Going 1:1 in K-2? Read This!

3 Things I’ve Learned About Going 1:1 in a Primary Classroom

You've been told the devices are coming. You've dreaded this for weeks, months, maybe even years. Maybe you have been told the exact date of their arrival on your classroom's doorstep and literally nothing else. Don't worry. Put down that (insert alcohol of your choice here) bottle and listen up. YOU CAN DO THIS. It really is pretty simple. Here are 3 things you should be thinking about instead of what new job you should be applying for.

This entire post was created from questions I was asked via email from Amy Stevens (@iustevens), the K-6 Technology Integration Specialist for Greenfield-Central School Corporation. She asked about what tips and tricks I use with my first grade kiddos that may help others to be successful when going 1:1. Here you go, Amy! Thanks for your enthusiasm and excellent questions!

Last year, I began teaching in a 1:1 district. I was overwhelmed by the idea and I love change.  So here are some things that I learned about life with primary kids in a 1:1 classroom through trial and error. Enjoy!

1. Manage the Users BEFORE Managing the Devices

All teachers and students are different. I get that. However, going 1:1 in Kindergarten vs. a High School classroom is really no different, in my humble opinion. ALL students need to be set up for success. Yes, some will fail miserably, but trust me, far LESS will fail miserably if you are very clear on a couple of things BEFORE the devices even come into their view, let alone their hands.

Devices aren't new and exciting to most of your students. Most have them, in some shape or form, and each student has grown up learning a range of unwritten 'rules' from their families about what computers, i(anything), and/or phones are used for and how they should be treated.

Your job is to clearly lay out what YOUR behavior and treatment expectations are when students are using their devices in your classroom.


If you don't have solid, simple, and consistent transitions already laid out in your classroom, then hold onto your hats. Whether it's a song, a poem, you stating a weird fact, or a hand gesture, your students should know when it's time to change course or stop what they are doing to listen for a second and that you mean it. Here are some ideas to help you get started today:

I personally use YouTube videos daily and would suggest them for Pre K-2nd grade, and maybe even 3rd grade, depending on their maturity level.

I should note that I normally ring a little bell before I play the "Clean Up" song during quiet parts of the day, because it's a little startling if it is projected and the speakers are up to the loudest setting.

The "Come to the Carpet" song may need to be practiced a couple of times. I have high expectations for how students gather at our carpet, mostly associated with the next video/song. Don't be afraid to stop the video, restate your expectations, and try again.

The last song is "Criss Cross Applesauce". Students love this song! After a while, all you have to say when you see a student not meeting your expectations, "Alex, back straight..." and most students will reply "...chocolate shake!" It's pretty awesome.

Here is an article that I found online for Middle/High Schoolers:

https://goo.gl/g50r4M - The Secret to Perfect Transitions in 5 Easy Steps

- I especially LOVE the "In a minute..." idea, except I flip it. I use that statement when they start moving on before I am done with directions. I say, "Not now. In a minute." Now, when I say, "Not now..." many students reply, "...in a minute!" While shooting the offender nasty looks like, "GOSH, IF YOU WOULD JUST WAIT, WE COULD PUT OUR HANDS DOWN AND GET TO WORK!" (You'll know what I mean about 'hands down' in just a moment.)

- I strongly believe that the 'catchier' or 'fun' the signals are, the more they will be respected. If we approach transitions as a dictator, then the kids won't respect what they are for. BE FUN. BE SILLY. BE A LEADER AND SOMEONE THE KIDS RESPECT, not an authoritarian.

Call Backs

You can easily Google the term 'classroom callbacks' and find a plethora of ideas on how to quickly get kids' attention. So I'm not going to give you a huge list here. However, here are a few that I created that work REALLY well for ANY age:


I say, "TWO CLAPS, HANDS IN THE AIR!" (Followed by the actual actions of, you guessed it, the kids and you clapping twice and putting their hands up.) It works for adults too, right Amy? ;)


I say, "The upside down countdown starts in 5, 4, 3..." and by the time I count to 1, all iPads should be upside down. and their eyes are on me. They know that a quick revision to my instructions is coming or that I need to clarify/answer a question.

(This is my revision to "45 your computers or Apples up!" which I heard/read somewhere from someone else. We are 1:1 with iPads with protective covers, so I just revised it to fit my class!)


Tool vs Toy

From day one, I brainwash my kids to know that in our classroom we use our devices as TOOLS, not TOYS. We talk about the difference between here and home or in the car AND that as we grow up we have to learn to apply different rules to different places.

I also give them scenarios where they have to tell me if I am using my iPad as a tool or a toy. Then, I let them make up some scenarios.

Tech Clip Chart

I started the year with this Technology Clip Chart. When you click it, it will force you to make a copy and you may revise it in any way that you want to. IT WORKS LIKE A CHARM!

Bottom line - Make your expectations clear and be fair. You can tweak any ideas to match your classroom needs. Try it out! Change it! Kids are resilient and flexible and want to know what their boundaries are. Don't you want to work in a place where you know your expectations?

2. Plan Your Storage Space- and Plan to Be Flexible

Students at my school corporation take devices home and charge them there. So, for me, it is important that we have a place to store the iPads, if/when they come to school dead or close to death. 

This year I have a 'charging station' for students who forget to charge their devices at home. They are free to use the station without punishment. I teach them to be honest about their failure to meet expectations and that their day will be a lot harder because they didn't follow our procedures.

If you Google "classroom device storage ideas" a ton of different links and images will pop up that you may like better! :)

3. Expect Failure and Embrace It


I once read somewhere, "The only thing constant in Education, is that it is ever-changing."

You can do this. It will be different tomorrow, or next week,  and maybe next year too. Embrace the change. It's worth it.

On day one in my classroom we learn GROWTH MINDSET. We learn a new quote each week that I have found online (search 'growth mindset quotes' on Pinterest and you will be in LOVE) and quite honestly, I find myself repeating them to myself most days. I post them in our room, I put them in my daily slides, and they are a PART of our everyday existence.

In fact, my amazing assistant once told me (as she is in school to be a teacher), "You know, I almost quit this stupid class because my prof is so outrageous, but then I remembered, 'Your attitude and your effort make all the difference,' so I'm sticking it out. It's not forever." SHE FINISHED THE CLASS AND IS SO GLAD SHE DID!

You will hear students quoting to each other, and even YOU, if they hear you say 'I can't."

Embrace the failures of you and your students while going 1:1. Take risks. Try some stuff. Fail. Revise. Repeat. That's life. YOU GOT THIS!

Burn on!

A Harper

Amber HarperComment