Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Begin Harnessing the Power of Cell Phones in Class Lessons

While many educators have never considered harnessing the power of cell phones in education, and some are downright hostile when the suggestion is brought up, there are many terrific ways cells can be used to enrich learning while empowering students to use these devices to capture knowledge in engaging ways. Educators are embracing the use of cell phones around the world, and these educators know it's not if we should be using cell phones and other personal learning devices in school, but when. These teachers are both in schools where they must think outside the ban and incorporate cells outside the school day as well as in schools and districts that empower educators to make their own decisions for their student's learning. Some of these teachers are even in schools where they have partnered with phone service providers to give their students phones.

While integrating cell phones into instruction can be a great way to engage learners and enrich instruction it is important to ensure you are doing both. Just using a cell phone itself will lose its appeal and value quickly if it doesn't actually enable students to either do things better or do better things. When using cell phones in instruction educators should ask themselves if the use of technology will actually enhance the unit or lesson and how. As educators think about integrating cell phones into a unit of study they can use this planning tool.

TeacherGradeRoomContent AreaUnit OverviewInnovative Ideas to Enrich this UnitISTE Student Profile(s) / Standards*Content StandardsType of Support Requested
(i.e. demo lesson, team teaching, instructional coaching)
Support Date / TimeSupport Duration

Thinking of how cell phones maybe be used in general in a unit is a great place to start. The planning tool enables teachers to think of broad ideas for use within a unit as well as ideas for support that might be helpful. Note that support may come from a district or school-based coach, a teacher, a leader, a parent, a student, etc. Once the teacher comes up with ideas to enrich instruction they can drill down to a particular lesson they may want to teach.

A basic lesson might contain the following components:
  • Subject:
  • Lesson Title:
  • Lesson Overview About two sentences (May include goals, objectives, teaching points)
  • Lesson Description: You may want to draft this in word and then paste here.
  • Here's How... Provide a how to guide for how educators can use this tool.
  • Useful resources Please share any useful resources and include resource name, url, and brief description
  • Explain how the use of cell phones enriches this lesson.
  • Special Notes/ Additional comments:
  • NETS Student Standards Addressed (see: http://tinyurl.com/netsstudents)
  • NETS Teacher Standards Addressed (see: http://tinyurl.com/netsteachersnew)
  • Research-based instructional strategies:
  • Tools Used:

Below are several sample lessons which can be modified to work with any range of grade levels. The lessons included are:

Bring Poetry to Life with A Cell Phone and A Voki

Social Studies
Using Google SMS to Enrich Social Studies Instruction

Current Event Analysis

Celebrating Science Fair Projects with Twitter

Learners of Languages Other Than English
Google Voice as a Powerful "Get to Know You" and Speaking Fluency Tool

In an effort to collect ideas around how cell phones are being used to enrich instruction, I am calling upon innovative educators to contribute lesson ideas by submitting them to http://tinyurl.com/cellphonelesson . A math lesson would be great! Whether you are already doing this type of work with your students, or you are just starting to consider the possibilities, your ideas are valuable. Submitted ideas may be selected for publication in a variety of arenas (providing full credit to the author) and enabling teachers everywhere to start collecting smart lessons that incorporate using cell phones. Creating a cell-phone enriched lesson generally doesn't take any longer than a traditional lesson which generally can be written in one - two class periods. If you are using cell phones for instruction for the first time however, you will need to incorporate additional time for setting up accounts you may be using.

If writing a lesson isn't for you, don't worry. Try one of these lessons out and share how it went at http://tinyurl.com/cellphonetestimonial .

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