Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Five Reasons to Allow Students to Use Cell Phones in Class

This morning, a discussion between members of my PLN on Plurk got me thinking about rules in school that ban cell phone usage.  In today's post I'm going to explore five reasons why banning cell phones in schools is bad policy and detrimental for our students.
  • If we are preparing our students for life after school, we should allow them to use the tools they will be using when they get there.  How many jobs can you think of right now where a smart phone is not beneficial?  Mechanics order parts on their phone, engineers view blueprints, doctors calculate dosages, and grocers check inventory.  The list is endless.  By the time our students enter their professions the need to utilize mobile technology will be even stronger.  Not preparing our students for that world is negligent.
  •  In a time when schools are facing tightening budgets, using technology that is readily available is logical.  How many schools point to a lack of funds as a reason they are not doing more with technology?  We can go a long way towards solving that problem by using technology that is available for free and probably in a majority of HS students' pockets.
  •   Mobile devices are great for teaching 21st century skills.  If you want kids to learn to collaborate, what better tool can you use than a phone?  Videoconferencing with people all over the world becomes easy.  One of the main arguments against student phone use is that kids might cheat.  My response is that tests that are so lacking in rigor that students can look up answers on a phone or get them from another student are lousy and outdated in a world where information is free and easy.  We need to get used to the fact that kids don't need to know "stuff" nearly as much as they need to learn to use that "stuff."  Tests of recall don't prepare our students for the world ahead.  Kids know this - it's why they think school is irrelevant.  Kids working together to find solutions to problems (collaboration) should be encouraged, not labeled as "cheating."  Policies that ban cell phones because students might text each other are short-sighted.  As Kevin Honeycutt is fond of saying, "Students used to pass notes on paper.  We never banned paper."
  • Double standards are not OK.  I know of several districts where administrators come into classrooms with iPhones and/or iPads to take notes on teacher observations.  Yet, in these same classrooms students are not allowed to use mobile devices.  The message this sends to students is totally unacceptable.  These are great tools.  Kids know it.  Let them use them.
  • We need to teach kids responsible ways to use technology.  Keeping them "safe" by refusing to expose them to technology is irresponsible on our part.  Students are using cell phones whether we ban them in school or not.  They are communicating, sending pictures to each other, using social media and social networking, and consuming information.  We need to be teaching them how to do this while protecting themselves from both mistakes they might make that will follow them for decades and others who want to do them harm.  The dangers and pitfalls of using mobile devices aren't going away.  Isn't it our responsibility to teach our students to be safe?
For those who have read the Harry Potter books or seen the movies, a member of my PLN showed drew a great parallel between events in those stories and this debate with the following quote:

    "Children, put away your wands. You won't be needing them." - Delores Umbridge

Now it's your turn.  What are the policies on cell phones in your school?  Do you think phones should be used by students in schools?  Are there ways to ensure that phones are not misused in schools if we allow them? 

Best Top 10 Technology Blogs for Education

Editor's note:  This is a cross post from College Online  where "The Innovative Educator" is named in the top ten ed tech blogs list. I'm thrilled to be mentioned with all these other wonderful bloggers. I know and follow most of them and look forward to getting to know better those I don't.

Education, as with all aspects of culture, is greatly impacted by the forward progress of technology. Several blogs are maintained by well-known individuals in the field of education. These top 10 technology blogs address technological developments as these innovations relate to education. Many of the top 10 blogs are maintained by those who specialize in integrating technology with education. Most bloggers on the list are renown in the educational field and all offer great ideas and insights for teachers and others interested in using technology to enhance traditional educational methods.

Check out our picks here:
1. The Innovative Educator
The Innovative Educator is a blog created and maintained by author Lisa Neilsen. Lisa promotes ideas on her blog concerning passion-based learning and embracing technology in curricula of the 21st century. Lisa is a proponent of integrating technologies, such as cell phones, into the education process, rather than “blaming and banning” these devices. A recent post on Ms. Nielsen’s blog is entitled “Twitter for Administrators, Teachers and Students.”
2. Free Technology 4Teachers

Free Technology 4 Teachers is a blog that introduces teachers to free web-based applications, such as YouTube. The site provides a wealth of information about how to best utilize free web apps to enhance the educational process. One method mentioned in a post by Richard Byrne on his highly recognized and award-winning blog is how to use YouTube to enable students to produce video montage book reports as an alternative the the traditional written summary.
3. The Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness

Michael Zimmer, a specialist in the field of technology integration in secondary education, produces this blog. If you like “Top 10“ lists, Zimmer posts several on this blog. Zimmer examines the use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in the high school classroom.
4. Bit by Bit

Bit by Bit is a blog created and maintained by Elementary School Technology Integrator, Bob Sprankle. Sprankle discusses the use of LiveScribe and other new technology recording devices in the classroom, as well as posts about the iPhone’s usefulness with regards to parent-teacher communication. Sprankle also discusses how to use Google to teach critical thinking and perform accurate and compelling research.
5. Around the Corner

For those teachers who utilize Moodle for creating interactive tests and material for the classroom, Around the Corner is a useful blog resource. Miguel Guhlin, veteran educator and currently in a director’s position, discusses issues such as those surrounding students’ digital privacy and teaching students social networking etiquette.
6. Learning with “e’s”

Noted e-learning expert, Steve Wheeler, maintains the Learning with “e’s” blog. Dr. Wheeler is an associate professor, past e-Learning conference chair and educational board member who advocates the use of blogging to produce students into writers, as well as the use of blogging as a means for teachers to communicate with students and parents.
7. 2 Cents Worth

Former educator and author David Warlick blogs on his site about the use of new technology in education. Taking more of a generalist’s approach to topics of technology in education, this blog provides many of Warlick’s insights from his 35 years as a teacher.
8.  Teach the Cloud

