March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

The T in STEM – Technology Management in Science Classrooms

Posted: Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

Next Generation of Science Standards, Common Core, and now technology!  Science teachers in California are being asked to incorporate increasingly more components into everyday lessons in order to prepare their students for college and career. Despite the increased demands, with a little preparation, technology can be an engaging way to involve students in the world of Science.

Before You Begin

Whether you have one computer in your classroom or one computer for every student, start your venture into technology with a strong Student Technology Contract. Examples of contracts abound on the Internet covering issues from permitted websites to proper use of equipment to consequences for breaking contracts. The student as well as the parents should sign the technology contract. Agreements may be written by individual teachers or created for an entire school site. Regardless of where the contract originates, periodically revisit its terms with your students.

Even though most students use technology daily, many are not knowledgeable about specific technology terms and procedures. When you first introduce computers to your students, it will be worth your while to define common technology usage terms, especially those that can have more than one meaning such as the difference between “closing a computer” and “signing out of a computer” (Heitin, 4).

Supervision

Even during the most engaging lesson, students will want to wander independently through the Internet, so supervision of student activity is essential. Ideally, computers should be placed so the teacher can see all the computer screens. Computer programs exist that allow teachers to observe, close tabs, and even lock student computers remotely. Regardless of computer placement or monitoring program, there is no substitute for roaming the classroom to keep students focused on the task at hand (Heitin, 2). As you inspect screens, pay particular attention to windows that may be minimized (Hume, 2). There should be clear consequences for being off task while using computers.

Single-computer classrooms

If your classroom has only one computer, consider using it as a station. For long-term projects, have students rotate to the computer for a particular portion of the project. This part should stand alone as students will access the computer during different stages of the assignment. Develop a clear signal for when students will switch users, such as an egg timer or student assistant, (Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies, 4). How much time you give each rotation will depend on the required task. The rotation strategy can also be used for computerized lab simulations. Students rotate to the computer over a class period or school week; individually or in groups. If students are using the computer in groups, assign each group member a job so each person has an opportunity to use the technology (Hume, 2; Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies, 4). Place answers to FAQs within easy access of the computer, for instance how to log-in, frequented website addresses, how to refresh the computer screen, and how to signal for assistance (Hume, 2; Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies, 5).

Multi-computer Classrooms

In classrooms where each student is fortunate to have their own computer, they should always use the same computer. This will give students a sense of ownership and decrease misuse and vandalism. Spend time teaching students about maintenance and care of their devices and let them know that they are responsible for their computer’s well-being and upkeep. Students should be instructed to inform the teacher if there are problems with their computer otherwise they might be held responsible for any issues that arise (Heitin, 2-3).

Student assistants are especially helpful in multi-computer classrooms (Heitin, 3). Their attention to minor technology issues will free the teacher to interact with students about the subject matter (Hume, 2). Assistants can pass out computers, help students log-in and connect to the internet, and ensure that the computers are set up to charge overnight (Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies, 4).

With a myriad of computer programs, websites, and social media only a click a way, computers provide students with current, relevant, and engaging science content. Planning ahead will make the experience more satisfying for you and your students.

Resources: 

Heitin, L. ( 2013, October). For Teachers, Wired Classrooms Pose New Management Concerns.  Education Week TEACHER.  Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2013/10/14/cm_wired.html

Hume, K. (2011, June). Managing Technology Use in Your Classroom.
TEACH Magazine. Retrieved from http://teachmag.com/archives/3510

Travis Unified School District. (2002-2014). Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies.  Retrieved from http://www.travisusd.k12.ca.us/travisusd/tusd/Administration/Departments/Information_Services/resources/integration_tips/management.htm

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is President for CSTA.

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