Graves County teachers prepare for 'Bring Your Own Device'

Tools

Elizabeth Fields

GRAVES COUNTY, Ky. — For years, students have been sneaking cell phones into school. This year in Graves County, teachers are actually encouraging it.

It's called BYOD, Bring Your Own Device, and to prepare for the high-tech takeover, teachers were in school Wednesday. So far, most teachers are excited and think the new initiative will bring a new energy to their rooms.

"Our students love to use their phones and if they're told you can get your phone out for this, that's just going to thrill them and make them more on task," predicted English teacher Marina Burchett.

But she admitted she headed into training a little bit nervous about learning the new apps and software.

That's where Mechelle Gattis came in. She is the technology resource teacher and was given the tools to use last year. She spent hours going over what worked and what didn't.

"A lot of times when you learn something new, it takes more work than it's worth it seems like or it takes a lot of work ahead of time to even get it implemented into your class, but this one is not like this," she said.

She added some of the things she really liked about letting students use their cell phones, laptops or tablets to interact is they can interact with her much more easily.

"It also gives every student the chance to respond anonymously to the teacher on how well they get whatever the subject was for the day," she said.

Despite all the perks, all the teachers seems to have one lingering question.

"How can I control the use of that technology in my class?" asked Jim Whitaker.

He said texting in class has been just one of the things he's spent years trying to stop. Now that students are supposed to have their phones, how do they keep them on task?

Gattis said she frequently asked students to turn their computer screens off when she needed their undivided attention and administrators want all teachers to start doing consistently from the first day. The first is using the term "devices down" as a signal to students. Then, there should be a designated spot for all students to put them, face down, when not in use.

Whitaker said he felt better after the training but like the other teachers, there are bound to be some glitches in the beginning.

"This is new and there's going to be a lot of things we just don't know and haven't encountered and will deal with them as they come up," he said.

More than 600 new computers have been installed in the high school and crews have spent the summer boosting Wi-Fi and making sure the network can handle when all the students log on.

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