Posts Tagged responsible use

Citizenship for Personalized Learning

Citizenship.jpg

This post, written in collaboration with Diana Ryan, is part of a series about the Building Blocks for Personalized Learning. It is necessary to construct the building block of Citizenship within a classroom to better facilitate personalized learning.  Although a personalized learning environment focuses on the needs and interests of individual students, how those students operate collectively as an entity of learners can influence and even determine what they are personally able to accomplish. Teachers can purposefully help students understand the rights and responsibilities of a digital citizen.

In order to develop life long learners, teachers must provide opportunities for students to build traits of prosperous, generous, and responsible citizens. Each child has various traits that influence the development of their social personas, whether digitally or physically.  Teaching and modeling digital age skills through technology can nurture the traits of contributing citizens.  Identifying each student’s intrinsic motivation is beneficial for ensuring individual participation. Detailed below are some additional qualities of citizenship that teachers can look for in their personalized learning environments.

Qualities of Citizenship

Netiquette – Building a positive digital footprint (some refer to it as a digital tattoo) is essential for today’s students.  Many students have taught themselves how to utilize technology and have made unfortunate mistakes. They want to emulate their parents, teen brothers and sisters, and even popular celebrities they see using technology all the time.  Many adults have inadvertently experienced the problems that can arise when they post something inappropriate on social media, or accidentally copy someone on an email.  Following the “live and learn” motto with online communication can lead to difficult repercussions for our students.  It is of utmost importance that we coach students in appropriate netiquette.  Netiquette is the behavior that one uses while on the Internet. A good rule of thumb is to teach students that whatever they say online should be appropriate for virtually anyone to see because it’s so easy for someone to forward a text, email, and/or post.  “If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it online.”  Another relevant aspect of netiquette to teach students is the interpretation of a message as they consider what to post.  It’s very difficult to understand one’s tone through digital means. Teach students to take a moment and reread and reflect before posting a message online. Regular practice and feedback are necessary for developing good netiquette.

Internet Safety – My son’s best friend lives in another country, and he rarely gets to see him face-to-face. However, he communicates with him each week through online gaming. Like many teens, one of their favorite games is FIFA. As they wear their headsets, they discuss the soccer game they are currently playing, but I’ve also overheard them discussing many other topics and issues – even where they are planning on attending college one day. This is not uncommon. According to the Pew Research Internet Project78% of teen online gamers say that when they play games online it makes them feel more connected to friends they already knowThe physical world has blended into their online experiences for our students in a new contextual manner. Just as they would practice safety as they venture into a new city, they have to learn how to be safe on the Internet. Furthermore, in order to build a positive foundation for personalized learning, students must learn how to be safe online. They need to recognize that just because they read something online, it may not be true. It’s essential that they understand that a flashing message that promises a free trip or a cash giveaway will only lead to additional spam, a breach of privacy, or put themselves at risk. They also have to be wary of strangers online. Teachers have to communicate these potential dangers to students and explain how to report any situation that makes them feel unsafe. Understanding how to be safe online empowers students as they engage in personalized learning.

Participation – Listening to every voice can be difficult if teachers consistently rely on whole-group direct instruction as their primary teaching method.  Consider what happens in typical classroom full of students when a teacher poses a question to the class. As students raise their hands to answer the question, generally, the teacher selects one student to answer and moves on to the next question. How can the teacher determine how many students are truly engaged at that moment? The answer is the one student who answered the question.  Personalized learning requires the participation of every student. One strategy for increasing participation is to use a student response system. If the teacher asked questions to all students using a student response system and mobile devices, then all students could answer and ensure better participation.  Now, the teacher can determine immediately who understands the concept being taught and who needs corrective feedback. The teacher could also go back and reteach the concept immediately if the majority of the class is not understanding it.  There are additional strategies for improving participation in a personalized environment. Students could possibly answer questions at their own pace or even generate their own questions. As long as the students are participating at their own pace, we know that they are receiving instruction meeting their needs. Technology tools can provide us with greater opportunities to increase participation. To do this, teachers need to be comfortable with sharing the learning experience with the students in their classes.

