Last week my 5th grade students started bringing in their own technology devices for use in the classroom. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to come around to the idea. What was the hang up? I won’t lie here. Me. I was stuck with the notion that elementary-aged kids didn’t need cellphones, Ipods, Kindles, or other devices at school. (Cue image of my mother wagging a finger.) It would be a distraction. A plaything. Just not necessary. Thankfully, someone talked me out of that corner.
It was during a meeting with a colleague discussing flipping math instruction that my thinking changed. She was enthusiastically describing how she used socrative.com with her kids as a quick response tool and discussion generator. I was intrigued. She shared that her middle school students were allowed to bring devices to her English class. They would use the devices in a variety of ways, but I was especially interested in socrative.com and thought it would be a great way to introduce BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology).
Okay. I’ll admit it. I am not an early adopter when it comes to technology or tech tools. I like the wait and see approach. Let others muddle through, I say. Learn by watching. Ask questions. Ease my toes into that stream of technology and innovation one at a time. Don’t get me wrong. I love my smartphone, Ipad, laptop, and Xbox. I just needed another little push and I am glad I was (pushed).
Our school deals with the same issues other schools deal with – access to technology. We share two mobile labs among 500+ students. It can be quite a challenge to get computers when you need or want them. BYOT helps with this strain. It isn’t perfect and definitely has limitations, but I am seeing a lot of possibility. Best part? My kids are leading the way. They are being creative in how they use their devices. I started out simply wanting them to be able to access socrative.com, they have been using their devices to read, plan, solve, write, and research.
Kids are natural techies and hackers. Surprise! We have 21st century learners in our classrooms. I see far more benefits to students bringing devices into the classroom and using them for learning than keeping them locked away in their locker until the end of the day. I can introduce you to thirty-one students who agree.