In my research I am looking to answer the question of how to incorporate technology into my classroom practice in a school with limited resources. My board is adopting a BYOD program this September however, many students are unable to afford these devices in my school’s area. The students are by no means below poverty level! Their families have other priorities as many are single parent households. I have now worked in a daycare where digital cameras are being used as a method of incorporating and understanding art as a form of literacy. I see the challenge of limited resources (having less than 10 cameras and a total of 37 preschool and kindergarten students).1
I began my research online, looking at teacher blogs, Pinterest and using other social media as a tool in developing some ideas. In my search online I found many sources of valuable ideas and practical ways to use one iPad in the classroom both in a 1:1 setting and 1:25. I have loved the idea that I have read on many blog posts to use my iPad as a way to present material.2
I have always felt tied down to my computer when using it as a method of delivering presentations (slides, notes, or creating rubrics with the class) because I teach grade 6 and find that chart paper is a little “primary” and these are “mature” students. I find it to be distracting for my classroom management having been tied to a computer and desk and also trying not to block the projector so the students can see. Not being able to roam the room and interact with students that way is limiting! Not to mention not being able to use proximity as a tool for management. I have always just used a word document but with an iPad I can begin using mind-mapping applications to write down ideas, questions and share them with the students and parents. There are many apps to do this and I can share these items and give parents logins and passwords so students always have access to the materials in class.
In a blog post on edgalaxy.com, the author creates a list of reasons why BYOD and 1:1 classrooms are not the most engaging, reflective classroom situations. One is that schools and teachers misplace the priorities of including technology and exploring technology in the classroom.3 One of the reasons is not understanding that the curriculum needs to reflect the device. Using an amazing resource like the iPad should help expand and extend the curriculum to the point of making it innovative and so rich using video, audio, images, and other techniques that bring out depth and interest of the curriculum. I remember complaining about curriculum not reflecting practicality of adult life, but these activities do. Think about the professions, careers and not to mention the use of technology in post-secondary and how it relates to displaying information and analyzing it in a critical and explorative way. Students will relate to these ideas! So I intend on using my iPad sparingly however I want students to become familiar and aware of expressing their ideas in a digital media. Differentiating the way they use the technology to do this is where I will hopefully find success.
I also found a blog post about using Edmodo.4 This site (albeit I need to explore it some more) seems to be a great way to incorporate BYOD with all platforms and devices my students are using. I can apply badges as a means of classroom management systems, differentiate materials, group students, post notes, incorporate parents without having to set up meetings (as many of my parents are shift workers), and sharing resources.
I have always enjoyed the concept of including a flipped classroom lesson in my daily plan and have included it when teaching physical education. I think using the iPad to record and share homework, mini-lessons and other resources for students who are sick or on vacation (I also have a high number of ELL students that leave for weeks at a time for trips to their home country) is a great method that students can also participate in. Students will be able to reflect on the work done and share with their classmate using the iPad where to focus attention, how to tackle problems. What is a better way for the student who is at home than to be taught by a group of their peers how to complete an assignment and what a great review for the students in the class? As an example, we could record how to solve a math problem after a 3-part math lesson as an anchor video (or chart) that students could always refer to even when at home.5
There are so many resources I found that go from casual use in the classroom to very detailed programming that requires a lot more tech saavy abilities than I have. I need to find a balance where I allow my students to create more than they consume but also where I am comfortable with them being. I want to ensure my students are participating online, and using social media as it is the way of the future but also keeping in mind how important online safety is (that includes bullying, marketing/sales, predators, etc).6
As I read and reflect on all the things I am learning about I am getting excited for the upcoming school year and what I can do with my iPad and classroom computers. After doing research, reading blogs, listening to education podcasts (TEDtalks, the Rookie Teacher)7 and participating in twitter chats8 I have realized I am my own limit when it comes to incorporating technology in my classroom. I should not feel limited by the physical resources (or lack there of) but of my own creativity and comfort when incorporating these methods for differentiation, curriculum exploration and the sharing of ideas.
1“Artist in the Centre,” last modified June 2013, http://www.mcrc.on.ca/images/ACT_Brochure_-_FINAL_for_web_2.pdf.
2“7 Modern ways teachers use Mind Mapping,” last modified July 29 2013, http://blog.thinkbuzan.com/imindmap/7-modern-ways-teachers-use-mind-mapping.
3“Five common reasons why 1 to 1 programs fail,” last modified July 24 2013, http://edgalaxy.com/journal/2013/7/24/five-common-reasons-why-1-to-1-programs-fail.
4“10 Tips for Getting Started With Edmodo,” last modified July 30 2013, https://blog.edmodo.com/2013/07/30/10-tips-for-getting-started-with-edmodo/.
5“Anchor Charts – Five Essential Features,” last modified August 2012, http://nancymcneal.blogspot.ca/2012/08/anchor-charts-five-essential-features.htmland “Integrating Technology with Limited Resources,” last modified August 2010, http://www.edutopia.org/blog/free-tech-integration-resources.
6“Text Me The Answer – BYOD Strategies and Solutions,” last modified January 2013, http://fishingforedtech.com/2013/01/13/text-me-the-answer-byod-strategies-and-solutions/.