Monday, January 7, 2013

A Successful Trip to the School Computer Lab

Teachers Pay Teachers Storefront: Classroom Caboodle

As the administrator of my building’s computer lab, I have learned a lot about  school technology management. Taking care of hardware is a very important skill for our children to learn--as important as managing programs once they have logged on.

Here are some best practice tips for a productive trip to the school computer lab:

Elementary computer lab laptops on table
Your second classroom

Ready, Set, Go!

Before leaving the home classroom, have students stand in "lunch-line order". Reinforce the rule that they get whichever computer they end up with. No scrambling for the "best" computer upon arrival in the lab is allowed. After all, cords do not fare well during "scrambling"!

Also, instruct students to bring other classwork, such as a book to read or unfinished assignments to complete, especially during testing days. Once students finish their computer work, they need to remain sitting quietly until class is over. Before long, students understand that using their time wisely in the computer lab is important.

Computer lab cord control
Cord management is priority one!
Upon entering the computer lab, be sure to look over the stations before children sit down. This keeps students from being blamed for damages inflicted by prior classes. All necessary equipment, such as mouse and keyboard, should be present and plugged in. All problems with equipment should be taken care of before students take their seats.

Next, model how students should sit while they are at their computer stations. Demonstrate how to pull out chairs then open computers and select appropriate buttons to push. Also, show students how to properly hold their headphones with two hands then to adjust them to fit their heads. Finally, it's time to begin the task of the day, whether it is research or testing. Before students complete their assignments, model the steps for wrapping up their time in the lab. These instructions are just as important as the guidelines for getting started. Remember to give instructions slowly and to model one step at a time.

Tidying Up

Always build in some class time for clean up. The school computer lab is a classroom where others teach after you, and they expect technology to be ready to use. Instruct students to save their work and shut down computers five minutes before time to exit the lab.
Computer lab non-skid pad
Non-skid pads help keep everything in place

Repeat the steps in reversed order: start with headphones, which are removed with two hands. then save all work and close programs or web browsers. Finally,remind students of the proper shutdown procedures and process.

If laptops are being used, remind students to clear all cords from keyboards before they gently close the lids. I like to finish by having kids say, "Thank you!" to their partner, the computer, then pat the lids when done! Remind students to  stay seated until all computer lids are closed and the signal to move is given.

Final Steps

The last critical step in the computer lab is to properly push away from tables. Modeling this step for students reduces the risk of upsetting carefully-controlled tangles of cords that link computers to the Internet. Also, accidents, such as keyboards or laptops falling to the floor, are avoided. First, have students scoot forward in their chairs until their feet touch the floor. Then, they place their hands on the sides of their chairs rather than the edges of the tables and arise from their seats. Computer lab rules can be reinforced with a Computer Rules Poster

Success Is In the Details

When working around technology, details matter. To save time, use the pre-made Computer Lab Success Checklist. Ultimately, time in the computer lab becomes more productive when safety steps are demonstrated by teachers and followed by students. Follow the link to read more about computer lab safety rules.

Visit Betsy Weigle's resources at the Classroom Teacher Resources website and the Classroom Caboodle blog. 

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