Using MentorMob as a Class Management Tool

MentorMob has many uses within the K – 12 classroom. However, one of the most valuable and little talked about benefits of using MentorMob is for class management and student safety.

When students are working in MentorMob, they are working within the playlist moving from step to step. The framework or interface of the MentorMob playlist can be used to ensure students are on track and on task. The playlist has an easily recognizable frame and a simple glance around the room provides assurance that students are in the right place and working on the right assignment. This is a huge benefit when managing classrooms especially when some of those classrooms have 30 (or even more) students.

To enhance this tool as a classroom management feature, be sure to tell your students how easy it is to determine if they are on target and on task before they begin their work.

My favorite feature of MentorMob is its use for classroom safety. MentorMob’s interface is set up so that teacher – selected websites are brought to the students within the interface instead of the students browsing out to the Internet. This feature eliminates a lot of random searching which can lead to a variety of problems from not completing the work to happening upon inappropriate sites.

No matter what type of group you are working with, presenting in the MentorMob interface decreases the chance for distraction and improves the opportunity for engagement and focused learning.

The next time you are considering taking your students to the computer lab or bringing a laptop cart to your room, create your lesson in MentorMob first and productivity in the quality of products submitted by the students are likely to be improved.

Capture The Potential Of a 5-Computer Classroom

Capture The Potential Of a 5-Computer Classroom

Classroom Management:  Best Practices
Preparing and Setting Expectations
  • Use whole-class presentations to demonstrate the scheduling process you have developed for computer use and what is to be accomplished when the students use the computer.  If possible, show the whole group a completed project to help them visualize your expectations.
  • Before assigning an activity, work with your students on the skills required to work collaboratively.  As you know, this is a process and must be taught and practiced.  Assign jobs and responsibilities.
  • Demonstrate to the entire class the software that will be used to complete computer projects.
  • Scaffolding – Begin with a simple project with a lot of structure and build to more complex projects with less structure.
  • Before assigning an activity try completing the assignment yourself, or even better, find a student to test the activity for you. This will let you know if the activity can be completed in the time you’ve allotted and if your directions are clear.
  • Check your web links the day before the assignment begins.
  • Post computer rules clearly visible at each computer and ensure that you have presented them during a whole-group presentation before students are allowed to work on the computers.

  • Make it a class rule that students can help one another but cannot ever touch another student’s computer. That way, you can be sure that learning occurs even when students help one another.
  • Don’t change desktop backgrounds.  This can cause confusion and impede completion of projects.
  • Always have a backup lesson in case the technology fails.

Classroom Management:  Best Practices
  • Time Management

    • Use templates for student products. Place the templates in the where you can easily access them like in a cloud storage service like Box.com or Dropbox.com. You might even use student-created templates. (Hint: Be sure you have shown the whole group how to access the templates.)
    • Plan your lessons and activities so that every day has specific jobs to be completed.
    • Draw a horizontal line on the board and write each students name under the line. When a student finishes their computer work, they put their name above the line and the next student moves to the computer.
    • In younger grade classrooms, put the students names on the board written on separate, colored paper strips. When a student finishes their work, have them remove their name strip and place in a designated area and the next student moves to the computer.
    • Divide the class into groups of five. One group works on the computers independently. For larger classes, you may need to pair students at one computer. Another group learns a new concept with the teacher while another group works on an off-computer anchor activity related to the concept being taught.
    • Post a schedule. Allow a set amount of time for each student at the computer station. Students are responsible for getting to the station at the appointed time.
    • Draw Popsicle sticks. Write each student’s name on a Popsicle stick. Place the can of Popsicle sticks at the computer station. Draw a stick at the start of the day. The person whose name is on the stick will start the day at that station. That student will draw a stick to determine who goes next. For younger groups, color the Popsicle sticks.
    • Establish color-coded groups. Divide the class into five groups. Write the names of each group on a different sheet of colored paper, and post the papers by the computer station. Be sure the students know which color group they belong to. The students in each group will spend time at the computer on a given day (for example, the students in the red group will have computer time on Mondays).
    • Develop a method for timing student computer time for rotations.When working on lengthy technology projects, print out step-by-step instructions. Include some that say “Save your work; do not go any further until you help your neighbors reach this point.” This helps less-proficient students solve problems more quickly, keeps the class at roughly the same point in the project, and fosters collaborative learning.

