Texting Teacher

28 Apr

It has been weeks since my pre-internship at Campbell Collegiate has been done, and I finally feel like I have the chance to reflect on a great experience.  I was able to try many things while working at Campbell, the most exciting thing being a cell phone math lesson.

I have felt a lot like doing all the research I have done over the last semester has made me feel confident in using a tool like cell phones in the classroom, except I hadn’t really had an opportunity to try it and see what it was actually like.  From day one at Campbell I knew that I could use the cell phones.  Looking at the classroom it is easy to see how crucial students feel cell phones are in their life.  Almost every single student used the phone instead of a calculator and it was nice to see that the teacher was alright with this.  You can tell when the students are actually using them as calculators and when they are texting or doing something off task.  At first I thought that most students would be texting, but I found that most of them were only using their phones when they needed to make a calculation.

I turned to cell phones when I didn’t have anything to plan.  I was supposed to be introducing slope, but my partner and I switched classes for the last week so I was without the textbook or anything that was supposed to be planned for the unit.  The unit they were working on was slope.  It was a perfect unit for me to work with the kids with because I had just went over rate of change with them so it was easy to make the transition.  I started my lesson off with a guided inquiry handout that I had the students work on their own with to discover slope, which also turned into their notes for that section, then had them do a journal on what they thought slope was.  I then did a quick overview of what slope was and described to the students what positive, negative, and neutral slopes were.  My lecture time didn’t last very long.

As soon as  I asked the students to pull out their phones they thought it was a joke.  Once I convinced them we were using them, they became much more excited.  What I had prepared was ten stations (which I have below) that they could decide if the slope was positive, negative or neutral.  It described slope in multiple different ways like a graph, points and in words.  I used the website called Poll Everywhere.  What this did was create a poll that the students could decide whether they thought each station was positive, negative, or neutral and then they texted that number and answered the question.  Many students, because we hadn’t done anything like this before, were confused why they were texting the number because they didn’t get a text back, but this was easily cleared up at the end of the lesson.

The students worked quickly through the stations and were 100 percent engaged.  Some of the students who have trouble focusing on an assignment for the whole class got through the questions quickly and on their own.  I was a little worried that some of the students were just walking around guessing, but this wasn’t the case.  Once everyone had time to go to all of the stations, i brought up the completed polls on the board.  This was beneficial in multiple ways.  Not only did the students get to see if they got the answer right, but I also got to assess as well.  I could see which problems the students had difficulties with and if they understood the concept.

 In the above poll there was differences in the answers, so I could go over it instantly as a class to see where some of them were going wrong.  As we went along through the stations they got more consistent and 100% of the class was answering the question correctly.  The most interesting part of this was the students reactions (I have a video I just can’ t put it online).  They  started getting excited each time I went to show them the answer.  I had them do a written copy of the stations so they knew what they had answered for each question, so before I showed them the poll I asked them what they thought it was going to be.  At around five questions in they started clapping for themselves, and on the last ones they were cheering.  It was amazing to see them get so excited over their math assignment.

There was a moment that really stuck out where a girl congratulated everyone after they got the question right, and I was just very proud of the students at that exact moment.  I was a little worried that my assignment had no connections to what they needed to have done for their teacher (aka the text) so I looked at the questions.  Each station covered every type of question that was in the assignment so I assigned them some questions that they did very easily.

Of course this assignment could be done without cell phones, but I think it would lose the engagement.  The class responded really well to this assignment, but obviously many other classes wouldn’t.  It was a really nice way to work in some cell phone use in the classroom and see how it went over.  I could have easily used a QR code with this making it that much easier for the students.  There is a generator that will send a text when you scan the code, so I could have had them just scan the code and click send for their decision.

Using the cell phones has really shown me that there is a need to incorporate the technology that appeals to the students.  The technology component of the curriculum requires so much more than just graphing calculators now, and as educators we need to find ways to use these different technologies effectively.  I can see that cell phones are important now and it is great to find ways to use them, but I can also see that it is going to change and adapt even more.  Technology is quick, and it replaces itself so quickly, what works right now isn’t necessarily what will work in the near future.  I feel the need to be very on the ball with these things because once I feel like I have perfected the use of one technology it is probably going to be out dated.  For now, since I am not in my own class, I just need to try to think about the different ways to incorporate technology, and be aware of how it is changing.

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2 Responses to “Texting Teacher”

  1. David Wees April 28, 2011 at 5:49 am #

    Nice use of technology to help engage students.

    I’d like to point out that the way you set up the stations, etc… made it so the students felt that moving around in class was okay, and that the cell phones helped make it possible for the students to easily record their answers in some fashion.

    I have an activity which I do about learning how to find equations of lines, or rather practicing the skill once they have been introduced to it. I ask the students to use straight lines to draw something, like a robot or a car, or a rocket ship, etc… I then ask them to find the equations of the lines (along with their domain and range) so that they could reproduce their drawing with the equations alone.

    One time I had a student who had a very complex robot, and which required 183 lines to draw. I can’t imagine a student finishing a worksheet with that many lines on it, but he did it without question. In fact, when I pointed out that it was okay to use a slightly simpler robot drawing for this activity, in an effort to reduce his workload, he told me that “it wouldn’t look cool then.”

  2. samanthadouglas April 28, 2011 at 6:04 am #

    Thank you!
    That sounds like an an activity I would love to try out. I’m a visual art minor so that sounds like a great way to work with that concept.

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