This was our first week of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
Rationale: I was looking around and watching students who were moving on to other tasks while they were ‘waiting’ to publish or begin their work. I began wondering how the students must feel when they have devices at home that they could be using instead of waiting around in class. I also want students to see them make the connection of their own devices as tools for learning.
Getting Started: I spoke with our TLT (Technology Lead Teacher) @Techman45 and our CRT (Computer Resource Teacher)@Slouca11 together we changed a board letter about BYOD. We spoke with our regular planning team about doing BYOD. Our TLT spoke with our administrator and we moved forward. I sent the note home and made plans to begin the project after March Break.
Challenges: I tried to problem solve prior to the week and I thought about issues that might arise. (Time, connectivity, appropriate apps, using it as tool for learning, jealousy, safety, parent relations)
Time. I had to enter each day knowing there were going to be issues that arise that I will have to deal with right away. I had to be in the right mind set that might have to stop and address issues as their occur.
Connectivity: Some issues that came up were devices not able to connect to our network. One Netbook wouldn’t connect so we brainstormed ways the student could use the Netbook without connection. She decided to use WritePad a note taking application on her Netbook. Another student brought it an android tablet that had an out of date operating system. The tablet wouldn’t connect and there were no apps loaded on the machine that were suitable for classroom use. He had to take it home to update.
Appropriate Apps: The tablet went home with a list of apps that could be added to it. I discovered that some of the devices that came in had some of the apps we use in class. While others didn’t have any apps that could be used for word study, reading, writing or math. I designed three hand outs. BYOD Androids BYOD iPods BYOD iPads
I asked parents to work with their child and download appropriate apps for the classroom. I also provided opportunities for students to justify how their apps could be used for learning.
Using it as a tool: We had a class meeting and established our norms. I borrowed the saying from Royan Lee’s class Expand not Escape. We designed a chart paper outline what that meant to us. We discussed when it would be appropriate for the devices to be out and when it wouldn’t be appropriate. We made a list of times that technology helps us during the day.
Jealousy: We had a discussion about jealousy both in the class and out of it. It was important that devices were not seen before or after school. Students need to keep their devices out of sight. We also talked about how we needed to be discrete in the hallways. Only 4 of our classrooms downstairs were participating and we needed to be respectful of the other students in the school. I also had to be aware of any jealousy that would be bubbling in the classroom. I made it clear that students who were not bringing in a device had access to the classroom devices. I made sure they understood that there were other pieces of tech that could be used and reviewed our class procedures.
Safety: I had to ensure there was a safe place to store the devices. I already had a system in place with the iPads so we continued to use the system. The tech bucket is locked in the cupboard at recess and lunch times. The teacher I share the classroom with also has a key to the cupboard. I have a spare key for a supply teacher as well. I needed to make sure the devices safety didn’t depend soley on my attendance.
Parent Relations: I made sure my families understood that our devices were being used as learning tools. It was an easy transition for my parents because I have a section in each newsletter about different apps and how they can support learning. This has been a full year project, and I feel most of the families understand we use technology responsibility in our classroom. One of my colleagues experienced push back from some of his parents. The families were having a harder time understanding the role of technology in their child’s day. This took extra time from the teacher to do emails and conversations after school. Some families have a hard time seeing the child’s device as something that could be used to support learning. A few parents had difficulty understanding that this wasn’t a one shot deal. I had one parent come in and he asked if this way for one day only. My administrator spoke with him and explained that this would be the way we would be doing things from March to June. My colleague had parents send in devices for one day, not realizing it was going to continue all year long. It goes back to parents’ view on how tech can be used to support learning.
An unexpected issue: Charging. Students showed up with their devices on low battery. So we talked about the importance of being responsible and charging their devices each evening. I think that’s a good life lesson.
