Cell phones in the classroom

Smart phones with Steve Jobs

Smart phones with Steve Jobs (Photo credit: judy_breck)

The article by Michael Soskil, 5 Reasons to Allow Students to Use Cell Phones in Class, posted on Lisa Nielsen’s blog the Innovative Educator, tries to make the case that students should be allowed to use cellphones during class. I completely disagree. My thought is that cell phones would be distracting for the whole class as students text, visit social media websites, etc. How can you focus on learning when you are distracted by texting? or checking your email?

Three of the points that Mr. Soskil argued are not valid reasons for allowing students to use cell phones during class: a) Using technology that is readily available. b) Students can use it for collaboration c) That we as adults need to teach students how to use technology responsibly.

Here are my issues with his statements above: a) If a student has a cell phone available for class use–great, but it should be used for classwork when directed and not being used during the whole class if it is not necessary for that class/project. b)Collaboration–great, but if you are working on a class project why not group the students together and give them face-to-face time in class without the disruptions of emails, texts, etc., that are not related to the class project/collaboration. The cell phones can be used to contact each other after class. c) We are responsible for teaching students how to use technology responsibly. We are also there to teach them a lot of other things–how to focus, manners, courtesy to others.

I was at dinner on Saturday night. The table next to me had seven people on it and not one of them was talking to the other–they were all texting (hopefully texting each other). This is what I envision a classroom to be if the teacher allows constant cell phone usage. The teacher will be presenting and the students will all be engrossed in the phones. I’m not 100% opposed to having cell phones in class, but only taken out when they are needed for a project or lesson.

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Future of Education

TEDx Salman Khan

When Bill Gates walks on stage and says what he has just seen/heard is the “future of education” we may want to listen! I just finished watching Salman Khan’s presentation at a TEDx conference. Salman Khan created the Khan Academy that offers FREE OF CHARGE videos that cover subjects from physics to economics for students/people to watch and learn. I think Salman Khan is onto something. He is a big proponent of flipped classrooms where students watch videos at home and use the class time as a lab to practice math problems or discuss the video or class content.

Education is changing due to the digital technology. I foresee (in my crystal ball) that the future will have more and more online options available for students of all ages to access. I still have several questions regarding the amount of time that students must spend watching videos outside the classroom and what impact this will have on the teaching career service? Can we be replaced with online technology? Will the class labs be able to be covered solely by Teachers assistants. As usual–the answer is somewhere in the middle–between flipped classrooms, online classes and the traditional classroom.

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Teacher Respect…podcast

I listened to Taking Back the Teaching Profession: Can it Be Done? on BAM! Radio. It was a short podcast that focused on the lack of respect that teachers in the United States get from the general public and how the media tends to accentuate negativity regarding the teacher profession. As one teacher said in the podcast ” I loved teaching but hated getting treated like a teacher.” The participants in the podcast felt that the U.S. has a culturally preconceived notion that teachers are not professional or very good at their jobs. I found it very interesting that so many people in Finland want to become teachers that the country cannot accommodate them all. I will probably not move to Finland just to gain respect as a teacher!! The podcast participants all seemed to feel that teachers needed to publicize the good work that do, advocate their professionalism, reach out to parents and the community on a regular basis.

I think a podcast can be a useful educational tool but more-so for older students. I don’t know if an elementary age child would find it engaging. If I was going to use a podcast for my elementary classroom, I would include a series of questions for the students to listen and find answer too. We learn so much visually (auditory is estimated at only 10% retention when used alone) that a podcast would not be my first choice of a lecture or story delivery method for students.

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The love fest with flippin’ classrooms

I just finished working through the TED-Ed assignment and read the blog To Flip or Not to Flip. I love the concept of a flipped classroom. Students watch the professor’s lecture online and then use the classroom as a “lab” to answer questions, work on problems, discuss issues and group work. The Caculus professor on the blog evaluated a) what her classroom looked like now b) activities the students gained the most from c) what she wished she had more time for d) what to eliminate in the classroom to gain more time. She is an enthusiastic supporter of flipping classrooms based upon the results that she has seen since she started flipping the classes.

An article that I read after visiting Danya’s ED554 blog was about Clintondale Highschool in Detroit that had flipped the whole school due to budget constraints. The school saw a dramatic increase in test scores and a decrease in dropout rates when they starting flipping classes. Pretty impressive story located at

From what I’ve read, it appears that teachers and administrators love the results that flipping a classroom provides–namely improvement in academic test scores. I haven’t read any articles regarding how the students feel about flipped classrooms. How many hours do they spend each night watching videos? As much as they did homework? Do they prefer watching instruction at home rather than the traditional classroom setting?

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Really, could he get any cuter?

Summerschool poplet

Meet Spex! The foster parents was calling him Speckled Boy–I shortened it a bit. He was from a litter of seven beautiful puppies than someone dropped off along with their mother at the local shelter. I’m starting to notice that all my photographs are of animals or have animals in them….I really don’t chase him around all day long with a camera.


What poem is this?

Wordle: poem

Click on the Wordle and it will enlarge.

Does anyone know how to make the Wordles larger in blogs?


Collaborating. Communicating. Connecting.

The Nuts & Bolts of 21st Century Teaching is what I imagine teaching will be transformed to in the future rather than the rote delivery of information that I remember from my high school days. The students were given a project based upon the Holocaust and had to plan from beginning to end on how to complete/present the project. The learning process involved collaborating with others, communicating with other students and the teacher, connecting with each other, researching the facts that they found interesting about the Holocaust, brainstorming and then agreeing upon a final presentation. Pretty amazing when I consider the teachers previous instruction on the Holocaust–delivery of information to students that she thought was important. In the project the students were able to follow their interest regarding a certain area of the Holocaust. I think the majority of students would prefer project based learning. I certainly would.

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Creepy post #2

Creepy post #2

….but with potential for good things! Click on Creepy post#2 to view.

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No Kutcher!!

After a bit of exploration of and Twitter, I decided to use twitter as a personal learning network for this class. Long-term, I would use both and Twitter.  The is good for more educational news that has been published worldwide.  Twitter is better for more interaction, collaboration and quick responses with people who have similar interests.  It is much easier to post a question on Twitter and get a quick answer rather than reading through newspapers articles.


Exploring the World-not technology related at all.

Completely unrelated to technology!

Islamabad, Pakistan. Across the field from where I am standing is a very modern version of Pakistan’s Costco where people can purchase electronics, household goods, etc. Gentleman in this photograph would not even be allowed into the parking lot of the store. He makes his living letting people take photographs with his camels and charges them a small fee.