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The Ins and Outs of 1:1

After several warm, sunny summer weeks spent recharging and resting up, many teachers are eager for the fresh start of a new school year. As these teachers think about how and what their students need to learn, they must also think about any challenges, goals, and risks they are willing to take to maximize learning. Education is at a pivotal point in which we see the intersection of technology and learning meet with a more personalized approach to learning itself. The vehicle which moves this type of learning forward is called the 1:1 initiative.

The idea behind this initiative is that each student is provided with a device that allows them access to the Internet and a multitude of resources. But implementing 1:1 can be overwhelming, confusing, and even frustrating at times. As teachers prepare to jump headfirst into the upcoming school year, let me share some tips and tricks to help navigate the ins and outs of utilizing 1:1 to ensure a successful, productive year for both students and teachers.

1:1 → The Why

  • Schools no longer look the way they did 100 years ago or even 10 years ago.
    • Devices such as Chromebooks offer the opportunity for students to take ownership in their learning through a personalized and interactive approach. Providing students with these digital resources enables them to be collaborative creators of content rather than mere passive consumers of information.
    • Learning now is student-centered, personalized, and self-paced allowing for student voice and student choice. In my own classroom, ‘all of us are smarter than one of us’ has become the motto to foster a collaborative learning environment. It is one in which we work together to find and create learning experiences specifically catered to the individual needs of each student. I know as an educator, is is easy to fall into the ‘sage on the stage’ role. In fact, this was the biggest shift for me when I implemented 1:1.
  • Access & opportunity.
    • When we allow students to discover their own passions and interests, they become more excited about the learning process. As educators, we can guide our students on this self-paced journey by offering them ample opportunity for connectivity and collaboration. We have a responsibility to teach our students that the world is much bigger than just the four walls of the classroom or the confines of their street, neighborhood, or city. This journey begins with encouraging students to create content for an audience larger than just their teacher. Providing students with avenues to share their work with classmates, whether in their own classroom or in a classroom halfway around the world, empowers them to learn and share even more.
    • “We’ve always done it this way,” is an outdated motto and a habit that I strive to break in order to better reach my students and help them achieve their fullest potential. While it can be daunting to try something new, a 1:1 initiative lends itself to a sense of pride and excitement in the classroom. Students communicate with each more as they are excited about what they find and create on the Internet.

1:1 → The How

  • Establish procedures, routines, and expectations.
    • Before putting devices into the hands of students, it is imperative to first develop a plan. Will you number your Chromebooks and assign one to each student or will you have students use a different Chromebook each day? Where will you store your Chromebooks? How will students get their Chromebooks and when? Will students be on their devices the entire period or just for a portion of class time?
    • ‘Tech Free Tuesday’ is a designated day in my classroom where we do not use devices. Instead, the time is spent on direct instruction or students can work on more hands-on projects or written creative work. Giving students the space to work with their Chromebooks is as important as allowing them time to digest the information and learn to independently complete tasks without them.
    • Flexibility is key regarding the physical space. Depending on what the learning objective is, students will need to be able to work in many different settings:  independently, in small groups, and as a whole class. It is important to figure out which physical configuration of desks and furniture lends itself best to the specific learning outcomes. Classroom designs that are student-centered (a U-shape versus rows, for example) are a better match for a more fun and active learning environment.
  • Perhaps the most important part of learning any new skill is ‘sandbox time’. Allowing students the time to play, experiment, and discover what does or does not work is crucial to the implementation of a successful 1:1 rollout. In my classroom, I am going to try hosting a smackdown in the first few weeks of school in which the students will find and present a new tool or skill they discovered while using their Chromebook. This gives an incentive for the students who enjoy competing but also provides a safe space for those who like to work independently.
  • Getting started:  Provide students with expectations and skills related to your 1:1 initiative. This should be  a list of buildable skills that students need in their repertoire to be successful later in the year when engaged in deeper learning or involved with more complex projects. Additionally, teach students about digital citizenship. This may include information on what it means to establish a positive online presence or information on the copyrighted materials and the fair use rules. Common Sense Media, an independent nonprofit organization that helps children successfully navigate with media and technology, is an excellent place to start when teaching students about responsible use online.
  • Establish a classroom management plan that fits in with your learning goals and the needs of your students. This will look different from previous classroom management plans because expectations, behaviors, and consequences should fit with your new 1:1 initiative.


For a deeper dive into the world of 1:1, tune into my webinar on Wednesday August 2, at 1 p.m. PST!


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