Posts Tagged byot

Cultivating a Learning Community with BYOT

CommunityA goal of the BYOT classroom is to develop resilient students who own the learning process, just as they own their personal technology tools.  Resiliency is the ability to overcome challenges and bounce back, and it is essential to a person’s long term success and happiness.  One way to develop resiliency is to cultivate a learning community or a community of practice that includes the teacher as well as the students.

What Is a Community of Practice?

According to Etienne Wenger, “Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.”

There are three components of a CoP – domain, community, and practice.

  • Domain – the shared interest and expertise of the group
  • Community – the relationships and norms among the members of the group
  • Practice – the interactions of the group while solving problems and developing resources

Communities of Practice with BYOT

In the BYOT classroom, teachers and students work collaboratively to learn new concepts and explore innovative ways to show what they have learned with their own technology tools.  The students are already personally attached to their own devices because they use those tools to make sense of their world by connecting to their friends and families; publishing photos and content; playing games; and consuming a variety of information.  In this way, a technology device begins to acquire new meaning since it is an extension and a representation of a student’s sense of self.  Possibly, that is why students are so angry when they are told to turn off their technology and put it away or when it is taken away from them.

By integrating student-owned technologies within the learning environment, teachers can transform their classrooms into communities of practice.  Here are seven strategies for facilitating the components of a community of practice with BYOT to develop more resilient learners.

  1. CoP_BYOTTrust – Teachers and students may be unused to a learning environment where they are able to learn alongside each other discovering new ideas.  It is impossible for a teacher to be able to see what is on the screen of each student’s device or for a district to block all inappropriate content.  Trust has to prevail within the BYOT classroom to encourage the responsible use of technology.
  2. High Expectations – When no student is undervalued as a member of the learning community, they can find new ways to achieve, succeed, and contribute.  By maintaining high expectations for every student, the teacher is able to begin trusting that the students will become engaged in learning and will want to use technology responsibly.  Those expectations can nurture the desired behaviors.
  3. Open Access – Students should be able to use their technology tools, as needed, in order to research new concepts and to participate.  There shouldn’t be special technology times; rather, it should be an integral part of digital age learning.  Also, when they go home at the end of the day, most students will have unfiltered Internet access.  They need to learn what to do when they encounter spam messages or inappropriate content.  In public schools, we are legally required to filter the Internet, but over-filtering gives students (and teachers) a false sense of security.
  4. Sense of Belonging – When they are able to explore their interests and passions without the fear of mistakes and failure, students find new strengths and opportunities to share their expertise with the other members of the learning community.  In a community of practice, members begin to be recognized and appreciated for their differences.  Because they have different devices, teachers have to encourage students to use them in innovative ways to show what they know.
  5. Flexibility – The logistics of the school day mean that there are time constraints, but there has to be freedom to pursue the teachable or “learnable” moment.  Standards and curriculum can’t be so locked down that there is no room for the community of practice to naturally evolve or to explore new ways to use personal technology tools to create and communicate.  Now, projects don’t have to be so planned by the teacher that they leave little room for student creativity.
  6. Coaching – Just as the coach of a sport recognizes the need for practice for new skills to become habits, the teacher and students can mentor each other on the use of technology, on particular topics, and areas of expertise.  There is no way that a teacher can know how each device or application works, so they have to be willing to learn alongside students and model inquiry.
  7. Persistence – Everyone makes mistakes, yet this realization can be difficult for many of us when it comes to BYOT.  A student may access something inappropriate or send an unkind message, but that shouldn’t mean that the technology or the application should be banned.  Instead, the members of the learning community should develop new goals for working on the problematic behaviors and realize that they are not technology issues.

The resiliency learned as a child within a nurturing community of practice could have long term implications on their success as adult learners and contributors within future work environments.  By learning responsible ways to use personal technology tools in a BYOT learning community, hopefully students will be able to develop good digital footprints that can last a lifetime.

Reference

Wenger, Etienne (June, 2006). Communities of Practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved on May 22, 2013, http://www.ewenger.com/theory/.

