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Archive for the ‘Cell Phones’ Category

In the past year, I have walked into the school restroom numerous times to find a student texting while standing at the urinal. I can only guess that girls are also using their phones in the private wall of the bathroom. I am beginning to think that this is the real reason that students ask to leave while dancing around saying that if they don’t get to go, they are going to pee their pants.

Today, a strange thought crossed my mind. This was, of course, after I just walked into the restroom and saw one of my students texting. I also thought about how many students I have seen leave the bathroom without washing their hands.

Just think about it for a minute. Those phones are dirty!

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I was listening to a few of my 7th grade students yesterday. They were talking about how they use their phones to work together to get their homework done. When they come to an problem or question that they can’t solve, they text a friend to see if they have the answer. This makes quick work of the homework.

On one hand, this shows great collaborative effort on the part of the students. They have learned how to use their network as a great advantage.

My problem with this is not the fact that students have figured out how to use texting as a great tool.The problem is that teachers are assigning worksheets for homework that allow students to share their answers or copy them (however you want to see it). This is not teaching the students how to become better thinkers.

Just think what would happen if students had assignments that would foster this same collaborative effort but relied on upper level thinking and discussion rather than just filling in a blank.

 

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Been thinking of doing a video project, but not sure where to get cameras for the students to use? I’d be willing to bet that you already have a bunch of cameras in the classroom. They are in the pockets of most students that walk through the doors of the school.

More and more students come to school with a phone that is equipped with a camera that will both take pictures and record video. If they don’t have a phone on them, there is a good chance that they will have an iPod. Whether it be a phone or an iPod, both will take excellent video footage for student video projects.

Some teachers may worry about students using their own equipment in case it gets lost or stolen. Remember, the students are already bringing it to school, and don’t be fooled, they are already using it, probably in your classrom. You might as well put it to good use.

Before you have students go out and film a project on their own device, make sure that there is a means of capturing the video and transferring it to the computer for editing. This is the one drawback in using several different kinds of devices, but I think that more and more, companies are formatting the video so it can easily be downloaded to a computer. Honestly, I have had more problems trying to get video off cam-corders that students bring than I have downloading video from mobile devices.

Having students use their devices for school work definitely gets students engaged in the work. They see that that thing they carry around in their pocket all day can be used for more than social interaction. It is a tool for learning and sharing.

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Ever get frustrated because you have a great picture on your phone, but want to get the picture on the computer so you can actually use it for something? I don’t know how many times I have attempted to extract  pics from a phone by hooking it up with a USB cord. It never works. Every phone has accompanying software that will allow a person do to this, but that does you no good if you don’t have the disk.

Here is the solution.

Send the pictures to your email via MMS. Most phones services that include unlimited texting also include unlimited MMS messaging. Send the pictures, save them from your email to the computer, and its all done. The pictures are ready to use.

Ok, I know what you are thinking, “How could you have a phone and not know this?” The truth is that it was not long ago that I figured this out. In fact, I was working on a project at school with some students. A bunch of us teachers were trying to figure out an easy way to get the pictures to out computers from student phones. The short story is that we “discovered” the MMS trick (the long story involves lots of trial, error, blood, sweat, and even tears).

When I found out that we could receive pictures via MMS, I was so excited to go home an tell my daughter (14 yrs, old) about my amazing discovery. When I told her, she said, “Yeah dad, I know. That is how I get all my pictures from my phone to Facebook.”

Turns out, she has been sending pics by MMS ever since she got her phone a couple of years ago!

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The Pew Internet group has done a study: Teens and Mobile Phones. It goes into great detail as to where and how students are using their phones. If anything, it is worth the read just to see some of the numbers. One big number: over half of the teens surveyed are sending over 15oo texts a month.

It is definitely time that we put some of these numbers to good use. The fact is that students are using their phones all the time. I have asked my own students, and the majority say that they text during almost all of their classes. This is done with the knowledge that if they get caught, the phone will get taken away. I don’t know if their is an easy solution to all of this, but I do know that if they are already using them, we need to take advantage of the students having them. Otherwise, we may be missing out on a great opportunity for learning.

Check out the Pew Internet Report. It’s worth a read.

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I am attending my first online conference (of sorts) this week. It is all about cell phones in the classroom, and so far, it has been well worth the time. One interesting conversation today was if cell phones should still be called cell phones. There seems to be a camp that wants to call them mobile devices (or mobiles for short). I asked my students what they thought, and they informed me that they should be called “‘cells.” Anyway, it still got me thinking.

There is a rockin’ research paper that I want to share, but I am writing this on my computer that has no links saved, so I am going to have to share that in the future. For now, I will just share this cool video. It came from the conference. It is pretty well done and has some good info on using phones as instructional tools in the classroom.

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I have read about Scvngr a few times, but yesterday finally decided to give it a try in class. We are studying Shakespeare right now which is not a favorite topic of study for most students. I hoped that by using something like Scvngr might engage them in the subject. Boy howdy, did it do the job! The students loved it.

Basically, I used Scvngr to set up a scavenger hunt within a copy of text that we read in class today. Before yesterday, I had never used the program. However, I found that it was quite simple to use. I am guessing that I had a good activity planned in under two hours. This is pretty good considering the time it takes to get used to a new app.

The activity we did consisted of 6 questions. I gave the students the text to read first, and then set them on the hunt. It was almost unbelievable to see how hard they were pouring over the text to find the answers. Along with each of the questions was a challenge. I am still not sure how these work, but I made due today by giving the students the “text passcode” for the next clue. The challenges were the funnest because the students were a little apprehensive at first. One of the challenges that they had to do read “Stand up as a group and, with your right arm in the air, repeat the Shakespeare’s motto in latin. It was a kick to watch them do this. Honestly I was surprised that not a single student refused to do the challenges. Usually one or two students fight activities like this.

I will definitely be looking for ways to use this in my classroom in the future. Actually, I think the students will be begging for me to do use the app again soon.

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