Friday, June 15, 2012

8 Universal Apps to Start your BYOD Classroom:

This piece is a follow up from my last bit on BYOD, Whether You Like It or Not, You MUST Embrace BYOD!!!.  I had lots of great feedback on this thought, but the biggest question was how do you get started.  The best way I know how to start a new idea is begin with what you already have and go from there.  Kids have tons of apps in common, and while their devices may look or operate differently, they all pretty much function the same.

The First Step 

The first step to starting a BYOD classroom is to show kids how their device is a great organizational tool that can lead them to success in the classroom. Here's how.

Selfie Learning...
Kids are some of the most innovative photographers in the world.  Teach them how to walk up to the board to take pictures of their assignments so they won't forget what to do and when it's due.  Show them how to selfie a problem that you taught them so they can study it later.  Real-world math is everywhere.  Assign them to take pictures of where they see math or science concepts outside your classroom. Kids are taking pictures all the time and putting them on Instagram.  Show them how their camera can further their learning.

You've Got Mail...
Email is one of the most tried and true forms of communication.  Districts give students and teachers email accounts, so it is a great platform to teach kids this style of electronic communication.  All teachers use email in every district; therefore, teachers should employ it as a form of communication with students.  Students have questions about assignments or tests, but can't always access the teacher, and let's be honest with ourselves. Students need to learn that face to face communication with the teacher isn't always necessary.  Email is a great tool for beginning BYOD.

Notes on the Go...
Note-taking is a highly effective instructional strategy, and to be successful in college or the work place, you have to know how to take good notes. It's also a high yield instructional strategy.  Virtually every device has some type of note-taking app.  Students need to learn how to utilize the note-taking app on any device.  The benefit of note-taking apps is that students can take notes and never lose them because they never lose their device, right?  Notes can also be reviewed anywhere students need to access them. You don't always have your notes, but you always have your phone. Additionally, notes can be emailed and shared which is definitely a step up from the traditional method of note-taking.  

You can find virtually any video on any subject whether it be stupid or inspirational.  A lot of times a video can say what you can't.  Content can be delivered in a way that makes sense to students.  Interventions can be offered on the student's time.  I had a student that couldn't understand the content in his PreCal class, but after finding YouTube videos on PreCal concepts, he ended the semester with a B in the course.  YouTube is a great app to enhance your content.

Organization starts with a Good Calendar 
Inefficient employees struggle not only with work ethic but with time management.  Calendar apps have lots of functuality to help students put tests, due dates and events into their phone, and then alarms can be set to remind students.  In addition, teachers have tasks that reoccur weekly.  Calendar apps have the ability to schedule events with reoccurrances whether they be daily, weekly, monthly or yearly.  No paper calendar or organizer on earth can match calendar apps.

Teach Kids to be their own Task Master
Keeping up with assignments requires organization.  Like a calendar, task apps help students ensure completion of tasks.  Task apps help students manage progress on large tasks with multiple steps and students can schedule alarms when due dates arrive. The alarm feature is what keeps forgetful students organized.  Every student needs to learn how to use their device to complete tasks without reminders from the teacher or parents.

Special Note - For really important deadlines or really forgetful people like myself, teachers need to teach students how to set alarms to make sure they don't forget or ignore calendar or task alarms.

Text your Mom NOW!!!
Text messaging is the best form of parent communication.  Teach your students to text their parents in class as a part of your communication with the kids.  Have parent announcements on the board along with student announcements and encourage students to keep parents aware of important events such as the ending of grading periods, important test dates, and other events that support parent involvement.

Google It!!!
Students are already looking up stuff on the internet.  They want to know more information on topics that interest them.  Start off class with a question about your lesson that can only be answered with research.  Modeling this form of inquiry in your instruction shows students how to solve problems on a regular basis when you're not around.

Why You Should Do This
Students are more dependent on their devices than ever in the history of mankind, but many students do not know how to use these devices beyond a socially interactive nature.  Learning to many students seems disconnected from the technology sitting in their pockets today.  The sad reality is that students adapt to technology easily, but our instruction doesn't always adapt to students' strengths especially when it comes to technology.  Even worse, we often times fail to show students how to capitalize on those strengths in a way that benefits their learning.

The scary part is this. We must recognize that in 15 years, most work that students will do for a career will be done through a device that sits in the palm of their hands.  We must realize the future presently sits in the palm of each student's hands, and we owe it to them to provide an education that matches that future as much as possible.

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