I am trying something I have done before but fell away from doing for some reason. Basically, I teach in a 1 to 1 gifted and talented middle school program and during the first quarter while at North Middle School, I had the kids face the Smart Board/overhead while they sat behind the keyboard as pictured below.
Although I am not usually in front of my classroom, when I was lecturing or presenting, I would be in front of the class, looking at the backs of the kids computer screens, and very often, kids would be doing something other than what I wanted them to be doing. Perhaps playing crazy birds, watching Davey goes to dentist, or translating Arabic into Japanese via Google translate. Probably more often than I would like to admit. So this quarter, I changed it to look more like the image shown below. The computers or in a circle around our work space and facing away from the center of our area of the library.
Now I have the kids backs to me and the Smart Board. I can see that each and every one of them is on the page I want them to be on and not playing crazy birds, watching Davey goes to dentist, or translating Arabic into Japanese via Google translate. When I am providing direct instruction, I force the kids to actually turn around and look at me. That way, I can tell who is listening and who is not. Something I hate doing is repeating instructions because someone was googling what the weather is like in Bhaktapur, Nepal. With my new classroom setup, it seems I have had to repeat instructions less often. I have had my room like this in the past, but somehow I went back to the old way. I hope I remember the new way from now on. It seems to have really improved my instruction in a very simple way.
On a personal note, I took the first picture above on Halloween of this year. The kid in the banana suit actually belongs to me. I think he was the one who was either checking the weather in Bhaktapur or translating Arabic into Japanese.