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Reaching the Mobile Generation: How to Integrate Cell Phone Technology into Counseling

07.31.13

 

by Catherine Taintor, Counselor‘s Room editor                

 

Some teachers are encouraging the use of regular cell phones in the classroom as a way to engage students in learning. Maybe it’s time for counselors’ to make the technology leap and harness the potential of cell phone technology to connect with students.                     

 

According to a recent webinar by Education Week entitled Cell Phones as Instructional Tools, cell phones are quietly making their way into schools.  Liz Kolb, education technology instructor at University of Michigan and Madonna University, gave several examples of how teachers are using cell phones in the classroom. Teachers are challenging students to use cell phones to record interviews and to take notes and pictures. Students listen to a lecture and text their response and questions to an interactive screen online. Teachers create digital storybooks, text homework assignments, conference with parents, and send videos and pictures all with the use of regular cell phones.                   

 

Many schools place restrictions on cell phone use because some students use cell phones to cheat on tests and harass other students. In these schools, teachers negotiated cell phone use for classroom purposes with administrators.                     

 

According to statistics from the wireless trade association, CTIA, four out of five teens carry a cell phone, which is up from 40 percent in 2004. Although everyone is talking about the use of smartphones, none of the free online resources talked about here require anything but regular cell phones. The regular cell phone is a tool that can benefit school counselors, social workers, and religious educators.  Here are a few ways counselors can utilize the cell phone technology using free online resources:                   

 

                

                    
  • Text to an interactive screen online. This is a great idea for classroom guidance. Students can brainstorm ideas by texting ideas and thoughts to the screen in front of the classroom for all to see.  Student use screen names to remain anonymous. This encourages hesitant students to take risks and express feelings they might not otherwise share with the class. An example of a free online resource is http://wiffiti.com/      ( Counselor‘sRoom.com help with Wiffiti )                 
  • Motivate students with videos or pictures. Create an account through a free online resource such as http://drop.io/  Counselors create an account that gives them a phone number and an e-mail address. You can then record messages, send pictures, and share files.   Give students the phone number, which is password protected.                   
  • Text students. Text reminders to students of individual counseling sessions or send out motivational messages to help students accomplish goals set up in counseling sessions.                 
  • Conference with parents. Text messages to parents or text numbers of community resources to parents and students.                 
  • Record discussions on topics of interest to parents and students.  Use a free online resource that allows you to share files such as http://drop.io/                  
                  

 

Note: For those reluctant to give out their private cell phone number, Counselors may want to get a second cell phone number. Google voice is a free resource where you can get a second local “fake” private number.  You are given a number with a local area code to give to your students. Counselors can redirect this number to their cell phone, voice mail, or land line.  Phone calls can be recorded, which is helpful for conferencing with parents.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 


 

 

4 Ways to Spice Up Your Life Lessons

07.15.12

 

To get kids to think positively and sometimes differently about their situation requires some creativity on your part.  Asking them to fill out another boring worksheet (especially one that they aren’t being graded on) isn’t going to motivate anyone.  Neither will you motivate anyone by delivering yet another lecture.  You’ve got to mix it up -- make it fun -- engage your students.       

          
  • Try on a new style.  If you usually rely on worksheets to teach a lesson or always use role play as the hands on activity, why not experiment with an art project.  Use music in your activity or play a physical game.  Break out and try something new!         
  • Go somewhere new for your next lesson.  Take it outside, to the gym, to the cafeteria, or on the stage, or the cafeteria.  Your surroundings have a powerful impact on your mind and spirit.  A change of scene can revive and inspire both you and your students.       
  • Put yourself in the action.  Join in the fun. Play the game with your students.  Wear a funny hat.  Sit on the floor with the students.  Take a part in the role play and ham it up!  Being a bit ridiculous will get the kids laughing and encourage some of the more resistant ones to join in the fun.  A note of caution: you need to appear professional but relaxed.       
  • Take a risk.  Reveal a bit of yourself to your group.  Share a painful experience from your adolescence.  Having the courage to self-reveal is contagious.           
      

 

Hopefully you’ve provided the students  a means for self-change that will continue long after your life skills lesson is over.      Have fun!                        

 

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