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All Aboard the BYOT Train

Guest Post by Cassie Shoemaker @CShoeITS3
Instructional Technology Specialist – Chestatee Elementary School

Train3As an Instructional Technology Specialist at a Title 1 elementary school, one of my roles is to coach teachers on how to integrate technology into the curriculum.  In our current digital age, this is not optional.   Classrooms must reform to prepare students to become successful for careers of the future.  We are already 13 years into the 21st Century!

So how do we get all teachers on board?  The first step is to build community within the school and within each classroom.  This is the foundation to getting any program to work – especially something as new as Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT).   Everyone should be comfortable learning as they go, and knowing that mistakes are okay, as long as knowledge is gained from them!

Train1The next step is to focus on instruction – technology should always come later!  Providing professional development on higher order thinking, project and inquiry based learning, differentiated instruction, flexible grouping, driving questions, different levels of technology use, the 4 C’s of digital age learning, etc… is the most important step to ensuring that technology integration is being utilized to enhance instruction and take kids to places they’ve never been before! After educators have solid instructional skills, technology integration will truly be effective.

Providing professional development opportunities for teachers such as using the latest tech tools, doing walk throughs into other classrooms to see BYOT in action, and having people walk through their rooms and provide feedback are essential!  Having administration, other teachers, and instructional technology specialists walk through classrooms and give honest feedback and suggestions has been a huge catalyst for change!  Train2Let teachers know it is okay to learn from the students.  Encourage the students to show what their devices can do, while the teacher focuses on the curriculum.  Teachers who focus on the devices and feel like they must know how to use it before allowing it into the classroom will always be swimming upstream.  Devices and software change constantly.  Teachers must accept that and let that fear go.  Educators will be amazed to see how much easier t eaching becomes when control shifts and students are allowed to have choice to be the experts of their own devices.

Technology in the classroom is one of the fastest growing movements that have ever occurred in education.  When it is utilized appropriately, children are truly becoming prepared for the real world, and isn’t that the purpose of school?  The BYOT train is only going to go faster, so it’s time to jump on, or risk being stuck behind while everyone else has reached new places!

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BYOT in the Gifted Classroom: A Perfect Fit

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.  In this post, teacher of the gifted, Abby Keyser, shares her experiences with using BYOT to teach gifted students.

Guest Post by Abby Keyser @abkeyser
Teacher of Elementary Gifted Students – Chestatee Elementary School

We are making a WHAT?  With WHOM?  These are the questions I was asked by my students after I explained our new project called the River Xchange.  I registered my students to participate in creating a wiki with a high tech pen pal class in New Mexico.  What was I thinking?  I had never made a website, let alone used Wikispaces.  Yet, here I was facilitating this project with my fifth graders, praying it wouldn’t turn out to be a disaster.  The key word is facilitate – to make easier or help bring about.  This word does not entail planning or leading through every step.  It simply involves guidance along the way; nudging back towards the path, but not fearing a branch in a different direction that could lead to the same destination.

BYOT_G1  I took a deep breath and gave them the web address to the Wikispaces wiki.  I gave them some freedom to try out the site while I monitored.  They navigated with ease, figured out how to use all of the tools and even learned editing from an Apple device.  This all occurred within about 20 minutes.  All while I was imagining the hours I would have spent trying to make sure I knew how each tool worked and how to teach it to the kids.  Pretty soon, my entire unit revolved around the Wiki.  The students were in charge of their own learning.  I would enter a few HOT (Higher Order Thinking) questions each week with related sites to use for research and they were off!  I started to see improvements in the voice of their writing.  Jaded, disengaged students started jumping on laptops to see how their pen pals had responded to their writing from the previous week.  A few girls who were interested in photography created a photo gallery to share pictures of our local watershed with our new pals in New Mexico.  Next, they were asking if they could upload crossword puzzles and Zondle quizzes to test their pen pals’ knowledge of our local watershed.  My classroom was alive with excitement created by making connections to the world beyond our school walls.