Equity – There are many ways that equity can be realized within the personalized learning environment, and I have previously blogged about the issue of equity in learning opportunities. Equitable access for all students doesn’t necessarily mean each student having a device; rather, it entails the access to engaging, digital content and activities either within the classroom or as part of a course. Picture two different science classes in the same middle school.  In one classroom, the teacher is encouraging students to bring in their own devices. Even if only 50% of students have devices, there is still an opportunity to have collaborative groups that can work together to create movies, interactive presentations, animations, and more based on a particular learning standard. They can be creative together and utilize each other’s strengths. For example, one of the students might be more organized and can write the script, while the other does the filming. Now, consider the other classroom where the teacher has assigned all students to read independently a chapter from the textbook (either online or on paper) and answer the questions from the end of the chapter for homework.  In this classroom, their is no personalization of the learning experience, and the resulting two classrooms are inequitable in the learning opportunities available to students. Even in the BYOT classroom described above, there is greater opportunity to utilize the school’s technology tools and resources as students are collaboratively discovering new ways to show what they know.

Responsibility – What does it mean to be a good digital citizen?  There are certain responsibilities that each student must develop in order to become a productive, engaged citizen.  Time management, organization, and note taking are all important skills that lead to a responsible adult.  These three traits can be developed with the assistance of technology.  Many apps have led the way for building responsible behavior by removing obstacles that have traditionally impeded success for learners. In fact, Apple has essentially given every iOS user a personal assistant with Siri.  Simply by holding down the home button, you can ask her to set reminders, make appointments, or even call someone.  An app called My Video Schedule provides images throughout the day to remind users to do particular activities that could be useful within the classroom. Mindfulness is another skill that can help students become more responsible within the personalized learning environment. When students are consciously aware of their strengths and challenges, they are better able to utilize their strengths to overcome many of their challenges and to experience personal success.

There are many ways that teachers can help students develop the above traits in their classrooms. By conferencing regularly with students and helping them set short term goals, teachers can help students realize success. The amount of necessary conferencing may differ based on the personal needs of each student. If necessary, a teacher could conference with students at the beginning of each day; check midday to see how their progress has been; and have a final check at the end of the day.  Journaling at the end of the week can also help students determine their effectiveness on accomplishing goals. This practice is a good way to build self-reflection skills and leads to better citizenship.

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The Passback Effect of Mobile Technology for Early Learners

Passback

What is the Passback Effect?

We have all witnessed the Passback Effect when sitting in a restaurant, and to keep a young child content and quiet, parents hand over their own technology device. This phenomenon also occurs when parents pass smartphones or tablets to their children in the backseat of the car or in a shopping cart. The result is usually the same as the child becomes enamored with the device, and the parents earn several precious moments of silence. What are the children doing with the device? Most likely, they are playing a familiar game, but they could also be taking photos, listening to music, surfing websites, etc. The possibilities are endless, since they are holding the doorway to all of humankind’s recorded history within their little fingers.

What are the ramifications of the Passback Effect? It is difficult to tell how the use of mobile devices at early ages changes student learning. I considered making two columns for positive and negative effects, but I decided that those two categories were too limiting and judgmental. Maybe the results are just what they are since the devices won’t be going away anytime soon. Because teachers will have to realize that many young children will enter Kindergarten and pre-school with so much exposure to digital content and tools, there are many aspects of technology use that will have to be taken into consideration. I have listed five traits below, but feel free to respond to this blog post with your own suggestions and strategies.

