Rolling out BYOT

“We need to replicate in the classroom the world in which students are living.” by The Innovative Educator, 2008

Tomorrow starts the day that seems like I have been waiting forever for! My school starts the pilot in our district, for bring your own technology- byot. We are piloting with our 5th graders first and then our plan is to work our way down to K. Below I share how we have rolled it out so it was not a surprise to our teachers or our parents.

1. We researched! We read articles and blogs. We participated in the #byotchats (Thursdays at 9PM) We set up phone conferences with other districts and schools. We visited Forsyth County Schools who have been implementing it for years and took their tour. Their tour info is here and I highly recommend it. (See previous post BYOT Tour Recap)

2. We made it apart of our schools improvement plan. Our School Leadership Team (SLT), consists of a mixture of parents and teachers. Here everyone had a voice on how they wanted to see BYOT in our school. This is where we came up with our goals as a school along with ideas of how to best implement. We decided even though our district had an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) we wanted one that fit our school needs more. Here is ours, adapted from Forsyth with permission. We also decided a brochure would be helpful to parents and a website. We (SLT) are also in the process of figuring out how we can best support our equity students with devices. (When completed I will be sure to write a blog post on it :-))

3. Getting the Word Out! On way we have done this is though ‘coffee chats’ something my principal (@rjgiovanelli) does once a month at our school. The coffee chats are designed to inform parents what is happening in the school. Each month is different but for Oct. Mr. Giovanelli focused on technology. He explained to parents what we were doing with technology, what is to come (byot) and why it is important. We also video these chats so parents that are not able to make it can also view. (Here is Oct videos Video #1  Video #2  Video #3 We also get the world our by using our schools Facebook and Twitter page; both these social networking sites have benefited us in informing parents what is going on. We have taken pictures of students using the technology so parents can visually see what their students are doing with the technology. We also post the coffee chats here too.

4. We are training our teachers! Why didn’t I say ‘trained’ because we are always providing continuous Professional Development (PD) and not just a ‘one and done’. We have offered all our teacher’s a technology training each month (Tech Tuesdays) along with modeling it in staff meetings and other professional developments for Common Core and our Essential Standards. I have also made a page on my wiki that shows how teachers are using technology in the classroom that teachers can refer too.

5. We are having discussions with our teachers! I went into one of the 5th grade planning’s and shared tips and tricks/best practices of BYOT. Here they were also allowed to ask questions, share concerns etc. One concern was that because they departmentalize, they were nervous they would not know who had returned the AUP permission slip and who hadn’t. We came up with a solution to put on garage sale stickers (those little dot ones) that are bright orange and initial the inside (so they couldn’t just buy them). The students would then put them on their agendas because all the students have to have those in each class. We also discussed that if they have any problems we will find a solution together. This way they know they are not alone on this. We also plan to have weekly ‘check-in’ meetings for the first few minutes of planning to make sure there are no concerns etc.

I will do a follow-up at the end of the month discussing what has worked and what we need to do to make it better as we know there will be some bumps. I would love to hear any advice others want to share as we are always learning and improving.

Recap of the BYOT Tour in Forsyth County, GA

“Empowering students and teachers with their personal technology devices to improve opportunities for learning.” Tim Clark  (@BYOTNETWORK)

I was lucky, along with my district’s instructional technology specialists, to be able to attend this weeks BYOT tour in Forsyth County, GA. I first heard about this FREE tour during a twitter chat. If you haven’t joined #BYOTchat you are missing out. They are Thursdays 9 PM EDT. Below are somethings I learned on the trip along with ideas that were reinforced and sayings I enjoyed. We also back channeled on twitter #byottour.

Things I learned:

– Schools have a weekly BYOT meeting to share ideas. They also use Edmodo to share as well.  They created a BYOT team in the building that are problem solvers.

– The elementary school had learning zones through the school. These were places that students could work that were not in the classroom.

– Subjects were cross-curricular in elementary school and planned in units. There was no block schedule, ex. math from 8:00-9:00 etc. Lessons ideas here

-@Zinked_U is a wonderful resource for the elementary school. She helps plan and gives ideas to the teachers.

