I have this written on the board: “Welcome to the math Chrome store, I am your Chrome Ninja Expert. Look at your ticket and find your Chromebook. Click “add user” and set up your account. Set your photo as the login icon and begin to browse the computer. Be sure to read your welcome ticket and try some of the basic features of this new machine. Remember our conversation yesterday. The goal is to find efficient and meaningful ways of implementing this technology. “
This is not a promotion for Chromebooks, but a fun way of introducing the technology I was able to purchase for the year. I would do this same with a set of any type of technology. Setting up the room as a “Chrome store” with myself as a “Chrome Ninja Expert” (an expert with an official nametag, something like “Math Teacher, Geek, Chrome Ninja Expert”) really helps students get pumped about the technology, even if it is just another type of laptop. I sometimes give students nametags that represent their current status: “Ted: Chromebook White belt” and then give upgrades as they finish certain tasks. Whatever the exact arrangement, I set music in the background, make the computers easily reachable and welcome students at the door. I put up a sign at the door and do everything I can to make this an exciting event. A background detail here is that I number the computers a day in advance and include student numbers on the ticket the get when they walk in the door. These welcome tickets also include other information. One common thing I like to list out on their ticket is the features of the Chrome OS. This will always be changing, but one possible ticket layout would include the features listed below:
The idea is to make this more than just another piece of technology, but to make this an event (something Steve Jobs understood well when he first presented the Apple iPhone).
I begin the conversation by either locking all the machines (which they love because it is often unexpected and demonstrates that I understand how to use these machines) or just ask them to close the screens down. Students might have issues with their log in, since they have to log in with their school account, but I ask them to wait a minute and promise to address all issues. I have learned that the first day with any new technology is messy and requires tremendous troubleshooting. With technology, things will only work smoothly when you are prepared for them to not work smoothly. Students forget passwords and usernames all the time, and that problem is at least a given. I set myself up as a super administrator through the school’s domain and make sure I have the ability to deal with the issues myself. If I had to wait for tech support, nothing would ever get done. Its not that our tech support isn’t great, its just that our tech support is the tech teacher, who is often in the middle of their own lesson when we need them. I suggest finding a way to do this for your own implementation of technology.
Once I have the classes attention, I remind them of the previous conversation we ha in class. I point to the chart or slide of our ideas on community rules for technology and let students know that this list will become a contract today when students sign this list at the end of class. I explain that we will wait until the end because we might want to alter or add another item. I continue by asking them why we set up these rules and try to elicit the idea that we want to find an effective and meaningful way to use the technologies we have.
Once students understand that the goal of the lesson is to start learning the basic ways in which we can effectively use the Chromebook (or whatever technology we are implementing), I encourage them to name the most basic ways we can start mastering the Chrome OS. We often list out ideas but invariably mention the keyboard shortcuts, the graphic user interface (GUI) or the Chrome OS (where are the icons and what do they mean), taking ownership through personalizing the machine and of course, email. I explain to students that they will share the machine with 3 other students from other classes and are expected to treat the machine with respect (a rule they created themselves). I start by showing them how to login and encourage them to take a photo for their log in account. This is a nice feature on Chrome since the images are displayed on the log in screen and I can quickly tell who uses the machine from each class. Students have fun with the photos since my photo is also on every machine (and I can’t resist having a photo without making a funny face).
Students use the middle section of class to take on the tasks of the day.
We finish class by sharing the different features of the keyboard and operating system. Students love to share their finds and we list these out on the board to begin building our “Chrome User Guide.” The user guide is built from the class conversation and the emails they sent in class. I always make sure we have students discuss how to take a screen shot, as I find this to be the most basic and useful keyboard shortcut. I ask students to take a screen shot and then ask them to recite the keyboard command as an informal type of exit ticket. I ask them “can you take a screen shot of a particular area?” And then ask them to state the different ways we can do that. If they are unsure of how to do it, I remind them and then say “check your email, I am sending this information to you.” Students get really excited because they know the conversation around the technology is only beginning and they know that we are committed to finding meaningful ways of applying the technology. Our focus in the summary conversation is not just around the basics but also around their ideas for useful application of the Chromebook. I tell them to “remember that you are inventing the ways in which we use this technology.” By celebrating their input, I hope to get their ideas and feedback as we use this technology. I believe that technology is best utilized when a group of people collaborate. Technology can isolate us from each other, but it has an amazing potential for team work. Our students love this dichotomy and often talk around this theme as they debate in class.