SMARTPHONES are becoming more ubiquitous in the classroom. By the beginning of my second placement (February 2012) I came to the realization that we teachers are better served if we use this tool to help our students achieve the lesson’s learning objectives.
More and more students want to use their SMARTPHONES for note taking. Most have spellcheckers and auto-correct functions that allow them to only type a few letters to get the words they desire. This allows many students to take notes more quickly and correctly than they would by hand. The SMARTPHONE is a tool that they know and are comfortable using.
I was weary at first of this practice but my in-class observations during the 20 minute mini-lecture portion of my lessons made me realize that it can work. As I walked about I would check in on my students and look at the notes they were producing. I observed that most of the students who requested the privilege of taking notes with their SMARTPHONES were in fact taking notes. When I wasn’t sure I would request an email of their notes at the end of the class. If they had not done so the privilege was removed promptly and firmly.
There are better ways to spot check note taking that allow the teacher to assess the quality of the notes and offer the students constructive feedback on how they can improve upon them in the future. The following video explains how François Jourde uses https://posterous.com/ to do this.
After watching this video I believe that the private blog form–where it is only shared by the student with the teacher–can be used for more than assessing the quality of note taking. (see video: http://vimeo.com/28848857) Rather than have them use a physical journal for various HOOKS and/or CLOSING activities we could use this 2 way/private bloging as offered by POSTEROUS to create a virtual journal. Posterus posting takes only few seconds when one downloads the free app onto their SMARTPHONE or TABLET. It is a highly efficient and effective solution.
At this time not all students have SMARTPHONES and therefore some student would still use pen to paper for journaling, 5 minute write ups, or other forms of writing based HOOKS & CLOSING activities. The fact remains that we are moving quickly towards a time when SMARTPHONES will be available for students of every socio-economic level. Some Ontario school boards already offer free wifi in all of their schools. Finding ways to adapt learning activities, note taking , hooks, etc so that they incorporate SMARTPHONES or TABLETS will better allow us to teach the learning objectives. The use of these tools should not serve to lower the quality of our students’ work. We need not lower our standards or expectations. On the contrary, our students’ familiarity with these tools can serve to enable them to produce original work of better quality. That should be our expectation, and we should hold them accountable to it.