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