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com), Lisa Nielsen, and Willyn Webb are experts in the use of technology in education. Based in New York City, Nielsen works with schools and districts to innovate learning with technology. Best known for her awardwinning blog, The Innovative Educator http://TheInnovativeEducator.blogspot.com, she also writes for publications such as Tech & Learning, The Huffington Post and MindShift. Webb is a teacher, administrator, adjunct professor, and licensed professional counselor in Colorado. She has published several books, is a mother of three girls and has developed an innovative alternative high school. Nielsen and Webb speak to audiences around the globe and teach classes for educators interested in using studentowned devices for learning. Activity Summary
This chapter will guide educators through getting started with using the devices they own and use everyday for leading, teaching, and learning. We will take a look at the three ways to use cell phones with an overview of each of the three tools and advice on how to get started. This is followed by ideas for how administrators are using these tools to strengthen relationships while saving time and money, teachers are using them either in class or for homework, and how students themselves are using the tools to enhance their learning. The terrific three tools featured are Celly, Twitter, and iPadio. Readers will see the benefits of using the tools of today, connecting with each other and students, and feel motivated to start using the ideas immediately even in schools where cell phones are banned. Class or subject area: Literacy, Science, Social Studies, Math, Counseling Grade level(s): Primary, Secondary, Post Secondary Specific learning objectives: • Administrators will learn to harness the power of cell phones to strengthen relationships with parents, teachers, students. They will also learn how these devices will help them save time and save money. • Teachers will discover innovative ways to engage students and strengthen relationships with parents, students, and colleagues. • Students will be empowered to learn with the tools they love across all subject areas.
Anniversary Book Project
The Tried and True Trio of Tools to Get Going with Cell Phones for Learning
By: Lisa Nielsen and Willyn Webb Creative Commons License: CC BY Author contact: TeachingGenerationText@gmail.com
Introduction Classroom 2.0 is an amazing platform to communicate, collaborate, and connect. In fact, it is what brought Lisa Nielsen and Willyn Webb together! Webb noticed her job became much easier when she stopped fighting, and start embracing the power of cell phones with her students. It all started with attendance. When a student was absent, Webb would send a text such as “we miss u at school 2day.” Attendance improved and issues that affected their education surfaced and could be addressed. From there, Webb took it to the classroom where little by little she learned fun and exciting ways of incorporating cell phones into learning using tools like the ones addressed in this chapter. As an educator and counselor Webb knew using cell phones for learning made sense. As an author, she decided to write the book. To make the book come to life, Webb wanted to partner with someone who had an instructional technology background. As an active group member of Classroom 2.0 Cell Phone in Education group Webb noticed the contributions of the group’s creator Lisa Nielsen. After doing some more digging she found Nielsen had been written about in the press (Despite School Cell Phone Ban, Course Sees Them as Aid. - New York Sun) and had written many of her own articles about the use of cell phones for learning. She reached out to Nielsen to see if she’d be interested in collaborating on a book. She said, “Absolutely!” and the result was Teaching Generation Text, published in 2011 by Jossey-Bass. In this chapter, we bring to you a tried and true trio of tools that we feel will be most valuable for administrators, teachers, and students to use to get started with using cell phones even in districts where they are banned. As we share in our book, Teaching Generation Text, using cell phones for leading and teaching is a no brainer. However, for a successful implementation for using cell phones with students, we suggest putting some building blocks in place to ensure you are off to a successful start. These include things like securing a parent/student agreement, developing a responsible use policy in kid friendly language, teaching about safety and etiquette, establishing classroom management procedures WITH students, and incorporating the use of technology into assessment. While our book provides easy access to examples of each of these, the Classroom 2.0 Cell Phone in Education group is a great place to connect with other educators to share ideas and documents. Confronting Fears and Dispelling Myths Before you dive into discovering our tried and true trio of tools to get started with using cell phones, we’d like to address the two most commonly shared fears from teachers and leaders who are considering the use of cell phones for learning. 1. What if they’re banned where I teach? In the examples below we share ways that leaders and teachers can use cell phones to do their work more efficiently, effectively, and in ways that are more innovative than ever before possible. Of course, these uses of cell phones don’t involve students, so the ban isn’t an issue. However, when it comes to students the ideas shared can be done at home or at school. If devices are banned where you teach, start out by incorporating student cell phone use into homework. Also, keep in mind that all the activities can be done with any digital device, so while students are in school, if they have access to technology, they can use the school-provided devices and can continue working at home even if they don’t have access to a computer. 2. What about the students that don’t have cell phones? The digital divide exists whether we allow students to use the devices they own or not. Fortunately, 94% of American households (Marist Poll 2009) have access to cell phones, so this is