Global Passions Unleashed

BYOT_G2Projects like the River Xchange give gifted students a chance to expand their audience.  So many of my students are passionate about current events or issues bigger than what’s being served in the lunchroom.  School newspapers are a great idea, but if you really want to engage the hearts and minds of our gifted population, you are going to have to give them a larger audience.  Try asking them to create a persuasive argument on their opinion of American soldiers in Afghanistan.  Half of them will lean their heads on their desks and whine, while others will drudge through the task.  Then try telling them that they could video their argument to post on Edmodo for their classmates and parents to view.  A glimmer of interest shines out in a few.  Better yet, tell the students they can post their argument on Teacher Tube and email the link to a few choice state and federal politicians.  Now you have everyone in the room furiously trying to get their notes down on paper, so they can film .  They want to get their point across to someone out there.  They want their voice to be heard.  Oral presentations to a class of 25 or 30 just aren’t enough anymore.  Empower them; give them global access.

Exposure

Teaching Gifted at a Title I school has its pros and cons.  On one hand, you have access to many federally funded BYOT devices.  On the other hand, you generally don’t see a high gifted population at a Title I school.  Is it because the abilities just aren’t there?  Or is it due to a lack of exposure to environments and experiences that higher socio-economic populations generally have?  I believe the latter.  This is where BYOT devices are going to swing the pendulum.  Imagine teaching a child how to use a device appropriately to access information from places all over the world.  That would give him/her a whole new world to explore, tapping into the abilities already in place and expanding the child’s schema.  In the past, a gifted mind might have been stifled and unidentified in this environment.  Now we are able to compensate for a lack of exposure and expose their potential through the use of BYOT devices.

What We’ve Been Waiting For

BYOT_G4In education, we hear a lot about student choice.  The gifted students in my classroom all but demand it.  Not only do they want to choose the format in which they prove their learning, but now they want to give input on what apps, programs, or online resources we use to address a new concept or topic.  They are essentially writing my lesson plans for me!   By allowing the students to have a choice in how they will receive information and how they can show their mastery, we not only give them ownership of their academic success, but we also propel them into being able to make good choices in their future careers.  My first step in planning a new unit is, now, to meet with the kids for an exploration session.  We use BYOT devices to research our topic and pinpoint the aspects they are most interested in studying.  The students then find apps that may aid in our learning.  We always end with a discussion of how they would like to present their knowledge gained and who they would like the audience to be.  Without BYOT, this would most likely be limited to boring PowerPoint presentations to the class, or worse, tri-fold posters!

Finally, here is a story of an overexcitable child.  Like many gifted minds, Michael just couldn’t sit still and never seemed to be focused on what I was saying in class.  He was constantly fidgeting in his bookbag with something, folding origami, solving his Rubik’s cube or throwing karate kicks across the back of my room.  No matter how many times I asked him to sit down and pay attention to what I was saying, he was always getting off task.  I found myself wondering how I could harness his mind’s bouncy nature.  He seemed to always be doing five things at once.  That was it!  I needed to teach him how to effectively multitask.  This is where BYOT has saved my sanity and reigned in my kids whom I could never seem to engage.  I started by getting Michael to use Join.Me on my whiteboard during any direct instruction.  This enabled him to not only view what was happening on the board through his device, but he could frequently type in his thoughts or questions in the back channel discussion log.  This gave his mind something to engage in actively while still focusing on the topic at hand.  Now, Michael is always the first to request that I add the use of Socrative to our persuasive debates, as a discussion question board to review what we learned in the last class, or as a backchannel to blog while we watch a video.  Multitasking may be something that we do out of necessity as teachers, but our gifted students are born needing to engage in this way.  BYOT has connected me with my students in a way that I never thought possible.  It really is the perfect fit.

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The IKEA Effect of BYOT

Many of us have ordered furniture or other items from IKEA and spent a weekend assembling those products to be proudly displayed as our handiwork.  Earlier this year on National Public Radio, Shankar Vedantam, author of The Hidden Brain, reported a story in Research News entitled “Why You Love That IKEA Table, Even If It’s Crooked.”  The basic premise of this research is that when we labor at something that we personally create, we value it more although it may have some imperfections.

According to research by Mochon, Norton, and Ariely (2012),

Building your own stuff boosts your feelings of pride and competence, and also signals to others that you are competent.

projectThis phenomenon is known as the IKEA Effect, and it has repercussions that could extend beyond the field of business marketing.  Some outcomes may include a desire to create a product; valuing one’s handiwork; and increased competence.  On the other hand, another consequence is that when people feel incompetent, they may be more vulnerable to the IKEA Effect.  Mochon, Norton, and Ariely (2012) found that with increased self-esteem, people appear to be less interested in proving their competences to others.

