Stopped by the Family Aquatic Center to say hello, and the picture above is what we walked in on. So without thinking, we blurted out “Let’s chat naked.” Yes, every single one of those kids stopped doing whatever it was they were doing with their cell phones and looked up at us. A miracle…they looked up from their phones. Now we had their attention. “Let’s chat…face-to-face. Let’s chat naked,” we suggested.
One of the girls smiled at us and said she had heard the saying of ‘going to a meeting naked’ where no lap tops, iPads, or smartphones were allowed. Hmm…now that’s an interesting concept we think we should try.
We chatted, briefly, and then they all went back to their phones. Made us think of a YouTube video we just watched on someone’s Facebook page the other day called “Look Up From Your Phone.” It’s worth the five minutes it takes to watch it.
In Abraham Lincoln’s closing remarks to Congress in December, 1892, he wisely recommended that we all rise to the occasion even if “the occasion is piled high with difficulty.” That can certainly apply to the use of cell phones in a classroom, can’t it? Even if your students are using cell phones when you think they shouldn’t be, maybe it’s time we teachers rise to the occasion and figure out HOW to use them in class rather than HOW to abandon their use.
Below are five ways we have discovered to be useful when using the cell phone in class:
- Poll your students on their opinions. Polleverywhere.com is a great resource for this. For example we’ve used Polleverywhere.com to poll our Intro to Education students on WHY they want to become teachers, which leads to great face-to-face discussion in class
- Ask a question of your students and have all students ‘Tweet’ their answer to a special Twitter account set up just for your class. For example, we could ask our students to name five assessment tools used in schools or ask the students who is the author of a certain children’s book and they tweet their answer to us. The tweets then lead to outstanding ‘naked’ conversation.
- Place QR codes throughout your presentation. Students pull out their phones to “follow” your presentation and lesson. It helps with all of the “extras” that may not be shared during the class because of time restraints. It can also be a place for students to go for their assignments.
- Students can use their phones to record a lesson or presentation to share with the class. It can also be used to self-assess a presentation. Students can then upload their video to Youtube and let the learning go viral.
- Take a fieldtrip with the phone! If you can’t go somewhere, bring the somewhere to you. Students can Facetime with primary sources—aka people—instead of just reading it on the Internet (or find it in a book…the thing with pages on their desk).
Just like the comment “let’s chat naked” caused all six of those kids to look up from their cell phone, using the cell phone as a teaching tool can enhance face-to-face dialogue. Meaningful discussions will augment our classroom teaching. Using the cell phone in our teaching can aid with the discussion process, which in turn will increase student learning. And that, fellow educators, is what teaching is all about.
What are some ways that you are using a mobile device in your classrooms?