Listen Up! One-to-One Tech Tip for Your Classroom

efficient tech tips Apr 02, 2016


I can still see the COW (Computers On Wheels) arriving, with great ceremony. A sunny Tuesday morning in September, we were all happily reading when the door slowly opened. We all watched as a giant metal box lumbered forth, eventually followed by the custodian gingerly wheeling it into my classroom. He was accompanied by not one, but two, proudly smiling IT staffers. I was immediately alarmed by the sheer size of the monster. My students, of course, were STOKED. With a sigh, I realized that my retro chill Zen-Den room would never be the same again.


Technology Integration. Such a friendly little term for something so complex. The rest of the 1:1 pilot year spun past in a whirlwind of Apple PD trainings, updated laptop-friendly curriculum maps and random visits from school board members, eager to see the cutting edge initiative in action.  Eventually, I found ways to work the high tech additions into our warm and cozy classroom. We struck a balance of screen time and old school that felt right. 


Along the way, I created countless new procedures and classroom routines around the new tools in our midst. Procedures on when kids were allowed to print. Rotations to share the chargers stowed on the back counter. Expectations about how to safely carry laptops across a crowded classroom. Rules about where to put the dang thing when you needed to use the top of your desk. On and on.  Many of those, I still use today. My favorite might be my solution to the problem of lost classroom earbuds.



If you have 1:1 devices in your classroom, you also highly likely have 1:1 earbuds. In my case, teaching Tech all day, I had 285 sets of them. They are pesky little things to keep track of, as it turns out. Schools tend to purchase them in bulk, so they are usually all the same color and they are tricky to label in any practical way. Kids love to toss them in a black hole of a desk and forget them, or worse, shove them in a pocket and mom washes them. Worse than the mystery of where all the protractors go. Who has time for it?


Have no fear. Just five bucks at the dollar store and an hour or so invested, and your earbuds will be safely secreted away, ALL ready and waiting for their owners the next time you need them. It’s a pretty simple system. Each kid gets an index card (labeled with a name or a number) and a plastic snack bag. The card goes in the bag. The earbuds and their cord are folded in half three times, rather than wound up, as winding can cause both knots and broken wires. Then the folded earbuds are tucked neatly behind the card in the bag.


I do not have the kids seal the bag. It takes extra time, and it can trap air, which results in little “balloons” so less of them fit in your handy dandy shoebox storage system. Once the kids have each properly placed their earbuds in the bags, have a student simply collect them all in order, and “file” them in the box. They fit perfectly, and the boxes hold at least 32 sets of earbuds.


If you make it clear that the kids need to take care of their little bags, they last a surprisingly long time. I take a spin through the boxes once a month or so and replace crumpled cards and torn bags. Give this solution a spin in your classroom and you may find yourself with one less Tech Integration headache!



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