Promoting academic honesty in Science essay writing


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I have spent some time speaking to teachers from other departments to help develop the best strategies for promoting academic honesty in the completion of essays.  I have learnt a few tricks which I will mention here but the most importantly I have come away feeling lucky to teach science.  The reason being is that this subject offers so many great opportunities to provide the students with true ownership of their work.  For example I have task in my year 10 unit which requires the students to promote the use of alternative resources in the production of electricity – Alternative Energy report.   However, by getting my students to select both the country and the resource it provides a rich diversity of content, which in turn helps promote academic honesty.

I recognize that keeping track of all stages of the formation of an essay reduces the opportunity for plagiarism by increasing the teacher’s awareness of the content.  Yet this also provides increased opportunity for teacher feedback to help students respond and create an improved final product.  Ms. Perry from my department showed an excellent example of this in an assignment asking students  for the consideration of if the issues surrounding access rare earth metals impact on their worth there for us? This essay planning and structure document clearly includes all of the discussed stages of research, structure development and a final draft production.

Within the earlier mentioned research stage it is vital that it incorporates methods that incorporate the recording the sources.  This simplifies the task of referencing when compiling the final draft.  I use a document which ask students to extract either guiding questions or required information from the assessment task instructions and to map these with the sources used – Research management with guiding questions tool.

Use an on-line plagiarism checking tool, such as as an opportunity to teach students not catch them.  So allow and promote students submitting versions onto in advance of the final deadline so that they can identify places where they need to improve their referencing and/ or paraphrasing skills.

1)      Choose a task which provides students with the opportunity for individual ownership.

2)      Identify and support the skills required at every stage of the student process in constructing an essay.

3)      Provide adequate time for students to complete each stage.

4)      Provide adequate time for you to give valuable feedback.

5)      Expect all sources to be fully referenced and embed the appropriate preparation into the student process.

6)      Use as a tool to help students identify academic honesty issues in advance of handing in a final version.

I hope that by following my own advice I can really improve the academic honesty of my students over this academic.  I will keep you informed of how I do., as ever, though this blog.

The issues of academic honesty and the class test


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In theory a test can be an excellent assessment task and devoid of all academic issues.  We like to think it as a pure moment; a student walks into a class, answers the questions the best they can and then walks away.  Thus, leaving a true insight into the ability of the students’ ability to use the tools they have learnt.  Furthermore, a test can act as excellent piece of formative assessment if the students are given the opportunity for a supported review.  With these honest aspirations I want to consider some of issues relating to academic honesty which need to be considered for this to be a truly fair assessment tool.

Please note that for this blog post I am considering a test which a student might sit at the end of a unit.  I am purposely avoiding the issues related to nationalized testing – such as exam style bias, or manipulation by teachers due to a range of outside pressures.  I am also not advocating this as the only suitable assessment task – I think it is one of many assessment tools which I accept some students perform better with than others.

So with my caveat out of the way here is my initial list of issues that need to be considered by both the teacher and the school institution:


Description Solution
Institutional test history When used as a formative tool it means that a test gets given to the student community and this becomes a reference for future generations of students completing this unit. 1)      As a teacher we need to revisit the test we set each time and make adjustments

2)      Only use as a summative tool – which to me is an educational failing.

Different test times When timetabling causes tests to be held at different times it means that those students who take the test first can provide an insight to those taking the test later. 1)      Set the timetable with an opportunity to have at least one shared period (this might put another subject out once in a while but what goes around should come around for them also)

2)      Set a different test for every class – which to me would not help the teachers with their work-life balance

Oh no I have missed the test due to…. Student misses the test so completes it later hence benefitting from the shared insight of other students 1)      Set one catch-up test which has been suitable adjusted and informs all students that this is the only other opportunity to complete this assessment.

2)       There should be other chances to test students during the year

Crib sheets Secret additional notes brought into the test
  1. Set a test which is based on application of knowledge and not recollection e.g. give them all the formulas they need
  2. Consistent rules relating to students being caught cheating in this manner
The useful toilet break A well placed toilet break provides an opportunity for a student to use their phone to access a world of information School rule that you cannot go to the bathroom until you have finished the test, unless you are accompanied


I mentioned earlier this was my initial list because I am hoping this blog post will provide an opportunity for further issues and solutions to be voiced.  So please do add comments.

