Tuesday, 15 October 2013

BYOD in Grade 3/4

Last year was my first time trying BYOD with my class. It was a Grade 5/6 class, and we spent two weeks discussing Digital Citzenship, and how to be safe online. Then the permission forms went home, and the devices came in. It was a great experience, and it was well worth the effort. I was told at the end of the year that my next teaching assignment would be Grade 3/4. 

I was a little hesitant as to how successful BYOD would be. After all there is the reality of Galaxy Tabs, and iPads in a room full of 8 and 9 year olds, who don't always remember to push in their chairs, or how to walk instead of run. But the trade off was that if we could care for the equipment and be respectful of everyone's technology, then a whole new world of opportunities awaited.

So we spent a week learning how to be safe on the internet, how to care for our equipment, and how to be good digital citizens. Then the permission forms went home, and the devices came in. At first the overpowering urge was there to do something... ANYTHING! with their devices. And I let them. I set up a Today's Meet when reading a chapter of our read aloud. I let them show their math work in Blackberry, iOS or Android apps. 

As we progressed through September, they started to recognize which activities were just quicker and easier to do on paper, with a pencil. I never needed to tell them what they could use, they just started using the best tool for the job at hand.

Today we started working with weight scales. There were four large boxes of random, mixed-up weight scales in the Math Area of our school. I was told that some were broken, and some parts were missing. I thought what a great way to start measurement!

The class was offered a challenge. Work together as a class, 30 minute time limit, and see if you can get the scales working. 20 minutes later we had a room full of working scales. 

Problem: Missing Parts
Solution: String, Tape, Found Material
The students problem solved their way through building and piecing together the scales. When parts were missing, or extra, they went to other groups and collaborated to get all the scales built. Sometimes other materials were grabbed from around the room to "McGyver" the weight scale. What is especially interesting is that they didn't immediately search on the internet, rather they looked at the real world around them first. 

When a more challenging problem presented itself, a student first worked his way through the other groups, then approached me for some help. He had a weight scale that obviously was missing parts, but no one was familiar with the design of the weight scale. 

I asked him how he could find out more about the scale.
 He said, "I could use the computer to check the internet. But I don't know what this scale is called."
 I asked him what phrase  he could start with, and he decided upon "weight scales." 

He limited his search to images, looking until he found the design he was looking for, then clicked the image to discover both the name, and a close up of the missing parts he needed to finish building his scale.  

While jotting down their ideas on what was hard, challenging, and successful about assembling the scales, some students wrote on paper, and some used their devices. 

When working on their finished explanation, some students used paper, and other students used devices, but everyone was able to share their learning. Truth is, our class isn't a BYOD class, it's just a class that uses everything we need to be successful, and learn... and have a little fun along the way!

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