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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Swimming Upstream: Using Personal Devices in the Classroom

Go ahead...Jump right in! A new school year can be like watching fish in a stream--some go with the flow of the water while others swim upstream against the current.

Over the years, fashions have come and gone: bouffant hairdos, Daisy Dukes, parachute pants... As teachers, we've seen many fads, and tried most of them. Yet, there's a trend that has many of us shaking our heads and wondering what to do--the use of cellphones and other personal devices in classrooms. Finally, I thought, "if you can't beat them, join them!" I've decided to incorporate cellphones and other personal devices, such as laptops and tablets, into my classroom lessons. 

The "ah-ha!" moment came during this summer's McGraw Hill Connect/LearnSmart training. The presenter introduced us to Poll Everywhere. In the past, I've thought about using clickers, but they require perfect planning and timely set-up, which excludes spontaneous discussions and feedback. Plus, where I teach, there is one set of clickers between four instructors--that turns the "plus" into a minus. Also, checking the clickers in and out devours precious class minutes. But, with Poll Everywhere, students use laptops, PCs, tablets, or smartphones to text in their answers to different modes of questions: multiple choice, open-ended, yes/no formats. I was hooked! The presenter asked questions, "What was unclear in today's presentation?" "What would you like to know more about?" "Was your time well-spent this morning?" The audience responded on their personal devices, and we were hypnotized as answers popped up on the large screen. Many of us had the same questions, and we would not have known this without Poll Everywhere!

 

The program is free for first time use with up to 40 students. It can be packaged with McGraw Hill products for a small student fee, or it can be purchased by schools as a stand-alone component. 

The McGraw Hill event changed my attitude toward using personal devices in my classroom. Also, I'm going to try new strategies for notetaking by incorporating the use of personal devices.If you're seeing this in your classes:

It's time to re-think using technology in lesson plans. Using apps and websites that turn classroom materials into flashcards is another way to incorporate personal devices into lesson plans. Two of the best blogs for using technology in the classroom is Raki's Rad Resources, which reviews many student/teacher friendly, often free websites, and Smart Apps, which has a free educational app per day.

Go ahead...swim upstream, and try using personal devices in your classroom!



Have a great school year!
Beth, Educator Helper
@bethhammett1







Click the links to check out these resources for incorporating personal devices and technology:

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