*Today’s blog post was written by Betsy Weston

Imagine this: You walk through your classroom and your students are working independently on their school-issued device. They are engaged…they know their login information to every program…the Wi-Fi is working…their devices are charged…they aren’t trying to secretly watch YouTube… Sounds like a dream, right? As teachers, we know that this scenario can be far from our reality. It makes us wonder, is technology really worth it or does it take too much time away from what we’re actually trying to teach?

While technology in the classroom brings about many new challenges to our already overloaded plates, technology can be a blessing in many ways. This can only work if we have the proper procedures, strategies, and support in our classrooms. Here are five ways to make technology worth using in your classroom:

Establish classroom norms, procedures, and expectations 

The first few days of school are spent on introducing procedures and expectations to your students. It’s extremely important to include your technology expectations within those first few days, as well. Students should be given clear guidelines that they have to follow in order to use technology in the classroom. Establish procedures and be sure to model every single procedure, several days in a row. These should range from how to open a school-issued device, to how to put them away for charging, and everything in between. When introducing new technology or new programs to your students, teach them the art of troubleshooting. Give your students ways to try to solve their problem before asking for help.

Make programs easily accessible

As an elementary teacher, one of the hardest parts about using technology is having students log on to the correct website in a timely manner. Over the years, I’ve found two ways to solve this problem. The first way is to use a program like Clever. This program can be purchased by your school district. Clever will take your class rosters and upload them into whatever program you need your students to use, which will provide students with a single sign-in method for all of your websites and programs.

Because we know that school budgets are very limited throughout the nation, an alternative to a program like Clever is a HyperDoc for your students to use. A HyperDoc will allow your students to click on icons or titles, which will be linked to the website you’d like your students to use. A single HyperDoc with all of websites you use can be created within minutes. There are hundreds of tutorials available online to show you how to create the perfect HyperDoc for your classroom.

Get to know your programs and devices        

One of the biggest ways to become comfortable with technology in your classroom is to get comfortable with technology yourself. It is so important to make sure that you know the ins and outs of every program and device that you are having your students use. Most new programs will provide training for you, but if they don’t, I encourage you to explore the program yourself. While I know this is time-consuming, it will definitely save time in the long-run, if problems arise.

Have a way to monitor your students

Monitoring your students’ usage of technology is critical at any level. While we do want to put trust in our students, it’s also important to hold students accountable. Monitoring can look different depending on what you prefer. For some teachers, walking around the classroom and checking in with students is enough. For others, they may prefer to use a program like Securly. Securly is a program that can be purchased through your school district that allows you to monitor individual screens from one teacher device.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Last, but certainly not least, don’t be afraid to reach out to colleagues for help! There are also hundreds of websites dedicated to helping teachers get comfortable with technology. You can do this!

Take a deep breath. You’ve got this!

For more free educational resources, check out out these teacher-tested strategies from Blue Apple!