Putting BYOD to Work: Jennifer Bond’s Classroom

By Christine Garland

Michigan 3rd grade teacher Jennifer Bond’s students are one of the lucky classes out there getting familiar with the smart idea to, “Bring Your Own Device”.

During Digital Learning Day 2012, Bond introduced bring your own device (BYOD) days to her Michigan third graders. Every Thursday, her students brought in whatever mobile device they had — a Kindle Fire, an iPod, an Android — and used them in their lessons. Students who didn’t have a device, used devices Bond brought from home or shared with classmates.

Remember when teachers used to give students options? Like they could turn in a book report, a diorama or an illustration to represent their ideas? Bond does this on BYOD days.

Instead of a structured plan, Bond gives students a goal and some options to achieve that goal. For example, for a biology lessons, she might let students develop an iMovie, make a puppet show through Puppet Pals, or suggest they make a digital diorama.

“When you’re working with devices, it’s much better to develop a learning goal,” Bond said. “Then you’re letting them use their devices while they choose how they want to represent the learning. You can’t be specific. That atmosphere doesn’t really work with BYOD.”

During BYOD, Bond’s students have collectively used Minecraft to learn about landforms. Working together, they build mountains, valleys and canyons to represent their ideas. To make lakes and rivers, which are not available as features, they mined the land around a waterfall.

“There’s a lot of problem solving work that happens,” Bond said.

The Write About This app, which allows kids to create their own writing prompts, is another one of Bond’s favorites tools on BYOD days. Using the app, kids go around the classroom creating writing prompts about what they’ve learned.

Last year, Bond kept the 2012 BYOD days to one day a week because some students either didn’t have a device, or had to bring in the family device. Thanks to new laptop and iPad carts, Bond hopes that this year BYOD will be a biweekly event.

“All of the studies have shown that socioeconomically, free and reduced lunch parents are still buying smartphones and getting these type of devices,” Bond said. “They may not have an iPad, but they have an Android tablet.”

Bond’s school, Glengary Elementary, and the Walled Lake Consolidated School District, are really supportive of BYOD. As a result, they’ve opened a BYOD network, allowing teachers who choose to use BYOD connect more quickly.

Bond said autonomy is key to running a BYOD classroom.

“When you have BYOD, you have to learn to let go,” Bond said. “For teachers who want to have control over everything, BYOD might not be for them.”

Do you have suggestions or ideas for implementing BYOD with high schoolers? Elementary students? Middle school? We want to hear it! Leave a comment and share your experience.