As I listened to the broadcast, I reflected on the IKEA Effect’s possible implications for learning within the Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) classroom.

Engagement

One of the most obvious results of BYOT is that students have the potential to produce content instead of solely consuming it.  There is no need for the teacher to lecture about information that the students can readily access on their devices, and the classroom has to become a more hands-on learning laboratory where students are empowered to discover new ways of researching content and sharing what they have learned with others.  According to the IKEA Effect, this act of creation can lead to a sense of competence.

project2Publishing

In the BYOT classroom, students expect to contribute to the growing body of knowledge accumulated by their learning community.   These contributions may be in the form of original products that can be housed and viewed online.  Think of a repository of resources, tutorials, and projects that are uploaded and reviewed with a larger audience than just the teacher and individual student.  This sharing reinforces a sense of pride in one’s handiwork.

Authenticity

Because students in the BYOT classroom are creating new products for a real purpose, rather than just recalling information for the test at the end of the week, there is a sense of validity to their learning. Students are able to make new connections to what they are learning via their connectivity to their personal technology tools and each other.  They know how their devices work, and their teachers can help them brainstorm possible new uses.  Their technology tools take on new meaning as they are used to construct new experiences.

Personalizing

Through the act of construction, students have more ownership in their learning. This shift occurs because the students’ devices have different capabilities, and the teacher can’t force everyone to create the same product in an identical manner.  The students are also able to lend their expertise in their technology tools for the good of the learning community and provide technical support and instructional assistance.  They may choose to present what they have learned by creating a video, building in Minecraft, or designing a game.  The possibilities can be endless with the power of choice.

Transforming

communityOne negative aspect of the IKEA Effect is that we sometimes can’t see the imperfections in our own work.  How do students learn how to improve the quality of their work within the BYOT classroom?  Of course the obvious answer is that the teacher facilitates these learning experiences by asking questions.  The students can also collaborate with the assistance of the teacher to develop rubrics and strategies for evaluating their products.  Because of the bond within the supportive learning community of the BYOT classroom, the students can critique their work and learn to view their products more objectively.

One difference between the practices of a BYOT classroom and assembling a product from IKEA is that there is no blueprint – no master design to follow.  The directions for success are constantly being refined by the teacher and students – the designers of the learning community.  Eventually, you will proudly display your own IKEA creation to your family and friends while ignoring those little nicks and scratches you accidentally caused during the process of assembly.  Know that the feeling of accomplishment that you achieved with your tools is a daily occurrence in the BYOT environment.

References

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Spotlight on BYOT Teacher – Michele Dugan

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!  In this series of posts, I am sharing some of their experiences from different grade levels in their own words.

Guest Post by Michele Dugan @FCHSDugan
English Teacher – Forsyth Central High School

BYOT_DuganAs a high school teacher, I used to fight a daily battle against what I called the “Device Distracters” in the hands of my students. Like a well-written multiple choice exam option, this distracter was a strong contender for students to select. Its allure could only be mitigated by one force in the students’ realm, and that force was me. I offered, suggested, and sometimes declared that students “put these items away.” After all, it was time to learn! However, as incorporation of BYOT started to spread across schools, I realized that I was the one who was selecting the wrong answer; technology is and has been a correct and viable “choice” for learning all along.

Location, location, location

Any realtor or marketing agent adheres to a basic key of success: location, location, location. Educators took note of this strategy. We place important notices in the front of our schools where parents will notice them. We post announcements within the teacher work rooms for all to view. Location matters. So, where are our students directing their attention? Where do they gather, communicate, and collaborate? The answer is apparent: online, through their devices. High school students, in particular, have turned their attention to social media, texting, and other forums for communication. If I can introduce curriculum into their most frequented locations, levels of engagement, understanding, and production rise. I find myself surprised to discover that students are using online social connections to extend the conversation outside of the school day. What teacher doesn’t want to hear that her students held a heated debate over symbolism in The Awakening through social media? (Yes, this happened!) Students have demonstrated that they have the abilities to communicate; BYOT enhanced my capabilities to facilitate and encourage these conversations in the classroom and beyond.   Education does not have to end when the bell rings.