Managing Classroom Behavior and Disruptions
  • Create a binder for each computer of self-help instructions for computer projects, index cards with a ring, or create a classroom FAQ web page.  Use it for those questions you get often and teach the whole group how to locate and use them.

    • Split up the responsibility for creating these cards among your department or co-workers.  If everyone creates 2 or 3 FAQ cards on different common help topics, they may be copied to produce the completed FAQ resource for students.
    • If using an FAQ web page, be sure to spend time showing students how to access and use the page.
    • If using a binder, use dividers to split the FAQ’s into related areas.
    • For younger grades, include picture support.

    • “Try three before me” – This method means the student tries three other methods before interrupting the teacher.  Those methods may be:

      • using the help or support feature on a software program;
      • the FAQ binder, cards, or web page; or
      • asking a neighbor who is also working on the computer.

    • Use colored paper cups to signal for help.  For example, a blue paper cup means all is well and a red paper cup means help is needed.  Students should place the red cup on the computer or desk and go back to work while waiting for the teacher to assist.  (Hint:  Go over this expectation with students as a whole group before allowing computer use.)
    • Place clear step-by-step instructions for the students on your classroom website or printed out and ensure one is at each computer workstation.
    • Develop a team of student experts who assist students with computer projects.  Consider rotating this job every six weeks.
    • Create a web page for the student tasks and write clear instructions and provide links to the necessary websites.  This cuts down on wasted time when students struggle to type website addresses and improves the chance of a positive outcome. (Hint:  Before answering questions, be sure that the students have checked the web page.  This teaches them to read carefully and builds independent learning skills.)

Evaluating the Computer Projects
  • Do a gallery walk. After a lesson using presentation software, allow students to walk around the room and view everyone the work of their peers. They might get some good ideas for the next lesson — and finding something positive to say about other students’ work teaches good manners.

    • Use Microsoft Word 2007 and insert comments into Word documents.  Comments are a great editing and motivating tool for kids. Use them to guide drafting and brainstorming and to help students peer edit and work collaboratively on group projects. Following these steps to insert comments:

      • Select the text or item that you want to comment on, or click at the end of the text.
      • On the Review tab, in the Comments group, click New Comment.

      • Type the comment text in the comment balloon or in the Reviewing Pane.
      • When a student moves the cursor over that word or phrase, the comment will pop up.
      • Note:  To respond to a comment, click its balloon, and then click New Comment in the Comments group. Type your response in the new comment balloon.

    • Grade the project in stages  instead of waiting until the end to offer evaluation.  (Ex:  outline, rough draft, final draft)
    • Give points/grade for productive lab time

    • Create or find an  evaluation rubric easily using Rubistar.

      • After clicking on the website, create an account.
      • Once you have an account, login and choose “Find Rubric” from the tabs at the top of the page.
      • Type keywords such as “computer project.”
      • Click “Search.”
      • Check the results for a rubric that will serve your goals with your class.
      • Click “Print Page” to make a copy of the rubric.

    • Plan for students who finish early by having a web page of educational resources the students may explore.

Project and Lesson Ideas with Student Computers
Learning Centers – Use the computer as an online learning center while other activities are going on in the room.

