Jul 112012

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Thanks for attending my session on how to use cell phones in your classroom for GOOD! Please feel free to ask questions at anytime and just participate in the session – all of the links and resources you need are detailed below. A PDF version of the presentation from our session today is available at the bottom of this post.

Links and resources mentioned in our session:

What if your students do NOT have an unlimited SMS plan or even a cell phone, but they DO have an iPod Touch? Try the textPlus app (iTunes link)

Poll Everywhere polls:

Dec 062011

Some great ideas here on how to use any cell phone in class for educational ‘Phone-Casting’ for both teachers and student projects. The highlight? Learning that creating a phonecast with iPadio of ANY recorded speech will be automatically transcribed into text!

Oct 102011

This article highlights a recent Pew Internet survey which finds that 83% of adults own a cell phone, and over half have used the phone to instantly access information online to answer a question that they have.

Why do we think that these devices can not be an effective tool in the classroom???

This article is a good read and has some great validation for rethinking the prevalent ‘Ban All Cell Phones’ policies that are in place across the nation.

Oct 102011


There’s something about teachers teaching teachers that makes this video a must see.  Teachers are always thinking miles ahead and this instructor does just that.  She has wonderful ideas on how to integrate Poll Everywhere in lessons, and tells of her experiences with the site, she also…as all teachers can do ~prophesies~ before teachers incorporate anything into a lesson the one question we ask ourselves is…what could go wrong?  Well, in this video you get her experience speaking to that topic.  Check it out!


More and more teachers are using Poll Everywhere in their instruction, and now more teacher trainers are instructing teachers on how to incorporate Poll Everywhere into their classrooms.

Be sure to catch the video – she gives a good intro to how the system works, how to create both open-ended and multiple choice polls, and the cooperating teachers ask the questions that most teachers would have.

Aug 222011
August 22, 2011 | 11:16 AM | By

    To Ban or Not to Ban: Schools Must Decide Cell Phone Policies

    Last week, a  study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that cellphones have become “near ubiquitous”: 83% of American adults own one. Over half of all adult mobile phone owners had used their phones at least once to get information they needed right away. And more than a quarter said that they had experienced a situation in the previous month in which they had trouble doing something because they did not have their phones at hand.

    The findings of this Pew research — the reliance of adults on their cellphones — stands in sharp contrast to the policies of many schools, where cellphones remained banned or restricted. Students likely have these same needs as adults: to get online and find information they need right away. But often students are banned from using their cell phones in schools, something that students themselves list as one of the greatest obstacles they face in using technology in the classroom.

    Students are “asked to do research on a desktop computer that absolutely has less processing power than the computer in their pocket.”

    For many schools, these are formal rules, written in school policy or in student handbooks. But as phones become like more extended appendages in everyone’s lives, schools are rethinking their policies. MindShift asked teachers how or whether these rules were changing and received some interesting feedback.

    Educator Nilda Vargas reported that students can use cell phones to access their online books, while teacher Shekema Silveri replied that although she requires cell phone usage in her class, the school policy against it hasn’t changed. “Most teachers are still afraid of cell phones in the classroom because they know little about how to use them as a tool for learning,” she wrote on MindShift’s Facebook page.

    High school teacher Kim Ibarra said that her school has gone from a “no cell phones in school at all — not even in the hallways or at lunch” policy about four to five years ago, to “cell phone usage in the classroom if the teacher has asked for permission ahead of time with an explanation of what will be done and why it is necessary” about two years ago, to “cell phones can be used in the classroom if the teacher has students using them for educational purposes” last year, and back to the more prohibitive “students may use cell phones in the school only at lunch in a specified area” — the policy for this upcoming year.

    Many teachers noted that written policies don’t always mirror informal policies, and thatthere’s a groundswell of those who recognize that cellphones need not be seen solely as distractions or as ways for students to cheat. More educators are realizing that cell phones can enhance learning.

