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Top Tech Tips for Back to School!

As educators across the academic spectrum are aware, the start of school is nearly here. In a week, perhaps a few if you’re lucky, students will be back in session and the academic year will be in full swing. While this is an exciting time for all involved, we also know it can be very hectic, stressful, and a little on the chaotic side!

In between worrying about classroom supplies, making sure your door is properly decorated, and that the vibe in your room starts your school year off right, there is also all that lovely technology that you use daily! Things like USB drives, Bluetooth speakers, wireless mice, keyboards, wall chargers, and other tech goodies that make life a little simpler.

It is equally important to have open communication on how to use technology in your classroom, with both students and parents! Everyone being on the same page makes the start of the academic year a breeze, and a mutual understanding about technology use and expectations is no exception.

To that end, we’ve compiled a list of technology and general classroom tips that will help you start the school year off right!

 

 

Top Tier Tips for a Great Start to the New Academic Year

  • Communicate classroom technology expectations!
    • Make sure students understand acceptable technology use – Students won’t know unless you inform them, so piggybacking a lesson on your school’s Acceptable Use Policy is a good step towards proper technology etiquette and use. You may have to repeat the lesson throughout the academic year as a refresher, but by doing so, you are setting your students up for continued success.

     

    • Develop brief parent communication about your ed tech plans – A short note home or group email to parents explaining how, where, and why technology is used in the classroom is a good step to creating first-day harmony. It might be smart to include information about good digital citizenship and etiquette, along with parent access instructions to any class websites or course management systemssuch as Schoology or Google Classroom. Other handy information to include might be website and movie ratings, a selection of age-appropriate website choices, and copyright/plagiarism explanations if appropriate.
      • Most importantly, include what your classroom technology expectations are for students during the school year.

 

  • Integrate educational technology thoughtfully… and effectively!
    • Show your students the value of educated risks – The classroom is a perfect testing ground for integrating technology and seeing what works for your pupils… and what doesn’t. The best learning often happens outside your student’s comfort zone, after all!Find ways to use new technology in new ways; This allows your students to gain brand new perspectives, new ways of problem-solving, and understand the value of a ‘mistake’.
      • This applies to you, too! – You aren’t bad with technology, you just haven’t practiced enough yet! Take the time to reflect on your current mindset if need be, and shift your approach to educational technology to a more positive and proactive

     

    • Do you have a school or classroom website or social media feed? – Social media and personalized web-pages for your classroom can be a great way for you to show the world the inspiring activities and engaged learning your students are up to. Many teachers make use of Twitter, Instagram, and even Snapchat! Bitmoji is also a popular way to bring the digital world to your students. Reflection and documentation is an important part of the learning process, and sharing the results of their learning encourages your students to think critically about the methodology of improvement; What worked, what didn’t, and why is an important part of their educational journey.
      • Make sure you have permission from the students’ parent or guardian before posting their photo and read up on what your school districts’ guidelines are on using social media!

     

    • Know the district-wide format for student email and other accounts – For example: myfirstname@school.net or jdoe@school.edu how usernames for student accounts usually look like. Another example of this might be JaneDoe or JDoe for username format. The first week may go much, much easier if you know this information before needing to email the school’s technical support! Another important piece of information is knowing the procedure for getting issues with student access resolved. A student who is unable to log in to a device or website may miss valuable classroom time!

 

  • Don’t forget your peripherals! This means USB drives, wireless mice, etc!
    • USB Drives are essential – Nearly everyone uses them, especially when accessing the internet to save to Google Drive or another cloud service isn’t readily available. Having a few handy, usually about 4 gigabytes (That’s about 14,000+ Word documents!), will really be a great time saver and student success tool. These little devices can be bought in bulk via websites such as Newegg and Amazon.

     

    • Other Peripherals – Bluetooth speakers, wireless mice, keyboards, printers, and the like all need to be plugged in and set up before the start of classes. After all, Murphy’s Law dictates “Anything that can go wrong… will go wrong!” This is especially true on the first day of school. If you have access to your school’s technology department, touch base with them to see if they can assist in set up.

     

    • Where are your batteries? – Make sure you have fresh batteries on hand and you’ve replaced all the batteries in your devices; Wireless mice, keyboards, headsets, and all manner of remotes take Nothing would be worse than walking in on the first day and finding out the only remote to the projector or TV has dead batteries… and you have none on hand!

     

    • Cords, Cables, Charging ports – Charging blocks, cables, and cords are the most common forgotten items for back to school, but are also some of the most essential. I’d recommend at least one spare wall plug-in charging block that has a USB port(As swapping different cords is a must!), along with two spare charging cables, and a USB charging hub. All of these things are readily available through Amazon, local technology stores, etc.

 

  • Outlets, Tech, and… do you need an extension cord?
    • Identify where your outlets are and if they work – Many classrooms only have three or four outlets, and of those outlets, only two plugs are often accommodated. This is very much an issue when you have twenty Chromebooks or iPads to charge, but no cart to do it in! Therefore, device management is crucial; Knowing exactly where all your outlets are is a great step to a better school year.It is equally important to check the outlets actually work and have current to them before the start of the year! It is never fun to discover problem utilities on the first day of school.

     

    • What about power strips and cords? – At the end of teacher setup, your desktop setup generally occupies at least one entire outlet, along with your printer taking up one, your maker space devices, and so on… Therefore, sturdy, reliable, and heavy-duty power strips are vital. Ideally, these should be power surge protected – Nothing is worse than coming back into the classroom to a dead Chromebox or desktop computer due to a power surge after a storm. Power extension cords should be equally heavy duty. These items can likely be acquired through your school IT technician!As a very important fire-risk safety reminder;
      Never daisy chain power strips or surge protectors together.

 


While this isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, it will hopefully be a good step towards spending time in those first weeks of the school year fully engaging your students, instead of hassling with uncooperative technology!

Forward Edge is a full-service K-12 technology service provider in Cincinnati, OH. We offer valuable assistance in Managed Technology Services, such as on-site technicians to assist in all your time-crucial and need-right-now technology needs, along with in-depth network oversight, wireless infrastructure, server management, and much more!

In addition, Forward Edge also offers help developing technology integration skills via our Curriculum and Integration department. By utilizing the ISTE Standards for Coaches, Educators and Students, certifications in Google For Education, and experience with the latest technology, we provide a wide range of services like Professional Development, 1-on-1 Coaching, On-Site Coaching, Bootcamps, Webinars and more, all which deliver big benefits to your team.

Contact Forward Edge today about the variety of services we offer! Learn more about our services via our Website, by reaching us via calling (513)761-3343, or sending an email to info@forward-edge.net

 

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