So this year, amazingly, I got nine student laptops to use in my Happy Little Portable. This was shocking because the three desk top computers I had in there last year were more or less "illegal" to our technology department. I was told not to expect any technology out there (we aren't a "priority") and one of the tech geeks is a good friend of mine on Facebook and he took pity on me. He went to the computer graveyard, scrounged up three desktops, fixed them up and installed them.
And then during the summer they were removed and I figured I was screwed. And just when the District was pushing "digital blended learning" and wanting teachers to use Google classroom, and Nearpod, and we were going to all on-line testing in the four academic areas through our own district website. But the District decided to go all-in and processed, over the summer, 30,000 student and teacher laptops.
I figured since I wasn't supposed to have had those three in the first place, I wasn't getting any new laptops to replace them. I was wrong. I was originally assigned three, and then remarkably, we ended up with an additional lab, and I got six more. Considering how much testing and classwork is now done on line, this was awesome. (I suspect the powers that be saw me sending out emails requesting paper assignments because I didn't have enough computers. Whatever.)
However. When you have that many student laptops, it's a bit of a challenge to monitor where the kids are on-line. They can't all sit by me, and I can't see their screens across the room. So that was a bit of a dilemma.
Until one of the other ISS teachers at another middle school told us about some software that lets him monitor the kids' laptops from his desk. I put in a tech request and within two hours was up and running. (It's called NetSupport, in case you're interested). The only thing I had to give up was one of the student computers that's now my monitoring station. I figured that was a small price to pay.
This. Is. Awesome.
I can sit at my desk and view all eight computer screens, see where the kids are at, take over their computers if they are having trouble, lock them out of the computer, making their screen go black, send them meand generally make them nuts because I Am Watching Their Every Move.
Honestly, I use this more to help kids who are having trouble accessing websites. Say what you will about this "tech generation" but their typing skills suck. Nine times out of ten, they can't get to a website because they misspelled the URL.
But every once in a while I'll get a kid in there who hasn't quite figured out that I Am Watching, and it's fun to make his head explode. Especially when he's out with us for a tech violation.
I've had the same 8th grader twice this past month, both for tech violations. The first he was researching to see what size his penis should be (I kid you not). The second was for being on YouTube and watching music videos and not doing his assignment. So when Tech Violator decided to go shopping for shoes when he was supposed to be writing an essay in Google Classroom, I decided to blow his mind.
I turned his screen black.
And sat back and watched the fun.
"Hey, what's going on?" he said. He tapped at the screen. He tapped at the escape key. He picked it up and looked under the computer.
"Tech Violator," I said from my desk, to get his attention.
"Yes, Ma'am?" he said.
"Stop shopping for shoes," I said.
"What?" Panic stricken face. "What do you mean?"
"She can see everything you're doing on that computer," one of the other kids said. "She turned your screen black because she saw something you weren't supposed to be doing."
"She can do that?" Tech Violator asked.
At this point, I turned his screen back on and send a message. "Stay off shopping websites and type your essay," I wrote.
It dinged in on his screen and he read it. He looked around at me, and then looked at the other kid.
"That's scary," he said.
"Yup," said the other kid. "So you better not be looking up sizes anymore."