Engagement: Students were so excited to bring in devices and settled into work a lot faster. There was a flurry of excitement each day as the students brought in their devices. One of my students was very focused during the math classes this week. He has a math tool kit but sometimes he becomes overwhelmed with the amount of choices in his tool kit. This week he used the Doodlebuddy app and made groupings and drew numbers and found ways to solve the problems while using his iPod.
Quality of Work: There was a significant increase in the amount of writing that was done in comprehension tasks. Two of my students had a method to type out their thinking. They learned how to format their responses, add in dates and create files. We used the document camera to share their work. My colleague said, “One of my students usually writes one sentence, today she used her device and wrote an entire paragraph response.”
Collaboration: Students are working together to figure out how to use their tools for learning. They are being critical thinkers about their device. If it isn’t helping them with their learning they are turning it off. My colleague said, “In our math lesson today one of my students had a great reflection. Two boys were working in math partners and they used their DSIs to work together. One student said, usually when we work together, we talk over each other and try to prove who is right. Today we used our DSI and drew our thinking and we kept adding to each other’s ideas. Then they could see what each one of us was thinking. ” Now, the students were suppose to be doing this together on chart paper but when there is one page and one marker, sometimes one students takes over. The DSI leveled the playing field and they truly adding on to each other’s ideas.
Responsibility: Students are taking responsibility for their devices. They are ensuring the devices are locked up, they are bringing them back and forth to school. The students are between the ages of 7 and 9.
More tools: We have more technology in our classrooms. By bringing in tech, there are more opportunities for students to pick up a tool and use it right away.
I’ve realized that there are families who have purchased these expensive devices and they haven’t necessarily looked at their devices as learning tools. Some families don’t recognize that iPads, iPods and tablets can be used for practicing their words, for reading, for writing and for math. (I know there are more areas but this is our initial focus) There are many iPods that came into the room loaded with games. I’m not ready to have the games for learning blog post. We are just focusing on the types of tools that will fit into our current program structure. So as educators we need to help build this understanding of how technology regardless of the type can be used to support student learning.
I reflected this week on how easy it was for our team to begin this BYOD project because we had already set the tone in our room about using tools for learning regardless of whether they are whiteboards, magnets, counters, computers, pencils or rulers. Students in our rooms have learned how to manage choice within the structure of the literacy block, so adding in more tech hasn’t been a big shift.
BYOD is helping our students be critical thinkers. Isn’t that the real goal? We want our students to be able to judge and make decisions on what tools to use to support their learning. Now, our next step is to continue to help our family and community understand and value that goal.
Are you involved in a BYOD? If so, what are your successes or challenges?
If you are thinking about BYOD what’s holding you back?
Lets share our thinking and learning.
Week 2 and 3 update
Things are running smoothly. I created a check in so I know who has brought in what piece of equipment. Each day the students write on the chart what piece of technology they brought in that specific day. That helps me because at the end of the day, I might be looking for technology that a student didn’t bring in that day. It also provides a quick glance so I can prompt the student to use their specific device during the lesson. I have had significantly less time allocated to managing the devices and have carried on with our day without disruptions. Kids are charging their devices and taking care of where to put them and when to collect them for home time.
Some observations-the primary students aren’t very consistent in bringing in their devices each day. Some families thought it was just for a week so we had to clarify that this is how things will run from now until June. My grade partner and I have been wondering why some students aren’t bringing in their devices. It has ranged from the student losing the privilege of having their tech due to some issues at home to students who just haven’t consolidated their morning routines to include bringing in their devices. “I was charging it last night and I forget it this morning.”We wonder if this is a primary issue because the younger students don’t seem to carry their devices regularly.
We have had a few families say they just don’t want their child to be bringing in an expensive device.
Now in thinking about next year, our teachers will need to reconsider our three year “Blueprint” plan. We have been talking about having more variety of technology available to classrooms to supplement those who don’t come in which technology. We might need to shift our plans and look at how to bring a range of tools into some of classrooms that are lacking resources.
I’m happy with the implementation at this point. Have you started it in your building? How is your implementation going so far?