Protecting the scientific investigation from plagiarism


Why a scientific investigation is important

A scientific investigation should provide an opportunity for students to work the scientific method – the general guide to the development of scientific thinking which is used from elementary school experiments to published scientific papers.  This continuity provides students with the opportunity for students to recognise that every associated write-up provides the opportunity to put to use what they have learnt before and experiment with improvements to help their own development.


The right investigation

I genuinely believe in that last statement but feel that too often students are set tasks are not open ended enough for students to be empowered by individual ownership due to repetition within the class or, worse, around the world with those experimental standards (for example the classic resistance of the wire experiment).  One reason for this is that teachers are afraid to set tasks that they do not completely understand so to protect their position as the revered holder of all knowledge, rather than acknowledging their shared role as a life long learner.

My favourite recent scientific investigation for a year 11 class involved the research into factors that affects the function of a simple voltaic cell.  The features which make this a suitable task are:

1) The potential experiments are relatively easy to set up and tale measurements from

2) With several different types and many electrolyte options it becomes easy for every student in the class to have their own individual investigations

3) I could not predict all the results found so felt that I became an involved learner with my students.

4) Even when some of my more able students dug up the Nernst Equation it became obvious that the ranges of concentration were not specified so often led to some delightfully (more for me than the students) contradictory results.

4) Some investigations can lead to null results, where values do not change.  This provides a great reminder to students that sometimes things are not dependent (which is seemingly trained out of students by teachers with the insecurities earlier mentioned)

5) Null results also provide an excellent gateway into conversations about the precision and reliability of results so supporting the requirement leap into higher level science (in my case those set by the IB diploma)

The right student support

Students need to recognise that every scientific investigation write-up should build upon the last.  Especially, when there is access to a digital version in the class due to a one-to-one program, the previous investigation, including the teacher’s comments, makes a great starting point as it best highlights the students’ strengths and weaknesses.

For this to work a school should insure that the expectations for a scientific investigation are consistent across all teachers throughout a year group.  I know every teacher has their own quirks when it comes to a write-up so bringing a year group team together to discuss this is vital.  Furthermore these pieces should fit together as a natural progression from year to year, which requires a department to consider all of these collectively.  For example my own year 7 template introduces and scaffolds al l the required sections, whilst the year 11 support material is no longer a template and is more detailed but does represent the same core sections with language continuity.

Helping each student develop their own glossary of useful terms for each section of a scientific investigation write-up is also a useful tool.  For instance sentences which correctly describe different graphical trends could be built up in a data analysis section.

The right teacher engagement

Academic honesty issues can be avoided if the teacher is constantly aware of what the student has produced at each stage – which is briefly explained below.

1) Aim, hypothesis and variables

Students should be provided the equipment to familiarise themselves with the investigation and related the equipment to help spark a question from which to develop a one sentence aim.   A one paragraph hypothesis should explain what they expect to happen and why.  A table showing the type of variable (independent, dependent and fixed) and how they are changed measured or controlled.

2) Procedure and results table (this should be a hurdle for starting the investigation for students)

The procedure, which describes the scientific process, with clear instructional and numbered steps.  A results table that, would normally, include the independent variable in the first column and the dependent variable in the following columns depending on the number of repetitions mentioned in the method.

3) Results and refined method

The results should be gathered and the method refined to reflect what the student actually does.

4) Data analysis (often including a graph)

An analysis of the results – often a graph and an explanation of what trends have been identified.

5) Conclusion

A consideration of the quality of the data collected relating to the reliability and validity.  Before presenting a scientific explanation of the findings. The validity, of course, should be related to if an existing scientific explanation can be used to support the identified trends.

6) Evaluation

The identification of issues which arose during the investigation and the related improvements.