– I liked how they had ‘travel’ green screen. It was just a sheet they pinned up in the hall way.

– Students could bring in multiple devices. (Ex. One student had her notes on her iPod touch using evernote and then researching on her laptop.)

– Students sharing devices without a problem. When I asked a student if they minded all said no.

– In some classrooms they had a section of BYOT information. In this section they had things such as the class rules for byot and apps they liked. (Some rules were, no downloading apps, use byot wifi, student is responsible for device, no charging, make good decisions.)

– The students signed a code of conduct with district rules and consequences.

– ‘Device Dig’ – the students in the classroom made a tally chart of the different devices and how many they had of each for their classroom. (Ex 10 iPads, 9 iPod touches, 4 DSI)

– Media center  needs to be the information hub of the school.

– Some teachers in High School addressed different devices. (Ex. if you have an iPhone…)

– Not all teachers are at the same level but they are moving forward and challenging themselves.

– Putting the phone on airplane mode takes away texting so the device is just used for note taking, researching or apps.

Things that were reinforced:

– Technology is an invisible engagement.

– Best practices of having students plan (write out what they are going to do-example scripts before they create movie.)

– Mini-Lessons without technology was still evident with anchor charts etc.

– QR scavenger hunts being used. QR was also being used in PE for circuit training.

– The students still need some structure as the teacher facilitates the learning. (Ex.steps on how to complete a project.)

– The behavior is not the device (tool) but the student.

Apps and Sites I saw being used:

Evernote (App and Site)


Pic Collage and Pic Stitch

Near Pod


Voice Thread (App and Site)

Socrative (App and Site)

Poll Everywhere

Virtual Manipulative’s (App and Site)

Gizmos (App and Site)

My Doodle Game

Quizlet (App and Site)

Todays’s Meet

Follett  (App and Site– must have an account-not free)

Pic Monkey


Sayings I liked from students, staff, board members and parents. 

“We expanding learning opportunities through BYOT. The students are having a deeper level of understanding.”

“We believe it’s our job to tend to the hearts and minds of children.”

“What we do every minute counts.”

“I love working with my own device because then I can do the same things at home or where-ever I am, that I do in school.”

“Bring your own technology is preparing our students from elementary school up for college. Technology is always changing but they are learning with the changes because they can use their own devices.”

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit.” Aristotle (this quote was in all rooms)

“Fairness does not mean everyone receives the same. Fairness means that everyone receives what they need to help them succeed.” (Also posted)

More Information About the Tour: (Highly recommend) 

From Tim Clark an Instructional Technology Specialist– Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) one-day tours that we are organizing for this school year.  Because of interest in our BYOT initiative, we have organized three tour dates – September 28, 2012, November 30, 2012, (already booked) and April 25, 2013 (still available slots).  On each of those dates, we meet at our district office in Forsyth County, GA and board school buses to observe BYOT in action at three different school levels – elementary, middle, and high school.  Breakfast and lunch will also be provided by some of our business partners.  There is no cost to attend these tours as we are excited about sharing what we have learned about transforming instruction with BYOT.  More information can be found about these tours at

Getting Teachers and Parents Comfortable with BYOT

“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” By Arnold Bennett

This weeks #BYOTchat was my inspiration for this weeks blog post. (Byotchats are Thursdays @ 9:00) The topic was discussing various ways to help technologically challenged teachers in BYOT schools. This got me thinking about how not only do the teachers need to feel comfortable but so do parents. After all, parents are the ones who are letting their kids bring their devices to school.

Many ideas were shared but I think the most important thing we need to keep saying, is technology is not going to replace teachers, as that is many teachers fear. An analogy that @edshelf said, that I think is great is, “Technology can never replace teachers, just like hammers can never replace carpenters. Technology is just a tool.” With that being said, here are some ideas to help teachers and parents feel more comfortable with technology and BYOT that you can implement in your schools.

1. Professional Development (PD) is the most important. Offering many different times along with many different types of PD will help teachers feel more comfortable. For example, offer small group PD to teachers that want to have face to face time and need more one on one but also offer PD to those that are more comfortable with technology and they could do a webinar.  Make sure the PD highlight’s that it is okay to fail and that is how you learn; this concept is also important for teachers to bring back into the classroom environment as well. Also letting your teachers that are comfortable, or your schools technology team lead the PD’s. This lets teachers see that it can work in classrooms. This goes the same for parents, offering PD is important too, it doesn’t have to be the same type the teachers are getting but keeping them up-to-date is important as well.

