Sunday, June 8, 2014

I recently read an article in the NY Times that discussed the benefits of students actually writing versus keyboarding.  This is a topic that has been discussed for as long as computers have been in the classroom, but until only recently have scientists been able to discern how brain activity happens differently when writing versus typing.  When I taught years ago, computers were not used for actual composition.  Instead, students wrote their first draft by hand and then proceeded to type a final draft.  I often wondered how student writing would change if they were to use a keyboard and computer to actually compose their work.  With the advent of speech recognition software now becoming more prevalent in schools and with personal devices, there will most likely be another shift from typing to speaking directly into a device in the very near future.

Writing, drawing, and painting were all modalities that assisted us when we first learned to put our thoughts and ideas down on paper.  If you walk into any kindergarten classroom you will note students writing, drawing and painting as they learn to communicate and create.  Fast forward to the high school and there will be students writing, drawing and painting as a means of communicating their thoughts and ideas.  Computers and personal devices are now a vital part of our schools and our homes, but focusing attention on the importance of using handwriting will help to balance this evolving situation.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

When I first began teaching over 20 years ago, computers were still considered a novelty in most classrooms.  The computers that my students used in the early 1990's were not connected to the Internet and were primarily used for learning games such as Mavis Beacon and Oregon Trail.  Fast forward to 2014 and our students are now using smartphones and tablets to communicate, learn, and create.  This is why it is important for the WRSD to implement a BYOD policy and implementation plan that allows students to tap into the technology that they already have in their backpacks or pockets.  

Every year, we discuss the prospect of having students bring in their own tech device for use in schools.  This discussion has ensued for several years now as our school district grapples with many of the issues associated with BYOD.  Currently, the Education Subcommittee is working on a policy that provides guidance for the usage of student owned devices in school.  The WRSD is also committed to increasing the wireless infrastructure in our schools to provide more equitable access to information.  As we look at the implementation of a BYOD policy we must remember that not all students have their own tech devices and classrooms still must have access through school owned devices such as desktop computers or tablets.  

I am also sharing an article from District Administration online magazine that explores the successful implementation of BYOD programs in three different school districts .  There is a great deal to learn from other school districts that have already begun BYOD programs and this article shares some useful information for educators and parents concerning the implementation of such programs.