Tuesday, July 19, 2011

BYOT - iEngage

Last year I was telling my fourth graders how I wished that I could afford to buy enough iPads so that we could use them in class. A few of the kids offered, "I could bring mine from home" which prompted a few more to say the same. In an informal poll,So I set about making it happen. I was lucky enough to be teaching in a small, affluent district. I also have a principal and superintendent with a great deal of trust in me and my ideas. So iDay was formed. I sent out a Google survey to find out from parents how many devices we could get, if they were willing to have other students use them and setting out guidelines (devices would be locked up when not in use, only approved apps could be used, etc.) The first iDay we had 23 devices! Students played math games during 'centers' and explored fractions, percents and number sense alone or with partners. One of the centers was also teacher time with groups of 4-5 students. As much as they loved using the iPads and iTouchs, they also loved having small group teacher time, a luxury in a class of 31.

We expanded the program to include language arts as well as other devices such as Kindles. I included IT in plans to make sure they were on board with my unofficial pilot. Like Forsyth County Schools in Georgia, we discovered that students were more engaged and were turning in higher quality work. Teachers also saw fewer discipline issues and better class attendance. What's more, students showed significant improvements in district benchmark tests conducted during the pilot's first year.

Sadly, I have been laid off from the district I was with, but wherever I end up, I hope to continue what I started. Forsyth's program has some good suggestions for starting your own BYOT program.

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