Saturday, November 6, 2010

Put an Expert in Every Student's Pocket with ChaCha

Imagine having an expert to turn to at any time for information, advice, guidance…for free! That’s ChaCha, an amazing service that will become invaluable to students. As the site says, “ChaCha is like having a smart friend you can call or text for answers on your cell phone anytime for free!” ChaCha works on any cell phone with every provider and enables students to ask any question and receive an accurate answer as a text message in just a few minutes.

Ideas for Using ChaCha with Students

1) Have all your students ask ChaCha questions about an area of study. Have them share their answers in whatever way you’d like i.e. on a discussion board about the topic, on post its in the class, as Tweets, etc. Have students try to guess what the question was. This is a fun and engaging way to review a unit. If students are in schools where cells are banned, this can be done outside of school. Just have students bring their answers with them to school on paper or submit them digitally.
2) ChaCha is a great homework help aide. Let’s face it, regardless of academic ability, race, class, or type of household, there are often times when students don’t have someone around to help them with their homework. Chacha solves this problem by connecting students to a free network of about 25,000 ChaCha guides. If a student gets stuck…just ask ChaCha. Of course, you’ll want to discuss with students the importance of confirming their information is accurate, just as they’d do if they asked a friend or family member.
3) While many households still do not have internet access, most have at least one cell phone. Chacha is an alternative resource for students who do not have a computer at home. What can you ask ChaCha? Anything! Here are some examples from the ChaCha site:
During the summer I had to read a book which was pretty confusing and if I had a question about a word or phrase, ChaCha explained to me what it meant. Thank you so much ChaCha! ~ Kay
I won a bet on the size of the Moon compared to the Earth, thanks to ChaCha’s quick answer. Can I take my ChaCha guide to my free dinner? ~ Tenny
My mom told me Angora fur was from a goat…I told her it was from a rabbit. Thank you ChaCha for winning me a good home cooked meal!!! I love ChaCha ~ Leah
My family and I were arguing about how far north in the state of Florida where we could find a coconut palm tree. ChaCha came to the rescue and ended it! Thanks again!! ~ Jed

Here’s How to Get Started

  • Enter 242242 (spells ‘ChaCha’) into your phone or call 1-800-2ChaCha begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-2ChaCha end_of_the_skype_highlighting (800-224-2242 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 800-224-2242 end_of_the_skype_highlighting) from your mobile phone.
  • Text your question to ChaCha or call and ask any question
  • You will receive an answer in minutes that also cites the source and informs you who your guide is answering the question.
  • You may want to ask your question more than once as different guides often use different sources and you’ll receive different answers.


  1. When you say "put an expert in every student's pocket", I assume you mean every US student.

  2. This is a very cool concept! I don't much like the ads but get that that is how it works. Again, information is right at our kids' fingertips and so we should be teaching them collaborative and higher order thinking skills as well as using brain research and neuroscience to drive our instruction. Teaching kids how to use their technology for learning and firing them up to be motivated lifelong learners is how we ought to be focusing.

  3. How would we site "Chacha" on a work sited page? I ask only because I remember when Wikipedia hit the waves and the English teachers at my school came up with a handout explaining why wikipedia wasn't a "trusted source." I have watched Wikipedia transform itself over the years. Will we have the same fight with "chacha" or has MLA already updated its handbook?

  4. I'm going to research the answer to Tamara R's question about MLA and ChaCha...I'll get back to you.

  5. Hi Tamara,

    Great question. ChaCha is a great way to get answers on demand, much like you might from a friend who has access to the internet when you do not. The way ChaCha works is that a real person looks up the question (your ChaCha guide). The answers come with a source cited. Using ChaCha in research is much like using Google. They both get the answer to you, but they are not the source. To site something on ChaCha or Google, you need to cite the actual source from where the information was retrieved.