This is all made even easier when each stage is reviewed by the teacher using a tool such as for each stage to be turned in and this should highlight the similarities between earlier stages and the final piece of work.

The right student requirements

By producing an explicit timeline for the stages described above it helps students manage their time more effectively and models the teacher expectations – so trying to eliminate the ill-conceived student developed plan of completing a scientific investigation write-up in one, often late night and last minute, attempt.

At best a hypothesis should reflect the students understanding at a point in time which guide their predictions.  It does not have to be based on the latest related academic studies but a student’s articulation of prior knowledge and therefore for a teacher provides a tremendous insight.  By making this clear it alleviates a convoluted hypothesis which has been designed to best fit the conclusions scientific explanation.

It is expected that a conclusion should contain a scientific explanation and that should be based on what others have identified.  For this reason it is vital that students understand that they need to identify their sources using a school wide consistent method e.g. MLA format referencing.


The rules to protect scientific investigations from academic honesty issues:

Rule 1: The teacher must design a suitably open-ended investigation with enough variety for all students to have individual ownership. 

Rule 2: Every investigation should emphasize the embedded building blocks for which the student to improve their own skills, and grades.

Rule 3: Teacher must be aware of all stages of the investigation to make it easier to identify work which is not that of a student but also to provide support at the relevant time.

Rule 4: We are all standing on the shoulders of giants and identifying where the key scientific concepts located in the conclusion come is best done by including a bibliography (and if possible in-text referencing). 

Academic Honesty – The issue


I believe that the issue of a lack of academic honesty is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.  However I also see that this is not one dimensional issue where success equates to catching students doing the wrong thing.  This issue is far more complicated than that and needs to consider both the driving pressures on students and the lack of support and additional pressures on teachers which causes them to accept transgressions.

Two recent situations which I have observed highlight a number of elements:

1)      In a year level discussion group I had to listen to teachers cry out that they felt much of the work produced by certain students was not their own.   This clearly highlights an issue of tutors (which in this context is a misuse of the title) completing student assignments so avoiding the issues of plagiarism as would be identified by the school’s use of   Furthermore, even though teachers recognize that the composition was too advanced for the student which they regularly interact with at school, they neither felt they have the time or the support of a rigorous school system to proceed with the issue.



2)      In my own final year MYP Science class I uncovered an issue through which identified the replication of a procedure another teacher’s class.  As it turned out my discovery was actually only the tip of the iceberg.  For what had actually happened was a student had stolen a draft version of a report from his lab partner, he then used a section which he knew his lab partner had further developed (so avoiding being caught in but shared this with a student from another class who thought it was an internet available lab report (yes yet another issue here) and so felt it was acceptable to use.  This web of deceit did finally unravel and the unwitting participant work was assessed whilst those students who lacked academic honesty where not.  However, the published school procedures where ignored and so the message to the students was muted.

These examples show how a culture of academic dishonesty is prevalent and that teachers are not empowered to take this on. So I want to use make my own classroom a place where the balance is shifted.  I have been further inspired by John T. Simpson excellent post “10 ways to cheat proof your classroom”. So over my few blog posts I am going to be honest about where I presently am and try and develop practical methods to take on this issue in my classroom, within my department and perhaps throughout my school.

Over the next few weeks I will be considering how we can insure academic honesty can be maintained in the following assessment situations; test, essay and scientific investigation.  With each of these I want to also highlight practice which develops a better understanding of this issue for all.

Reviewing a “New Culture of Learning”


A New Culture of Learning” by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown is a great book that will help any reader grasp present day thinking about how information technology provides a set of tools which will allow us to re-evaluate education.  The book does not produce a solution to what is the next step for general education.  What it does do is to bring together a range of thinking, aligning terminology, and thus providing all teachers who want to to discuss how technology can be used to cultivate the imagination of learners to help reach a deeper understanding of a changing world.

Unlike many school environments today, the book identifies locations where there is a genuine culture of learning within our digital age.  One of the first points acknowledged is that success should no longer be evaluated by an ability to retain information but an appreciation of accessing and evaluating the needed facts – the crucial “where” over “what”.

