When I advocate for cell phones in the classroom, I get a lot of odd looks from teachers who are all too often fighting against the devices and loathe every last one of them. So why am I so confident about my desire to include cell phones in the curriculum? Because cell phones are technology — and I teach technology! Cell phones aren’t new to my classroom…well, the presence of the device itself may be somewhat new, but the ability to communicate via technology has been present in my classroom since the creation of email. As the age old saying goes, “If you can’t beat ‘em, integrate ‘em”…well, something like that, anyway. Integrating cell phones with class content is one way to get this amazing technology to work in your favor. How can you start integrating cell phones as a teacher? Tools that use cell phones in a productive manor are a start. Tools such as Remind can turn that device into a classroom aide (and you will wonder how you ever lived without it).
I’m a big fan of communication in the classroom. Who wouldn’t be? As a parent, I am thirsty for information regarding what my children are doing, how they are learning, and what I can do to help assure their success. As a teacher, I want to provide that information to the parents of my students as well. Being an advocate of #EdTech in the classroom, I prefer electronic methods of communication. I know how they can provide a convenient and timely method of sharing information. Paper notes, reports and permission slips are cumbersome. They’re often lost and are a slow means of communication (just the travel time in backpack land alone can mean days before discovery). Cue Remind. Google defines it as a ‘safe way for teachers to text message or email students’ but it is so much more than that. With the ability to publish a ‘feed’ of Remind messages on a teacher or coach website (see it at work: Mrs. Leiker’s Website), the ability to attach a file — including pictures — to the Remind message (assignments, presentations, permission slips) and the option to schedule messages for a later time (yes, Remind was the first to come up with this amazing option), it simplifies the process of communication for the teacher. The best part of all is how much parents and students love it!
For a teacher, coach, guidance counselor, advisor and more, this tool is priceless! What’s more, is that this priceless tool is also free! Coaches to whom I’ve introduced this tool have nothing but praise for it, and are eternally grateful. As a parent, my children’s teachers send quiz reminders, field trip information and more. How great is that? As a technology integration specialist, I used it with our district-wide 1:1 iPad deployment to keep our device users well informed of WiFi issues, cleaning instructions and more. As a teacher, I have shared web links to study guides and blogs, used it with Twitter hashtags for awareness to causes, shared technology tips, informed classes of location changes or school cancellations, shared Quizlet flashcards that can be directly opened on mobile devices from the Remind notification, and so much more!
Technology is truly going to revolutionize education in so many ways. The ability to communicate better than ever before is one of the biggest and best changes to come to education. Cell phones in the classroom? Absolutely. I couldn’t live without them.