DAILY INSIGHT: The BYOT Boot Camp

A veteran shares insight into helping teachers get a handle on BYOT
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By Jen LaMaster, CIO Advisor

As Brebeuf Jesuit moves forward in 1:1 Bring Your Own Technology, I thought I’d share with you all our next level of professional development: The Boot Camp.

Those of you who have followed us on the 1:1 BYOT journey know one of our most successful BYOT professional development activities has been the tech petting zoo. This is a time for individuals to stop by and try out new devices and play for a bit. But as we get closer to 1:1 BYOT, we needed to get our hands a little dirty and thus the Boot Camp was developed. We are working with departments as discreet learners for Boot Camps (last night was our Religion Department’s turn).

BYOT Boot Camp Agenda

Introductory Strategies:
• Context activity with Stages of Integration “Where Are You Now?”
• What can you expect students to bring to class and other details

Practice Maneuvers:
• Tech Petting Zoo
• Department Specific Applications, Web 2.0 resource, electronic environments etc…

Special Ops:
• BYOT Reflection Graphic Organizer
• Round Table Brainstorming

The Crucible:
• Teamwork and Support
• Exit Ticket
• Graduation

We begin with a Context-setting activity. The focus here being for the individual and department to reflect on “Where are you now?” with regard to technology use in the classroom. Right now, I am using this integration rubric created by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory in 2004 as a jumping-off place. Campers are then asked to reflect on concerns and questions they may have regarding BYOT and jot them down on a piece of paper. This context activity centers the group on the topic at hand… visualizing BYOT in their classroom learning environment. We then move into logistics of what are the requirements of 1:1 BYOT that have been articulated to families.

Practical Maneuvers would be considered Experience in Jesuit terms. Now we look at specific tools, resources, devices but frame them within current academic learning objectives. This is when the conversation shifts. I find the first 30-45 minutes of the Boot Camp is focused on the nouns of BYOT – expectations, devices, requirements, websites, supportive readings…. But when we turn the corner to the academic learning objective (I use a graph organizer) then the conversation shifts away from the nouns and on to the verbs. 

Now it gets fun! The conversation last night shifted to the importance of factual memorization and timelines versus analysis of concepts. We discussed question writing to promote critical thinking. We discussed what would happen if we really reflected on the learning objective of the lesson rather than just assign some reading and hope it flushes out in the assessment. We discussed essential concepts in light of curricular learning outcomes. Most importantly, we discussed good teaching in a collaborative, supportive environment (that's the Teacher Resource Center below...teacher included).

I haven’t had to resort to an Exit Ticket yet … people do engage and pay attention. As one of the teachers reflected yesterday (he was much more poetic than my woeful recreation here… but the sentiment is the same) – BYOT may push us beyond our comfort range but it’s in the best interest of the students to create learning experiences in the context of their time, skills and technologies.

We call that point the way and get out of the way …

Jen LaMaster is director of faculty development at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

See this and other blogs by Jen at Ed Tech Reflections.

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