How your own personal learning network (PLN) represents your presence in a number of distinct learning collectives.  Furthermore the levels of involvement in these collectives can be described as follows;  knowing how and where to access reliable information; making,  which requires the remixing or synthesis to consider how information can be utilised and finally the opportunity to reach a learning epiphany through playing. The involvement in blogging models these phases.  A casual reader knows where to go to find a blog they deem as relevant.  A personal blogger is refining the thinking of others and making it relevant to themselves.   To take an active part in commenting and extending the dialogues within your own blog and beyond, surely represents play.

True inquiry based learning, not the polite acknowledgement seen in many schools, is celebrated and seen as analogous to the methods gamers learn through experimentation.  We are asked as teachers to consider what can be learnt from games to improve our student’s involvement of their own learning.  This is at the crux of the term  gamification in education, which should not be considered as a by-word for the dumbing down of education into Tetris like blocks but rather the search for new environments where people are motivated to learn, such as those found connected to a number of massively multiplayer on-line games.  This new culture of learning will take people through the stages, as identified by Mizuko Ito’s ethnographic studies, of involvement in new media. From hanging out, to messing around and finally to geeking out.

The book ends with a concluding message, which goes back to Johan Huizinga’s thoughts on play and its being a pre-requirement of culture.  For the writers recognize that where we find imaginative play, we observe active learning. I hope this brief synopsis encourages others to take the time to read this fascinating book.

What my student think about the flipped classroom


My class making balloon kebabs

My year 12 IB Physics class is first approaching the completion of a full year of my flipped classroom and I wanted to know what they felt about the experience.  So in an attempt to respect their privacy and empower honesty I created a student questionnaire which they could complete at their own discretion.

From the top it is really rewarding to a 100% emphatic yes to both enjoyment of the flipped classroom method and also that they would like to continue with this method next year.  This obviously makes me very happy but it is the finer details which my students shared which I hope others will consider.

The students felt that the flipped classroom method was less stressful as they could review without feeling like a hindrance and do this in a time suitable to them.  They did however note that getting this right took a little bit of time but now they have a routine and will sometimes do an additional viewing just before the lesson to be better prepared.  That preparation is something that they even admit to transferring to other classes by watching related videos.

At the beginning of the year I was using videos which were available online and felt this was an acceptable starting point before I moved onto producing my own clips.  Now the majority of my class specifically mentioned that content produced by me was much better as they felt it was additional teacher contact time and I used the exact language which they needed to know.  That exact language point is crucial as it highlights my use of specific IB Physics words and symbols which they pick out as being vital for exam success.

I also asked questions about phases of a typical class.  They felt positively about starting activities reviewing required knowledge, the opportunity to question their own misconceptions, time to develop and practice skills.  Within this there was also a clear feeling in the class that they would happily reduce practical lab time.  Now my hands are tied here due to requirements of the IB Physics course but it does make me think that I need to revisit lab work with respect to better integrating a learning aspect.

Another element of my own flipped classroom is the requirement to independently complete related online mastery questions. I use the excellent Minds on Physics tool by allocating specific units and getting the pupils to record their own progress.  The students felt the process reduced stress but not requiring work to be handed into a teacher and also by getting immediate feedback.  It should be noted that the recently increased game aspect of this tool has seemingly gone down very well with my class (I make this statement based on the impassioned wailing I hear in the corridor when they only have a little bit of life left and they come across a difficult question).

So the key points I want to make about the flipped classroom that I have learnt from my wonderful class:

  • Students do learn how to manage themselves to make this method effective
  • Making your own video’s really matters with respect to teacher contact and correct syllabus language/ style
  • The right online question bank is a great tool for student learning (plus reduces stress on all)

And finally …my year 12 IB Physics flipped classroom really works and so could anyone else’s.

