Today I’m in Hot Springs, Arkansas presenting a full day hands-on session at the Hot Springs Technology Institute pre-conference. Participants will become familiar with the new Essentials of Computer Programming frameworks, get some exposure to MIT App Inventor, and take home a set of Android tablets to use in their classrooms. The full conference begins tomorrow, and I cannot wait!
Full details will come later, but for now you can view the participant agenda.
When I started teaching Mobile Application Development a couple of years ago I knew I would only be successful if students got to install and test apps using their own phones. Fortunately, my school’s policy allowed for use of mobile devices at the discretion of the teacher. I put considerable thought into my Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, and here’s what I came up with.
I devised a color-coded scheme to communicate to students at a glance how freely they should use their devices at any given time. Green, which is never used, allows students free reign over devices — games, texting, social media, anything goes. Yellow expects students to frequently interact with devices for learning. Periodic use of a device in Yellow mode for personal reasons is acceptable, but only briefly. Red expects students to keep their devices put away. This would be an appropriate context for in-class presentations. White requires phones not be present at all, for situations like high-stakes testing.
At the beginning of the year I clearly establish what types of behaviors are and are not appropriate at each BYOD level, and I frequently refer to the level when correcting phone-related student behavior. Consequences are clearly laid out in the policy, which is among the papers I give students to take home at the beginning of the year.
Check back soon for a post about how I integrated the BYOD level into a classroom management reward system.
Students in my Introduction to Mobile Application Development class at Bryant High School learn to create apps in a variety of tools — GameSalad, App Inventor, Xcode, and Eclipse. More than just programming, their assignments also reinforce teamwork, communication skills, project management, and literacy.
Recently, a pair of ninth grade students were featured on a local television news broadcast for making a mobile application to help a new student to our district who speaks only Korean learn the basic words and phrases he needs to communicate within the context of the American school system.
Click to Play
The assignment first asks students to identify a client — someone with a problem that could be solved through the creation of a mobile application. Next, they must interview the client and draft a problem statement in their own words detailing specifically what the problem is, to be reviewed by the client.
From a pedagogical perspective, engaging students in writing — any writing — builds their literacy skills. Having them write a document that will be read by a real-life external client about an authentic problem often yields more and better writing than something only to be read by the students and the teacher.
Read on to find out how I make the most of this assignment. Continue reading