2. Modeling is very important because teachers can see how technology is a tool and that the real ‘meat’ is the content. When you have staff meetings, PTO events or other professional developments (ex Common Core Training) integrate technology seamlessly is important along with letting the teachers and parents use their devices. When I did a training this past school year for Common Core, I used poll everywhere, to let the teachers use their devices to vote on a question. This showed a way to use this site and devices but for the purpose/content of what I was presenting on. I also created a page on my wiki called ‘Technology in the Classrooms‘ where I recorded teachers using technology in their classrooms. This helped other teachers and parents see how it was being used in the classroom and gain insight and ideas of how they could use it too.

3. I think it is important that we let the teachers and parents bring their own devices to school for staff meetings, PTO meetings etc. I think a great way for teachers and parents to get more comfortable with other devices is by having a ‘petting zoo’ at a staff meeting/PTO meeting so teachers and parents can ‘play’ with other devices besides the one they own. This is also a great time to remind teachers and parents that the teacher doesn’t have to be the expert on all devices, as the students are responsible for knowing their own device.  This petting zoo should happen more than once too because teachers and parents need the time to play.

Please share any other ideas you have about how to make teachers and/or parents feel more comfortable with technology and BYOT.

5 Best Practices for BYOT in the Classroom

“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.” By Steve Jobs

I hear often, how am I going to manage 10 iPads in my classroom when I have 25 students or how am I going to manage bring your own technology/devices (BYOT/D). Here are some best practices that can help you manage the classroom with any device the students are using….

1. Model, Model, Model!! Model what you want BYOT to look like in your classroom on the first days of school, just like you do with all your classroom expectations. Don’t forget that sometimes you also need to revisit modeling and expectations throughout the year. You can even take it a step further and come up with a mission, vision and your own classroom expectations together.

2. Treat the devices like books. Have them take them out when you are doing a lesson that incorporates the use of them and when you are not, have them put them away.

3. Have a charging station but make sure you have rules for your charging station just like you do with other classroom management issues like sharpening pencils. Maybe you can only charge once a day for example when the students are at lunch or specials. Do what works for you but whatever you do make sure you are consistent.

4. Just like with textbooks you will have early finishers, have a procedure/plan in place for those students so they are not having ‘down time’. Remember students are going to read and also type at different speeds. If students are typing up notes in a Pages document, tell them when they are finished to close their device and have another task ready. Or have options such as you can create on these three apps/sites.

5. Don’t be scared of letting students have innovate time where they ‘play’ on different apps but make sure to have expectations. When you are teaching students to learn a new site or app they are going to want to play just like you would and  get to know it. Have an expectation in your classroom once you share a new app/site etc that they get 5 mins to ‘play’. You never know…they might teach you something new too about that app or site. If you aren’t comfortable with that, start slower and have innovate time during morning work or recess if they chose.

Remember the biggest thing is to have expectations just like you do with everything else in a classroom. I would love to hear other best practices for BYOT, please share your ideas in the comment section below.

Bring Your Own Device Resources

“We’re changing the world with technology.” Bill Gates

One of the “hot topics” and buzz words right now is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). I have become more interested in this topic as well because my school district will be going to this model next year and I have been asked to be apart of the districts team to help implement it correctly. I joined the first #BYODchat (Thursdays @ 9) on twitter and I have of course found this chat helpful and can’t wait to learn more from it. Below are articles and resources (some shared by others during the chat and some I have found) that helped me better understanding the complexity of this new model that will be apart of education.

Blogs and Resources:


Get Smart: Using Mobile Apps to Improve Your Teaching

In Some Cash-Strapped Schools, Kids Bring Their Own Tech Devices

Bring Your Own Technology Empowers Educators to Facilitate Learning

10 Steps to an Affordable Educational Technology Policy

How Ford Motor Deployed Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

‘Bring your own device’ Catching on in Schools