Flipped classroom and a changing perception


Some rights reserved by Genna G

Thinking about perception – I am now approaching the end of my first flipped academic year.  I have personally found that this has allowed me to refine the content to exactly what the student’s need, so cover more content whilst having more class time for improved learning strategies and developing deeper understanding which has resulted in all round better grades. Yet I also know that this is just my perception and that I do not have enough data to realistically make statements about better achievement.  Recognizing this, I decided to search for some harder data and distributed questionnaires to those teachers exposed in some way to my flipped class experience (department members, line managers and other interested parties.



For my teacher questionnaire I was really interested in how perception was changed through observing my experience.  I asked this sample to remember their opinions at the start of the year and to identify changes.

At the start of the year the sample showed overall neutral to positive attitude towards what they perceived to be the flipped classroom.  Highlighting benefits such as:

  • Better position to respond to student needs/ Differentiation easier to manage
  • Encouraging use of prior knowledge to expand on in class
  • More time to take on challenging concepts

However, the sample also had a number of concerns:

  • Overreliance on dumping content onto homework time
  • Lack of student motivation/ students not completing tasks

Now a year later the sample has shifted to an even more positive attitude towards what they perceive to be the flipped classroom.  They have also identified the following recognizes additional benefits of the flipped classroom:

  • Challenges teachers to stop lecturing
  • Frees up time to do real learning/ Greater onus on learning
  • Opportunity for deeper understanding

However, new issues have also been highlighted:

  • Students need more education about this teaching style
  • Parents need to be educated

I also asked about where they felt the flipped classroom could be utilized and they indicated with older students in math, science and, surprisingly for me, languages.


So this is interesting and shows a positive change in perception about the flipped classroom.  The problem is this is all about perception and not about what is actually happening and for that I have to ask my students and that will be in my next blog post…

Project Based Learning


Proposal: The integration of project based learning into the curriculum


The following proposal incorporates the key points made in the following sessions at ASB Unplugged 2012:


  • The “Power of the journey” session based on project based learning presented by Kevin Crouch and Scott Hoffman
  • The institute session on “Constructionism and project based learning” led by Gary Stager
  • Project-Based Learning led by Andrew Churches


What is Project Based Learning (PBL)? states that project learning, also known as project-based learning, is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges, simultaneously developing cross-curriculum skills while working in small collaborative groups.


During the power of the journey session PBL was defined, using the review of project based learning by John Thomas as

  • Central, not peripheral to curriculum
  • Focused on questions or problems that drive students to encounter and struggle with central concepts and principles of a discipline.
  • Involve students in constructive investigation
  • Student-influenced
  • Realistic

Why should we use project based learning?


Gary Stager identified the 8 big ideas, which are embedded within PBL, as opportunities for:

  1. Learning by doing
  2. Using technology as a building material
  3. Hard fun
  4. Learning to learn
  5. Taking time
  6. Can’t get it right without getting it wrong
  7. Do unto ourselves what we do unto our students
  8. We are engineering a digital world where what we know is as important as reading and writing*


*I appreciate the sentiments of this last big idea but feel it should just say information technology is now an invaluable tool in PBL environments.


What are the requirements for a successful PBL experience?

Andrew Church makes it clear the planning is the key to the success of a PBL unit and he promotes the use of the 4Ds approach (Define, Design, Do and Debrief).  Due to the freedom of pathways the students have it is vital that clear objectives and a final outcome are in place as clear progression signposts.  Gary Stager stated that “a good prompt is worth a 1000 words” and from his experience it was most important that a successful PBL experience had:

  1. Good prompt
  2. Appropriate materials
  3. Sufficient time
  4. Supportive culture (including expertise)


All in all a clear grasping of the objectives and outcomes with sufficient allocated time, materials and effective support are the key to the success of a PBL unit.


So why do I want to adopt PBL?

I am excited by PBL as I think that it will provide a different learning experience to what students normally receive.  Such a method explicitly requires students to find their own pathways of discovery.  This freedom also better reflects the results driven real world unlike the carefully structured faux-enquiry based learning path often seen in school classes.  Furthermore the inbuilt collaborative element requires students to develop the skills required to work with others.  The outcomes I am looking for are a deeper understanding of key ideas and the opportunity to develop crucial life skills.

Where do I want in introduce a PBL unit (1)?

