Don’t Beat ’em, Join ’em!: Cellphones Allowed!


Ian Jukescommitted me” a while ago.  We live in a time of exponential change, and education serves our students only if it prepares them to live in the world as productive citizens.  When we think of the real world, we don’t think of an isolated classroom containing barriers with no access to technology, or where its use is prohibited. Unfortunately, many schools are continuing to educate students in this manner.  Often, teachers are burdened with narrowing technology budgets and limited resources.  Most students have access to cell phones, which currently act a lot more like computers than phones. How can we see them as helpful to our classes rather than hindrances?

Take advantage of the fact that you have 10 or more “computers” in your classroom available for use at any moment, no training required!!

Here are are some useful and meaningful ways to use cellphones in the world language classroom:

1.     GoogleVoice: Save time and go green!  As an oral assessment, have students leave you a message by calling your GoogleVoicemail in class responding to a  prompt. Then, text or email back your feedback and score.

2.    Poll Everywhere: Scaffold interpersonal communication. Ask students questions and have them text their response.  All responses immediately show up on the screen.  (Best with an LCD projector.)  Students receive immediate feedback, and this serves as a formative assessment.

3. If you don’t know how to say something, look it up immediately. It is a great tool especially for idiomatic expressions that cannot be       circumlocuted.  Have the students use their own phone to quickly look up the word or phrase.

4.     Cameras: Take pictures of class notes or brainstorming.  Why waste precious time copying when they could use that time to write or speak?

5.    Google: Search for information quickly.  Students no longer need to waste time logging into and loading up computers.

6.    Email: Send an email from the phone as an exit slip.  This can serve as a summative or formative assessment or a discussion for the following day.

7.    Twitter: Connect in real time to an authentic audience. Look at someones tweets in target language.  Students can tweet questions, opinions or comments to athlete, singer, actress, band and maybe be rewarded with the ultimate outcome, a response! Have them use your class hashtag (#) in the response so they are all in one place. i.e., #schellerfrancais

8. Authentic texts and videos: The world is your lobster, homard, langosta, aragosta! When students are working on a project or collaborating, they can access the necessary resources, i.e., notes, docs, videos, your class blog, etc., right at their seats.

Try and stop focusing on what your students should not be doing on their phones, and think about the infinite ways they can help improve learning.  I promise you, your students will not only be more engaged, but so engaged they will hardly think about using their phones for personal use.  Show respect for their world and they will show respect for yours.

oh, and play around with your own phone!  Maybe you’ll find a useful app and share it with your students and me.  If you find Words with Friends in French, invite me! lelises


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