As I've discovered, BYOD is a bit of a mixed bag: In one of my classes, about 70% of students have a device; in the others, it's closer to about 15%. So, the ideal I had imagined of 2:1 correspondence is not a reality. Also, I myself was having trouble envisioning use beyond quick access to online resources, so how was I going to sell the concept of BYOD to families were themselves not convinced of its value? For starters, I'd not seen technology modeled particularly effectively in any classroom context, other than possibly the use of an Interactive White Board, which my colleague and I spent most of the year learning to use as part of a math and tech research project a few years ago, and which I would not say we've become experts in (and also, my current classroom does not boast such an one). And when I took some online classes this year, I could not seem to move myself beyond the "wow, cool" mindset and into the "hey, I could actually DO this in my classroom" frame of mind.
Finally, though, I partnered with my instructional coach to build a short Kahoot into a data management lesson we co-taught a few weeks ago. Student engagement was extremely high, and through the emotional connections made to the limbic system, retention was also high; I was able to refer back to that lesson often as an example to illustrate a concept relevant to the unit. So I made sure to build a Kahoot or two into my upcoming unit on Fractions (to be posted soon -- still putting on the finishing touches).
But I wanted more.
I wanted to use technology to collaborate on mathematical thinking. One thing my colleague and I discovered during our "Smart Bansho" research project a few years back was that the document camera/Smart Board combination we had cobbled together did not allow for the sort of student solution sharing we had hoped for. Could other technology possibly be more effective in this regard?
One of the apps I am learning about through various workshops and self-directed PD I am participating in this year is called "ClassFlow".
I decided to create a ClassFlow lesson to share a fractions problem I hope to do with my Grade 7 and 8 students in the coming weeks. My plan is to share the problem through class flow, have groups work on it on their devices (only one per group needed!), and then share and debrief solutions as a class.
I have to say, the darned app is not intuitive, at least not for an old crow like me! Creating a pretty slide deck was easy enough, but figuring out how to get "students" (in testing my girlfriend and a mutual friend of ours) to be able to annotate slides and for me as the teacher to be able to access and see said slides became a problem that boggled my mind for a good three days!!! In the end, though, I think I have figured it out. We shall see what transpires....
I know students are engaged with their devices. Although it's slow slogging for me to learn how to do so effectively, I know it's part of my job as their teacher to show them how these tools can be used to foster collaboration and thinking. Integrating technology has to be more than just quick access to the Internet -- we've got to re-imagine instructional possibilities and redefine the pedagogically possible as we use technology not for babysitting, but for new learning opportunities.