The Secret Sauce to 1-1 Learning

Language Arts Resources, Middle School Classroom

This year, our school was nearly jumping out of their seats to get their laptops. The kids finally each have a laptop! But, it quickly became our turn as the teachers to know what to do with them.

And, as I walked down the hallway during my plan period, I realized what teachers were doing with them…having the students keep them closed.

I heard the same thing coming from each room: “Who told you to get out your laptop?” “Why is your laptop open?” “You should know to have that closed!” “Does it say anywhere that you should be on your laptop right now?”

Of course, if you’ve taught middle school for even a hot second, you understand that middle school students have very little self control. So, I joined in with reminding students to close their laptops until otherwise told to open them. And, as I walked down the hallway day after day, I kept hearing the same thing.

So, week #2, I changed the rule. Ah, the sweet victory of secret sauce.

My students came into my classroom, itching to open their laptops. And I told them to do so every single time they entered my room.

Yes, you heard me right. Instead of having the expectation be that their laptops are closed until told otherwise, in my classroom, they are required to have them OPEN.

I’m a big fan of warm-up’s for class, as I believe they help the students focus in from the previous class period as well as the hustle and bustle from the hallway. Previously, I had been having my students journal about different prompts each day on paper, but this year, I have digitized it. I plan to offer these on my TPT store each month, so keep your eye out for that!

When my students enter the room, they see the day’s prompt is up on the board, and they know that the expectation is that they are to have their laptops open, typing about the prompt before I come in from greeting them in the hallway. I’m sneakily getting my kids to write about a paragraph at the start of every class!

Here is an example of one of my peardeck slides. My students go to the website, Pear Deck, and type their response. I can log in later to see what they write.

My district has recently adopted a website called Pear Deck, where teachers can present a lesson via google slides and it enables it to be interactive to anyone who has entered a class code. If you don’t have access to Pear Deck, you could always do this in google classroom, too, and have students submit the lessons by google forms.

I love using this at the beginning of class because my students are “tricked” into working hard, gets them settled for learning, and the urge to use their devices later in the class (if we aren’t using them during the actual lesson that day) goes down. It’s a win-win!

What is your secret sauce to 1-1?

2 thoughts on “The Secret Sauce to 1-1 Learning

  1. I love embracing the devices. Taking the plunge into 1:1 is one thing. Creating activities that maximize engagement, normalize device use and decrease student mis use is great. Another benefit of digitizing your warm up is that depending on how you organize it, this can be a portfolio of student writing for you, the student and parents to refer back to as the year progresses. Thanks for restarting your blog.


    1. Brian,
      That’s a great contribution to this post—I love the fact that you mentioned the students could use this as a portfolio to refer back to. Thank you for this, as well as your support! I hope back-to-school season has gone well for you and your whole family!


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