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Effective Teaching
by Harry & Rosemary Wong
Special to the Gazette
November 2014

Retrieving and Carrying Electronic Devices

The loss and damage of digital devices is not unique to Los Angeles.  It occurs in every school and school district.

Oretha Ferguson, one of the co-authors of THE Classroom Management Book, teaches high school English in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  In 2008, she was one of the first to have a COW rolled into her classroom! 

No—a COW is not a steer.  It is a cabinet of “Computers on Wheels.”

Oretha says, “In the last six years, not a single netbook has been dropped, mishandled, gone missing, or needed maintenance.  This is a direct result of procedures in action.”

Technology surrounds us, and its use is integrated in our curriculum on an escalating scale.  In many schools and classrooms, the students bring their own devices (BYOD).  Other schools have various portable electronic devices provided in the classrooms.  It is up to the teacher to ensure that the electronic devices are correctly obtained, carried, and returned to the storage location.

The use of equipment is not new to the classroom.  In the past, we’ve written a column on Dispensing Materials in Fifteen Seconds.  From building blocks in kindergarten classrooms to digital microscopes in high school science classrooms, from tangrams in math classrooms to soccer balls in physical education classrooms, each piece of equipment is valuable and needs to be treated as such.  The teacher must have procedures in place so that each piece of equipment is obtained, used correctly, and returned to its proper place for others to use.

You almost never hear of a microscope being stolen or broken.  The procedure of how to get and carry a microscope is ubiquitous in every science classroom, and this procedure is no different for getting and carrying an electronic device.

The procedure for how to carry a device must be

  1. taught,
  2. rehearsed, and
  3. reinforced. 

These are the three basic steps of how to teach any procedure, as explained in The First Days of School and THE Classroom Management Book.

Getting and Carrying Electronic Devices Procedure

To maintain an organized environment and a productive classroom, teachers who incorporate electronic devices in students’ learning need procedures for retrieving and carrying devices.  These procedures will eliminate wasted classroom time, disorganized retrieval and storage of devices, random device usage, and damaged equipment.

Assign students a unique number that will stay with them throughout their time with you.  This number will correspond with the number assigned to the electronic device students will use each day that devices are used.  Number all electronic devices by taping a number to the device, engraving the number, or by writing a number on the device with a permanent marker.  The number should be clearly visible for quick identification for retrieval and storage. 

Before students retrieve an electronic device, teach students how to

  1. unplug and remove the device from a charging station,
  2. how to carry the device, and
  3. where to place the charger cord to prevent dangling cords, if applicable.

Before using devices, students should rehearse the procedure for getting, carrying, and then storing devices.  Monitor this procedure carefully the first few times it is done, and rehearse the procedure over and over again until it becomes an automatic response—a routine in the classroom.

After students master the procedure, they are ready to use the devices.

During the retrieval or storage of a device, students should not have books, materials, or other supplies in their hands.  This prevents devices from being accidentally dropped.  When retrieving or storing a computer, explain the importance of leaving the computer closed.  Demonstrate to students how to carry the device with both hands with the computer in front of the body. 

Unless a specific procedure is in place for carrying a device, students will grab a device and hold it to their side in one hand or will carry a computer by the screen with the computer open.  This can lead to dropped and damaged devices.    

Procedure into Practice

After all of the practicing and rehearsing, the students are ready to use their devices as part of your curriculum strategies.  Call small groups of students to retrieve their devices.  If the students are seated in rows, call them by the row number.  If the students are seated in groups, call the group number.  If the students are in a random group arrangement, call them by their class numerical number. 

Observe as students walk to the device area and get their assigned equipment as rehearsed.  As soon as the last person in the group retrieves the device, call the next group, and then subsequent groups, until all students have their device.
When retrieving or storing devices, create a one way flow of traffic to prevent congestion between students getting a device and students returning to their seats with the device.  This one way path will be unique to your room arrangement. 

Depending on your use of the devices, you will need to determine who will shut down the devices at the end of the period or day.  Will you keep them on all day and have the last group of students to use them be the ones to shut them off for the day? 

How will the devices get recharged?  Will students return them to the charging station after each use?

How will students leave devices for the next group to use?  Returning the devices to their storage place eliminates students accidently knocking devices off a desk or workstation as they exit the room. 

How will students return devices to the storage location?  Just as students retrieved the devices in a pre-determined manner, students should return the devices in the same manner.

What is your procedure for ensuring all devices are returned at the end of the period or day?  Will they be stored in such a way so that with once glance you can see if all devices have been returned?

These same procedures for using electronic equipment can also be used for any classroom materials.  Teach students what they need to know about getting and storing materials.  When teachers have expectations for retrieving, storing, and carrying devices and they are taught to students, an organized environment is created.  Students can use the available technology to enhance their learning with little risk of damaged equipment or lost materials due to mishandling.

First Hand Experience

As we prepared this column, we turned to our technology guru, Oretha, to help guide us with how she has managed such an impeccable record with her COW.  Through years of students and updates to technology, she has adapted techniques to keep the technology at the forefront of her curriculum, always keeping the students accountable and responsible for its safe use.  Oretha shares her expertise with others and conducts a myriad of technology workshops.  She can be reached at

Silicon Valley

We are most fortunate to make our home in the heart of world technology—Silicon Valley.  We pass Apple, Google, Yahoo, Netflix, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Intel, and a myriad of other technology companies on a daily basis.  We think nothing of it as it is a way of life for us.  Our daily newspaper is like a gossip magazine—filled with the newest, latest, and greatest breaking news of the tech world. 

