Saturday, February 5, 2011

Note taking

The debate rages on about what, if anything, is it important for students to remember or is it more important for them to know how to access and use the information.  Well the answer is.... I am addressing tools that both sides of this debate can use to better meet our children's needs.

Every phone has a note pad  and a text message application.  We have already discussed the fact students keep track of their phones, so why not use that to theirs and our advantage?  By letting students use there phones for saving notes we know they have access to them anytime, anywhere.  One of the struggles for students is that they are very busy.  Students may not take school work with them to work, or on buses or home but they do take their phones.  This access allows students to be better prepared for content they need to remember.

Lets go a step further, do we want students taking notes or actively engaged in learning?  So instead of being a human copier, lets get them engaged.  The camera taking capabilities on phones continually gets better and better, so use them.  The notes or information that is shared in class can be snapped up in pictures in an instant and is a resource for students.  Those perilous minutes of students copying notes can now be used for discussion, engagement, problem solving and innovation.  Those same pictures can be narrated and turned into a movie for students who might be gone or who want and extra review.

Does this make more work for teachers, I believe not.  It allows teachers to get away from busy working students to the point of no return and lets them focus on truly engaging students.

I recently had a conversation with a student about cheating.  This was a very good student, potential valedictorian, and he informed me that cheating was sometimes OK.  I needed to know why and he was more than willing to share.  His answer was simple, if the teacher is giving us stuff to keep us busy than there is no problem in cheating to get it done.  Students know when they are being attacked with busy work.  They also are no different from students before them, if the content is not relevant to them, than WHY waste their time.  This is stuff they need to know is the common mantra from educational professionals.  Do they need to know it?  In a world when they can access information instantly, it is time for us to engage them.  That information  "They Need"  can be simplified and stored on their phone and that freed up time can be used for authentically engaging our students.

Next up studyboost.......

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Txt Blaster

On my simple communication note, this is a great site.  Txtblaster allows the user to streamline the connectivity of their group.

The tool wouldn't be complete if I didn't tell a story to go with it.  Sitting in the drive through at Arby's I had a double Ah Ha moment.  My phone vibrated with a new text message from non other than RedBox with a free code for a movie.  I pondered the idea if a Tuesday night was a good night for a movie, realized that any night was good for a free movie.  As I waited for my food there was a sticker on the drive in window with a number to text for free coupons.  That's when it hit me, why cant we use this tool like businesses are.(Bill Gates would be proud)

So what can Txtblaster due for schools?  Let's explore a few options.

Assignments/class updates This is a simple and easy way to keep kids updated on their assignments as well as parents.  Why use a planner and what a great way to get parents involved. It also keeps a record of the messages as well.

Counselors office.  I teach in a high school and there our continual announcements about scholarships and the likes out of the office.  What a great way to get the information to student, and most importantly, make sure they get it.

As I continue to explore cell phones I am amazed at the possibilities. Please dont be limited by my can you use this in your school?