Sunday, August 31, 2014

BYOD Lessons

I really enjoyed the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) assignment. In small groups we created interdisciplinary lessons that incorporated technology and the BYOD theme. My group created a lesson on the development of the English language throughout history and it was so much fun to create! Combining technology and various disciplines made the lesson seem more creative and accessible.

Reading other lessons was also a blast, especially those outside of my subject area. I was thoroughly impressed with the "BYOD to Discover Tree Species" lesson developed by Wilbur, Jesse Sara, and Sarah. This science class is certainly unlike the majority of the classes I had in high school. I think that this lesson will certainly engage the students' natural curiosity and create a more natural initiative for learning. Even the worksheets assigned during the bell work are cute as well as well-structured. I am slightly concerned however that five minutes won't be enough time for them to complete all three pages. This lesson is certainly packed with wonderful material! After the worksheets, students are invited to do two things they love: use their phones and go outside. Collecting pictures of different plant species and identifying them is a great way for students to practice classification and differentiation of species. Overall, this lesson was well organized and well thought-out.

The perks of this lesson aren't limited to moving around and using cell phones though. I particularly love the questions they created to ask students including a. What are some of the key physical characters of the species? b. If you cannot tell what species is it is based on the leaves, what else can you look for? c. If you cannot tell what species is it is based on the fruits, what else can you look for? The last two questions are excellent for stretching students' thinking. This pedagogical approach of questioning and self-led discovery is not often seen in classrooms and I think that it is especially valuable for the encouragement of higher order thinking and evidence based learning in our high school classrooms.

The technology used in this classroom is simple and won't be problematic - as laptop carts and other resources often are. Instead, students are asked to bring their own device (BYOD) and use their phones to take pictures. Furthermore, this group has found an awesome app called Leafsnap that assists in the identification of different tree species. This inclusion of technology teaches students that their mobile devices and apps can be used for more than just angry birds and texting.

Overall, I really liked this lesson. I have only two small concerns. First, is time. A lot of material has been packed into a short lesson and I would hate to see the discussions and discoveries cut short. (But I think all teachers worry about this!) The second concern is the connection of the lesson material to the survival and extinction standard listed in the lesson plan. I do not see any explicit connection to this standard in the material, but it would be easy enough to fix. Thanks to Jesse, Sara, Wilbur, and Sarah for sharing their lesson plan!