Guest Post: Gadgets and Gizmos Aplenty

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Post by: Kim Penrod

Gadget Day.  It can be quite chaotic or it can go smoothly.

Our middle school opened up a public wireless network and allowed BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) this past spring.  The students were thrilled, the staff had mixed opinions…mostly positive.  With not enough desktop or laptop computers available for all of the classrooms, I was one of the happy ones.

Having resources available “on demand” is a great thing.   Students could (and did) look up answers to things that I couldn’t provide them with.  We were able to look at bios of people important to the time periods we were studying.  Accessing the class and other webpages during class for additional content was a real plus.  Collaboration and communication increased.

It was a work in progress for the district as they looked at usage and bandwidth needs in each of the buildings.

Some things I learned with my 7th grade students in this process…

  1. While kids are pretty tech savvy, there is still a lot to be learned in the area of Netiquette.    (I like cheese is not an appropriate response to someone’s post)
  2. Surfing is not searching.  (But I still can’t convince some 12-year-olds of that)
  3. Youtube clips are still blocked, even if the videos are embedded in another site.
  4. Not all gadgets are appropriate for online tests/worksheets.  (Screen size really does matter in this case)
  5. Never underestimate the importance of earbuds.
  6. The school user name and password should be the same for web 2.0 apps used for/at school. (Or keep a list for your students)
  7. Long-term projects (2+ days) need daily objectives.

Things are moving forward.

I know more gadgets will be finding their way into my classroom next year.  I have come into possession of a Kindle Fire and possibly some Nooks as well.

The middle school is organizing lessons for the first week of the year so all kids hear the same message in the same way.

We are moving into Google Apps.  Students will now be able to access their docs from home or school.

It can only get better!

Kim Penrod is a social studies teacher and gadget guru.