A Class Divided United

BYOT_HS1I instruct two different courses and well over one hundred students each day. I teach highly gifted students. I teach special needs students. I teach students who work every day and night after school. I teach students who are Ivy League bound. I teach students whose home lives are far from ideal. But most importantly, I teach children who will grow up to be our neighbors, co-workers, and leaders. It is my role to offer them the tools of college and career readiness, and to encourage their strengths. In this way, BYOT (“B”, for me, can stand for “Bring or Borrow”) is their lifeline to the “real world,” and encourages each student to use his or her strengths.

My opinion on BYOT shifted when I realized how often I use technology as a professional. Sure, I use it for instruction, but what about meetings? I access Infinite Campus to see student grades. During professional development sessions, I can take notes with an application that shares my files with my online cloud. I access my shared Google calendar when planning the next due date. While grading, I use my phone’s calculator (after all, I am an English teacher).  Why shouldn’t I take the opportunity to guide students through using the same tools they will use upon graduation? More often than not, they are teaching me!

Interestingly, BYOT has made differentiation much more personal for my students. Within my classroom, I can use Socrative, PollEverwhere, and JoinMe to connect with students through their technology. Last year, I noted that I had greater student participation when I used these applications or sites. Why? I asked my students. I learned that the “safe” space for communication, including anonymous answers, allows students to answer freely, without fear of judgment. I don’t have to tell you that peer pressure is a source of stress for our learners. Therefore, when students participate in individual work, I offer QR codes on each desk with links to extensions and remediation. Students choose the link that best suits them; this eliminates the fear of asking for help that some students encounter when they simply don’t understand. Suddenly, my quiet students, my special needs students, my highly gifted students, and my nervous students had a voice and a lifeline, and they are united in that they are all learning every day, and in their own ways. Use of BYOT facilitated unity in my classroom, and students’ confidence levels have soared.

Twitter: It’s not just for the birds anymore.

I often wish I had more opportunities to communicate effectively with my students, their parents, and the community. I feel – and studies demonstrate – that this communication is imperative to student success.

BYOT_HS2Outside of my classroom, I use my school Twitter for homework reminders, learning extensions, academic sources, newsletters to parents, and professional development. My professional library of resources is interminably expanding, and – to be completely honest – my teaching has changed completely through suggestions by fellow educators (strangers!) from around the world.

The potential for academic growth is infinite. In fact, author Robert Theobald wrote, “In the future, we shall measure our lives by our own growth and our ability to help others grow.” As a teacher, it is my job – and passion – to facilitate and participate in this growth. The choice to incorporate BYOT into my classroom permits me to learn and extend curriculum with and for my students, and I know I am encouraging a positive opportunity for student success and growth in the process.  Community communication facilitates student success, even in 140 characters or less.

Photo Credits – George Ramirez

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Spotlight on BYOT Teacher – Jennifer McCutchen

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!  In this series of posts, I am sharing some of their experiences from different grade levels in their own words.

Guest Post by Jennifer McCutchen (@fcssjmccutchen)
Eighth Grade Teacher – Little Mill Middle School

 My BYOT Transformational Journey

Jennifer McCutchenUsing technology in the classroom was a paradigm shift for me as an educator. I can tell you it was hard to let go of the idea that I needed to somehow take all of my knowledge and transfer it to my students. After quite a bit of self-reflection and the BYOT initiative in our district, I came to understand the true meaning of becoming a facilitator of learning. I shared with a colleague that, as teachers, our job is a lot like a parent teaching our own children to ride a bike. As parents, we know how to ride a bike, but until our own children try it out on their own, they will never learn. It doesn’t start very pretty, there may be bumps and bruises along the way, but very quickly our children ride the bike…and do it well! The same can be said of my own classroom and using technology.

