Laptops in the language class can be quite useful and fun. Things do not always go as planned...of course there are times where the connection to the web is slow or the laptops were not charged correctly, or a student has been playing around and the text on the screen is upside down! In general I have had good experiences with laptops. These are some things I do to make sure we use them efficiently:
- Every time we use laptops - I write the following on the board:"get your laptop, log in, go to...and wait for instructions with screen down" This has created a routine; so when we need to be efficient with time at the beginning of class; this usually works.
- In every class two students are in "charge" of checking the carts to make sure all laptops are plugged in correctly and to take the cart to the next location. I rotate the students so that all get to help.
- When working in a project and using a tech tool (voicethread, photostory,blogs...)- there is always at least one student who knows or is familiarized with the tool. They become my helpers with the tech part so pair them up with other students or have them working in small groups. My students know my role changes; I am not necessarily a provider of information; I guide them and together we figure it out. I learn with them.
- The "screen downs" and "ojos para mi" (eyes on the teacher) helps to get their attention for instructions.
- Yes; students are great at having various windows open on their laptops; so I make my expectations clear. I believe that if they are engaged and interested then they will be on task.
- With language learning; especially in the lower levels, the challenge is to use these tools AND keep the target language going. For this reason; I choose carefully when I use laptops; I check how much the students know already about the tool and make sure the task is broken down as much as possible to continue to use only Spanish in class. I have also tried to have students who have stronger language proficiency work with others; as with the students who are more knowledgeable with technology.
These are some ideas...I am not saying it always works perfectly; it can be intense, but it is worth trying!