Tech Trends in Education

The Research Says…

It’s an undeniable reality that in order for our students of today to be successful in the career world of tomorrow they will have to be familiar, at the very least, with the powers of technology.  So, in a world where technology can become obsolete in just 365 days or less where to we even begin when we want to incorporate technology into our curriculum? Furthermore, in doing so how do we make sure that we are doing this in an authentically educational way?

After researching this topic, a technology strategy that I was repeatedly drawn to in regards of implementation into my current curriculum is that of BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device.  In the past I’ve struggled with students lack of access to a computer and/or the internet in their home environments, yet nearly all of them have phones with data and are well aware of places where they can access free WiFi if they do not have it at home.  As stated in the 2016 Horizon Report, “integration of personal smartphones, tablets, and PCs into the workflow supports an on-the-go mentality, changing the nature of work and learning activities so that they can happen anywhere, at anytime”(pg 36).  If we can take a technology that so many of our students use solely for connection to their social world and teach them the learning activities that can be accomplished with that tech, the educational opportunities we could provide for our students with this stategy would be limitless.

To see one school district’s success with this strategy check this out!

Now we know where to begin with incorporating this technology strategy, but as with anything new and shiny in education we must make sure there is authentic learning and educational purpose when we bring new strategies into our classrooms.  Thanks to the SAMR model this isn’t nearly as complex at it may initially seem. Just as Blooms Taxonomy or DOK levels help us to take our instruction and activities beyond surface level learning, the SAMR model does the same for incorporating technology into our teaching. The video below maps out implementation of the four levels.

A Plan in the Making

It’s safe to say that I have fallen in love with the possibility of how this strategy could transform my ELA classroom.  From the incorporation of digital citizenship lessons where I can lead students on a journey of exploration in which they realize that “being connected” means much more that simply updating your Instagram to blogging opportunities that students could access anywhere at anytime. The BYOD strategy is about to blow the door off my classroom regarding when and how material will be accessible.

One particular lesson I have in mind for my English Language Arts classroom that would incorporate the BYOD strategy centers on theme.  In my current role I teach students from the bottom 1% nationally to the top 99%.  Sometimes these students are in the same class block creating quite the need for diversification methods.  I’ve worked tirelessly to find ways for all students to achieve and succeed at their level while still being challenged to grow.  In the lesson that follows the use of technology will help me differentiate the topic of theme to make it dynamic and engaging for all learners while the final product created by students will serve as our unit end performance task for the concept.

For a large population of my students English is their second language and not often, if ever, spoken at home.  These students struggle when trying to express themselves in abstract terms, which is a challenge for many students beyond just my language learners.  They know what they want to say but not the most effective ways to say it.  On the other end of that spectrum, I have students who are reading and writing at college levels and can identify and support even the most abstract of themes presented in literature.  Both groups will be well served by this lesson.

To begin this lesson students will use their mobile devices to connect to our class Padlet (an interactive bulletin board) by scanning various QR codes located around the room.  This entrance activity will provide students with an incentive to get to class and get started as soon as possible.  The entrance activity features a photo and directions to record words that come to them when looking at a specific image.  We will discuss the image and the story behind the image as the students add their responses. From here we will work as a class to observe various pictures and record detailed notes regarding these pictures.  The “notes” will be in the form of words and phrases added to the Padlet so the students, on their individual devices, can see in real time their contributions as well as that of their peers.  A larger example of each photo will be displayed via the classroom Smart Board. The topic for the notes  will be what we see and how the image makes us feel.  This will be developed further with class discussion about each picture’s possible theme.  Upon completion of the class activity students will be assigned the task of creating their own unique digital story, using their individual device, that supports a theme of the student’s choosing.

For their digital storytelling project students will be doing quite a bit of independent exploration and problem solving regarding their technology.  First, they will have to decide on a theme and search out or create photographs that support that theme.  Secondly, they will have to find a slideshow making app that works best for them in creating their final project.  Lastly, they will submit the slideshow to me for presentation in front of the class in which they will verbally justify their image selections in regards to the theme they were trying to represent.  If a student does not in fact have their own device I do have unlimited access to iPads that I can incorporate into this lesson so everyone has a chance to create a product.

As mentioned above I have a diverse range of academic abilities across my classes.  This BYOD activity allows me to diversify for the lowest levels by allowing them pictures to tell their story and support their theme showing they understand the concept.  On the flip side this activity allows me to challenge those high level learners by giving them options to add music and/or graphics to their photos that further supports their theme.  For every student this lesson is beneficial since it allows for productive struggle but also a high degree of student choice which we know increases student engagement and motivation.

When reflecting on the SAMR model and the level of which this task falls, I believe it to be a transition from modification to redefinition.  It could be argued that this activity is that of modification, if one were to simply take the task of visual story telling and make it digital.  This would modify the activity from that of physically cutting and pasting pictures into a hard copy slideshow type presentation, to that of using technology to cut and paste pictures with a medium such as PowerPoint being used to present the slideshow. However, with the coupling of the BYOD strategy and student task to find, download, and create a slideshow using an app these tasks move the lesson out of modification into redefinition.  Without the capabilities of the slideshow apps including their photo and effect adding options, this activity becomes one that was, according to the SAMR model,  “previously inconceivable” without using technology.  I could develop this lesson to further demonstrate a level of redefinition with something such as a blogging opportunity in which the students posted their slide show with written justification and evaluated each other’s final product.  At the point in my school year that this lesson will take place we will have concluded our study of theme with this task but will not have developed our argumentative writing skills yet, which really focus on providing evidence and strong support for a claim such as the students are making with identifying the theme of their pictures.  This could definitely be a task we return to during the argument writing unit where students could evaluate and critique each other’s justification of theme pushing this lesson further into the redefinition category and giving students an opportunity to revise and improve their slideshows as the year progresses.

To see the products created for this lesson plan click the links below.

  • Google Slide presentation for lesson:

  • Example of slideshow
    • (located within the Google slides as well):

  • Padlets:



Cisco –

NMC. (2015). Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 edition. Retrieved from

OurSocialVoice –

Panagos, T. (12, March 21). The Future of Education: BYOD in the Classroom. Retrieved June 9, 16, from






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