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The New Gunslinger

After the many mass shootings at different institutions across the nation, our school decided to take action.   Adding security cameras, six-foot fencing, dedicated security guards, and a specific and very controlled check-in for all visitors were the measures decided upon to make everyone feel safer.   In order to appreciate the magnitude of this decision, one needs to understand the history of our Montessori environment.  The main idea that is taught from our preschool through high school is that peace is paramount.  Healthy conflict and resolution is emphasized for all ages.  What does this new, high security environment now tell our children?

In addition, with the blessing of the local school board (check this out from NBC news ) several educators and our principal received our concealed weapons permit.  This was with the intention of carrying a firearm on our person, if asked to do so.  The principal and one other individual would have this additional responsibility.  Parents and students would not know the identity of the gun-carrying educator.

Did this make any of us feel safe?  Honestly, I do not think so.  We knew who was carrying the other weapon, but being a cop’s wife for twenty years, I did not have faith in this individual; would she be able to draw her firearm and use it?  Even so, did she practice how to use it well?  Is this a crazy idea?

Our school was always very fortunate.  Up to this date, we have never had a violent student in attendance.  However, what if the unthinkable were to occur and this future, upset, and unstable person got hold of the gun?  How would we, as educators, protect our students then?

On the flipside, we had a few lockdowns because of some very weird situations occurring around the school.  Would it not be easier to be armed and therefore stand a chance at defending everyone?  The NRA has no qualms about the path to take.

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New Blog for Mistart!

Mathematics and Design

Mathematics and Design

Trying to integrate mathematics into all aspects of life is my focus when I’m working with my students.  This photo is a simple but cool example of how math is part of ordinary objects.  This is a clasp that is on one of my book bags.

To B(YOD) or Not to B(YOD)

That is the question…

My scenario starts like this:  My classroom has had close to a one-to-one ratio of tech to students.  Some of the equipment will need to be replaced.  The question is, do I maintain the status quo with desktops and a few floating laptops and iPads, or do I take the plunge and push for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)?

After searching my resources for an answer to this question, it seems that this topic causes conflict among educators, administrators, tech support, and parents.  For example, in the post, 5 Reasons why BYOD is a bad idea for Schools,  appearing in the blog, Emerging Ed Tech, Kelly Walsh (2012) cites major reasons for rejecting BYOD

     Equipment Inequity, Tech Support, Bring Your Own Distraction, Internet content filtering, and“MBTY” (Mine is Better Than Yours) Syndrome.   

To determine if BYOD could even become a consideration, one has to inquire as to how personal devices could be utilized in a classroom.   Check out this YouTube video created by Jaymee Bohmer two months ago:

In Peter DeWitt’s (2012) post in Education Week, he asks the question, Are Schools Prepared to Let Students BYOT?  The article outlines a number of important questions that districts and individual schools must ask themselves before deciding to tackle such an undertaking.  They include safety issues, staff development, defining what is meant by BYOT (BYOD), and new policies which must be put into place.

The push for BYOD in the classroom started with vigor in 2012 (at least, that appears to be when most of the articles, either for or against, were written).  I contacted several bloggers regarding their updated opinion of the matter.  The following questions were posed:

  1. What type of technology do you feel best suits the middle- and high school students presently?  What types hardware are currently used?  This would pertain to laptops, desk tops, or BYODs.
  2. Is BYOD a consideration?  If yes, then how is the school dealing with different platforms involved?  If no, what are the issues at hand preventing this to be a consideration?
  3. How would you say that technology is supported by a) the educators  b) the students c) the administration d) the parents?

I received one response.  This was from Doug Johnson, Director of Technology for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage (MN) Public Schools  whose post, BYOD and the School Supply List,  attracted my attention.  He wrote

 Since 2014, we found BYOD did not give us the results we wanted so have now moved to a true 1:1 initiative. Equity was a primary driver. 

As I was still looking for more first-hand experience, I sent these questions to two other professionals.  These individuals are not bloggers, but they have definitely explored this question.  The first, Gary Finkel, Director of Technology at Island Village Montessori (k-12) in Venice, Florida, sent back the following responses:

  1. Laptops, desktops and tablets
  2. No I would not consider BYOD as this may cause a security issue with the network.
  3. All systems are supported by an administrator. This ensures the network is secure and a safe environment for students and educators to work.

