You can’t digitize all your classroom management techniques. But using technology in the morning puts students right to work from the moment they step into the classroom.
Harry Wong, whose First Days of School I read thoroughly every year just before school starts back up, is an expert in classroom management. Mr. Wong advocates establishing rules and procedures on the very first day of school so that students know right away what is expected of them.
One of his suggestions is “Bell Work.” In this practice, a teacher has work up on the board for the students to work on as soon as they enter the classroom in the morning. Students quickly learn that when they come in, they must sit down and get to work. I thought this was a great idea, so when I first started teaching in 2001, this meant a transparency up on the overhead or countless copies for each student.
One day, a district official was coming to our school to visit, and I wanted to prepare something to impress. Why not show off my Educational Tech savvy by projecting my Bell Work up on the screen using a PowerPoint? She was happy to see someone using a projector (I was the only one in my school who had one then) and even happier to see it used for classroom management.
Today, I have a series of PowerPoints I have created over the past few years that are in a desktop folder labeled DOW (Day of the Week). In the folder are five separate folders (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday) and within each folder is a short PowerPoint for that day (MarvelousMonday1, Marvelous Monday2, etc.).
- The first one welcomes students into the classroom and directs them to the things they need to get done before class starts. From the first day of school when my students walk in, they know to look up at the screen to see what they need to accomplish that morning.
- The second slide comes after they have done their work, and I have had time to take attendance and lunch count. I ring chimes, go over the day’s agenda, then switch to the second slide which “gets the cobwebs” out so they can focus better on learning. I try to use clever riddles, puns and puzzlers which promote thinking differently about a problem and which also underscore my adage that “Every Test is a Reading Test.” I use that phrase as a call and response in my classroom — Me: “Every test …” Students: “Is a reading test!” I want them to know that if they don’t read carefully (which is an important skill in standardized testing whether high school exit exam or DMV test), the will miss key clues to the answer!
I’ve experimented with having the two daily Bell Work slides rotate automatically every 10 seconds. Some classes like the reminder of what to do and a chance to look at the puzzler for the day. Some classes need one screen at a time.