Technology is definitely everywhere and
I remember, not to long ago, when cell phones were not allowed in school, and understandably so. Kids seemed to know way more about them than most adults, so many misuses might have gone unnoticed. In addition to that concern, these devices could have been used to cheat on assignments, by kids texting questions and answers to each other in the same class or in different classes. These devices had cameras and there was a concern that these too could be misused. The threat of increased crime in the form of theft also seemed an inevitable possibility, with any electronic device. At the least, the concern was that these devices would distract from the learning environment and the very purpose for the reason kids were at school in the first place. For these reasons and I'm sure more, they were banned.
However, times... they are a changing!!!
Our school system has decided that the benefits outweigh the risks, and have decided to pilot a program, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) that would allow students to bring their electronic devices to school for a very limited and controlled purpose. Presently, I am not sure what procedures are set up for middle and high school, but I can detail these for elementary.
So, here's what we're doing...
We sent home notifications to parents along with technology agreement forms (contracts) and waivers for parents and students to agree to and sign, before their student can bring their device. There were parameters spelled out as to what kinds of devices were to be brought. The devices need to have internet and word processing capabilities, as well as a camera. So at least this will weed out simple gaming devices.
Beginning Wednesday, January 29th, students who have returned those wavers will check those in at the door of their classroom with their teacher when they arrive.
Parents are instructed to close out all apps prior to school and were notified about free apps to download at home, specific to their child's grade level. These are the apps to be used in the classroom. Additional ones may be added later.
This is strictly a voluntary event, and no child will be penalized for not having a device.
As with anything new, there are so many unknowns and questions. For me, one basic concern, is will this add to my instruction, or simply take up our valuable time? I am, of course hopeful of the former, realizing that there will be a bit of time necessary to make this adjustment.
Another concern...will there be enough participation to make this beneficial? Many of us already have an Ipad in our classroom, so that will serve as the first device. And of course we have a smart board, and students desktop computers, and I'm not sure how or if they will be integrated.
Security is another issue, but we've been instructed to have a paper list to check in each device, then put them in a bag and lock them away until time to use them. Although the waivers the parents sign release us from responsibility if they are broken or stolen, we still want to do our best to take care of them.
One more thought...Will students abide by the rules set forth in their contracts? Of course there will be some that will not, but if caught, their devices will be sent home and they will not be able to bring it any longer. I am most confident that this will occur, just knowing kids. However, I really do feel that once they see some students not allowed to have them any longer, there will be fewer misuses. I am going to stay positive on this issue for now!!! :-)
Now to the good stuff...
How will we use these devices?
Here is a blog post by Teaching Third in Georgia I stumbled across that has video posted of her kid's efforts using the app Puppet Pals, for digital storytelling. They're really cute. Here's one of the videos made.
If your school has already started allowing kids to bring their devices to school, I'd love to hear from you. Tell me how its working.
If you have found great apps that you want to share, I'd love it if you'd leave it in the comment section below as well.
Thank you. Have a great week!
On another note...
If you missed my Valentines' Day freebie I posted earlier, here it is...
If your like me you have so many students that don't know their facts and need practice. My daughter had been reluctant to learn her facts as well. Then I made a set of flashcards that she enjoyed using. I also added a game that we could play together. My students love it as well.