The third response I received was from Major Becky Morris, Assistant Head of School, Sarasota Military Preparatory School, Sarasota, Florida:

  1.  I think it is important to use technology that is accessible to students both at school and home.  This means using an online platform that is available on mobile devices as well as computers with hardware that supports Internet access.  It is important to have technology that is current and responsive.  Using old computers that are slow or unable to use updated software is pointless.For students, we use mostly hardwired desktop computers: 5 in each classroom, 50 in a media center, and 24 in each of 2 design labs.  Teachers also have their own desktop computer, iPad, and a large screen TV with Apple TV to display from computer or Apple device.  
  2. Right now at the middle school level, BYOD is not a current consideration.  We do not have the resources to allow for monitoring safe use of personal devices at this age level. 
  3. Technology is supported by teachers when they use it to provide an engaging learning experience where students can collaborate, create, and develop critical thinking skills; also when they use it to support their own professional development and learning. Students support the use of technology when they use it for communicating, collaborating, creating, researching, analyzing, and presenting what they’ve learned. (They also support its use when they remember their usernames and passwords! lol!)  Administrators support technology when they use it to analyze data, collaborate, evaluate, and communicate with parents, teachers, students, and the community.  They also show their support when they budget for adequate upgrades, model its use, and provide for professional development opportunities, training, and resources.  Parents support it’s use by staying up to date on what their children are doing online, communicating with teachers, and modeling appropriate use at homeI would say that the support of technology must start at the top.  If the administration does not set the example and provide for an adequate budget, time, and resources for teachers, students, and parents to best implement the technology, then it will be a struggle to create a positive culture that embraces its full potential and use.

I find it interesting that for Doug’s school district, at least some of the schools had considered BYOD, but changed to school-owned equipment district-wide so that equity would be reached.   As far as the other two individuals (one being an IT specialist at a charter school and another, an administrator at a military school), I personally know that they have had extensive experience in grappling with  technology issues.  All three came to the same conclusion:  that the schools at which they were involved would not support student-owned technology.

In spite of the difficulties involved, it would seem that BYOD may be here to stay,  however painful the startup.   According to Nick Morrison, contributor for Forbes, BYOD is the Next Revolution in School Tech  (2014).  There are still quite a lot of issues that need to be resolved before most school districts become comfortable (financially, legally, and employee-wise) with its implementation.

Due to the expense and risk involved at this time, I believe that for my suggested scenario, I would continue to encourage the use of school-owned tablets and iPads at this time and discontinue anything more cumbersome as the current equipment becomes antiquated.   Perhaps a re-evaluation at a later date will reveal that many of the problems previously associated with BYOD have been resolved.






The Alternate World in Education magazine is almost here….

As I have always been driven by asking the question, “How can I make this (educational topic inserted here) better for all concerned?”,I created a new blog for my magazine, entitled, Alternate World in Education.    I simply have not been satisfied with the way in which things have been typically done in the past, whether this means how I have constructed my own classroom habits, or those that have been pushed on me from the outside.  I frequently find myself bored with the status quo.  If I feel this way, I can certainly relate as to how my students can become distracted and want to do anything else than study mathematics. My job thus becomes more about motivating and innovating, rather than instructing.  This seems to be true for many educators.  Thus, the resultant name of the new blog.

Topics for discussion could include the following: effective integration of curriculum, especially as regards mathematics; the impact of the environment (physical classroom, curriculum choices, relationships amongst administrators, teachers and parents) on students; educator collaboration; other points of interest which point towards alternative methods of teaching and learning. Each of these topics are clearly related to the use of

technology, which would be incorporated into my findings, probably accomplished by referencing other sites.  For example:

The name of my curation collection is Curriculum Integration and Environmental Impact on Students.   I decided to use Scoop as my aggregation application. This tool provides the following assistance while choosing curation materials:

  • It allows me to share an article using social media with a click of the button.
  • I can add my “insight” to the article; this commentary may also be edited at a future date.
  • Scoop provides quite a bit of material for me by using key words that I have indicated; this “Suggested Content” may be tweaked by my editing these terms.
  • In addition, I may choose to post any of my curated information directly into my magazine (WordPress).

As I am not accustomed to blogging or curating, I will be looking to the suggested sites which Scoop as provided.   I have started to collect articles that relate directly to the topics listed above.  I am trying to choose an assortment representing other bloggers, renowned educational resources, and whatever other links cross my path.  By the way, this post appears on the magazine under the “About” page.  It seemed appropriate.