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BYOD, part 2: a student’s perspective

 By Guest Writer, Daijah Young.  

 Smart phones and school just don’t mix.  That’s what I was thinking when Mr. Orphal asked the class to get their phones out.

 How many times have teachers told me to put my phone away?  Usually, my teachers think that phones are a constant distraction.  They don’t want us texting—or even listening to music—while we work.  Even when I get my work done and want to use my phone for the last five or ten minutes of class, I get shut down.  “It’s a school rule,” the teacher says. Or, “There are other students still working, and I can’t tell them ‘No’ and then turn around and let you use yours.”

However, on this day, our phones weren’t a distraction.  They weren’t even a handy tool, like when I use the calculator app in math class.  Today, they were absolutely necessary to complete the task that Mr. Orphal had set out for us.

For the past two weeks, we have been researching Africa, specifically the country of Burkina Faso.  One of Mr. Orphal’s former students, a junior in our Education Academy, is traveling to Burkina Faso this summer with an organization called BuildON to help build a school.  My classmates and I are doing this research before we get started on the second part of our project: writing children’s books for the kids who are going to attend that new school.

Instead of giving us a handout or having us take notes during a lecture, Mr. Orphal had a series of questions we had to research using our phones.  We could have gone to the computer lab, but Mr. Orphal said that they were all reserved by other teachers, so our smart phones ended up being our link to the internet and the information we needed.  Besides, even if Mr. Orphal had been able to get us to the lab, I think using our phones actually got us working faster and longer since we didn’t waste any time walking to and from the computer room.

Doing research on our phones worked out great.  Not everyone in the room had a smart phone, but there were enough students so that everyone could either share or talk to each other about their findings.  At my table, three of the five students had phones, so we were constantly talking about the different sites we found. Everyone got answers to all of the questions they needed to answer that day.

Frankly, I really liked how we did our research.  If Mr. Orphal had done a lecture, I would have taken notes, but I probably wouldn’t have paid as much attention to what he was saying as he would have liked.  Using my phone was a lot more fun than reading a handout, too.  I honestly don’t know why.  As I was hunting for the information, I probably read as much on my phone as I would have read from a worksheet.  Somehow, though, this activity felt different.

Something else felt different, too.  By allowing us to use our phones to gather information, I felt like he really trusted me to use my phone the right way.  It felt like he wasn’t worried that I would be irresponsible.  It felt like he was treating me as an adult.

Daijah Young is a 10th Grader in Mr. Orphal's Introduction to Education (CTE) class at Skyline High School in Oakland, CA.

11 Comments

Brianna Crowley commented on March 24, 2014 at 6:30pm:

Wow: I love that you are inviting student voice here!

Dave, 

As always, you have pushed the envelop for yourself, your classroom, and this community. I love how throughout this year you have invited student voice into this space. It is so powerful.

Jessica Keigan did this too, and I remember each time I've read these voices, I feel like a door is opening in this community. Could there be a way to ope this door more? Any other bloggers out there ready for a student guest post challenge?

My school is BYOD. A quick switch from the 1-2-1 path we were on two years ago. But a small group of teachers have been invited to reevaluate that decision--not to reverse BYOD, but to add to it with more devices to ensure equal access to technology. 

Your post reminds me to be grateful for the resources we do have and for the policies in place already. I am so quickly dissatisfied by the monolith of the system not catching up to what I know our classrooms should be: progressive, technology-infused centers of learning. 

Dave Orphal Dave Orphal commented on March 25, 2014 at 9:43am:

Thank you!

Thanks for your comment, Brianna,

You hit the nail on the head with your comment about ensuring equity.  Working at an inner-city school, many of my kids do not have a devise for BYOD days.  Luckily, I spend a great deal of time at the begining of the year building a sense of family and strong protocols for how we want our classes to be.  The atmosphere of professionalism and mutial trust makes it easy for kids to either share their devices, or collaborate around what they research.

Melissa Rasberry commented on March 25, 2014 at 2:42pm:

Follow-up question for Daijah

Hello Daijah (and hello Dave)! Thanks so much for adding a guest post here, Daijah. It's apparent that Mr. Orphal does a great job of preparing you to articulate your thoughts and share them with others.

