My district’s policy is no personal devices are to be used by students in school and although I understand the reasoning from their point of view, I think we are missing the mark and aiming at the wrong thing this time. Yes, students can get distracted by these devices but why should districts invests millions of dollars in tools that will be outdated in a year or two when many students already have a device that we could have them use as part of their studies?
Isn’t it part of our job to teach students how to use technology responsibly?
I have a perfect example for this that just happened last week. I have several “bad” boys who eat lunch in the library every opportunity they can get. Why? Because I let them get on their phones, ipods, or YouTube and as long as it’s not inappropriate, I let them do what they want. Am I letting them break school rules? Yes. Are they hurting anything? No. Is this stopping them from learning? No, it is lunch and a perfect time for them to socialize or watch a video or play a game. But during their library class last week, one of these same students pulled out his phone and was playing games. I took his phone away and told him he could have it back at the end of class. I explained that it was class time and he needed to be working on classwork and not playing on his phone. I also explained that it is fine to do that during lunch or recess but not during a class. He grudgingly understood, handed me his phone, and got to work on his project. This was a lesson that will stick with him and he hasn’t repeated the error since.
So what does all of that have to do with today’s topic?
If a student already has a phone, ipod, or tablet, teachers could have them download a free student response app like Socrative or connect to a website like Kahoot and get instant feedback from the students. Instead of purchasing more ipads for students that already have devices, we could save the taxpayers money or we could use the money saved to purchase teacher accounts on excellent websites like Educreations.
I have a set of Smart Response Clickers but have never used them because of the difficulty getting all of the students on them at the same time and it also takes a long time to replace all the batteries in a class set. But I have used Kahoot with students and it is really easy for students to get on and it is also really easy to create a quiz or survey.
Kahoot is free to join and has an option for students to create their own account so they can join in all of the fun. Although I have never used Kahoot with my class, I have seen it being used in a “flipped” classroom. The teacher had student work in groups since there weren’t enough ipads for each student to have their own. The students quickly entered the code and raced to see who could answer the questions correctly the fastest. This was an inclusion class and all students were engaged and excited about the quiz. I haven’t used it yet but when I do, I would like to use it for understanding checks during a lesson. Today due to a shortage in substitutes, I had to teach a 3rd grade class. Kahoot would have been the perfect way to do a vocab lesson or even a math lesson on basic math facts.
I have used Google Forms many times but the most useful to me was a survey for parents to take at the end of my annual Dr. Seuss birthday celebration. I have been hosting the celebration for six years and have often wondered if the parents appreciate all that is provided but I didn’t want to ask in a way that they would feel they had to lie. So, I created a survey that asked the parents about the favorite activities, any changes they would like to see, and most importantly if they would still come if prizes were given out. Thankfully, parents graciously took the survey and only one parent answered that they wouldn’t attend if prizes weren’t given. My faith in humanity (at least my student’s parents) was renewed and I look forward to hosting the event again next year.
The future is fast approaching and if we don’t embrace the technology available to us, we run the risk of being left behind both figuratively and literally if we’re not careful.