Simple tips for organizing your Chromebook cart and setting up procedures
That shiny new Chromebook cart has arrived in your classroom! But before you can reap the benefits of all that 1:1 tech, it’s important to think through some basic procedures to keep everything running smoothly: both the Chromebooks and the kids.
If you’re lucky enough to have a Chromebook cart, then this will be your storage and charging station. This post focuses mostly on storage in Chromebook carts, but if you don’t have one, there are a lot of other creative solutions you can use to store and charge your Chromebooks. Check Pinterest for lots of great ideas like using crates and wire racks or letter trays or modified mail cubbies.
Chromebook Cart Selection Tips
There are different kinds of Chromebook carts, and in my opinion, the easiest to use are those where the Chromebooks are on vertical shelves and the cords are mainly tucked to the back of the cart. Unfortunately, I have the type of cart where the Chromebooks are placed down inside the cart from the top. I do not recommend this type of cart for several reasons. First, the cords are on top of the Chromebooks, making it really hard to get the Chromebooks out and put them away because the cords are on top, blocking clear access to the Chromebooks. Second, the Chromebooks must stand on end, long-wise, so naturally they lean left or right. There is only a small ridge at the bottom separating each slot, so Chromebooks can easily tip right or left. If a Chromebook starts to lean too far to one side, the Chromebooks on either side won’t fit into their slots and you have to readjust the whole row.
Look for this:
Vertical stacking allows for easy access to the Chromebooks. The cords are on the side, so they don’t block access to the Chromebooks. Plus, the Chromebooks can’t tip over because they’re lying flat. I wish I had a cart more like this one.
See how the cords are hanging out over the Chromebooks? The cords from my Chromebooks are way longer and thicker than these shown, so they take up a LOT more space. Also, my Chromebook cart doesn’t have the wire racks that would help prevent tipping over. Still, if I had a choice I’d get a vertical model like the one above.
No matter what style of Chromebook cart you have, you’ll want to make sure you have it organized so students can use them efficiently. A good organization system should have the following characteristics:
- Chromebooks can charge when not in use.
- Chromebooks are not subject to damage.
- Teacher knows which Chromebook each student used.
- Chromebooks can be used and put back safely without taking too much class time.
Our school assigns a number to every Chromebook and computer in the building. The Chromebooks inside the cart in my classroom all have school numbers affixed to the bottom with labels. These Chromebooks are my responsibility, so I like knowing who has used each one throughout the day. That way, if there are any individual students who are struggling to follow procedures, I can help them individually rather than stopping everyone else’s work to get things organized.
With this in mind, I used colored Washi tape to label each Chromebook with a number corresponding to the school number (0995 in the example below). Since the school numbers were really big, I just used the last 2 digits (95).
I grouped the Chromebooks into sets of 5 just so there weren’t so many cords to wrangle. I used velcro cord wraps to wind the 5 charging cords together and then gave each group of 5 one color of Washi tape that corresponded to the color on the Chromebooks and the cords themselves, so the cords, Chromebooks, and storage areas are all quickly identifiable by color.
Then for added measure, I put a strip of the same colored Washi tape along the edge of the cart in the area where that color’s Chromebooks and cords go. I wrote the numbers on the edge so even if the cords get tangled and the kids can’t count in order (LOL), they should still be able to put everything back in the right spot without too much confusion.
Here’s what it looks like all together:
I’m still not happy with all of those cords in the way, but that’s just how this type of Chromebook cart works. Definitely do your research and try to give the purchaser input if you are buying a new cart. Still, a Chromebook cart like this one is better than no Chromebook charging cart, so I can’t complain too much.
Chromebook Classroom Procedures
Your classroom procedures will need to be worded differently depending on the age of your audience. but at a minimum, should address the careful handling of the Chromebooks, making sure they are plugged in, getting them and putting them back in an orderly manner, and using them for their intended purpose.
Here are my procedures based on the organization of my Chromebook cart. I printed this as a poster and put it on the wall behind the cart.
Additional Chromebook and 1:1 Tips and Resources
There are a lot of great resources out there for teachers using Chromebooks and 1:1 technology in their classrooms. Here is a list of resources that I’ve found helpful in implementing Chromebooks into my classes.
- The Chrome OS Cheat Sheet: Every Chromebook Keyboard Shortcut (from Ben Stegner at Make Use Of)
- 3 Tips You Need to Know (and Teach Your Students) About the Trackpad on Your Chromebook (from Jessica Kings at A Turn to Learn)
- 10 Chromebook Features You (Probably) Don’t Know About (from Matt Miller at Ditch That Textbook)
- 7 Easy Troubleshooting Tips to Fix Common Issues (from Schooled in Tech)
- Classroom Management with Chromebooks (in-depth video from John Sowash on YouTube)
- Google Educator Certification (becoming a Google Certified Educator can help you make the most of all the tools and extensions out there designed to improve student learning and engagement; I’m a Level 2 Google Certified Educator, so hit me up if you have any questions about the process or what it involves)
A little organization and a few procedures will help your Chromebooks be used more effectively and efficiently, and hopefully, last a lot longer. Chrome on, friends!