So You Have Devices Now

Thomas Dennison
Thomas Dennison
4 Jun
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Yes!  You have a set of devices in your room, let the engagement and fun begin!  You can finally start teaching in the modern world and families can now be assured that their scholar will now grow up to be college and career ready.   

Oh, if it were that easy… 

Let’s get over ourselves a bit and back up – back up from the student engagement, differentiated instruction, assessments measures and all of the other glorious things that we hashtag when we are humble bragging about our device use…#whatnotme 

Above ALL else there is a philosophy of the device that needs established and in my roomit goes like this, “play your games at home, this is a tool.” 

If you don’t know what to do with your devices, please don’t give them to them and jump on some games – you’re going to hurt yourself in the long run when you’re annoyed watching a group of 29 students play mildly challenging games that quickly lose their excitement.   

At the beginning of the year I only allow a few sites for them to be able to go on: 

  • Outlook – always love me some outlook! 
  • Tinkerkad – 3D printing life 
  • Pearson – enVision math buddies are my fav 
  • Padlet – online conversations 
  • Kahoot – simple turned loud and fun
  • Socrative – scores with record keeping
  • NewsELA – differentiated nonfiction text – yes, yes, yes! 

Notice that none of these are “playing sites.”  I also make it a point to NOT allow them to use them during inside recess – again, they’re not toys, and they are not used to entertain them. 

Devices are made to enhance communication and I need my students to see how to use them to open themselves up to the world, not just stay quiet like I do to my daughter while we shop for groceries.  #stopjudging 

The other key to the devices not making you go crazy is the tape – The last thing I was thinking about when I got my set of onetoone devices was tape, but now I’m living the tape life.  The power of tape, the beauty of tape, the organization of tape! 

I have a very strict system for how our devices are organized and treated – otherwise they get treated and thrown around like their mother’s phone. 

Each device has a piece of colored tape on it that matches a color in the charging carthat matches the color wrapped around their plug. 

Each device also has a number – this number is also the student’s number for everything I do in class.  The number is written next to the tape in the charging cart and is placed on the top of the device using mailbox stickers.   

I’ve tried many other things to get the numbers to stay and nothing can hold up to the destructive power of an elementary school like mailbox stickers…purchased at Home Depotagain.  My wife thinks I have a Home Depot problem – but I think my relationship with the home improvement warehouse is perfectly healthy… I give them money and they make my life better, 4-5 times a week:  totally healthy.   

In the interest of being a normal person I also let my students put stickers on their devices.  I don’t know if I’m allowed to do this, I didn’t ask.  I actually bought the stickers because honestly, my own laptop is covered in stickers. 

It does create student ownership because now it feels more like their own. It does help us figure out whose device goes to whom much quicker.

Honestly, I want to go back to “get over yourself.” If you’re not a person who covers your own laptop in stickers, I bet you have a phone case with some cute design or one of those pog things attached to the back.  Do you remember pogs?   

It’s not that big of a deal and if there is something I can do for my students that lets them feel like they have control and lets them feel normal I’m going to give it to them.  #normallife 

***

Thomas Dennison - Havre de Grace Elementary

Thomas Dennison is a 5th grade teacher, serving at Havre de Grace Elementary in HdG, Maryland.  He has also taught kindergarten, 3rdand 4th grade and intends to stay in the classroom for 30 years.  Thomas believes schools should be built on hope and believes it is their role to help each student figure out who they uniquely are.  He works to make sure that each day can be fun and challenging, not either or. Thomas believes in the power of beards, the balance between chaos and control and the comfort of a worn-out pair of Cons.  He has a master’s degree in Educational Computer Technology and a bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education both from Ohio University. Thomas is a National Milken Award winner and Milken Unsung Heroes Fellow.  You can follow him on Instagram @mrdennison5th to see how each day can have its own piece of awesome.

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