Get the classroom bling out

iPhone Image iPhone via BeFunky .

I remember it well. In the 90s students were coming into my classroom complete with glo pens, highlighters, glitter pens, little pots of glitter and their work was full of glitter, gloss, colour and bling. I have always let them set out their work in a way that suits them . If it is to be handed in I ask for a name,title and date. That shift from pens, pencils and rulers to glitter and bling was a significant one. They would sharpen little piles of coloured pencil and use bits of sandpaper and paper to shade their work. I am going through a similar shift in my Year 8 classroom this year because of mobile technology. These students won’t have laptops at school until year 9 and they can rarely get into the computer room this year because we are in a rebuilding programme which has meant rooms have had to be reallocated or preferential block bookings have had to occur. By now I am glad I spent time at the beginning of the year looking at apps which were suitable for iPads and iPhones.  I am  equally glad I have got the iPads out and let them explore and discover them in an educational setting. Magic is occurring. Necessity is the mother of invention. My students know if they ask permission and tell me what they are going to use and why, they can use their smartphone in class. They also know if they do the wrong thing their phone is locked up in the filing cabinet until the end of the lesson. So far I have locked up three this year. With technology pressure on for students who have grown up with it and have been surrounded by it, bit by bit they are shifting to mobile apps for their work. They have not demanded it nor expected it. They have just naturally gone that way within my boundaries. I haven’t pushed it. I haven’t insisted. I haven’t suggested. I have just encouraged them when they are doing clever things on their phone. Today was a real eye opener. Some students were doing their homework on their phones. Why? We had finished what I wanted to do and I gave them a choice of exercises to do or finishing off their assignments for tonight and tomorrow’s lesson. Some students brought me their work on their phone to show me to see if they were getting it right. One student emailed me the work so I could check it. They have got some really good productivity going. What they can’t do is  easily know how to get it to me. We have choices at the moment . Some can easily email. Some can go home and get it onto their computer and bring it to me on a USB. Some can Bluetooth. At the moment I am working with what they know. Were it earlier in the year this hotch potch approach would be totally unacceptable. For now I am looking at the success rate and staying with what each student can do. Each week the number is growing. The ones using their phones are totally absorbed and happy. The bling of technology is just as an effective means of engaging them in content and problem solving as the glitter and glo days of the nineties. Soon there will be a few students who can do all their work on their phone and that will be a big breakthrough. These phones are expensive and have a capacity to do a lot which we need to explore as partners in learning. It is great to see them being used as anywhere, any time learning devices.

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