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Laptops in all lessons

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by sarahtaylor999, Oct 6, 2018.

  1. sarahtaylor999

    sarahtaylor999 New commenter

    In September 2019 my school is moving to all students (starting with year 7) having a laptop and will be expected to use it in all lessons. Does anyone have any experience of how they have changed their teaching to move with technology. In theory they will be able to do all of their work on laptops and they wouldn't need an exercise book (but I don't think we are going that far in the first year).
    I'm not debating if this is a good thing or bad thing I'm after anyone's experience/advice/articles on how to move forward with this.
    In my head I'm wondering if we move to everyone plugging in and doing their own pace- sort of every lesson is a maths watch lesson (but don't feel that's realistic). Or do we order text books online versions and the main use of the laptop is a text book.
    Any suggests/experience or articles welcome please.
  2. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    It can be very useful. If you use Google Classroom you can share things with them instantly without the need for photocopying - saves paper and saves disorganised teachers who never put copying requests in on time and also means that you can change plan mid lesson if need be.
    Downside - when they've got their screens open it's impossible for you to know what they're all doing at any one time.

    In maths and physics it's not always easy for them to do their work on a laptop - getting mathematical symbols can be a pain and it's often faster to handwrite but I imagine there's quite some beneft there in other subjects.
  3. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    There will never ever be a lesson in which every lap top in the room is working, and you don't have to spend a significant amount of your time investigating why not
    NIHistoryTeacher, strawbs and pepper5 like this.
  4. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    It won't save paper, it with increase the paper used by at least an order of magnitude, and you will spend most of your lunch times trying to unblock the printers and half of your marking time simply trying to work out which draft of whose work you have in you hand
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    you need a strictly enforced printing limit, and a strictly enforced naming and date /time policy in the footers or headers.

    You need to factor in hours into your teaching time to teach lay out, and ICT skills.

    You need to factor in regular hand writing practice to compensate for so much typing

    You need to factor in lessons on planning and organisation, as these are skills that develop naturally with pen and paper but not at all with ICT

    You need safe storage and labelling of laptops

    You need to take into account that the internets accessibility at home will not lways "marry up" with that of school, so there will be no continuity between school work and home work

    You need to take into account the total impossibility of expecting students to be able to take responsibility for transporting laptops between home and school ( the staff who expect this to be a reasonable generally are people with cars, which are available to them in the evenings, even if not always used for school journeys)

    I am regularly reduced to fury by the expectations of schools of what my children or myself as a teacher can be expected to transport.

    Laptops, absolutely not, except in rare circumstances, by prior arrangement not more than once every month or two
    pepper5 likes this.
  6. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I teach adults, who have the choice of handwriting or typesetting their maths. If you're going to get kids typesetting maths, you'll need to factor in teaching how. That might not be a bad thing at all, but it's an extra thing to teach, and you might need to do a bit of training if some staff are not good at it themselves. I've seen plenty of people who get annoyed at the Word equation editor, but haven't discovered the keyboard shortcuts which make it five times quicker to use.
    You might want to look at what notation you will be using in each topic, and agree what your expectations are - would you accept 3/2x^2? What about 3 1/2?

    Working on a computer can be a real disincentive to use diagrams on an ad hoc basis, although it may make it easier to use them where it's planned. Again, you need to think about the practicalities - you can provide a diagram for an angles question, but you may need to teach them a means of annotating that diagram.

    Adult students often find exams a shock, particularly in arts subjects - because it's a long time since they wrote for a couple of hours at a time. Until we have online exams, I think it would be foolish to move to doing everything on a computer, for that reason alone. You don't want to wait until year 11 to discover how illegible and slow their writing is and start doing writing practice at that point. That's not such an issue with maths, but what can be is that some who work entirely on computers tend to use a calculator app, and we have to warn them to familiarise themselves with whatever calculator they will have in the exam.
    Piranha likes this.
  7. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    but you won't be "discovering" poor hand writing, you will have contributed to poor hand writing, as hand writing is a skill that quickly deteriorates, so not using it in school means it will be worsening as children age.
  8. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    I trained in a school quite a few years ago now which gave free Laptops to all students in Y7, I joined them a few years after that so all of Y7-Y9 had been given them. I think the idea was that they would be returned at the end of Y11, so it would be sustainable after 5 years.

    The one time I asked 20 Y8s to get their laptops out (which I was assured by SLT was something I could do), the majority of them didn't have them. There were rumours in the staffroom of students/parents selling them off as it was a very deprived area and there were near constant IT problems with them being accidentally damaged.

    Y10/Y11 had to make do with a shared trolley full of laptops, I've seen these in a few schools, especially new academies which inexplicably seem to avoid building IT rooms despite it literally being the subject of the future. Half of them are not plugged back in to charge by the students at the end of lesson and a few are always auto updating/broken.

    This was all on an exppensive PFI IT deal so we had a staff meeting where we were told that the school had run out of money for laptops and there would be no more. It was well intentioned and sounds great on a powerpoint presentation to governors/OFSTED but in practice it was too much logistically to expect.

    Only way I've seen IT work is wired in PCs in a specialist PC classroom, the fancy solutions have too many moving parts which can break. If tablet PCs continue to reduce in price, I can see those potentially working in the future, especially if they have touchscreen pens so students can handwrite onto the screen.

    So for the original question, I think you probably want to have some (weekly?) lessons set up for the start of the term with google classroom sharing things directly to the students, to show SLT you are engaging with this and to encourage students to bring and look after the laptops.

