Saturday 5 October 2013

Hot Topic: Cell Phones, If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

Updated 5 October 2014

I recently wrote about how I had given up on trying to take cell phones away from students. I think that classroom discipline is hard enough as it is. Since then I’ve come across a couple of articles that have ideas on how teachers can integrate cell phones into lessons for students from elementary school to university.

In my classes I collect all the cell phones at the beginning of class and only give them to the students if I'm going to do an activity with their cell phones.

More and more teachers are moving away from teacher-centred classes to student-centred ones. Smartphones and cellphones can help make this possible as students learn to teach their peers. Here are some ways students can use cell phones in class.
  • Blog: Have students blog about their experiences. You can also use it for homework. 
  • Calculator: Great for math classes. 
  • Call: Make phone role-plays more realistic by sending half the class out of the room and having them phone their partner. 
  • Dictionary: Great for language learners. They can use L1-L2 dictionaries or L2-L2 dictionaries. 
  • Photos: Have students take photos of the board. That way they have all the notes right there on their phone.
  • Podcasts: Students can create them and listen to other students’ as well. 
  • Questions on blogs and forums: Create an intranet blog or forum for students to ask and answer questions. 
  • Quizzes and Polls: During class have students answer questions using a poll format. They can see the results in real time. 
  • Record: Students can record their voice or make a video. It's great for pronunciation practice or presentations.
  • Research: Students love surfing the net. Put it to good use and have them do research that way.
  • Scavenger Hunt: Send all the students out of the classroom and start texting them clues on what they should find. Have them send a photo to prove they were there. 
  • Text Students Questions: Send out a mass text at the start of the day and let students know that the first few students to respond will get a reward, anything from treats to no homework to extra credit points work.
  • Timer: Have students talk for X amount of time and time it when they do so. 
  • Translate: Google translate isn’t the best, but you could use it to your advantage. Translate a sentence from their L1 their L2. Give them the L2 and have them translate it back into the L1 and then re-translate it into their L2. 


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