Ramifications of the Passback Effect

  • Increased understanding of technology – Young children will continue to become even more adept at using technology, and when something doesn’t work, they will have developed the resiliency to just try another method. Of course, these children are developing their own strategies for how the devices can and should be used, but they may not know specifically how to learn with them. Teachers need to learn how to ask questions to focus on the learning, but they also need to be willing to learn alongside and from students and develop the confidence to say “I don’t know.”
  • Accustomed to making choices – Since the students are choosing their content and developing their own strategies for using devices, they will want to make choices about the ways they learn. Teachers will have to focus on scaffolding learning experiences to keep the students engaged and developing new academic abilities and to provide choices that match with the students personal interests and talents. Lessons will need to be carefully planned with short meaningful chunks of information followed by interactive assignments and formative assessments in order to maintain student attention.
  • Distracted by technology – Through the implementation of the pass back, parents have often unknowingly supported the concept that technology is a distraction device. After all, it is meant to keep the children quiet. However, when I have seen classrooms with multiple technology tools available, those learning environments are active and full of communication as students share their experiences. Teachers will have to nurture positive uses of technology and may need to help students become producers of content rather than solely consuming information.
  • Unaware of social norms – Because children have been focused on the technology, they may not be aware of when it is time to put the devices down and look someone in the eye in order to have a conversation. Some educators mistakenly ban technology tools for this reason; however, a more effective strategy is to nurture mindfulness and teach students appropriate behaviors for face to face communication as well as appropriate online netiquette. They have modeled most of their behaviors after the adults in their lives, and unfortunately many adults have difficulty with the responsible use of technology.
  • Ready for online learning – With all of this early access to online resources with mobile technology tools, students will be prepared for learning online. They may even enter school possessing mastery of many of the traditional standards taught to students in the primary grades. This early preparation will continue to move learning away from the one-size-fits-all model of instruction, and each student can begin progressing at his/her own personalized pace through online learning environments. These educational spaces will need to be dynamic and visual to meet the needs of early learners.

It’s an exciting time in education that will continue to transform traditional classrooms. The Passback Effect will have a lasting impact on young children as it demands change to engage their learning and forces teachers to adopt new teaching strategies.

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Opening the Floodgates? Making the Move from Acceptable Use to Responsible Use

(Cross-posted at Bold Visions and BYOT Network and cowritten by Jill Hobson, Director of Instructional Technology and Dr. Tim Clark, Coordinator of Instructional Technology – Forsyth County Schools)

Photo Credit: OpeningTheFloodGates-ByCads-RetrievedFromSXC.hu

Photo Credit: OpeningTheFloodGates-ByCads-RetrievedFromSXC.hu

We’ve written previously on our decision to implement a Responsible Use Procedure rather than an Acceptable Use Procedure. And while we’ve shared some of the philosophical reasons why we believe in the idea of a Responsible Use Procedure, we’ve not spent much time on strategies to make that move successfully.

Grappling with and being ready to break from a long list of things that users shouldn’t do and moving to a shorter (and more memorable) list of responsibilities is both a philosophical and operational shift that takes consensus building. And it might seem like this would be opening the floodgates of disciplinary issues without the necessary “rules” to shore up necessary response. We have found that through consistent communication and ongoing training those things are not happening.

These strategies have been essential to our successful transition.

Engaging the Stakeholders

Is everyone swimming in the same direction? Are you involving members of your Safety, Academics, Student Support, Special Education, Educational Leadership and Technology Services departments? Did you consider all levels of school leaders? Don’t forget to include Media Specialists. By being inclusive and transparent throughout the process, stronger support can be garnered.

Educating Everyone

Don’t drown as people start considering their worst fears. Take a look at the research, blogs and tweets about responsible use. SEDTA’s Broadband Imperative is a helpful white paper as is Grunwald and Associate’s Living and Learning with Mobile Devices. Look at other school systems’ policies on responsible use. A few that were particularly useful in our process were Katy ISD, TX, Canyon School District and Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Separate Regional Division. Check out this post from Katrina Schwartz on MindShift: Teach Kids to Be Their Own Internet Filters. NPR’s All Tech Considered blogged about this issue in “For The Tablet Generation, A Lesson In Digital Citizenship” as well.

Focus on Digital Age Skills

The vision for instructional technology within our district is embedded within the FCS Learner Profile. This profile describes the attributes of students attending and graduating from a Forsyth County school, and digital age skills are reflected within those hallmarks.  When highlighting how the responsible use of technology is an essential digital age skill rippling through each student’s path to success, it is possible to achieve a growing groundswell of support and buy-in throughout the district.

Review Data

What are the statistics on current issues with “appropriate use” in your district or school? What percentage of students is being reported for inappropriate use? Is there a surge of issues or is it a small minority of students (maybe 5 percent or so) and the imagined problems are bigger than the reality. Maybe the “rules” are being written for the 5% of students who may make poor choices rather than the 95% who will usually make appropriate decisions.