What is that Magic? When Computer Labs Work

It truly was magical.  Picture a group of sixth graders entering the computer lab on Monday.  They’d had one day of computer lab orientation a couple of weeks  ago but that was their total exposure to using the computer labs at their new middle school.  The students entered the lab excitedly talking with each other, discussing all sorts of things about their day.
The students filed by the participation sheets which had been so thoroughly discussed in the orientation and so the day started with a reminder to every one that entered to pick one up from the edge of the desk that was near the door.  Some would still not pick it up even though the constant reminders by myself and their LA teacher rang out above the chatter.  Somewhere along the way between the door and their lab chair, they somehow realized they had missed something and they scrambled back to pick up the participation sheet they had bypassed.  Some never did hear the reminders so one of us would find them and remind them.  When everyone sat down, another reminder for the whole class usually resulted in one or two students jumping up to grab the paper.
Now, I was pleased to note that very few students turned on their monitors or played with their computers.  Instead, most of them remembered they were to look to the screen where the LCD projector was displaying a PowerPoint slide with instructions for the day.  (Do you think it might have been the giant, cartoon-like horse that smiled at them with a lazy grin on the large display at the front of the room?
After commending the students on remembering to read the screen, I watched as the instructions began to register as their eyes methodically read from left-to-right.  Students began to turn on their  monitors (yes, they knew what the monitors were…another Orientation topic!)
Now logging in caused some difficulties with some and they required one-to-one assistance of the information for logging in.  However, one or two reached for the FJH Student Handbook which had flow-chart type instructions for logging into the computer listed on page 3.  I took this as a good sign!
We then navigated to the LA teacher’s website where the Assignment instructions were posted for the day.  The students followed along and found their way easily through the process of locating the assignments from the school’s website which displayed in the browser’s window as the Home page.
Eventually all of the students were logged in and they began taking their 6th grade pre-assessment exam which will help guide curriculum decisions for the students throughout the upcoming year.  As the students settled into their chairs and concentrated on the test, a quiet fell across the room as the students became thoroughly engaged in the activity in front of them.  Their hands were moving, their eyes were moving, and they seemed motivated to do a good job!
That first day in the lab ended with the closing procedures and students closed programs properly, logged off the computers, shut off the monitors, gathered their items while looking for trash, and then, when their teacher requested, stood behind their chairs that they scooted under their desks waiting to file out of the room.  Looking at the sea of faces, none looked sad, none looked upset and I thought to myself, “This is a good day.”
Fast forward now to day three in the lab.  The assessment is over and the students have begun working on  activities  that strengthened their understanding of word processors, homonyms, keyboarding, and spelling.  Today, the students filed in and only a handful bypassed the participation sheet.  They still chatted excitedly but they made their way to their chairs and immediately filled out the heading on the participation sheet.  They then, almost in unison, looked at the front of the room to view the LCD screen display which they read!  (Today, a large cartoon-like monkey graced our screen.)  For a moment, I literally was transformed thinking what a moment it was to watch 29 students read together and then complete the tasks.
They all, and I mean ALL, turned on their monitors, logged into the computer, navigated to their LA teacher’s website and then to her Assignment page, and almost all found the assignment and opened it up.  Some needed a reminder of which of  the assignments to open but that’s o.k.
They then continued following the screen instructions and logged into the website that would open their interactive lessons for the day.  And, then the quiet again!  These activities have audio so the kids put on their headphones and settled into their assignments.  When it was time to close up the lab, the students followed the procedure though some needed a reminder to turn off the monitor.  (They still knew what a monitor was, though!)  Picking up the participation sheets produced a bundle of papers with almost 100% having complete headings.  And, they finished their closing procedures and stood behind their chairs and waved happily to us as they filed out of the room.
And, I have to say that is why I get emotional about technology, why it is more something that is from my heart than from my brain.  In just 2 days, the students had almost mastered the procedures for the lab at 100%.  They were reading, deciphering instructions, and then applying them.  They were problem-solving in their activities and learning homonyms at the same time.  And, they looked happy.  They were learning and they looked happy.  How can your heart not be involved when something like this happens?

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