About that monitoring software…..

+This year Stockton Unified has deployed a software program that allows teachers to see on the teachers’ computer monitor what the students in a class have on their screens.  Teachers have expressed frustration with keeping students on task when there are so many easily available distractions online. Last year a few sites piloted a couple potential solutions, and NETOP became the obvious choice.  The software is easy to use and seems rather intuitive. It does require that the teacher uses Google Classroom, the teacher must have a Google Classroom with a roster for each individual class session. That GClassroom roster is what NETOP uses to decide which students to monitor. If students transfer out of a class the teacher needs to drop that student from the GClassroom so the student can become available to the teacher that is receiving the student. To set yourself up with NETOP, follow the handy dandy user guide here:  NetopVisionforChromebooks_UserGuide Teachers

Pic of teacher and students

Netop software provides a number of sound tools to the teacher, but nothing beats moving around the room working with the kids.

While many teachers have stated that they are looking forward to being able to see what is on students’ screens, but that is far from the most powerful aspect of this software. This software allows the teacher to broadcast content to individual Chromebooks, solving the problem of weak projector bulbs or no projector at all. Instead of trying to see what the teacher is projecting across the room, the student will be able to see it on their own Chromebook! This alone can be a gamechanger for many classrooms!

This tool supports a number of powerful learning strategies but sitting at the desk playing gotcha is not one of them. We suggest when you first start using the tool that you project all of the students’ screens up on the wall, mention that you CAN monitor what they are doing, and then go about your business, moving through the room delivering solid instruction, because, at the end of the day, it is solid instruction that matters.


When Tech Problems Happen

We live in a fast paced world where there always seems to be more to do than there is time in which to do it. Part of the reason for that is that we now have tools that, when working properly, allow us to do more work in a very short period of time. That is great when the tools work, and we know how to properly use them. But we do not live in a perfect  world. Things break. Tools change. New tools come down the line. These things happen in all industries, and education is no exception. The problem becomes acute when things break or change while the teacher is standing in front of a class of 30+ kids. Everything comes to a grinding halt because something is not working as expected. Not fun.

Picture of a locked computer cart.

Don’t let your chromebooks stay locked up unused because of a fear of tech problems. Instead, practice problem solving strategies with your students.


Some folks want to avoid working with technology because of these unexpected events. The problem with that approach is that it leaves students unprepared to live in the world that we live in. Students are going to experience problems with technology in life. They need to have real world problem solving strategies modeled for them. That is one way people learn! Next time you have technology problems don’t panic. Don’t put the computers away in frustration. That shows the students that when faced with adversity it is best to give up. That is not the message we want to send as teachers. Trouble shooting may not be the lesson you had planned for the day, but make the best of it. Figure it out, in front of the kids. Figure it out with the kids. And ask for help, in front of the kids.

Technology is Hard

Image of the wall of mistakes

The Wall of Mistakes, where students proudly displayed the work that was not up to their own standards!

Throughout my career I have heard people say, when talking about technology “it is easy for you, you teach technology.” It is true that I have always taught technology based classes. I have had students build underwater robots. I have had kids publish books. Kids in my classes have managed local P.R. campaigns. All of these were heavily reliant in technology, and my students were successful because they were not afraid to fail. They were eager to try stuff, failing meant they were closer “to figuring it out.” We even had a “Wall of Mistakes” where kids tried to find things wrong with their work so they could fix it and put it on the wall. They achieved success because they were not afraid to try, they were not afraid to fail.

I haven’t always had computers in my classroom. It was midway through my second or third year when a local trade association donated a few Apple Quadra computers. It was a big deal, several V.I.P.’s came out to see the “New Lab.” There was a whole crew of people installing the machines (I think they mostly wanted to be in the newspaper story about the lab.) When they were finished they asked if I had any questions.

“Yeah’” I answered, “Where do you turn them on?”  They chuckled and showed me.

“Anything else” they asked?

“Just one more question. What do they do?”

It was really my first exposure to these kinds of computers. I had no idea what these machines could do or how they did it. But I had to teach with them the next day. So I dove in. I had to. Times were changing, there was new technology taking over. My job was to prepare kids for the workplace. It was very serious. We teachers had 4 years to prepare these high school  freshmen to be employable. And everyone was watching. I had to dive in.

So I did. I clicked on stuff and saw what it did. I messed up a ton of things. I started over a lot. But I had to learn it. I asked myself If I didn’t know how to use a computer how in the world could I expect my students to be prepared for the world they were growing into. So I clicked stuff. A lot.

So here is my point: learning to use technology is hard. I get that, I do. But if you struggle with technology and give up, what kind of modeling are you giving to your students? If you are afraid of making mistakes on a computer in front of your class, what are you teaching your students about mistakes? Are you really modeling a growth mindset for your students? Are you teaching students to manage data, or are you having them organizing binders? Which of those things are going to help them prepare for college and career?

Here is my advice: use technology. Click stuff. Lots of stuff. Learn from your mistakes. Be fearless with technology. Isn’t that what we ask our students to do?