While the purpose of schools is to prepare children for the future, the future is here and now and ever changing second by second.  What little slice of the future we can put in our students’ hands comes with a price tag.  And with limited resources, schools are stressed to provide technology for all.

Developing safe and workable practices for students working with technology can prolong the life of the equipment and teach important lessons to students.  Technology is valuable and needs to be handled respectfully—an insightful message to be honored in all aspects of our lives.




For a printable version of this article click here.

About Effective Teaching...

Harry and Rosemary Wong have been writing columns for Teachers.Net for over 13 years and the columns all have a distinctive style. They write about effective teachers, administrators, schools, and school districts featuring techniques that are immediately replicable and at no cost. More importantly, they work to enhance student learning. An archive of past articles can be found at the end of every column, with an abstract of all articles at the end of the most recent June column.

For over 30 years, helping teachers become effective has been the passion of the Wongs. Writing for Teachers.Net is just one of the many ways they reach out to educators with their ideas on how effective teachers improve student learning.

About Harry & Rosemary Wong...

Harry and Rosemary WongHarry and Rosemary Wong are teachers.  Harry is a native of San Francisco and taught middle school and high school science.  Rosemary is a native of New Orleans and taught K-8, including working as the school media coordinator and student activity director.

Harry Wong has been awarded the Horace Mann Outstanding Educator Award, the National Teachers Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award, the Science Teacher Achievement Recognition Award, the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award, and the Valley Forge Teacher's Medal.  He was selected as one of the most admired people in education by the readers of Instructor magazine.  Rosemary was chosen as one of California's first mentor teachers and has been awarded the Silicon Valley Distinguished Woman of the Year Award.  She was also honored as a Distinguished Alumnus from her alma maters, Southeastern Louisiana University and Louisiana State University.

Harry and Rosemary have been awarded the Upton Sinclair Award and were nominated for the Brock International Prize in Education. They have built and sustain a school in the jungles of Cambodia.

The Wongs are the most sought after speakers in education today, booked two years into the future. Their presentations are practical, offering a common sense, user-friendly, and no-cost approach to managing a classroom for high-level student success. Over a million teachers worldwide have heard their message. In spite of their heavily booked schedule, Harry and Rosemary have agreed to write this monthly column so that more people can hear their message.

How They Develop Effective Teachers...

Harry and Rosemary Wong are committed to developing effective teachers, one teacher at a time.
To do this, they have formed their own publishing company, of which Rosemary is the CEO.

THE Classroom Management Book is what everyone has been waiting for. It is an exhaustive extension of Unit C on classroom management in The First Days of School.


  • Turn chaos into student achievement
  • Reduce behavior issues; increase learning
  • Step-by-step plans to a well-managed classroom
  • 50 procedures in detail
  • 40 QR codes with additional resources
  • 320 pages in full color
  • Complete first days of school plans
  • Suitable for all grades, all subjects, all teachers
  • Costs no money to implement

How to Be an Effective and Successful Teacheris an audio CD set that was recorded live before 800 teachers in St. Louis.  Listen as they walk you through classrooms that hum with learning and share how you can replicate the same success in your classroom.  In 2 hours and 40 minutes, Harry and Rosemary can transform you into a very effective and successful teacher at no cost!

This presentation has transformed the lives and teaching success of hundreds of thousands of teachers.
Learn how to


  • Begin the school year with a plan
  • Start class immediately
  • Have a well-organized and structured classroom
  • Reduce discipline problems
  • Have students who are engaged and working
  • Teach procedures and responsibility
  • Maximize classroom instructional time
  • Use lesson objectives so students know what they are to learn
  • Use rubrics to assess for student learning
  • Deal with at-risk students
  • Improve student learning and achievement


The Wongs have written The First Days of School, the best-selling book ever in education. Over 3.8 million copies have been sold. It is used in 120 countries, 2,114 colleges, and most every new teacher induction program. The fourth edition has been translated into five foreign languages and includes:

  1. An additional chapter on procedures
  2. A new chapter on assessment with rubrics.
  3. A new chapter on Professional Learning Teams
  4. A new chapter for administrators on implementation 
  5. Additional information in Going Beyond Folders
  6. A new DVD, Using THE FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL, presented by Chelonnda Seroyer
TET The Wongs have also produced the DVD series, The Effective Teacher, winner of the Telly Award for the best educational video of the past twenty years and awarded the 1st place Gold Award in the International Film and Video Festival.

They also have a successful eLearning course, Classroom Management with Harry and Rosemary Wong.  The course can be taken in private at the learner's convenience.  The outcome of the course is a 2 inch binder with a personalized Classroom Management Action Plan.

This Action Plan is similar to the organized and structured plan used by all effective teachers.  Details for the classroom management course can be seen at

You can hear Harry Wong LIVE on a set of CDs, called
How to Improve Student Achievement
, recorded at one
of his many presentations.  He invites you to steal from him the secrets of effective teaching for all grade levels.
Never Cease to Learn has the power to transform your
attitude and your life.  In this DVD, Harry shares his journey on the road to success and tells listeners how to become the educators they were meant to be.

When the books, video series, CD, DVD, and eLearning course are used together, they form the most effective professional development training tool for producing effective teachers. Staff developers and administrators who would like to know how to implement the aforementioned book, video series, and CD are encouraged to consult the book, New Teacher Induction:  How to Train, Support, and Retain New Teachers.  Information about these products can be found by visiting the publisher's website at

Helping you produce effective teachers is our passion.

Harry & Rosemary Wong Columns on Teachers.Net...
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