On January 3, I will be presenting a talk/workshop for the Independent Curriculum Group at St. Stephens Episcopal School in Austin. I’ve got 75 whole minutes to fill up and am a bit nervous about that – I mean, I love hearing my own voice but that is a lot of time to fill. I anticipate having a lot of hands-on activities, but most people won’t have the software or apps in advance.
So, here’s a summary of my talk:
From Enemy to Asset: Cell Phones in the Classroom
Cell phones have replaced note-passing as the biggest distraction in the classroom. Schools have tried to attack the problem with blanket bans or restrictive policies. But what if instead of viewing cell phones as the enemy, we use them as teaching tools? Most students have more computing power in their pocket than was used by NASA to send men to the moon. This session will explore innovative classroom uses for cell phones.
So, here are a few of the points I want to highlight:
Existing Policies on Cell Phones & Administrative Concerns
- Most schools have prohibitive policies on cell phones – from outright campus bans to limited use policies
- Most schools are concerned about the rise of Cyber-bullying and the role that cell phones play in this
- Cell phones can be a huge distraction – I’m trying to lecture and my student is updating their Facebook status
How Can they be Productive?
- Directed Use Policies – technology can be used for a specific purpose, otherwise, it’s put away
- Social Media/Technology Behavior policies – just like punching a kid in the locker room isn’t okay, neither is posting nasty things on the internet. Behavioral education, education, education… both for teachers and students.
- Like a calculator or even a pencil, it can be a tool or a distraction.
- One of my favorite quotes: “You can use a hammer to bash someone’s head in… but it’s also really great for hammering in nails.” Tools are all about how you use them.
So…. what’s my plan?
How am I going to use up this amount of time and stay dynamic? My plan is to incorporate a series of demonstrations and activities. One tool that I will definitely be using extensively is a program called Poll Everywhere. It’s a great program that I use in my class a lot – in fact, my students will constantly ask “Can we do the texting thing?” If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a couple of previous posts I did on Poll Everywhere – “First Day Using Poll-Everywhere” and “Using Poll-Everywhere Day #2.”
I think I will have a combination of directed questions and back channeling, for directed questions:
- Who here has a school with some sort of restricted use on cell phones? (Maybe even more specific any school ban cell phones)?
- Who here has confiscated a cell phone in class?
- Who has directed students to use them in the classroom?
Then I may set up a back channel on a topic like:
- What are your concerns about using cell phones in the classroom?
- What advantages do you see?
- How do we deal with classroom management? etc
Maybe after this, I’ll throw in a word cloud, just for fun.
Another activity I’m considering is ‘obscure fact look up’. I’ll break the group into teams and give them a list of obscure trivia and see who can finish the list first. Maybe I’ll direct it from a book – I’ll take all of the information out of one textbook and we’ll race to see who can find this information first and what is more accurate?
Another program I would love to demonstrate is MindMeister. Perhaps set up a Mind Map and let them go. Of course, the problem with this is that it requires a smart phone, a Mind Meister account, as well as a compatible Smart Phone.
Perhaps I’ll try to get a few people to download and participate in the process.
A few other ideas that I have that I’m considering:
Digital Storytelling – there are a few Digital Storytelling Apps (free ones) for the iPhone, I’ll need to play with them.
Movie Making – On my iPhone I can shoot, edit and create a brief video – even upload it to YouTube. Perhaps that could be a cool activity? It will need to be more directed of course.
As you can see, I’m still in the early stages. I would love contributions and ideas!