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. I have been so impressed with the dedication of our teachers to transform their classrooms with BYOT! Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of their experiences from different grade levels in their own words.
Guest Post by Erin Curry @ecurry07
Third Grade Teacher – Chestatee Elementary School
After listening to the information regarding BYOT, my initial thought was that my students were probably not responsible enough to be entrusted with the devices. I also questioned my own ability to utilize them effectively in a classroom setting. I was not at all opposed to using technology in the classroom; in fact, my research paper for my master’s degree focused on the potential positive impact of employing technology in an inclusive classroom. However, the thought of my students bringing in outside devices greatly concerned me. I was worried about the possibility of the devices getting stolen or ruined. Were my students ready for this responsibility? I also worried about my students losing focus on me and becoming distracted by their devices. Lastly, I wondered if I was prepared and equipped to effectively use the devices in my classroom.
Despite my concerns, I decided to dive in and I asked my students’ parents to join me on this unfamiliar journey. I worked with the parents to ease the children into their new responsibility. When parents felt that their child was ready, they could send a device to school a few days a week with their child to use. It took a while for many of the parents to get on board with this, but once they learned what we were doing with the devices, they slowly became more comfortable with this new approach. By January 2013, 75% of my class was bringing in some type of device to enhance their learning.
When it came to helping my students become familiar with this new technology, I started slowly. I found an app that we could use on my IPAD–the Socrative app–and we practiced using it for about two weeks. Socrative allowed me to do a question/response type assessment with my students. Once I felt my students were comfortable with this app, I began integrating more apps into our lessons. They soon learned how to use the devices effectively at center time (reading and math app games), during writing (recording and listening back during editing and for voice dictation for my struggling students), for research, and for small student presentations.
This journey has undoubtedly led to more engaged learning opportunities in my classroom, but more importantly, it has propelled my students to become more responsible learners. Unlike I originally thought, my students’ focus has not strayed, but rather improved. They are more excited about our lessons and the role that they are able to play in their own learning process. I am thankful for this opportunity and I honestly cannot imagine my classroom without BYOT.