The year 11 MYP science unit on energy provides a great opportunity for PBL.  A project requiring the construction of a Rube-Goldberg machine and the measurement of energy transfers throughout provides a context for knowing how to make energy calculations and consider the factors which impact efficiency.  I also feel that such a project would provide an opportunity to evaluate the approaches to learning (ATL) skills developed throughout the MYP programme and produce a vital jolt of something different.

Where do I want in introduce a PBL units (2)?

It has become apparent that some students at my school will struggle with the requirements of IB Diploma Science.  My school is presently introducing year 12/13 non-IB alternative science course which I feel would benefit from a number of PBL units such as:

1)    Growing what is required for an organic salad and using this as a driving force to consider world food requirements and the benefits of both GM and chemical solutions.

2)    Building rockets as a driving force of fuel consumption, aerodynamics and mechanics

3)    Producing ginger beer to consider fermentation process and enzyme use

4)    Camera production to consider optics and photochemical reactions


In reality this course will not be trying to develop future scientists but work on enhancing the science literacy of these students so that they can be more informed in the future.  So a parallel science in the news presentation element will also be included requiring students to consider and explain opinions.

How does information technology enhance project based learning?

In both examples information technology tools will provide crucial opportunities to do more than ever before, with greater ease than ever before and share those findings with more people than ever before and so also enhancing their own technological skill set and crucial confidence.

Examples of such opportunities which will support:

  • Making measurements using probes and data loggers
  • Sharing information in a collaborative group using Google docs
  • Journaling the process using blogs
  • Considering various (and sometimes opposing) information sources using the internet
  • Bookmarking relevant information using tools such as Delicious and Diigo
  • Analysing data using spreadsheets
  • Connecting with other experts and interested parties using e-mail and Skype

Neil Commons

New International School of Thailand

One-to-one integration the continued journey


Following my attendance at the ASB Unplugged 2012 conference in Mumbai I have started to reflect on how my own school’s one-to-one program needs to continue to work towards true integration of technology.

So the secondary school section of my school began rolling out tablet computers to upper secondary year groups 5 years ago.  This gradual phasing in process continued until 18 months prior to now, when my school’s secondary became a fully one-to-one school.  With this statement it would apparently be strange to report on this school’s readiness for a one-to-one program.  Yet I would argue that the provision of hardware does not necessarily align with a full integration into all aspects of teaching and learning.  It is this, with this in mind that I want to consider how we, as a school, can continue to move forward developed from ideas and techniques developed at ASB Unplugged 2012.      ology beyond all of the students having a computer.

Dr. Damien Bebell in his hands-on learning institute session, which I attended on the morning of Friday 24th February considered the importance of educational measurement and evaluation in the development and sustainability of any educational technology initiative or school reform.  At my school it is still unclear to me as to what are underlying motivations for our one-to-one program.  I myself can eulogise over the impact of greater connectivity and the provision for a wide range of teaching and learning opportunities.  Yet I also know that this one-to-one program is so tantalising because it reflects an expected future for the students we have.  Yet that still does not clearly identify the core objectives, and in turn allow us to measure our success in the development of our students against these objectives.  So moving forward the identification of such objectives and the development of an annual school survey system which allows the school to measure progression is vital.  The techniques/ styles presented by Dr. Bebell reflected the need to really consider what your needs are from such surveys and to carefully consider the needs of the audience to guarantee a high percentage of involved responses.

Within the above mentioned measurement session a back channel conversation developed with two staff members from UWC in Singapore about effective ways to share best practice.  My school has two full-time staff members whose job is to support the teaching and learning in a one-to-one environment.   They provide additional support to teachers in the classroom and also run sessions sharing useful tools.  However, beyond these two members of staff there is not a true forum for sharing best (or unsuccessful) practice.  For that reason teachers are not learning from their peers and students are not exposed to being set up to transfer skills from subject to subject.  Now UWC have a digital literacy blog which empowers teachers to share their experiences.  The structure allows teachers to easily follow blog posts from all or just from a specific teaching section, for instance middle school.  In reviewing examples it is apparent that this has become not only a forum for best practice or an honest reflection on less than successful attempts.  The site also provides teachers with a starting point for considered dialogue on related issues – for example the post on the association between violence and video games.  So I believe that the construction of such a blog for teachers at my school would better integrate effective digital teaching and learning.