less of an issue and an important reason why incorporating cell phones into the digital toolbox for students is important. It is illogical to prohibit those students who have devices from using them in a desire to achieve a sense of equity rather than to provide devices for those who need them. Tim Clark, district instructional technology specialist with Forsyth County Schools (GA), explains that in his experience with BYOD, “Students who do not have personal technology devices have greater access to school-owned technology tools when students who use their own devices are no longer competing for that access.” Our Tried and True Trio of Tools to Get Started with Cell Phones in Education We are so glad you are a pioneering educator who is ready for schools to stop banning and start embracing the use of cell phones for learning. The authors of this chapter were motivated by their own personal stories to begin doing the same. Below we share the three tools we found to be simply terrific after our experiences with thousands of students, teachers, and leaders. Celly Celly is primarily a free group texting service. Group texting saves time, improves communication, provides documentation of texts, and sets the stage for easily using many other cell phone tools. The Cells referred to in Celly are instant mobile networks. With Celly, you can have open group chat, oneway alerting, or a hybrid where curators can approve messages. Celly also provides security and privacy as phone numbers are never exposed and there are controls. Cell curators filter messages before they are sent to the group. This keeps discussion on-topic and reduces abuse, impersonation, and cyberbullying. An @me feature lends itself to note taking. Celly even has a built-in polling feature complete with the tabulation of results. So how might administrators, teachers, and students use Celly to increase communication and enhance learning? Here are some ideas. • Administrators Delta Opportunity School needed an emergency notification system, but was out of money. I (Willyn Webb) suggested a free group texting service like Celly. It worked so well that we now use Celly for daily staff communication by sending inspirational quotes, staff meeting notices, or to gather input prior to meetings, and to poll for feedback after meetings. Cells also allow increased administrations involvement with Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Because it’s not possible for the administrators to attend each PLC in person, they could still stay connected. Each PLC is set up as a Cell and the administrators are members of each. Teachers Mrs. Sparks, an English teacher at an alternative high school in Colorado, uses group texting withher classes to gather feedback after class discussions. As homework, she sends a thoughtprovoking question from the discussion and has students respond. Mrs. Sparks reports that the students’ responses are often of a much higher quality than the ones shared during class. She’s not sure if it is because they’ve had time to think and process or because they are getting to text it in, but she knows it works. Every student gets a chance to answer. A definite improvement over in class discussions. She has also uses open chats and kept the conversation going outside of class. All of the texts sent and received can be viewed from her computer by logging in on the Celly site.
Students Willyn Webb used a Cell for her teen parent group to send daily writing prompts for journal entries. When set to open chat, the girls started using it to support each other as students and parents. Other examples are, the student council president has a Cell of members to send out reminders about activities, deadlines, and event announcements. A middle school student who has a Cell group to drill and review with classmates before tests. • Keep the conversation going • We invite you to comment on this topic on The Teaching Generation Text blog at this link http:// teachinggenerationtext.blogspot.com/2012/03/celly-for-administrators-teachers-and.html Twitter Twitter is a powerful tool that enables administrators, students, and teachers to develop and strengthen relationships with others who share their passions and interests around the world. Despite the common criticism, Twitter is not about meaningless 140 character sound bytes. The reality is that it’s all about the conversation. Just as in real life there can be meaningless or meaningful conversations. It’s all a matter of who you choose to connect with. The beauty of the 140 character limit is that is helps prevent folks from dominating the conversation, promoting a give and take dialogue. Twitter can be used from a computer, but using it from your cell phone provides added mobility. You can do that but simply visiting https://twitter.com/devices and inputting your mobile number. You will be directed to send a verification code via text message to Twitter and you’ll be ready to Tweet from anywhere. So how might administrators, teachers, and students use Twitter to enrich leading, teaching, and learning? Here are some ideas. • Administrators When Eric Sheninger, principal of New Milford High School in Bergen County, New Jersey wants information or an immediate response to a question he often starts with Twitter. As he shared in his