Incremental Changes

Are there ways to ease up on filtering (for example, unblocking YouTube for teachers and then later for students) to test the waters? What about allowing students to use devices before and after class as a first step (like in the lunchroom or between classes)?

Technology Rules Shouldn’t Be Separate

In Forsyth we were able to take some of the most important ideas from our Acceptable Use Procedure and have them flow into the Code of Conduct. For instance, we had an AUP rule about not vandalizing computer equipment. So we incorporated that statement into the existing statement about not vandalizing school property. Since we already had a statement in Code of Conduct, we didn’t feel that we should have a separate and different rule for technology.

Provide Learning Resources – For Staff and Students

By providing videos and other resources to educate staff as well as students on the new procedures, we were able to ensure a consistent message throughout our schools.  Whether you develop your own materials or rely on those from places like Common Sense Media, consistency of message is essential.

When we started on our implementation of BYOT about six years ago, we would never have been able to predict that our community would embrace changes to our Appropriate Use Procedure as they have. We’ve gradually seen the rise in the tide of support as we have all been able to understand how much our students need us to model being a responsible digital citizen and learner.

Resources:

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Learning to TRUST with Responsible Use

(Cross-posted at Bold Visions and BYOT Network and cowritten by Jill Hobson, Director of Instructional Technology and Dr. Tim Clark, Coordinator of Instructional Technology – Forsyth County Schools.)

BYOT_babyWhen do you begin teaching responsible use? It should start at birth. Many parents begin creating the child’s digital footprint before the child is even born by posting the ultrasound photo on social media. Ideally when the child enters school you would expect a child to know how to share, take turns, listen to other opinions and know the difference between right and wrong and some understanding of social norms for public and private behavior. In reality we realize that some children come to school unprepared with some of those social skills and so we nurture and model and teach appropriate behavior until these become internalized.

For example,we live in an era where parents have some model for the “sex talk” because most people participated in such a conversation(s) as a child.  There are multiple books and blogs and other resources to help parents with how to handle this issue.  But who among us as parents has a model for ongoing digital citizenship conversation? Most adults have developed their knowledge of social media through experimentation without guidance, yet we wouldn’t want our kids to learn about sex in that way! So, this is an area where the school has a responsibility to step in and join with families in the work of teaching digital citizenship.

From the beginning of a child’s school career, learning about responsible must be an everyday, ongoing, just in time experience. Where would a school find resources for this kind of instruction? One powerful tool for schools AND parents that we recommend is Common Sense Media.

In addition it seems that when issues occur where a young person makes a mistake, the initial reaction leans towards banning whatever device, app or website was involved as a solution.  While this is a quick way to deal with the immediate issue, it misses the larger need to educate students on how to live in a world of the open Internet.  Students need to learn what it means to responsibly make use of these tools.  And it means that we need to know what to do when we end up in the wrong place, when we mess up, or make a poor choice.  How do young people learn to “course correct” without some guidance from the adults in their lives?

Forsyth County Schools has begun to address the way we deal with issue by moving away from the traditional Acceptable Use Guidelines that include a long list of “thou shalt nots” and has replaced them with the FCS Responsible Use Guidelines.  These guidelines include 5 statements outlining behaviors all members of the FCS community will exhibit regarding digital citizenship. We started to recognize that we had been focusing on the 5% of students who might not follow directions and were making all of the “rules” to deal with their issues.  Our goal in transforming the Acceptable Use Guidelines into Responsible Use Guidelines was to focus on the 95% of students who are going to do the right thing.

The district will begin its sixth year of its Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) initiative in the 2013-2014 school year.  At the onset of implementing BYOT, it seemed necessary to control the devices and applications the students were using in order to ensure safety.  There was some concern about what would happen when students brought their own technology tools to school, and the district leaned heavily on its filtered network as a measure of control.  The big A-HA moment came when students brought devices to school and generally used them responsibly and safely, and the few issues that arose were identified as behavioral concerns to be addressed rather than being technology problems.  The district outgrew its one-size-fits-all Acceptable Use Guidelines and began its quest to develop the new FCS Responsible Use Guidelines.  Some goals of this effort were to have consistent home-school communication and support; to provide some flexibility to local school communities; to teach digital citizenship within the context of students’ personal devices,; and to encompass the growing diversity and different expectations of our learning community.

