19 July 2008

Making Peace with Cell Phones

Cell phones and teens seem to go together like PB & J these days. It's hard to imagine one without the other...and yet cell phone technology is banned in most classrooms. Is it possible, however, that we might make peace with these tools---even use them for our benefit?

Liz Kolb thinks so. Her blog, From Toy to Tool: Cell Phones in Learning, has me thinking about all sorts of new things. I admit that I don't use my cell phone for much more than a few calls and some text messaging. I have used the camera option a few times to document some information, but I truly haven't thought about the range of this tool.

One of my favourite new discoveries is Poll Everywhere. How cool is this for teachers? You know those fancy-dancy clicker systems? You don't need them now. Just set up your questions ahead of time and then have students use cell phones to respond. What a great way to do formative assessment during lessons. Imagine the power of using this in staff development. People can text questions into you, participate in formative assessment polls, and more. I SO want to give this a test drive at my OSPI presentation at the end of the month.

Did you know that Google has all sorts of cell phone apps? Need directions? Just text the location (if your phone has GPS, you don't even have to supply it with the starting point). You can do searches for information and Google with text your answer to you. Can you see kids finding information to questions while you work with them or they do another activity?

What about broadcasting reminder messages via text (or audio) to students? What about them recording information and sending it to you? Imagine them using their camera phones to document changes in an experimental setup over time and then using those to create a product (either digital or on paper).

I can see that you would need to work with kids to make it clear when and why the phones could be out being used during class time. There would need to be some procedural training, but then that would be true for other classroom routines. This is just a new aspect.

If all of this is piquing your interest, too, here are a couple more useful sites developed by Liz:
Maybe cell phones aren't the enemy of our classrooms. Perhaps it's time to make our peace with them and put them to work.


Unknown said...

You will enjoy this one if you haven't seen it already:

Clarence Fisher and Darren Kuropatwa showed it as part of their presentation on Friday at BLC. Very cool.

Joe said...

I've been reading Liz's blog for about a year now. She has some great ideas and resources for integrating cell phones in the classroom. One which I happily stole from her was Wiffiti. My kids loved it.


Mrs. Bluebird said...

Interesting stuff....! Thanks!