Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Preamble

Though I created this blog a few days into the new school year, I wanted to backdate a few entries to highlight my first few days of teaching in a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environment, as well as why I wanted to move in this direction as a teacher.

I am currently in my 13th year of teaching, having just finished my 7th year at my current school. While I'm not ignoring the fact that it might just have been a "7th year itch," in the last few months of the past school year, teaching the way I had always taught suddenly felt extremely inadequate. I wasn't convinced that I was reaching the students as well as I wanted to. I was teaching in the same system, with the same techniques, as not only I had been teaching for the past dozen years (and had been taught myself), but also in the way generations of school teachers had taught before me.

But things have changed. Students have changed. Access to information has changed. The same teaching methods weren't working any more, and I started to realize that I, also, had to change. Being part of a pilot project involving bringing tablets into the math classroom opened my eyes up to what might be possible in a "21st Century" classroom, where students guide their own learning, and choose how they learn... which very well might not be me yapping away at the front of the room.

So I spent the summer reading, tweeting, researching, reading some more, jotting down new and different ideas for my courses, and collaborating with colleagues. Did I mention reading? I did a LOT of reading.

My conclusion was to try harnessing the power of the BYOD (or BYOT for Technology) movement in a senior, mid-level math class. My vision is to focus on independent learning - students working their preferred way, at their own pace and using the resources of their choosing, through curriculum-based learning goals. While I have done a lot of differentiated instruction in the past (choice of assignments, addressing different learning styles, accommodations, etc.), turning the pace of the course over to the students scares me. This is completely unlike anything I've done before.

I'll be focussing on BYOD in just one of my classes this semester, but welcoming spillover into some of my other courses. My goals for the course are to have:
  • an improved student success rate
  • a more enjoyable learning environment (the classroom itself, and student-teacher interactions)
  • students who enjoy the learning process (or at least don't seem to mind it!)
Here goes nothing... anyone up for an adventure? :)

2 comments:

  1. Heather, we are in very much the same spot. I have been working at the system level for three years, and have now returned to the high school classroom. I am reinventing myself for sure. While students are definitely encouraged to bring their own devices to class, the reality is that maybe only 20% of the students have personal tech (beyond an MP3 player). I am piloting Chromebooks in my courses, which is thrilling and intense. But, it is not the technology which is at the centre of my reinvention as a teacher. It is, rather, the pedagogical shift. Student inquiry and design thinking are now at the heart of my thinking and planning.

    Two questions for you: Which professional read has had the largest impact on your learning? And have you created a BYOD policy for your classroom?

    Here's to a terrific year!

    Julie

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    Replies
    1. Hi Julie! Thanks for checking out my blog :)

      Best of luck with the chromebooks! I've heard good things about them as online devices. About half the 24 students in my course use one of the class tablets, and I have access to netbooks if I need them.

      I agree that it's a huge pedagogical shift, and that actually scares me more than using all these devices. It's exciting though, and the potential gains are amazing.

      To answer your questions - all the reading I've done has been online. The sites that I seemed to frequent the most include TeachThought, Edutopia and MindShift (kqed.org). As for a BYOD policy, check out my latest post. Since there is currently no BYOD policy in our board, the students and I have been drafting one. I'm hoping to get it approved this week, at which point I would be happy to share it if you like.

      Thanks again for the comment - have a great weekend!

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