1. Desks touching the walls
Re-arrange your classroom, DO NOT HAVE DESKS FACE YOU, have desks around the walls of your room, so when students are on the computer you can view all the screens. This also allows fellow students to look at each other screens and have more collaboration. It also allows students to walk around more freely. Students that want to work independently can, other collaborate. This is much like a cubical.
Have every student use a headset, or have a communication controller, so students can listen to music, just like they do at home.
3. IM, email, or twitter
Allow connections with others and the outside world. I slowly introduce this into the classroom, one student at a time. Students then start an iGoogle page for themselves and use all the google apps. Collaboration begins and grows.
Allow students to check email, work on a variety of projects, all at one time. NO linear teaching. Run the classroom like a “help” desk. You will be surprised how more connected you are to more students. There will be students you instruct on a daily-basis, and then there are students you just touch base with and show their work on presentation day.
5. Allow variation on projects
NO more cookie-cutter projects. What are “cookie-cutter” projects? These are projects that are posted up around the classroom that are ALL the same. Have projects/homework that can be varied. Give students a variety of technical ways of expressing their knowledge: PowerPoint, Podcast, Videocast, or Performance. Make the subject matter the center, not technology.
6. Quality over deadlines
Have quality projects, not deadlines. Since many, if not all my projects involve technology, there might be a tech problem. Have alternative activities, not more work. They have four choices: do another project, open lab, clean up their files, or work on something that involves the same subject, but from a slightly different angle. I have do’s and don’t on “open lab,” that are posted and agreed upon. When everyone has completed the assignment, then we present all the projects. Many teachers will say, “but what about the student that doesn’t finish?” Of course, at some point you have to complete the project. You will “feel” that they are all finished except one or two groups, at that point, have students sign up for presentation order. I do not post days, just the order of when they present; you might have five presentations on one day and three on another. Additionally, students might be absent or missing, simply skip over them, and upon their return, they present. As you are in full presentation-mode, those groups that have not finished, multi-task. They watch the presentations as well as work.
At least once a week a student comes to me and wants a piece of paper and a writing instrument. I ask, “Why not use Word on the computer?” The student brightens up and says “oh yeah.” I have surveymonkey for evaluations, a website for information, and blog for comments, so I am completely paperless.
8. Personal computing that makes life easier
Firefox web browser, Firefox plug-ins, Del.icio.us, and Twitter. Just google them, set up a del.icio.us and twitter account TODAY! My new webbrower is Flock. It can keep track of your twitter buddies as well of all the blogs you need to read to keep in touch.
9. Reach out to your “super” techies.
I have students that visit me daily concerning the new apps and new technologies. I love the excitement of new technologies and how they use them.
iGoogle, Google alerts, Google calendar, Google Earth, Google Notebook, Google Docs, Google Blogger, Google sketchup, I can’t say enough about Google. They are incredible for new apps and new technologies. I bet you didn’t know that you could create your own google searches with specific websites? This is great for younger students.
Teachers are at times can be control-freaks. We view ourselves as “pouring the knowledge” into the students head, one fact at a time. That world is GONE. Students can find all the facts on the internet faster than we can say it. Remember to start small, and let it grow. The forest you will have will surprise you.