Hawk Ridge launches drive to include all students in BYOT initiative

The Bring Your Own Technology initiative at Hawk Ridge Elementary School has taken the campus by storm, turning the way teachers teach and students learn upside down.

Sixty percent of third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students at Hawk Ridge Elementary School are incorporating more technology into their learning by bringing their wireless devices to school. The school recently launched Donate to Educate, a drive to ensure all students have their own wireless devices to use in the classroom.

Launching the initiative in November with the school’s third-, fourth- and fifth-graders, Principal Troy Moore said teachers and students have embraced technology at the school and everyday are finding new and innovative ways to incorporate technology in learning.

Hawk Ridge is part of 21 campuses throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools participating in phase one of the district-wide BYOT initiative that gives wireless-network access to students who bring their own personal devices to school. Three high schools, six middle schools and 12 elementary schools were chosen for the first phase of the project. Participating schools were chosen based on a survey that assessed teacher and student readiness.

Moore said his school has transitioned into the new way of learning with no problems, so much so that the school is working on a one-to-one initiative to ensure every child in the school has a device of their own.

“There was some apprehension at first when we first told our (teachers about the initiative) in October,” Moore said. “We answered a lot of questions about security and what happens if devices break. The kids have the devices on their desks all the time because they are using them for everything.”

Now the initiative is in full force among third, fourth and fifth grade with 60 percent of students bringing their own devices. Moore and the Hawk Ridge community are pleading to community members to help them so all students can have a personal, wireless device to use for learning. That’s why they’ve launched the Donate to Educate drive at the school, asking parents and community members to donate their old iPods, iPads, iPhones and other devices with wireless capabilities to ensure all Hawk Ridge students have the same opportunities.

“Anything that is first or second generation, like first generation iPhones or anything with wireless capabilities – anything Windows or Apple based would be better,” Moore said. “Even like first generation Kindle Fire tablets – those were great.”

The school started the drive the week before winter break, and Moore said many parents said students would be getting wireless devices for Christmas. But there is still a need for more devices, especially since the school is working to launch the initiative in kindergarten through second grade sometime this month.

Moore said the technology initiative is so successful at Hawk Ridge because students and teachers both are excited to use and explore different types of learning. Last year, Hawk Ridge purchased iPads for all of the school’s teachers.

“That really helped us get up to speed,” Moore said. “That created a lot of excitement for our teachers. They’ve been yearning for more and more ways to
incorporate technology into instruction.”

At the school, Moore said teachers encourage students to use their wireless devices in every subject, whether it’s blogging about novels for reading, using different applications in science, researching terms in history or problem solving and presentations in math.

“There is an abundance of ways devices are being used,” Moore said. “We’re doing all kinds of things in iMovie – creating presentations for all kinds of different things. It’s really neat to see the students’ progression.”

Another benefit of the new technology initiative, Moore said, is teachers are able to utilize the devices to get learning in the home, making parents more
aware of teaching styles and curriculum.

“It’s about showing parents what students are working on while it’s in process, instead of just seeing the final product,” Moore said.

The Donate to Educate drive will continue at the school until a one-to-one ratio is reached, meaning all students have their own wireless device to use while at school. People can donate by dropping items off in the school’s main office, 9201 Bryant Farms Road.

“I think the biggest shift we’ve seen is that we talk about students taking responsibility for their own learning and this is really working for us. They now have the technology to find the answers.”

Other schools participating in the Bring Your Own Technology initiative are Beverly Woods Elementary School, Jay M. Robinson Middle School, McKee Road Elementary School, Myers Park High School, Quail Hollow Middle School, Smithfield Elementary School, South Charlotte Middle School and South Mecklenburg High School in south Charlotte. Bailey Middle School, Barnette Elementary School, Bruns Elementary School, Irwin Elementary School, J. V. Washam Elementary School, Long Creek Elementary School, Matthews Elementary School, Morehead Elementary School, Piedmont Middle School, Pinewood Elementary School, Southwest Middle School and West Mecklenburg High School also are participating.

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