How do Classroom Management Techniques Change in the Computer Classroom
Because the computer classroom might remind some students of drop-in computer labs, we always warn teachers that explicit groundrules about attendance will get the class off to a smoother start. We also share with them the importance of establishing a routine for students who may be put off by the non-traditional roles a computer classroom asks them to assume. Most of our teachers "post" what we call DAILY writing, usually a write-to-learn activity that gets students thinking about the assigned reading, the upcoming paper, various writing or research strategies, or their own experiences or thinking on an issue. (You’ll find much more detail about DAILY writing--logistics and samples--in the section on "tools" in the computer classroom.) Students quickly become accustomed to coming to class and looking for the DAILY prompt so that they can begin writing. This routine reminds students day in and day out that the classroom is a place for meaningful writing and that the computers facilitate their writing and thinking.
One other important element of classroom management becomes more important when teachers move into a computer classroom--pacing. Fewer activities that students can work on at their own pace work better than neatly timed activities that follow quickly in the class period. Some students will want to write longer than others about a DAILY prompt; some groups will want to spend much more time than others writing the synthesis of their group activity. Teachers who set out the goals and activities for a class session at the beginning of the class and then let students work at their own pace tend to be more comfortable in the computer classroom. Teachers who want to have more control of the pacing can succeed in the computer classroom, but they may feel frustrated when students take longer than they expect to complete one task and prepare to move to the next.