Tech­nol­ogy in the class­room

‘Bring Your Own De­vice’ pilot goes sys­tem-wide

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

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

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Ben­jamin Stod­dert Mid­dle School stu­dents Juli Davis and Ajeana West work to­gether us­ing a cell phone to an­swer a ques­tion in­volv­ing sci­en­tific no­ta­tion.

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

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.

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