One of the reasons we like to use iPads and tablets with our students is because these devices are so engaging, but the engagement factor is a double-edged sword. When we want the kids to stay on task, it's usually our friend, but when we are ready to have students pay attention to something else, the siren call of a colorful iPad screen can be a problem. Here are some suggestions from Zachary Walker that you can use to manage your classroom and help your students stay on task while they are using mobile devices:
- Dock Your Device: Have students to put their device face down on the far right corner of the desk. This ensures that they are not distracted by whatever is on the screen or playing with them under the desk while you would like them focused elsewhere.
- Screens Up (or Apples Up): When you say "Screens up," students should immediately hold up their iPads/tablets with the screen facing you. This allows you to do a quick scan of all the devices to make sure students are on an appropriate app or website.
- Hands Up: Students should leave their devices face up on the desk and put both hands in the air when you say, "Hands up." You can continue talking while you walk around the room and scan the devices to make sure everybody is on task.
- Time the activity: Let the students know before they begin how much time they will have to work on the devices. Use a timer so they can keep track of how long they have. Any timer you can project for them will do. Try typing "2 minute timer" into Google or, for a more entertaining interface, install the free application Howler Timer on your computer.
- Noise meter: Finally, if you have your own iPad, install the Too Noisy app. Put the iPad where students can see it or project using your Elmo or Apple TV. Let the students know that if the noise level gets too high, the mobile devices will have to be put away, and let peer pressure help keep the volume at the level you have set as acceptable.
Zachary Walker's website, lastbackpack.com, is an excellent resource for mobile learning ideas and lesson plans. I highly recommend checking it out. If you are on Twitter, you can follow him @lastbackpack.