Although the above mentioned blog would produce an interesting conversation starting point it would not provide the opportunity for teachers to consider issues in a more in depth but collaborative manner.  For this reason process modeled by the ASB research and development teams in the “Power of the journey” sessions held throughout the morning of Thursday 23rd February would appear to be another element which I would like to introduce at my school.  Teams formed around a number of topics had the opportunity to complete in depth research with the goal of presenting an informed opinion on future use.  Without a required implementation outcome it appeared to provide an opportunity for honest discussion. Whilst the need to present findings provided a motivational timeline as did an influential audience that the teams felt would respond to the suggestions made.  Having seen a number of research and development team members presenting in more detail about how they are already using elements of their research in their classes it would also seem that the process also accelerates implementation if taken on.

So in conclusion, to improve the integration of the one-to-one program in my school I would like to see:

  • The identification of the key objectives of our one-to-one program
  • An annual questionnaire designed to measure how well the objectives are being achieved
  • A digital literacy blog to share best practice between teachers
  • The construction of research and development team which can look into selected aspects of educational development
  • The R&D process to have a clear influential audience that are required to act on the findings

I hope my own continued conversations at school will allow the implementation of these ideas.

The magic button is effective integration!!!


The Irving Independent school district quite rightly state:

“The key to good classroom management in a one to one school is acknowledging that there is no “magic button” technology solution that will ensure laptops are used appropriately.  Traditional discipline is only one part of the puzzle.  Effective instruction is even more important. 



Now I have been teaching in one-to-one classrooms for at least 4 years now and proceeding that I had the options of carts containing banks of computers at all my previous schools.  For this reason managing such a classroom was embedded in my initial teaching experiences.  If I think about it I do have some tricks

1) Lesson Structure: My lesson structure is designed for the initial entering of the room and turning on the computers whilst simultaneous engaging with a displayed starter activity.

2) Classroom structure: My classroom is set up so students work in collaborative groups with their computers facing out.

3) Class exploration: I rotate around my class and get my class used to me looking over their shoulder watching and supporting their progression (I am not even sure if this is related to one-to-one laptop use but just best teaching practice).

4) Classroom expectation:  When I say computers down and look to the front I have a clear expectation that this will happen from the start of the year onward.

5) Considered response: If I see the computer being used in an off task manner I will again just quietly point out the issue and expect the student to move back on task and also note the incidence in my grade book.

6) Consistent response: The students also know that a computer related issue will always be jotted down in my grade book and two comments in a trimester will result in one week without computer access in my class and an e-mail home explaining the issue.  Such an issue rarely does occur but it does include the students having to run upstairs to collect printed worksheets or in some case passively supporting another student who does have computer access.

Yet these are just a list of useful points.  If you want more then I really recommend you checking out Dean Groom’s blog post “23 things about classroom laptops” or Tim Bray’s blog post “5 Tips for Classroom Management within 1:1 Environments“.

However, if I had to find the magic button to success it is simply embedding effective laptop use into the student activities.  So sending a clear message that using the laptop provides the student with the tools to be better and that my teacher wants that from me and I should not waste that opportunity.


Dyknow Monitor Screen


That would have been a great concluding but I feel that I should be prepared to offer full disclosure.  I also use a tool call DyKnow which is a piece of software which allows me to monitor remotely the screens of my students.  Now I mention this only because it might have an impact on the student body’s acceptance of methods.  Yet I now really only turn this on at the start of class out of some strange habit.  I find it more useful, but actually to show the class a students work (although this is more often than not too slow for practicality) or to quickly share a document (this tool us useful).  Yes, occasionally this may reveal a student not on task but wandering around the class appears to be far more effective and I still do not see it as a crucial part of one-to-one classroom management but could see why some people would appreciate the resource.

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