If Only I Knew… What I Wish I Knew BEFORE Going 1:1

A month into the school year, I have a little bit of perspective on the 1:1 journey.  Many of these insights are obvious and traits of good teaching, but with the steep learning curve associated with 1:1, I hope that these reminders will save you some headaches.

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1. Do it first:  For most of us educators, especially pre-1:1, the tablet is a consumption device, not a creative device. Moreover, much of the instructional material we create for the iPad is made most quickly and effectively from our primary device – a desktop or laptop computer.    So, with the additional workload of the 1:1 pilot program, I found that often times, I would create a document with my laptop and share it with students before attempting the assignment on my iPad myself. Invariably, this created more headaches in class, especially when it came to sharing or collaborating in real time, or using instant-feedback apps. I’ve found that attempting the lesson myself will help me to gain comfort with the student interface and help me to trouble shoot in advance of the lesson, instead of on the fly.

2. Do it in class:  Before asking students to tackle a new app or web-based program, do it in class.  Before 1:1, so many of the cool tools that I wanted students to use were best accessed at home: digital review games, videos, etc. In a 1:1 world, those resources are all at our finger tips, and I can help students to gain comfort with using them in the classroom before I send them home.  I’ve found that 5-10 minutes of using a new app or website prevents students from telling me that things don’t work at home and increases the quality of their work and understanding because they are less frustrated with the assignment.  Moreover, all 30 of their classmates are now familiar with the program – so I am no longer the only expert.

3. Avoid Tab-Overload: These days, I’m lucky if I only have 5 tabs open in my browser.  I assumed that juggling tabs would be natural for my savvy students, but in fact, they easily suffer from tab fatigue, losing the rhythm of their workflow and becoming distracted or frustrated.  However, the skills of reading and  curating media are among the greatest benefits of 1:1, as well as at  the crux of the Common Core.  Therefore, eliminating that juggling is crucial for student success.  Some easy fixes include using the Research function across the Google suite, so that students are researching in document or presentation, rather than working between tabs.  In other curating programs, like Thinglink or Padlet, I’ve found that asking students to write their ideas in a document before pairing them with an image on a website helps them to focus and increases the quality of their responses.

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