Friday, November 18, 2011

Robert Stephens visits South View Middle School

On Thursday, November 17, Geek Squad Founder, and Best Buy Chief Technology Officer, Robert Stephens spoke to students and staff at South View Middle School. He was extremely engaging and listened to the students in our Smart Bar student support program as much as they listened to him. Here are some of the highlights of what he shared.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Go Wireless" Bring Your Own Device Initiative

This year has seen an expansion of our "Go Wireless" Bring Your Own Device initiative. Currently 325 students, over 12% of the student population have gone through training and are certified to bring their devices at the middle level. This is the equivalent of over 10 computer labs coming to school each day! The training sessions cover:
  • History of the program
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Expectations and Liability
  • Purchasing Options
  • What students CAN use the devices for
  • Acceptable Use and Consequences for missuse
  • How to connect to the wireless network
  • A short survey
  • A short Question and Answer session
At the end of the training, parents and students sign an agreement, and the students receive a sticker indicating that they are "wireless certified."
Students like the ability to access course content, take notes and stay organized on their own device, and report being able to get to work faster, than if they have to log in on a district owned computer. A survey of students last year found that 91% felt that having access to their own device improved their learning. 

The program is optional, and staff will continue to check out carts or labs when working on projects. In addition, netbooks have been purchased at each secondary school for students to access during the day, and media center hours have been extended for students needing access to course content online. A Website has been created to assist staff with the use of carts and BYO devices that is accessible from the Edina Technology Resources for Teachers site.
Suggestions for teachers interested in incorporating the devices into their instruction include:
  1. Tutorial Designer-Have students use to create a tutorial for solving problems or completing processes.
  2. Designate student note-takers/Scribes on a Google Doc (Scribe of the day!) Then have them share with you to post on Moodle or your Google Site.
  3. Researchers-When questions come up during the period, designate a researcher of the day to look it up. You can also do this with classroom computers.
  4. Collaboration Coordinators to connect with others around the world studying the same topic, or with experts.
  5. Curriculum Review Podcast-Students could use Aviary in Edina Apps to record short podcasts as study guides on a topic
  6. Organize an exit card: Students could create questions for the class on a Google form that then can be used as an exit card for students to complete before they leave, or when they are at home.                                          Alan November via the book, Curriculum 21.

While studying the Federalist papers, Valley View Middle School Government Teacher, Scott Stadem found that rather than having students attempt to read the rather dry original documents, having access to online resources via personal devices greatly enhanced students understanding of the concepts. Some used laptops, some used iOS devices and some used mobile phones to access the information and create graphic organizers. This freed him up to roam around the room and assist struggling learners. Other staff like the fact that the responsibility for troubleshooting has been taken off their plate, since for the most part, students know their own device.

6th grade Language Arts Teacher, Jonathan Moore stated:
So far this year, students in my Language Arts classes with their own devices have shared rough drafts with me in real time, before they have even left my room; submitted assignments ahead of schedule - because they could, and also completed and submitted work from the online portion of my class. Why is this great? It's supported top-down, students are very engaged, work efficiency is increased, and collaboration goes up. 

Our next training sessions for students will be November 21, 1 p.m. in the Valley View Theater, and 7 p.m. in the South View Theater.