Here is a poster that we have developed to express the five traits and expectations of the new FCS Responsible Use Guidelines embedded within the overarching concept of TRUST:



We TRUST that the new school year with the new FCS Responsible Use Guidelines will have a renewed focus on digital age learning and citizenship.  To review the FCS Responsible Use Guidelines, please visit http://www.forsyth.k12.ga.us/responsibleuse.

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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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Don’t Be a B.L.O.B. – Support Responsible Use of Technology with BYOT!

What is a BLOB?

Think of the 1958 horror/science-fiction film, The Blob, that portrayed two young teenagers struggling to battle a giant mass of an alien that attempted to swallow up their small town in Pennsylvania.  The movie poster described the Blob as “Indescribable…Indestructible! Nothing Can Stop It!”  Without hesitation, this amoeba-like creature indiscriminately consumed everything in its path until the teenage heroes managed to utilize their available resources to render it useless.

In today’s schools, a BLOB acquires a completely new meaning – a Banner – Locker – Or – Blocker.  BLOBs are the people who keep students from using their personal technology devices to facilitate their learning.  They ban technology devices because they assume that students will use their devices inappropriately, and/or they prefer to maintain the status quo of teacher directed instruction with passive student involvement.  “Lecture all week and test on Friday” is the mantra of many BLOB schools in order to prepare students for the standardized tests toward the end of the year that are supposed to document the how effective the teacher and students were throughout the year.

A BLOB may also be guilty of indiscriminately interpreting the requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) to over filter websites and social media throughout the school day, even to the detriment of learning opportunities of students.  To qualify for E-Rate funding, schools must show that they are following the requirements of CIPA.  These funds come from the Universal Service fee that you can find on your bills from telecommunications providers (phone, cable, and Internet), and they are used to supplement the telecommunications charges to schools and libraries across the country.  Karen Cator, Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education addressed some of the requirements and misinterpretations of CIPA in this interview by Tina Barseghian on the MindShift.org blog – Dispelling Myths About Blocked Sites.

What Is Responsible Use?

Schools that encourage their students to Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) can work within the framework of responsible use by acknowledging that students have the freedom to make choices, and they expect that students will make the right choices to benefit themselves and their instruction.  Starting with the expectation that students want to make good choices creates a noticeable difference in the culture of learning within a school as opposed to assuming that students want to break rules and use technology inappropriately.  The responsible use of technology tools is empowering to students rather than following an acceptable use policy that dictates how and when technology should be used.  The following attributes are some specific hallmarks of responsible use: trust; high expectations; open access; sense of community; practice; and persistence.  In these schools, administrators and teachers acknowledge that students may sometimes make mistakes with their technology tools, and they immediately guide students in the appropriate use of technology and reinforce the importance of personal responsibility in digital age learning.  They believe that students want to learn and understand that developing authentic connections among students, teachers, and the content are necessary for developing supportive communities of learners.

What Can I Do to Avoid Becoming a BLOB?

Michelle Luhtala (@mluhtala) from New Canaan High School brought to my attention that on October 3, The American Association of School Librarians will mark Banned Websites Awareness Day to raise awareness of how legitimate academic websites and social media tools are being blocked in many schools and libraries.  Some issues addressed by this event are how students do not fully develop their skills as digital citizens to evaluate information from all types of sources, including the Internet, and how teachers are not able to utilize the social media tools for learning that their students find relevant in their everyday lives.  Learn more about Banned Websites Awareness Day and how overly restrictive filtering affects student learning.

Also, become familiar with the requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) in order to provide students a safe learning environment without becoming a BLOB!

Resources

“Banned Websites Awareness Day.” American Library Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2012. <http://www.ala.org/aasl/advocacy/bwad&gt;.

Barseghian, T. (2011, September 20). Dispelling myths about blocked websites in schools. Retrieved from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/09/dispelling-myths-about-blocked-websites-in-schools/

Federal Communications Commission. “Children’s Internet Protection Act.” Guide. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2012. <http://www.fcc.gov/guides/childrens-internet-protection-act&gt;.