I began my journey by letting go of the fact that I am not going to be an expert on every device that walks into my room. Where I am not the expert, there is a student who is in every class! They love to be the expert and are eager to help each other. I asked students to find apps that they felt like were helpful to them to accomplish tasks that I would normally ask them to simply write and turn in. Students showed my apps such as “Show me” and  “Skitch” where can draw my diagrams from the board, and then use them to make their own about different concepts.  I could see a shift in how students communicate results in the lab. Students create lab write ups with rich discussion posts on WikiSpaces. They were now able to capture video to show chemical reactions. They could use voice overs to explain what happened in their own lab. They began sharing and analyzing student work; applying what they were learning to other situations. They asked such enlightening questions of each other, and made comments that I had never thought of!  They compared data points on graphs, and analyzed why and how their results were alike and different than others. I could see the “light bulb” go off for students regarding human error and the scientific process.

A student summed up BYOT saying, “It used to be that just you (the teacher) saw our work, now everyone sees it. I want mine to be the best.” Peer pressure can be a great motivator, and combining it with technology makes it even greater!

I have learned to leave fear out of my classroom. I have learned to look at technology as a tool that allows students to learn more, do more and become more than they had been. My classroom has become an inviting and exciting place to learn, not just for my students, but for me, too!

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Spotlight on BYOT Teacher – Tracey Abercrombie

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!  In this series of posts, I am sharing some of their experiences from different grade levels in their own words.

Guest Post by Tracey Abercrombie @TraceyAbercromb
Fifth Grade Teacher – Coal Mountain Elementary School

One Teacher’s Journey

I always wanted to be THAT teacher, the one that actually caused a child to walk away with more than he came in with.  I wanted to do more than just present material and hope for the best.  I like to think. I want my students to enjoy it too.  In my 18 years, I thought I did this well.  Except, from time to time I would notice certain students struggle to pay attention or periodically lose focus.  I always worked to keep those kids engaged.   A.D.D., Special Education, gifted, A.D.H.D, and painfully shy.  Those kids were my challenge-daily.  The million dollar question was, HOW? How could I keep these students engaged at a high level?  Sometimes we would spend entire lessons on a knowledge level activity, like vocabulary. How could I bring lower students up, while making sure I push my gifted students to new heights?

Times are changing.  Now, not only do I still have the same types of learners; that hasn’t changed.  But, the distractions have.  Kids seem to have more distractions than ever.  Social media, smart phones, texting…As teachers, we have two choices. Embrace the distractions or fight them.  Our county decided to embrace the only thing that seemed to be holding ALL kids’ attention.  If these devices could hold the focus of any type of learner, why would we fight it? Why not learn to use this for good?

Project-CreationI was petrified.  A year ago I didn’t know how to use any of these devices.  But, my students did. That’s all that mattered. My students couldn’t wait for the opportunity to use their device in class.  I saw something in their eyes that told me I could do this.  We tried one website together and were amazed at how it joined my computer with theirs, while showing it on the board.  My mind went wild with ways I could begin using just this website to make our content come alive.  Then, we tried another website.  Before long, the kids were telling me about great apps they could use to produce the same things we were already doing.  My classroom had evolved from direct instruction with me leading every angle to a fresh, new student centered place my kids wanted to be. The answer to my never-ending question of “how” to reach every learner was unfolding right before my eyes.   I was changing…one website and one app at a time. I felt like a kid again and began to really enjoy my content.  I watched every single child engage.  The playing field was leveled for every learner.  The A.D.D child, the special education, the gifted, and yes, even the painfully shy was freed to speak, even if only through texting.  I was quickly learning that my job was no longer to be the giver of information, but to help students use the information at their fingertips to discover, to analyze, to create and to problem solve.

Embracing BYOT is helping me to reach ALL learners, where they are, not just the easy students.  It’s a tool.  A tool meant to add to what we are already doing, not to replace it.  I’ve learned to keep the art projects, and allow students the choice of how they create their final product. Yes, some kids still choose markers and poster board, and that’s okay. 🙂  BYOT provides immediate differentiation.  It encourages collaboration, while building community and fostering real growth.  I honestly believe that my journey is helping me to become “THAT” teacher…the one I have always wanted to be.

See more from Tracey on NBC News At One School District, the Motto is BYOT – Bring Your Own Technology.

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