Technology in the classroom
‘Bring Your Own Device’ pilot goes system-wide
In Benjamin Stoddert Middle School math teacher Deborah Spencer’s class, smartphones, iPads and other devices are not only allowed but encouraged.
Spencer said technology in her classroom has tremendously changed the way she teaches.
“It’s a way more efficient way of teaching,” Spencer said. “It’s powerful to have these tools in my classroom, I’m super excited.”
“Bring your Own Device,”
or BYOD, is a technology policy being visited by school systems nationwide, whereby students may use their own personal devices or devices provided by their school or teacher as part of instruction.
Charles County Public Schools piloted BYOD near the end of the 20132014 school year at three schools, adding four more schools in the 20152016 school year.
This year, BYOD was expanded to include all schools, subject to principals’ approval.
“It’s now available at all schools, but it’s up to each school administra- tion to decide how and when to roll it out,” said Peter Cevenini, chief of instructional technology for CCPS.
Cevenini said to date, approximately half of the system’s schools have initiated BYOD.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and the way the system has been put in place, there have been few difficulties,” Cevenini said.
Cevenini said rollout of systemwide BYOD was preceded by technical upgrades and staff devel- opment and training.
“We worked to make sure our firewalls, fil- ters, et cetera were put in place,” Cevenini said.
Earlier this month, students in Spencer’s eighth grade class used their own cell phones or class iPads to engage in apps related to studying scientific notation.
The apps give them instant feedback, and Spencer said an app on her tablet lets her see if students have questions on the material and make comments. Students can also use the app to signal the teacher if they have a question, Spencer said.
Another app paid for by the school system quiz- zes students on the material, Spencer said.
“It provides them — and me — a score specific to what they are missing, it’s very individualized,” Spencer said.
She said it allows her to provide individualized instruction for each student.
“One of the big buzz- words in education is dif- ferentiation, and it’s one way I can differentiate. So if I have kids who are working at 10th or 11th grade level, they’re going to get what they need, and if I have kids who are working at third grade level, can’t divide, they’re going to get that instruc- tion as well,” Spencer said. “I can make dif- ferent assignments for students. It allows me to reach everybody.”
Spencer said she also has her own YouTube channel and makes videos to support the instruction in the classroom for students who may have been absent or need a refresher.
Spencer formerly taught at General Smallwood Middle School, which was one of the BYOD pilot schools.
Spencer said that now she is able to give students a quiz and provide them with instant feedback on the results.
“If you’re teaching, teaching, teaching and you give a test at the end of the day and no one passes, you’ve wasted a whole day, but with this, you can know as you go along if they’re understanding the material,” Spencer said.
Spencer was able to purchase 10 tablet computers through donations at the DonorsChoose.org website, she said.
Ciarra Grady, 13, an eighth grader in Spencer’s class, said she enjoys being able to use a tablet in class.
“It’s electronic, and it’s something I’m used to,” Grady said.
“It’s not boring,” added her classmate, Stephanie
Benjamin Stoddert Middle School students Juli Davis and Ajeana West work together using a cell phone to answer a question involving scientific notation.
Benjamin Stoddert Middle School math teacher Deborah Spencer leans over to help student Tristian Cole as he uses a tablet to work on a scientific notation problem.