Hi, Anyone have any tips on keeping the students focused and on task in the computer lab. I demonstrate first on the Smartboard, hand out written directions, and still have so many kids who want the directions spoon fed!! I'd love to hear how other people manage all of this!

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If the students need the directions spoon fed to them, do it. Once you have given the directions, there is nothing else for you to do in the class but go around and help those who are stumbling.
I go through this too and I do spend my time going around and helping the students in need of assistance. I never sit when there's a class in the lab - I am always circling the room. With the younger grades that aren't reading, there is a lot of individual assistance needed since they may not remember the steps and can't read the instructions in many cases. However, I find that they're willing to try it first and will often complete an assignment without needing help.

Since time in the lab is limited (30-40 minutes) and I spend the first 5-10 minutes of that demonstrating, there just isn't time to individually help each student in a lot of cases. For example, 20 students with 20 minutes to complete the task and each one has a question that takes even 2 minutes means that 1/2 of the students do nothing while they wait for assistance and that just doesn't work. In addition to teaching technology skills, my job is to help the students learn how to problem solve for themselves.

To accomplish this, I require that they first read the instructions and second ask a neighbor before they ask me - many people I know have an "ask 3 before me" rule. I have found that in many cases it's just easier for them to ask me than to read the instructions. If I handed them a new game for their DS or Wii they wouldn't be asking me so I expect them to have at least tried it before asking. I also expect that they can tell me specifically where they are getting hung up on the instructions - what am I supposed to do? is not an acceptable question - I demonstrated what they were supposed to do and asked for questions at that time. I wrote up instructions which they have either on paper or on the computer screen. My answer to that kind of question is always "read the instructions".

Also, don't be afraid to reconvene at the Smartboard. If there seems to be a lot of confusion, bring them back over and re-explain and have the ones having the most trouble tell you what they are going to do on the computers when you have finished.
I don't know if this was suggested, but if you are using a smartboard, you can record your demonstration and have the students play it back as they need it. You can post the demo (done ahead of time of course) on teacher tube, and provide the link.
Thanx Corin. That's a great idea. Vicky, Thanx for your response. I feel like you're experiencing my exact frustrations, and it feels great to see that you're dealing with it exactly the same way as me! I also like the idea of "Texperts" in the classroom...thanx Timothy. Anne, I always use your links and valuable advice. Thanx all!!
Do you have and use SmartSync in the lab?



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