Part 4: Classroom Management
Initially, iPads can be incredibly distracting to students. They have a hard time understanding how the iPad can be used for educational purposes but have no problem messaging their friends, downloading games, or changing their wallpaper to a ridiculous selfie or cat picture. That novelty will wear off. But for the first week or two of class, it was tough to even get their iPad out of their hands.
Students want their device and value it highly. It is so valuable that I have never told my students to bring it to class and each student has brought it every day, with only one student that forgot it once. Imagine if they had put the same value on their pencil or notebook?! In a 1:1 environment, a student’s iPad is an essential material for class, no less important than a pencil, textbook, or notebook. In fact, it’s more important in my classroom! They cannot perform daily routines, set reminders for themselves, or complete digital assignments without it.
Yet as teachers, we view off task behavior as a bit of an insult. When we see a student that is off-task with an iPad, our initial gut reaction is to snatch that iPad out of their hands and reprimand them for it. This path leads to confiscation, punishments, and calls home. But if we are expecting students to use their iPad as their primary learning tool, confiscation and stripping a device of it’s features is a one-way ticket to Disengagement Town. If they don’t need their iPad for an entire class period (which can and should happen on occasion!), put them aside. I usually just tell students to put them face down or inside their desks. That helps a ton.
At Pearson we have students that are repeat offenders, about 5 percent of all students. They require temporary restrictions to be placed on their iPad, such as loss of free use of the App Store or Messages being disabled. By viewing confiscation as an absolute last resort, a student won’t show up to a class without their iPad because they were playing Clash of Clans during quiet reading time. They will come prepared with their essential learning tool!
As an analogy, would you take away the pencil of student that is doodling? Perhaps if it was a continuous problem you may need to. Yet if that student were engaged and was required to do something with their pencil, wouldn’t the problem be avoided? In my classroom, the iPad is an essential material just like a pencil. If I give them an authentic task, such as creating a comic that depicts a real-life bullying situation during Health Class, how many students are going to be off task? The answer: very few. Fewer than in an analog classroom.
"When we take away technology access because of student behavior concerns, we send the message that digital devices and the Internet are optional, ‘nice to have’ components of schooling rather than core elements of modern-day learning and teaching."