Rolling out a new tech tool can be daunting. Students are often eager to get started but quick to ask questions. Whether you’re comfortable with the tool or just learning it yourself, managing all these excited students and questions can be difficult. To help with this, you can rely on “expert” students to get everyone up-and-running.

Expert Cards

I have a set of 5 different-colored blank pieces of laminated card stock with magnets stuck on the back. For any project/activity in which I anticipate common questions, I write one specific task that may raise questions on each piece with a dry erase marker and stick them on the whiteboard in front of the class. Three pieces of colored card stock in blue, yellow, and green labeled "Animating sprites", "Changing backdrop", and "Editing sprites"

For example, for a Scratch project, I might use the following tasks:

  • Inserting/editing sprites
  • Changing backdrop
  • Animating sprites
  • If/then blocks

For a project in Google Sites, I might use these tasks:

  • Inserting/rearranging pages
  • Applying layouts to pages
  • Changing themes
  • Adding images
  • Creating links

Students who are knowledgeable in any of these areas and are willing to help answer classmates’ questions take signs that say “expert” in the corresponding colors to put on their desks. If anyone has a question about any of these topics, they can scan the room for expert classmates who can provide help. This encourages collaboration, frees up my ability to circulate throughout the room to assist with more in-depth questions, and empowers students to drive learning in the class. Card stock cards in multiple colors labeled "expert" and held up by table number holders

This is also useful when collaborating with another teacher who may be less familiar or comfortable with the technology at hand. If the teacher wants to continue the activity on their own, they can rely on student experts to help answer questions as they become more familiar with the technology.

Materials

For the whiteboard signs, cut blank pieces of card stock to the right size, laminate them, and affix small magnets to the back. I found cheap magnets at Target, but you can also find them on Amazon.

I have a very simple template for the cards. Print enough copies on colorful card stock. I’ve used 4-5 of each color per class - this makes sure there are enough experts in the room without causing over-saturation. I found a cheap pack of table number card holders on Amazon. One downside to this particular shape is that the spirals tend to get tangled when I store them, so you may want to consider other shapes/designs.

Conclusion

This is a great way to make rolling out new technology and projects more manageable in class. What are your strategies for managing new tech with students? Let me know on Twitter!

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