Also, think about access. With 26 students, they'll need to line up to get their Chrome Books. So the cart should be in an area that gives them easy access. Since my cart is at the front of the room, students are lining up on the rug area where there's lots of space. Also, if possible, have extra Chrome Books. Sometimes, Chrome Books will lose all their charge in the middle of assignments. Having an extra one ensures the student can switch to the extra Chrome Book and continue working. If not, the student has to wait at least half an hour to have some charge to be able to finish an assignment.
I do not charge the Chrome Books every day. My schedule is to to plug them all in to be recharged on Fridays and Wednesdays. The only exception is during state online testing, they are plugged in daily to make sure they will be fully charged for the test. Do not have each child plug in their Chrome Book. Instead, have a charge monitor who can plug and unplug the Chrome Books when necessary. It will save time and ensure that each Chrome Book was charged.
Finally, the cart needs to be secured each day before I leave. The cart has 2 doors that interlock. Then a padlock goes on to lock and secure it. The padlock is a combination lock. Some older carts have a key padlock. I prefer the combination cart because if you have a substitute or someone taking over your class one day, it will be easier to leave the combination than a key. Oh, yes. Don't forget to close the doors and padlock it before you leave! I didn't do that one day came back to school the next day to a wide open cart! Thankfully the Chrome Books were all still there. So now I usually have a student remind me to do it before they leave for the day.
I learned this lesson the hard way. One day I looked in the box and instead of the headphones being in the baggies, there was this HUGE tangled mess of headphones and mice. It took about 30 minutes of hard work to untangle the mess. Never again! The Tech Teacher said that one school had to actually throw away the tangled mess because it could not be untangled. Several hundred dollars thrown away! So, every time students return the headphones baggie to the storage box, I have one student in charge checking to make sure the headphones and mice are in a sealed baggie. My team has decided that next year, we will have the students bring their own earbuds to store in a small baggie in their desk.
Also, we don't use the Chrome Books all day. So when we're not using them, they are sometimes in the way. One way around the space issue is to have students share a textbook when needed. I have also taken picts of the pages of a textbook and uploaded them with their assignment so it eliminates the textbook. There are pros and cons to that. The pro is that it frees up workspace and gives the student additional practice reading text online. The con, is that reading online is very different from actually having accessible text in your hand. Sometimes, a balance must be sought so sometimes they use a textbook, sometimes an online resource.
The chairs we use are your standard plastic student type chairs. After 20 minutes of sitting and staring at screen, students become uncomfortable, squirmy and stiff. I give my students permission to get up and take stretch breaks at their desk when they feel they need it. Maybe one day we'll have large, ergonomic work spaces.
But since we don't use the Chrome Books all day long, it's also hassle to have the students get and return their Chrome Books to the cart several times a day. So instead, I have the students make room in their desk and slide the Chrome Book in or turn it sideways on their desk to still have room to work.
It was very frustrating at first to get the students to stop working on the Chrome Books when I had to teach or point something out. So now I have a system. I use this noisemaker to get everyone's attention, then I say 45. Forty five means put your screen at a 45 degree angle so you can't see the screen but can see me. I use this technique if I only need their attention for no more than 5 minutes. If I need more than that, I have them close the Chrome Books.
Trust me, they just can't resist looking at the screen, fiddling with the keyboard or trackpad or playing with the mouse if it's more than 5 minutes. Of course, you'll have those one or two students who try to work anyway, so for those I just take the computer away. You will also need a system in place for chronic or serious violators. I usually just take the Chrome Book away for the entire day and print out what they would have been working on. Instead of working on the Chrome Book, they will be using paper and pencil instead.
Technology does not always run clean and smooth. It's glitchy. Who knows why one student can access a web page and another can't. I know I don't want to be interrupted by a student who needs tech help when I'm working in small groups or with another student. So I've taught my students the 3Rs of Chromebooking. Sometimes, just hitting the refresh arrow is enough to load the page. If that's not enough, close the tab and open it again. When that fails, it's time to restart. Restarting the Chrome Book will usually fix about 99% of problems. Since all their work is automatically saved in the cloud on Google Drive, nothing is lost.
Don't forget to check out PART 2 of this series.
Until then, please share your ideas and suggestions below in the comment section.