Dealing with Devices…
In the flexible seating classroom, where students don’t have desks assigned and every surface is a working surface storage can be a challenge. Storage of computers and other devices is made even more complicated because they need to be charged daily and multiple devices means you’ll require access to as many electrical outlets. In a classroom already short on outlets I struggled initially to figure out the logistics.
Fortunately, I was able to purchase this power bar for $18 from a local website that resells supplies and furniture from defunct businesses, saving myself a bundle. The 15 outlets allow me to plug in all of our devices so that all device batteries are fully charged each morning when the students arrive.
Mobile tech storage carts and purpose-built furniture were way out of my budget for this project, so I knew I’d be DYI-ing something. My search for an idea led me to Pinterest, where I managed to go down a rabbit hole and waste a good hour, or so – honestly, I have such a love-hate relationship with that site. I was inspired by a few of the DIY options other genius teachers had shared. Some had used dish racks, others used crates.
I particularly liked this example, by Kim Miller (@aloveofteaching), and I already had some of these large Sterilite baskets in my room. They’re quite durable so it seemed like the best option. Next it was off to the dollar store to pick up the dowels. I like the dollar store ones because they’re the exact right size.
Below is a photo of my final product. You’ll see that the baskets are taller than the sample image because I have chromebooks, and I thought it would offer a little more protection and stability for the devices. To prevent the dowels from sliding freely in and out of the baskets I wrapped the ends in a couple of rubber bands after sliding them through; I had visions of some kiddos deciding they’d be fun toys and poking an eye out otherwise. I also zip tied the chargers to the back of the baskets so that they wouldn’t fall down behind the bookshelf where the power bar is plugged in. Lastly, I left an empty basket for students who may bring their own devices to class, so that they can be stored somewhere convenient and not left in backpacks in the hallway when not in use.
The system is working well so far, and it’s easy to see when devices haven’t been plugged in, which is helpful for my tired brain at the end of the day. I’m still looking for another option to replace the rubber bands around the ends of the dowels, only because I think it looks a little shabby, but so far, no stroke of genius. If anyone has any ideas, do let me know. Next flexible seating challenge to tackle is alternative student work surfaces. Stay tuned…
An aside: Student access to technology and the digital divide is an equity issue in public education, and many teachers struggle to ensure that their students are able to make use of technology to augment, create and share learning because there are very few devices available for student use in their schools. I won’t get into a whole discussion of that here, except to say that I feel so fortunate that at my school both the administration and the parent council have made access to technology a priority in recent years and are in a financial position to make that a reality for our students. In my class, students are provided with 15 devices to share. They also have the option to bring their own devices to use in the classroom if that is feasible for them.