What followed blew me away and made me immensely proud of my students. When I arrived at the class, I told them to go get their laptops. That was the last verbal instruction for the period. The students visited their normal classroom where a lesson was in session, quietly obtained their laptops and then upon return, settled quickly into their work. When I say settled, I mean it.
You could have heard a pin drop. The students were so self-directed and so on-task that I choose not to speak to them as a collective for the best part of 15 minutes. Every single student was immediately productive and engaged in their learning. Now I'm not saying my students wouldn't have done the same with pen and paper but it seems that somehow the devices suggest trust and maturity and therefore the students respond accordingly.
The teacher whose class we were in was gobsmacked too. I'm not quite sure what caused such a settled learning context but just like any good magic trick, I don't really need to know the secret.
Roll on tomorrow!