interview with Scholastic Administrator, Twitter is the tool he used when he was seeking out ideas for a new school policy on social media. “I put it out there on Twitter. I used a hashtag with the initials NMHS for my school, which is not readily used by anyone but me. I got so many responses. Some were linked to policies, but then other people actually e-mailed me their entire policy.” Sheninger, explains that Twitter enables him to harness the power of a human-generated search engine driven by education professionals who are passionate and have determined that having an online presence will have a dramatic, positive impact on their professional practice. • Teachers Teacher librarian Tracy Karas uses Twitter to share the great things going on in the Marta Valle High School Library Media Center. She does this by creating a webpage for her library and Tweeting her latest updates out for students, visitors, and the school community to read. She embeds the tweets on her webpage page so those who care can get instant, real time updates. Like Tracy, you can set up your own class page and Tweet what’s new, what’s hot, what’s not. • Students Michelle Luhtala has her students use Twitter to collect research about topics they are studying into a Paper.li newspaper. Students use Paper.li as a content curation service to publish newspapers using a selected Twitter hashtag selected for the topic they are studying. The tag is simply put in to Paper.li and a unique newspaper with all the research articles, pictures, and videos are
compiled into a professional newspaper with information that matters most to the students. Keep the conversation going • We invite you to comment on this topic on The Innovative Educator blog at http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2012/03/twitter-for-administrators-teachers-and.html.
iPadio In the busy school day many teachers and leaders don’t feel their schedules allow for the complexities of the equipment and set up necessary for podcasting. But it needn’t be that way. Even the busiest educator can get started quickly and easily with just their cell phone. Because of its ease and simplicity, phone casting has become a popular resource in an educator’s the bag of tricks. Phone casting provides the ability to easily create and capture an audio broadcast from your phone that can be published and shared. Once you register for your free account, you simply call in to iPadio, enter your secret code, speak your phone cast and when you hang up, Wah La! You’ve created a phone cast that can be broadcast to the world. What’s more, you can listen to a phone cast from your phone as well. So how might administrators, teachers, and students use iPadio to enrich leading, teaching, and learning? Here are some ideas. • Administrators Use phone casting to serve as a free and easy tool to record and share daily announcements! There are many advantages to doing daily announcements as a phone cast. One advantage is that you can tailor phone casts to specific audiences so as to decrease the amount of instructional time lost. For example you may have your announcements broken down into those for students, staff, and particular groups or teams. Now announcements can be customized and targeted to the right audience. Another advantage is it strengthens the home school connection for family members who may want to stay connected to what is happening at the school. Finally, student or staff who are absent, can still stay connected to what is happening at the school by listening to a phone cast. Teachers Phone casts can be posted directly to your class blog or website. This is what 6th grade language arts and social studies teacher Josh Stumpenhorst does for his class in Naperville, IL. He uses phone casts as a way to share what he and his students are doing. This window into his classroom provides students, their families, and other interested school community members with up to date information about what is being done in class. Students At the start of the year, teachers can reach out to their class and ask them to make an “All About Me” phone cast. These can be placed on an “All About Our Class” page of the teacher’s website, blog, or other online space. The teacher may want to guide the students with what they may consider including in the phone cast such as, “What are you most proud of?” “What are you passionate about and how are you pursuing that passion?” “What can/have you done to make the world a better place?” For lower grades where student’s birthday’s are celebrated, this could be a part of the celebration. For older students, activities can be designed for classmates to get to know each other better. For instance, you could ask students to do a scavenger hunt like activity where they need to find 3 people with whom they share something in common and 3 people who
they’d like to learn something from based on their “All About Me’s.” Keep the conversation going • We invite you to comment on this topic on The Innovative Educator blog at this link http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2012/03/teachers-leaders-and-learners-can.html.
We hope this chapter provides an idea or two to take back with you to enrich the work you do. By engaging in this work you become one in a growing member of pioneering educators who are leading our children out of the past and into the 21st century. We look forward to learning and connecting with you to discover how your using cell phones for teaching, learning, or leading in the Classroom 2.0 Cell Phone in Education group or at our blogs, Teaching Generation Text and The Innovative Educator. You can also follow us on Twitter where you’ll find Lisa Nielsen via @InnovativeEdu and Willyn Webb via @WillynWeb.