Wikipedia. (28/0). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blob

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Day 3 of BYOT

This is Day 3 of a series of posts to provide strategies for the first week of school in a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) classroom.  These ideas are my suggestions for developing a learning community during the first five days of school that can hopefully lead to an effective BYOT implementation for the rest of the year.  Please modify these activities to better suit the needs, interests, and abilities of your students.

Scenario: Through consistent collaborative work with their technology tools, students are learning and practicing new uses for their devices.  Even though it is still early in the year, they are developing into a community with a common vocabulary regarding expectations for online communication and for the responsible use of technology.  Although every student may not have a device, the school’s technology resources are being used more than ever to facilitate instruction.  However, the students still need to learn additional ways to scaffold the use of their tools for a variety of learning activities.

Activity – Encourage Participation

On Day 1 of this week, the students began a wiki page about ways they could learn with their devices.  Continue to add to this list by having the students brainstorm specific activities they could complete each day with their devices.  For this brainstorming activity, have students use the Socrative Student app (iOS, Android) to encourage the participation of all the students.

Socrative

Socrative is a student response system that works on all web-enabled devices (including many e-readers), and students can download the free app for both iOS and Android devices.  At this time, teachers can sign up for a free account, and with the free teacher app (iOS, Android), they can lead the student response activity from their teacher laptop/desktop or from their handheld devices.  Socrative enables teachers to pose multiple choice, true/false, and short answer questions.  The other activities that teachers can conduct are pre-made quizzes, exit ticket activity, and a space race game where students can engage, either individually or collaboratively in a game using a pre-made quiz.  Teachers can also manage and share their quizzes with other colleagues.

Students do not need accounts to use Socrative; they just select the link (on the Internet) or the app on their handheld devices.  Then they enter the room number that the teacher provides them from the teacher account and then join the room.  They are directed to wait until the teacher begins the activity (by asking a question or starting a quiz), and then they enter their names and begin.

For this activity, log into Socrative and select a Short Answer quiz.  Ask the students what ways that they can use their devices at school to complete tasks they already do without technology.  Instead of raising their hands to answer the question, have students submit their suggestions using Socrative and their devices.  If they do not have a device, they can use the Internet-based Socrative application from a school technology resource, or they can collaborate with a peer and submit an answer with one device.

Using Socrative is a more effective way to encourage participation than just raising hands because this models the expectation that all students have valuable insights to be shared rather than only the students who are more comfortable with speaking in front of the group.  After the students submit their suggestions, Socrative enables the teacher to have the students vote on the answers.  This polling can help to generate further discussion.  Another student can also be involved by entering all of these suggestions in Wikispaces within the class wiki page – Ways to Learn with Our Devices.

Here are some possible ideas for additional ways that students can use their devices to enter into the class wiki page:

  • Solve math problems with a calculator app
  • Use an online thesaurus or app during writing assignments
  • Define unfamiliar vocabulary words
  • Take notes during lessons
  • Enter due dates on a calendar
  • Research new concepts
  • Read eBooks
  • Participate in online discussions

Another suggestion for using Socrative is to have students submit their own questions (using the Short Answer option) that the teacher can then use in pre-made quizzes or as follow-up questions.  These questions can be based on new content or topics, and they encourage the students to think about what they are learning.  Try this activity by having the students submit questions about Responsible Use and then pose those questions to the class.  Their questions and answers can also be uploaded to the class wiki page – Our Responsible Use Guidelines – if additional recommendations are generated.

Homework (Post these assignments in Edmodo.)

  1. Develop your Wikispaces profile.  Yesterday, you created your profile in Edmodo.  Tonight, you should also develop your profile in Wikispaces.  Again, this personalizes the experience of working within a social network.  As part of your profile, you should upload an appropriate photo or avatar that represents you.  As always, if you do not have a computer at home to complete this assignment, you will be provided time to complete it at school.  Try to come to school tomorrow with a completed profile in Wikispaces.
  2. Download these apps: Research and download apps that help you complete the different class activities listed in our class wiki.  Recommend these apps to the other members of the class in our Edmodo group.

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