children get a chance to turn the lights on and off. The kids are happy to know that even if it is a classmates turn, their chance will be soon.

Because I teach new entrants (children starting school at 5), I have a lot of children joining my classroom when they start school, then moving to a new classroom as my class size increases. I needed to come up with a system that allows the children to have a fair chance on the laptop or iPad and doesn't involve me constantly writing and printing new lists.


I decided to use lollies (not real ones though!). Each child has their name written on a laminated lolly, using a permanent marker to do this means that I can reuse the lolly for another child after a clean with whiteboard cleaner. The lollies are kept in two jars, one labelled 'I'm waiting for a turn' and the other labelled 'I've had my turn'. I've used clean glass pickle jars to do this - they are wide enough to put my hand inside. (At the moment I am keeping the jars tucked away inside my teacher station, out of the children's immediate reach.)

Each time I want the children to use the iPad, laptop, or interactive whiteboard, I choose one name at a time from the 'I'm waiting for a turn' jar and invite the child chosen to stick their lolly to the laminated jar like this one pictured. I used sticky Velcro to attach and easily remove the lollies.

I have three different laminated jars, one for the iPad, one for the laptop, and one for the interactive whiteboard. Each jar has a photo, so my pre-readers still know what each jar is for. Click here for a copy for my jars.

At the end of the session I just need to take off the lollies and put them into the 'I've had a turn' jar. When everyone has had a turn I put all the lollies back in to the 'I'm waiting' jar. 

There are several pros for this system:
  • I love lollies.
  • Everyone has a turn. 
  • It is random - the children have the opportunity to work with someone they may not normally choose to work with.
  • Once it is printed and laminated I can keep using and reusing it for several different classes.
  • If the laptop is not working or I don't want something used, I can just not use that particular jar.
  • If we are running short on time I am able only choose one lolly for each piece of technology instead of two.
  • The children can choose what they would like to use once their name is pulled from the jar.
  • If for some reason we don't have time to use the computers on a particular day it doesn't matter, children won't miss their turn altogether and will just wait till next time.

But the cons:
  • Lollies are bad for you!
  • It is random - some children may get upset that their name was not chosen.
  • The children may always choose to work with the same piece of technology instead of experiencing each thing and exploring its differences.
  • The children may be upset that they were the last out of the 'I'm waiting' jar and don't get a choice as to what they can use for that session.

After a couple of weeks I haven't had any complaints. The children are happy to have their name picked and satisfied that if it wasn't picked, they will get their chance next time.

So far I've just been using this system at choosing time when the children are able to choose what they want to play with from the equipment in our classroom. But it could be done at the start of the day or during each block after morning tea or lunch. (I also use the iPad and laptop as part of my reading and writing rotation during our reading and writing sessions.)

This doesn't just have to be a way of managing computer use. It lends itself to lots of other classroom management needs.

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