Organizing Technology in Your Classroom

Ahoy there, bloggers! Have you recently had the AWESOME privilege of having your own class set of laptop carts in your classroom? My district had some extra funding this past school year and each classroom in grades 2-5 will be getting their own laptop cart and 26 laptops (for grades 2-3) and 35 laptops (for grades 4-5). 

Now . . . anyone that knows me well, knows I LOVE technology. So much so, I miss my SmartBoard. Booo... (that's another story).

Oh well, life goes on (I suppose).

Like many teachers in my school, I was excited to get rid of the old desktops that took up too much classroom space. I decided to not keep any of my desktops and only keep my laptops. I knew that as a teacher, it would be a lot of work to get the routine for myself and for my students going in terms of how to properly treat their laptops. But, after 3 weeks of consistently implementing it every single day, things are running smoother and much better.

The first thing I recommend if you happen to have a cart (then you will definitely KNOW what I am talking about) is to get some organization with the charging cords and ethernet cords itself.

What You Will Need:

  1. label machine
  2. twisty cord ties
  3. labels for the labeling machine

This is what my cart looks like from afar when it is open:
(Can I say how awesome it was that I was given purple bins to store all the mouse and headphones)?!?

I not only used a labeling machine to number the mouse and headphones, but I have one going around the proper cord and ethernet cord. Upon sticking the labels, I felt the need to secure them better with a twisty tie (I believe I got mine from Daiso, a Japanese dollar store).

Now a close up view of the inside of my laptop cart:

Each slot was properly numbered by the technicians in the District Office before being delivered to each classroom. However, after using it for a day, I realized that the cord situation was a HOT MESS!  They tangle once everything is unplugged, making it super difficult to figure out which cord went where. On top of that, if you messed up on the cords; then boy oh boy you would have to unplug everything and start again because the cords only reach a certain amount of length. Frustrating to say the least! 

What does this crazy, needs everything organized lady do? I stayed after school one day for an extra hour to get all of these cords organized is what I did! First, I made sure that I had all of the cords paired up with the right cords. Next, I used the labeling machine to number the cords so I knew which laptop and slot went with which cords. Finally, I used twisty cord ties that I had and bonded everything together. It sure was a plus that the twisty cord ties came in my exact classroom colors (totally unplanned too, I had these twisty cord ties forever and never put them into use). Life is great I tell ya!!! No more messy cords either!

Laptop Pass Out Daily Routine:

  1. First thing I do when I come in the morning is unplug the charging cord and the ethernet cable. 
  2. I hired (Yes, hired because my students have to persuade me in their job application to why they deserve a classroom job) 2 technology crew members. Every morning after our morning calendar and daily routine, they help pass out the headphones and mouse. Before we pack up and go home, they put away all the headphones and mouse.
  3. They also come and help me pass out the laptop and put them away at the end of the day.
  4. A bonus job, is that they also get to help any classmate that still does not know how to properly shut down a computer. 
  5. I always count the laptops before any child is allowed to get their backpacks or leave the classroom. 
  6. Being the super anal person that I am, I also am the one that plugs and unplugs the chargers and ethernet cable cords because if that thing breaks...there goes my classroom technology time.
How I use the Laptops in my Classroom:

  1. May Do time for our school wide typing - "Typing Agent"
  2. Assessments - my District purchased the ability to have students take their core curriculum assessments online, as well as district benchmark tests online. 
  3. Inquiries and research projects
  4. Class forums and discussions - Last year I purchased my own domain name and built my own classroom website thru Weebly. Weebly has a feature where I can post forum discussions, surveys, and quick charts for students to vote and answer questions on.
  5. Accelerated Reader & Accelerated Math
  6. Virtual Re-reads - My district also purchased virtual features that allow the students to watch grammar snapshot videos, re-read their selection story for the week, or take performance tasks online.
  7. Virtual Math Manipulatives-Singapore math gives virtual manipulative access to students online for their math
  8. Writing - students now can publish their own writing piece using MS Word. 
  9. Powerpoint presentations for Science & Social Studies
Of course, with anything classroom related, you have to teach, model, and train your students with what you want them to learn. It will be challenging in the beginning, but they pick up these things fast!
There is SO much you can do with them. I am a little sad though that I can't sign my students up for their own e-mails (due to internet safety issues). I wish my district would purchase the kiddos a safe email addy for all of them so that I wouldn't have to go around with my USB drive saving their work or e-mailing them to myself when I forget my USB drive at home. I have 2 friends at different school districts that said their district actually provided the students with their own Google accounts. Sounds SO awesome! Seriously, the only CON I have experienced is the ethernet cables being so new and dang tight. I had to pinch it with my nails to get them out. They are starting to get more loose, so my nails are happy.

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