    ...but always have a paper backup. Set a time limit for getting the laptops turned on after which they need to use paper. Ask for that software IT teachers have which lets you see what is on their screens, otherwise you need to stand at the back of the room to keep an eye on them.
  9. BillyBobJoe

    BillyBobJoe Lead commenter

    We have laptops for all our students. We do have problems with students not taking good care of them, but a strong line from management has had a reasonable impact, particularly when it comes to them not being charged, left in places they shouldn't be etc. They don't go home. The original plan was that they should, but a group of students got wise to the idea that if they could claim their parents wouldn't take responsibility for them then they wouldn't have to take them home to do homework so the idea was dropped. Probably just as well for the lifespan of the machines. They're useful, and means you can supplement textbooks with online resources easily without churning out paper constantly. I don't get them to type their maths; I think the process of thinking on paper is too integral to how maths is done to make it a good idea.
    dunnocks likes this.
  10. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    How computers are used in education should have been established and rolled out 2o years ago. We are still pontificating about how best to use devices that were not designed for the task in hand. The nearest I have experienced was a language lab in 1969 where the teacher could listen to any individual student as they learned french on tape recorders, remotely stop them and advise them. You cannot do that with laptops without very sophisticated software. Keeping 30 pupils on task must be a nightmare.
    dunnocks likes this.
  11. GeordieKC

    GeordieKC Occasional commenter

    Hopefully the fact that the OP is asking this question now is an indication that the school does have a plan and that this is the start of a preparation process for the deployment of devices next September. The laptops are a small part of the investment needed to make this work, the school should be providing teachers with both general and subject specific training.

    However just because they are available does not mean that laptops should be used in every lesson. As with any tool the laptop should be used when appropriate and that is not every lesson. Having laptops readily available increases the options for how you deliver a topic, but all the old options still exist and there is no reason to stop using them.

    Some apps to look at and consider how you could use: GeoGebra, Quizlet, Google Suite for Education (Classroom, Sheets, Docs, Forms, Slides...) or Office 365, Scratch, and any screen recording app.

    Never rely on the technology always have a backup plan ready if the technology does not function smoothly.
  12. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    worth teaching them the link to Corbett Maths, free and very helpful videos for homework help.
  13. SelectMyTutor

    SelectMyTutor New commenter

    Technology has converted class education simple and interesting to all. We can search anything from these online technical resources. Video conferencing, videos, blogs and online textbooks are ways of learning subjects.
  14. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I really don't think it is that simple

    resources are often very expensive, poor quality or simply wrong, and there can be so many available that most of your life ends up being spent simply sifting through them. Often quicker just to make your own.

    And other issue is that students find it very very hard to sift and evaluate

    Of course, you can't go wrong with good old BBC bitesize - well worth the license fee on its own, I've always thought But in many ways, very similar to just having a full set of decent text books
  15. sarahtaylor999

    sarahtaylor999 New commenter

    Thanks for your replies. I posted as I was after ideas not the rights/wrongs about it. I'm going to have the computers and I need to think of a way to get it to work for me in maths. We have been using maths watch and wondered if anyone uses anything else.

  16. Maths_Shed

    Maths_Shed Occasional commenter

  17. sarahtaylor999

    sarahtaylor999 New commenter

    I read that article as well and was very pleased with myself as I run a STEM making club!! We have been making lots of cars out of plastic bottles, using craft knives to make glides and my latest project with the group is doing soldering activities that requires lots of hands on skills!
    But I'm still open to ideas about using the laptops in lessons, I don't think people understand that its going to happen and I'm trying to plan now to make it work.
  18. mathslover

    mathslover New commenter

    Our school has a Bring your own device policy and for the most part it works well.

    I use boxedrockets.co.uk a lot, for skills practice instead of a textbook. It means they all do different versions of the same questions, ( they are clear and simply displayed 4 or 6 per page) so can’t copy, can click ‘show’ and get instant answers for marking and can work on easier or harder things.

    I find it particularly useful when teaching algebra (go to secondary click on the algebra rocket on right hand side) with a mix of abilities in the group. For example in year 9 recently, some pupils were still consolidating basic simplifying while others were Factorising single brackets and some were even Factorising into double brackets - all with no photocopied sheets etc.

    Areamazes and the la sallies timetables app are also great on individual laptops...
  19. madoldbat

    madoldbat New commenter

    Use the laptops for providing resources & extension work as well as interactive activities but keep up with written solutions. Use
    Mymaths - subsciption
    Dr Frost - free has work sheets, HW to set in different ways
    CIMT MEP project has interactive activities for years 7 - 9 https://www.cimt.org.uk/projects/mep/index.htm and online resources for all years.
  20. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    My last school in Spain made all the students buy a laptop for around £400 with the online price being around £200! So a lot of money was being made by someone. The school was getting rid of text books by cutting off their spines, scanning them and using Google classroom to distribute them to students. I thought it was fairly illegal and broke copyright law so I had nothing to do with it and didn’t use the laptops for this. I would say that whenever I walked into a colleague’s classroom the vast majority of students had either games or inappropriate material on their screens without the teacher being aware. My experience was that a whole new array of classroom management problems arose. This school had no proper behaviour management policy. I think you need to have very clear guidelines of how students use these devices and the sanctions available if they don’t use them appropriately. That being said for a maths teacher there are some fantastic online resources available and any lesson could include their use, from MYMATHS to YouTube.

    A final word of warning; a big academy near me bought every student an I pad, several years later every I pad is broken and the school received a 4 from OFSTED. Having Laptops can work but you must have discipline and OFSTED don’t seem to like that anymore.

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