As the voting totals began to come in during the November 2012 presidential election, Kennedy Middle School social studies teacher Chris Richter logged on to Edmodo and was instantly able to start interacting with his students.
Richter was surprised to find a group of curious and energetic youngsters already working with one another to analyze the election results and discuss the process. Although he was there to answer any questions, he said it was the students carrying the discussion and interacting with one another that provided the strongest educational piece to their homework assignment.
“It’s just an awesome tool to use outside classroom,” Richter said. “This (program) gave me an opportunity to engage the students in a unique way and they were able to engage each other. It gives the shy kids a voice, a chance to type what they wouldn’t say in classroom. There are a lot of benefits for the students.”
Although the pilot program has drawn to a close, Richter and several other teachers from across the district said they have no desire to turn back the clocks and will continue to implement the use of bring your own technology and programs like Edmodo in the future.
Let Patch save you time. Get stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
The "Bring Your Own Technology" pilot program proved to be a huge success in its early stages said Karen Veilleux, director of technology for Southington Schools. Under the program, the district implemented a variety of efforts during the past year at the elementary, middle and high school levels where students were able to use their own devices in everyday learning.
At the Plantsville Elementary School and Derynoski Elementary School, students were encouraged to bring e-readers, iPads, laptops and other devices to do their reading. Diane Hamel, a fifth grade teacher at Derynoski, said she instantly saw increased enthusiasm from those students previously hesitant to read.
“The students really took ownership of their work. We had three who were reluctant before that are now avid readers,” she said. “I would highly recommend bringing this program to all schools.”
At Southington High School, the technology paired with Schoology, a program similar to Edmondo, allowed for students to take an active role in class without having to speak up and allowed for assistance after class and more, officials said.
Students saw improved homework scores and more, while also being able to quickly and efficiently make up for missed work when they were absent without falling behind the rest of the class.
These advantages came as no surprise to members of the Southington Board of Education, but members questioned whether there would be any concerns with students who did not have technology to bring in feeling isolated or bullied by their fellow students. Teachers at all levels said what they saw was entirely different – the students were more than willing to share and work with each other.
“They were helping each other out and making sure everyone could take advantage or the technology. It created a unique experience that the students, even those in the 50 percent who didn’t bring technology in, seemed to really enjoy,” Hamel said.
Moving forward, Veilleux and School Superintendent Jospeh V. Erardi Jr. said the district is in the process of installing Wi-Fi in the schools and will look to enhance and build on the pilot program as part of the Project 2020 initiative.
Erardi said the pilot was a terrific precursor for that discussion, which the Board of education will take up next week, as a long-range plan is developed.
“Technology is always changing,” he said. “We need to make immediate and sustainable changes to make sure our students are able to compete, not just in Southington but once they graduate and move on to a more global setting.”
Make sure to like Southington Patch on Facebook or follow on Twitter for breaking news, daily updates and more!