Too often state governors and other people want to be able to do away with seniority in order to make way for new more innovative teachers and move out the older ones. I abhor the idea because I was older (or my friends) that we weren't keeping up and we weren't innovation. To me these people want younger because it is cheaper.
Nevertheless, I spent several years with all my students but seniors having a laptop (or tablet PC, if you prefer). It is a different way of teaching. You can do it at 54 as easily as at 22, maybe easier.
I know you have to teach the phrase, "Lids down" and enforce it immediately. When you want those lids down you want them to be in the habit of slapping them down as soon as you say it. Since I taught in a Catholic school, I started class with prayer and when I was ready, I said, Prayers , lids down." You could hear them click down. You have to start it asap and you have to keep up with it and you have to call out their name if it isn't down in a reasonable time. I wanted them down during presentations, so they were paying attention to their classmates.
I was willing to detain kids if they were on sites that had nothing to do with my class. People had all sorts of ways of catching or proving this. Some people yelled, "hands up" because they can minimize or close so quickly. I decided that I wasn't doing that. If you were laughing or fooling around during "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" then you were on facebook or something else. I would say, "Put your name on a post-it on my desk and I will see you for flex detention." Did this stop it? No but it had consequences at least.
You have to be willing to walk around constantly to see what they are doing; you can't just stand in front of the room. You have to walk and snoop. You can do this by sitting down in an empty chair and looking at computers nearby. I would sit there, on the sofas, the file cabinets and the window sills (on the first floor, I had to give that up in 212). I moved around a lot and sat everywhere. That way I could see more of what was going on, computers or not. That's why in the 2010 yearbook there is a photo of me sitting cross legged on top of the sofa. Like many women, I didn't like my hair in the photo when I accidentally got a glimpse of it before it went to press. I was told it was the perfect photo because I was the only one who moved around that much and sat on everything. Now you know why I did it. I also just don't like being up in front the whole time.
You have to learn to have them do more than take notes on them. I tried to work them in as much as possible.They can look up and unknown word and hear its pronunciation. They can look up background information.
I had them copy and paste poems we were doing that were online into their notebooks so they could take their notes with the poems right there. When we did "Huswifery" which uses the process of making clothes using a spinning wheel, loom, and seamstress/tailor to the process of salvation, I had them find photos of spinning wheels with the parts labeled so the poem would make more sense.
With "The Crucible" we looked up who was on the HUAC list to see if they recognized any names.Point out Burl Ives was the singing snowman in Rudolph. We could read Pete Seeger's testimony and see that they couldn't even get him to take the 5th amendment because he thought doing that meant what they were doing was constitutional and he was sure it wasn't so he refused to answer. Then we could see how times had changed when we watched his birthday in front of the Lincoln Memorial with everyone including Obama and George Lucas singing "This Land Is Your Land."
I could go on and on. Don't be afraid to tell them to shut the lid. Don't use it just for notes. The computer in the class can be very valuable. Will it be wrought with frustrations with things locked out and things not working all the time, sure, but you just need a back up plan.