I wanted to ask you some follow-up questions, if you don't mind. You said:

"By allowing us to use our phones to gather information, I felt like he really trusted me to use my phone the right way. It felt like he wasn’t worried that I would be irresponsible. It felt like he was treating me as an adult."

I'm curious:

What else could teachers and schools do to show that they are willing to trust students more? What would make your school experience more engaging and interesting?

I look forward to hearing back from you!

Dave Orphal Dave Orphal commented on March 27, 2014 at 1:39pm:

Thank you!

Hi Ms. Rasberry.  This is Daijah.

Thank you for your question.  After thinking about it, there are ways teachers could show that they trust their students.  

One of my teachers doesn't hesitate to leave the classroom if she needs to talk one-on-one with a student, or help out the teacher across the hall.  She knows that we’ll be alright and keep working even if she isn’t there looking at us.  We know that we don’t need to be baby-say 24/7.

Sometimes a teacher will allow me to go to my locker or the bathroom without taking time to write out a pass.  This tells me that they believe me about where I need to go and that I’ll be right back.

Finally, I’d like to be able to walk across campus without adults constantly thinking that I’m cutting class.  We have nearly 2000 students at Skyline.  The majority of us are here to get our education and only a few are constantly messing up.  It’s frustrating when I feel like the grown-ups on campus are treating us all like we’re all up to no good.

 

 

Melissa Rasberry commented on April 1, 2014 at 11:02am:

Thank you for your insights, Daijah!

Daijah, I see that you have a bright future ahead of you! You're already teaching US so much about what we could do differently in schools. Way to go (and kudos to Mr. Orphal too ;-)

What you're describing is an old saying that my good friend, Susan Graham, taught me a long time ago: Assume good intentions. Regardless of your situation, it's always smart to assume that people are doing the RIGHT thing, instead of believing they are up to trouble! My hunch is that because your school is so big, many folks on campus want to make sure that students stay safe and thus, they "monitor" behave closely. But what that ends up happening is creating conditions where students, like you, don't feel trusted and respected.

You've given us a lot to think about! Thank you again for sharing your ideas with us.

Lalla Pierce commented on March 25, 2014 at 2:54pm:

Ditto what Melissa said!

Daijah,

I loved reading your post! I am curious about your answers to Melissa's questions also. Can't wait to read more-

Lalla 

Lisa Rothbard commented on March 27, 2014 at 2:50pm:

English Language Arts

Hi Daijah!

I'm so excited to see this post of yours! You articulate your thoughts exceptionally well. I'm hoping you'll add this same post to your Youth Voices profile once we get those set up next week. I think it is an excellent conversation starter and will be excited to hear the comments that other students have to add to this conversation.

See you tomorrow!

Ms. Rothbard

P.S. Thank you, Mr. Orphal, for creating these opportunities for our students! Very cool!

Melissa commented on April 10, 2014 at 6:27pm:

Great post!

Yes, I agree, thanks for providing some student voice! Much needed and valuable perspective for others to consider.

Ghazi Alsharif commented on June 13, 2014 at 4:37pm:

Using smartphones into classroom

Nice post, that is important for me I found that is great way for gathering information by easre way when students uss their phones to research or learn. I did my research project about how to use it into classroom. I thing we should create technolgy plan to use the smartphones into classroom. Thank you  

Precious Crabtree commented on June 14, 2014 at 10:06pm:

Considering...

After considering what your student shared, it has me thinking forward to next year!  What if students brought their own devices to art, and I had a mobile lab for students who did not have a tablet or phone?   I teach elementary, but trust my students to make good choices.  Why not have them explore modern art deeper using Boyd technology? Thank you, Daijah!   Your thoughts on respect and trust serve as a good reminder!  Have you thought about what your book will be about? 

gratefully, Mrs. C 

Precious Crabtree commented on June 14, 2014 at 10:10pm:

Considering...

After considering what your student shared, it has me thinking forward to next year!  What if students brought their own devices to art, and I had a mobile lab for students who did not have a tablet or phone?   I teach elementary, but trust my students to make good choices.  Why not have them explore modern art deeper using Boyd technology? Thank you, Daijah!   Your thoughts on respect and trust serve as a good reminder!  Have you thought about what your book will be about?  In what ways would you like to see technology incorporated into other classes, such as art or history? 

 

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