Bring Your Own Technology initiative lights up classrooms

Bailey Middle School is one of six middle schools putting the Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) initiative to work. During the 2012-2013 school year Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools chose 21 schools to launch the first phase of the district-wide BYOT initiative that gives wireless-network access and 21st century learning to students who bring their own personal devices to school.

Three high schools, six middle schools and 12 elementary schools were chosen for the first phase. Schools were invited to apply and selection was based on a survey that assessed teacher and student readiness.

At Bailey Middle, students can be seen on their iPads, smart phones, laptops, Kindles and other technology. Language arts and science teacher Julie Gentile communicates with her students through apps such as Gaggle. She said connecting to the world, is now accessible through their fingertips. The digital devices also allow for her students to communicate with her outside the classroom.   

“I use the Gaggle app to communicate with my students. I can post homework assignments and they can connect with me through the app. if they have questions,” said Gentile.

According to the Gaggle web site, the app is used to provide safe electronic communication tools to students and teachers. It is a learning tool for the K-12 market.

Gentile blogs about topics pertinent to their lives and students have the capability to respond either via e-mail or through a forum. During a recent class session, students were learning about bullying. Students were encouraged to communicate with one another online as they investigated examples and researched current news stories.  

“Last year we were doing more things on paper, but with the technology it makes learning fun and exciting,” said sixth-grader Anna Gibson. “We were recently reading a novel and through Gaggle we responded to questions from the teacher. BYOT allows us to interact with the teacher more.”

In other Bailey classrooms, seventh-graders were learning about the human muscular and skeletal systems in science class on their devices and eighth-graders were studying primary documents related to the Civil War.

“In our class, you will see a lot of iPads, but mostly smart phones,” said language arts teacher Nicki Kincaid. “The older kids get to enjoy taking responsibility for their learning.”

All school districts are required to filter access to the Internet in schools by the Children’s Internet Protection Act. The Acceptable Use Policy was amended by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education in August 2012 to allow personal technology devices. The guidelines for the BYOT initiative were also added to the student internet use agreement.

See a list of the 21 schools chosen for the first phase of BYOT. To read the full district regulation on student internet use and network access, click here. For more information, view the list of frequently asked questions.