    High school teacher Jamie Williams describes his school’s policy regarding cell phones:

    “My high school’s policy is cell phones should be off and out of sight. If seen, they are taken and the student is written up. Our handbook says students may use phones with teacher permission. I’m a huge tech nerd and make my students use their phones throughout my class. My biggest gripe is that most students have these great smartphones and barely use the device to a tenth of their potential.

    Williams teaches art and technology classes. For his art class, he asks students to use photos they’ve taken on their cell phones as the basis for paintings they’ll create. During tests, Williams allows his students to use both their handwritten notes and those they’ve saved on their phones. In his video class, most students have phones capable of shooting in high definition, and use them for projects. This year, he’s hoping to make a large-scale mosaic of student life created solely from cell phone images.

    Williams notes that it’s difficult for students to have to go from one class where they’re expected to make full use of their phones to another in which the phone has to be off and hidden. He also points to the irony that in a lot of these latter classes, students are “asked to do research on a desktop computer that absolutely has less processing power than the computer in their pocket.”

    And that’s probably one of the most important observations: many students already carry a powerful computing device in their pockets, while oftentimes much of the technology hardware at schools is woefully out-of-date. By allowing cellphones, schools may find they have equipped students with better devices — with devices that work as calculators, cameras, video cameras, books, and notebooks, for example — at no or low cost to the school.

    Cellphones are, of course, just one piece of a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program, and this wiki created by Manitoba educator Darren Kuropatwa gives some tips on how to prepare for and take advantage of cell phones and other devices brought into the classroom from home.

    But the biggest obstacle remains the attitudes of those educators and administrators who still frown on the devices and fear their usage, who confiscate them from students, who see them as a distraction rather than a powerful tool for learning. It’s clear that schools must come up with an acceptable use policy for cellphones in the classroom. But as more adults indicate that they’re “lost” without their cellphones, it hardly seems acceptable that we ban students’ access to the devices.

    What do you think???

    May 182011

    vickyStriving Readers’ technology grant allowed Bate Middle School (BMS) to step-up their instructional rigor and the motivational level of many students.  Due to the financing we could not purchase iPod Touches, Response Systems or Interactive White Boards for every room.  I was researching innovative 21st century best practices.  I found several articles, and the book “Toys to Tools,”  was mentioned in several articles.  I ordered the book and it was everything the articles claimed.  It was a very practical resource that contained many lessons for a variety of subjects.  The goal of the book was to encourage educators to introduce cell phones to students as potential learning tools and lifelong professional tool, rather than viewing them solely as a social toy. Here’s the Top Ten List of “take-aways” from the book, plus the cell phone user agreement and letter sent home to parents:

    • Cell phones are not just toys; rather, they’re essential tools students use to communicate with the world around them.
    • Using a multiple literacy approach to classroom instruction enables students to understand, use, and critically evaluate the multi-modal tests of the 21st century.
    • In the 21st Century, part of an educator’s job is to help students navigate and stay safe in a world overflowing with technology and information.
    • For students to be successful in the future they must learn how to use different literacy tools in various knowledge-building communities.
    • The M-generation has the ability to multitask with a variety of media devices at one time.
    • Students enjoy using their cell phones and they are highly motivated to interact with their cell phones during class.
    • Most students have their cell phone with them.
    • Students are growing up in a technology-enhanced community outside of school.  If students develop their own communication and community through their media “toys,” educators need to bring those toys into educational activities so students can learn to use them as “tools of knowledge.”
    • An educator’s job includes helping the students navigate and stay safe in their media world.  It is of utmost importance for the teachers to have a routine and take control of the procedures of usage.  This can be done through teaching them cell phone etiquette, social agreement signed by student and parent, informing parents, and consistent policies through put the school.
    • For those students who do not have a phone or permission from their parents you will need alternative method or assignment.

    Bate Middle School cell phone User Agreement

    Cell phone letter home

    vicky cell phone agreement


    vicky cell phone agreement 2