Technology in education is always a hot topic. Educators are constantly faced with the dilemma of trying to find the right balance of incorporating technology into their students’ lives while trying to keep the drama and distractions to a minimal that technology can often bring to the classroom. Cell phones seem to be the biggest issue because teens are constantly connected and have a strong desire to stay connected. The issue of using cell phones in school has been in the news across our country with many school districts initiating policies that completely ban the use of cell phones at school. A district in CA even came up with a creative and innovative way of having cell phones in the school but controlling phone usage with a magnetic locking system that limits the access of the phones by the students during the day.
Click the link to learn more about this technology. https://www.npr.org/2018/01/11/577101803/a-schools-way-to-fight-phones-in-class-lock-em-up
I don’t think we are quite there at Lewisburg Middle School, however we have initiated a cell phone policy that requires students to keep phones in their lockers throughout the day and to only bring them to class if a teacher has posted a green card outside the door. We have already seen a huge reduction in lost phones, less phones taken up, and most importantly…students are more engaged in face to face conversation.
Now, being a science teacher, I believe there is a place for cell phones in the classroom. My class tends to be the one that students bring devices in the room most often due to the nature of a subject that is driven by STEM. Science is one of the best environments to teach students that there is balance with technology by exposing them to ways they can use their devices as a personal teaching and learning tool rather than just a social commodity I encourage them to use their calendars to schedule school related events and assignment due dates. I show them how to use timer features and reminders for homework or other important aspects of school they need to remember. These techniques are all time management skills that even adults depend on in order to help keep up with busy life schedules. Teaching students simple ways to use their cell phones for educational purposes helps them to take ownership of how they prioritize their time with their devices as they grow to become mature adults that contribute to society.
Another way I encourage using technology in the classroom is through apps. Students get excited when they get to use their devices in class. I have found that students and teachers are more than happy to use apps to help enhance learning, but often have little time to search through the enormous amount of apps to find exactly what they need. Below you will find a few apps that my students and I feel have passed the test of being user friendly as well as great for helping students and teachers learn.
Kahoot: Teachers can create kahoot review games to play in class or send challenges to students to study at home. Students love seeing how well they are doing compared to others they are playing against. Students actually have fun studying.
Microsoft apps: Word & power point allow students to edit work on their phones
Twitter: teachers and students can follow others that post current news, helps stay connected to what’s going on in education, latest trends, new ideas
Genius Scan: scan any document from your phone, turn it into a pdf then save or email it
Remind: organize classes that you are a part of and easily see missed messages
Quizlet: Flash card maker
Khan Academy: free online tutoring on almost any subject
PowerSchool: Keep up with grades and absences
I-nigma: fast QR reader
Chick-fil-a: (JUST FOR FUN…my personal favorite) everyone needs to eat, this apps let you order on the go and earn freebies
Despite the challenges that come with teens having devices in the school setting, I believe with the right teacher attitude and exposure students can learn how to use technology to better themselves in the classroom as well as life.
Emily Frayser, NBCT
Lewisburg Middle School