Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Progressive Survey #30

#30. How could you use cell phones effectively in your classroom?

Gosh, this is the new thing, huh? How can we use the cell phones so that they aren't some taboo item that students will still use, to the headaches of all.

Here's one idea: secret pal texting. Have students write down the phone numbers, then draw out of a hat (or otherwise randomly assign). At an appointed time, instead of pair-sharing or one-on-one discussion, tell them to whip out the phones and text some thoughts to their partner. Give 'em a minute or two to discuss/ask/process, then stop and ask students to share something from their discussion with the partner. ((idea: You could make this a really fun thing where they pledge to not find out who their partner is (if they already have the #, so be it, just play along!), and then promise to have some kind of fun reveal event.))

Is there some way the teacher could poll students via text messaging? Sans some kind of special software to process the responses, this might take some time. Teacher asks students to send him/her poll results, sets students to new task while s/he processes the text responses, puts poll results on board, then brings students back to discuss.

What about using texts as flashcards? Students could text terms & definitions back & forth.

Can we use their picture capabilities? The main possibilities that come to mind aren't instantaneous assessments but part of a project: taking pictures of classmates or objects in relation to skill/reading and creating some kind of presentation. In our standards, analysis of visual media is a requirement, so I'm sure you could incorporate explanation/analysis of their pictures. Oh! I just remembered: we studied how to "read" cinema, and students could use cell phones to stage little scenes and use camera phone to capture angles that establish mood/tone/theme.

Of course, the problem with technology is that it costs money. If you are fortunate enough to teach in an affluent area, you probably don't even have to think twice about whether all your students have access to the technology. But the reality is most of us don't. So, though I would love to actually have students use their cell phones in a productive way in class, how can I incorporate technology when not everyone is going to have access to it? Even if they have access to a phone, will they have texting (probably) and internet (maybe not)? But let's deal with that demon another day.

In the meantime...what ideas for using cell phones come to mind? If you've got 'em, tell me! If you need more ideas yourself, try Pontydysgu

1 comment:

  1. I have used http://www.polleverywhere.com/ to do student polls in class and seen it used in many edu presentations. This site also allows you to answer via twitter and the web now too (options are always a good thing!). Quick "understanding" checks or questions regarding ideas about pieces of literature we are reading have worked well for me (turned into a "game" of sorts, ha!). If you have a projector, you can have the info pop up automatically and as each student updates, students see the poll update automatically.

    I have also had students use their cameras on their phones to take pics of them reading and writing in the "real" world. They then emailed me their pics and we discussed/shared. The idea of a camera in their hand proved important as they were all on separate trips --- further driving home the point no matter where we are, we all read and write. I also have thought about doing a picture scavenger hunt where pairs have to find images that go, for example, with a poem we are reading or short story.

    (note: Some students couldn't send out pics from email or had pic messaging disabled on the phone. Some didn't have a camera phone. In these cases I had a student who could simply grab a shot of the image on the other student's phone and submit that way. Or students could borrow friends' phone/use a digital camera. Using tech may require thinking on your feet, but that's the fun of it all and even more so when kids start to "get" the bigger picture!)

    AND I have to laugh because the other day one of my students had out her cell phone. I reprimanded her (since we weren't doing a "cell" activity) and she said, "But I"m taking notes!" Sure enough, she was typing in everything on her iPhone that we were discussing (how-to write compare/contrast essays). I asked her about it after class and she showed me multiple documents on her phone that she typed up for her classes. "It's easier to use and it's always with me." Interesting, huh?

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