A Note from Tim: Forsyth County Schools in Georgia is in its fifth year of implementing Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). The first year was spent on developing the infrastructure, and the last four years have focused on piloting the initiative, developing personal and professional capacity, and eventually spreading the practice of encouraging students to learn with their personal technology tools throughout the district. Here is what a week of a teacher using BYOT could look like from the perspective of high school student, Asher Thompson.
Guest Post by Asher Thompson @AsherT_gadeca
As a high school student, I know that I have the luxury of seeing something that my teachers do not….how the other teachers teach. As a teacher, you may hear little pieces of what that math teacher down the hall is asking her kids to do and you might overhear how the science teacher next door teamed everybody up for that really tough lab. As a student, I know exactly what my math teacher is expecting and how your colleague could have teamed us up in a better way during science. Teachers don’t get to experience the other classes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn how other students in their school are benefitting from technology in the classroom. Dr. Clark has asked me to write this article about ‘Full Throttle Technology’ which something I mentioned while guest-moderating a previous #BYOTChat. Below you will find what a sample week of what ‘Full-Throttle Tech’ looks like through my eyes. This is for every teacher, from the ones with the pedal to the metal on technology to those with both feet firmly planted on the brake.
We won’t stop talking. You’ve just finished the last part of your lesson and you can’t believe we can be this chatty this Friday… every Friday…. every single week. I’m sure you are very nervous about BYOT week next week. You might be dreading it and worry that we heard, “Next week is a free week. Bring you phone.” Stop and regroup and tell us that next week we will need our phones and/or laptops because we are going to ‘try something new’. You could also let us know that we need our technology next week ‘for an experiment’. Here’s a great hint…. if you tell us it’s an “experiment” we hear, “This is just a one week thing, so if you abuse the privilege there won’t be any more phones or laptops in my classroom after next week. “ Just wait to see how technology is going to change your opinion next week!
Welcome to the Big League! You see kids come in and they instantly pull out their phones, but you’re one step ahead of us. Your computer is already connected to a projector and BAM! up pops the warm-up. You have a typical PowerPoint slide but this time you easily added a multiple choice Poll Everywhere. Trust us, you won’t need to say anything. We will know how to text in an answer (or use a computer if we prefer) so let us utilize it on our own. Now it’s time to get us involved. Explain and assure us that everything is anonymous and you will never see who said what. Go to the next slide and let us use another poll that asks us one thing that we like about the class and one thing that we would change. If you really want students to enjoy learning, you have to solicit and consider this type of data. Now it’s time to do your regular lesson, but every few minutes provide another poll to get your students engaged and keep their attention. How about before each new topic you give a multiple choice question about a major theme in the topic? For example, if you taught History you could ask, “How do you think Rasputin rose to power? A) Overthrew government, B) Healed a child’s hemophilia, or C) Made friends with Senators”. Here’s where technology can work for you…. if we get to contribute, we are going to want to see if we were right. We will be engaged. You’ve hooked us! Be sure to give us the answer towards the end of the topic so that we don’t hear the answer and zone out.
Congratulations, you survived your first day. Let’s check. Are you still breathing? All body parts present? Good! It’s time to continue with technology in your classroom. Once again you have a Poll Everywhere warm-up. Now we’re expecting you to do another PowerPoint with some more polls sprinkled into your lesson again. Well, you’ve got something new up your sleeve! Last night you uploaded that vocabulary worksheet onto Quizlet and presto! You are now sharing an online stack of flash cards with your class! Have us use our Quizlet app or the website to play some of the games. When we feel comfortable, we can even take the test. After we’ve been competing you are going to notice that even that kid that sulks in the corner is wanting to know who just beat his best time in Scatter. It’s now time to ask the students that get A’s on the to test come up to your desk to show you their score. Ta-da! You’ve provided an instant homework-weighted grade done in class that had us engrossed while having fun. Just don’t forget to remind us to keep using the flashcard set to help prepare for the quiz coming up on Friday.
Half-way there and we haven’t even driven you crazy yet! Isn’t that incredible? Not really. We’ve just been engaged learners and engaged kids have far fewer behavior issues. Now is the time you’ve been waiting for…. time to pull out the big guns. You had us all download Socrative last night because you’ve set everything up for a lesson so even you have your phone out today. You are using the same lesson plans you would have used even if you hadn’t done this BYOT week so there is no difference in planning time on your end. The difference is that when you ask a few questions you get EVERY student’s response. This is a first ever in your class! That kid who has never raised his hand is actually telling you what he knows. It’s a miracle! Now, you’ve had us captivated the whole class, but how is class going to end? It’s time to send us an Exit Ticket. Stand by the door with your phone and make sure we’ve completed our Exit Ticket. Now you are going to know how many of us actually understand what’s going on and what we might need to review for tomorrow.
Whoo hooo, Thursday already! We are actually excited to come to your class. Many of us have our laptops in our backpack just like you asked. You’ve been careful to make sure that kids that don’t have laptops know you checked some out from the media center and surely there will be friendly kids in class that are happy to share with others. We get started and you send us to Prezi, because now that you’re a cool BYOT teacher you find PowerPoint just so mainstream. Once again, your projector is connected to your computer and you are logged in to Prezi. Each group of 4 or 5 students uses a laptop and is assigned one topic on the unit the class is working through this week. Here’s where things get even more fun…. instead of us each doing it on our own, we all log into a Prezi presentation you created and start working on our pieces. Each group has different component of the lesson to complete. At the end of class you inform us that we just made the study guide for the quiz tomorrow and that you will link each group’s Prezi presentations to your website (which of course you have)!
It’s the day we’ve been dreading…. quiz day. Why does every single teacher plan them on Friday? It’s a known fact that students have reported passing by the teacher workroom and hearing the teachers agree to coordinate all exams for the same day. We are expecting just a pen and paper test, but you actually don’t want us to fall asleep! You hand out a rubric and send us to Zoho where we follow your rubric to create one slide with a picture and a paragraph explaining the topic. The collection of slides the class created generated a complete presentation. During the last half hour of class each student is given one minute to explain their topic. Finally, a quiz that actually really gets us ready for the quiz! The bell rings and instead of the old sighs of relief you used to hear, now you hear a hint of disappointment. The BYOT you used in class has us all excited to come back after the weekend is over!
The point of this lesson plan was to show that you don’t need to completely recreate your lessons,. Technology is made to work side by side with traditional teaching. It is here to enhance the way to teach the standards. You can use technology to more accurately measure our comprehension of the material, more effectively reinforce the concepts you need to teach, and more powerfully keep your students engaged. I want to thank Dr. Clark for giving me the opportunity to explain what “Full-Throttle Tech” looks like through other students and my eyes at my BYOT school.