Leveraging the Tools in Their Pockets

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 6.45.01 AMSome of the fears shared by teachers regarding BYOD are that kids will have access to information that cannot be controlled, kids will cheat and that kids will be using social media instead of participating in class. In other words, kids will be engaging in everyday device use.

When working with teachers new to technology, I like to have them look at their daily uses of tech and start there. When tools fit into everyday life, they have a greater chance of being utilized in a classroom setting as seamless acts supporting student learning.

I remember when the conversation about using cell phones first started. Smartphones did not yet exist yet we were collecting live data for math utilizing texting and kids loved it. All of a sudden, that device that few students had made sense in the classroom. It gave them instant access to information. While few students had cell phones back then, today few students do not which makes the examples below definitely worth a look! Depending on your district guidelines, you may need to seek parental permission before proceeding.

Re-Thinking Social Tools

Twitter: Whether you like it or not, kids are tweeting in class. Sometimes they are even tweeting out questions regarding their work in class which can be easily interpreted as cheating. What would happen if their assignment was to post a question to twitter, collect responses and collaboratively evaluate their reasonableness? In 140 characters, tell me something that you learned today and use the class hashtag. What questions do you still have? There are so many uses beyond blocking this powerful source!

Vine: Some of the most amazing digital stories are being told via vine in 6 seconds. You don’t even have to understand how or why. Nor will you need to define a method. Ask kids to explain a problem, create a problem, fix a problem or just tell a story related to learning. In 6 seconds, they can create it, share it and publish it.

Instagram: I like the video creation of instagram a lot better than vine because it allows more than 6 seconds as well as editing. With a hashtag related to your classroom, students can create easily accessible snippets of ideas that can then be curated. My favorite ios app of the moment is one called Pic Play Post. Using Pic Play Post, students can create collages of video and images to share. In math, I’m thinking of graphs created via desmos mixed with video of students comparing each one. I can guarantee that assignment to be completed at 100%. For kids, this is fun because they can create it, mix it, share it and publish to all of their networks at one time.

Pinterest: My teenage daughter was using pinterest to shop and was tickled to see that educational content is there as well. Create a class board, have students curate information…including their digital creations. Pinterest creates a bit of two way sharing. Make your notes available. If you’re flipping the classroom, pin your lessons! Regardless of the device, students can access and also add their ideas.

There’s an App for That: Students will identify apps to accomplish a task. If the task is to communicate an idea or even collaborate with a partner,  they have these tools. Ask them to share their method. You may need to see it first but students are ready and eager to share. Let them do it! Have them post their favorite apps to Pinterest and share with the class.

Personally, I use twitter and Instagram more than any other apps on my phone. I imagine that most students are no different. You don’t have to over-think how to make tools fit into a lesson. Just think about normal use and what students are to accomplish.

The only mistake that you can make is in powering down and not acknowledging the tools that are being leveraged even when you didn’t assign it. With an open mind and a bit of creativity, you have the power to completely change how students interact with their learning. Even with the bumps that will happen along the way, the risk is more than worth it!

The still + video collage below was created using Pic Play Post, $1.99 in the Apple App Store!


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