Bring Your Cellphones and Leave Them ON
At last year's NMSA conference and this year's NELMS conference, Jill Spencer and I had great fun doing a little workshop we named Bring Your Cellphones and Leave them ON. We show how cellphones and other nearly ubiquitous mobile digital devices can be used to actively engage students in learning. In designing and doing this new workshop, we've learned a few things and made a few observations.
1. With the advent of free Web 2.0 tools and the Apps marketplace, interactive software for educational purposes is either free or very inexpensive. The audio, image, and video capabilities of today's cellphones and smart phones places digital creation, collection, production, and sharing into virtually every classroom, and very nearly into every student's hands. (Yes, a two edged sword—but what powerful tool doesn't cut both ways?)
2. After participating in a cellphone learning activity:
- A Texas principal, on the spot, stood up in the workshop and exempted educational cellphone use from the cellphone zero tolerance policy of his school.
- An Ontario principal decided to put out a request that parents donate their outdated cellphones with cameras to the school, along with chargers and sync cables. She now has more than enough cellphones for every student to use in class ... perhaps making her school the first 1:1 cellphone school in the world?
- A participant in our workshop shared a great strategy for managing texting during class. He had everyone take their phones out and place them screen down on the desktops in front of them where he could see them all. I tried this in the last cellphone workshop ... worked like a charm, no one checked their email, unless they had another phone stashed in their pocket!
Finally, in the midst of a frenetic cellphone-supported curriculum scavenger hunt where I had folks looking madly for examples of the Pythagorean Theorem, I stopped everyone and asked them, "Would you like your students to be as engaged in their learning as you are right now?"
Chris and Jill will be presenting this workshop at AMLE's annual conference in Louisville on November 10-12. Author of Teaming Rocks! and Everyone's Invited, Jill is a former middle school teacher who now works with teachers and schools across the country on 21st century curriculum, instruction, and middle grades issues. Chris is a former middle school principal who now works internationally with educators as they envision, plan, and implement 21st century teaching and learning to prepare students for success