Teach the Cloud is a blog that examines the use of cloud computing in teaching, with screencast and podcast tutorials about how to utilize Google Apps for classroom application. Created and maintained by Instructional Tech Support Specialist, Derrick Waddell explains how cloud computing may be used to enhance the student experience in the classroom.
9. The Web 2.0 Connected Classroom

The Web 2.0 Connected Classroom is a blog that provides a wealth of external resources for utilizing Web 2.0 technologies and blogging to enhance the teaching experience. Steven Anderson, noted educator and technology specialist educates the reader regarding Web 2.0 connectivity. Interestingly, Anderson is a proponent of the “digital fast,” unplugging from technology for a week-long period to reconnect with life minus the technology on which we have become so reliant.
10. Doug-Off The Record

In his blog, Doug Peterson, renown technology integration specialist and veteran teacher, discusses concerns about students’ privacy on Facebook. utilizing e-books and other relevant topics.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Earth's Layers & Atmosphere Card Game {free printable}

Since my son learned the earth's layers (check out our 3-D diagram), I thought it might also be fun to find a way to teach him the atmospheric layers. A rousing game of cards seemed like the perfect way to learn.

I designed a set of 1-10 playing cards plus wild cards, for us to play like Skip-Bo Junior.

DIY the Game!
Download a free 11-page PDF of the playing cards from Google Drive here. If you have trouble accessing the file, you can request permission within Google Drive or email me. Teachers: Use a personal email address when requesting access to my files. Most schools block emails from outside their domain, prohibiting me from granting you access.

Print on heavyweight cardstock and cut out. Print two copies of the WILD cards (on page 5). NOTE: This is a pretty ink-heavy printable; I recommend taking the PDF to a copy shop so as not to use up all your home printer's ink.

How to Win
The first player to play all of the cards from their stockpile is the winner.

How to Play
This is a two-person game. The dealer deals 10 cards facedown to each player; this is their stockpile. The top card is turned over (i.e. face-up) and placed on top of the rest of the cards. Next, the dealer deals three cards in three separate piles to each player face up next to the stockpile. The dealer does this with each turn. 

In the playing area between both players, four piles can be started. These four piles are played on by both players and must begin with a No. 1 card (the inner core) or a Wild card, played face up.

The youngest player looks at the three cards in their "hand" (those dealt face-up by the dealer on the table) as well as the one card on top of their stockpile to see if they can begin a new pile or add to an existing one. The player plays all the cards that they can, even those that may be revealed from under another card that was just played. For example, if there is a No. 2 (outer core) card face-up on one pile, a player can place the No. 3 (mantle) or Wild card on top of it from their hand, as well as any other cards they may have to play. 

If the card from the stockpile is played, the card underneath is turned over. It's the next player's turn when a player can no longer play any cards from their stockpile or hand. NOTE: The card on top of the stockpile may not be moved to the player's hand, even if all the cards in one pile of their hand have been played.

Each time it is a player's turn, three new cards are dealt on top of the existing hand from the last round of play. Once the new cards have been dealt, the player can take their turn.

When a pile has either been completed with the number cards 1-10 and/or a mix of wild cards, the pile is turned over and removed from the playing area, so a new pile can be formed in its place.

If the dealer runs out of cards and neither player has played all the cards from their stockpile, the completed piles can be reshuffled to continue play.

Like this game? Play our Medieval Kingdom version!

Monday, October 19, 2015

After School Linky (10-19)

Welcome to the party!

Thanks for stopping by. Below are just a few of the amazing ideas shared at last week's party.

Bat -AT Word Family Game from Fantastic Fun and Learning.

 26 Free Games to Teach Long Vowel Sounds at The Measured Mom.

 Letter Puzzles {101 Ways to Teach the Alphabet} from Gift of Curiosity.

 5 Crafting Gratitude Turkey Placemats from Mama's Happy Hive.

 Halloween themed Free Sight Word UNO from Stella 123.

 Spider Skip Counting Puzzles from Creative Family Fun.

 Free Spinning Division Printable at 3 Dinosaurs.

Spooky Children's Halloween Books that Aren't Scary at All at The Jenny Evolution.

The After School Linky is cohosted by
Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational
We would love to have you link up your School-Age Post (Ages 5 and up) about your learning week after school including Crafts, Activities, Playtime and Adventures that you are doing to enrich your children's lives after their day at school, home school, or on the weekend!

When linking up, please take a moment to comment on at least one post linked up before yours and grab our after school button to include a link on your post or site! By linking up, you're giving permission for us to share on our After School Pinterest Board and feature an image on our After School Party in the upcoming weeks.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Learning about Air Pressure with a SUPER Long Drinking Straw

On Wednesday I shared a simple activity that only took two supplies. This little experiment is also light on the supplies, but heavy on the learning. 

I taught my boys about air pressure this week using drinking straws.

What You Need
Plastic drinking straws
Cup filled with beverage of choice

What to Do
My son took a drink of his milk using a straw and I asked him if it was hard to get the liquid up through the straw into his mouth.

"No. Why would it be?"

And so our experiment began. We took about 5 (or maybe six) plastic drinking straws and connected them together.

To do this, use scissors to cut a half inch slit in the end of a straw. Squeeze it slightly to narrow its neck, slip the end of another drinking straw over it. Push it together until there are no wrinkles in the straw. 

Use tape to seal the connection in the straws to ensure it's air tight.

Continue until you have a ridiculously long drinking straw.

Now place your cup on the floor. If your straw is too long to drink standing up above the cup, use a chair (but BE CAREFUL!). Try to hold the straw straight up.

Suck through the straw and try to drink your beverage. Easy or tough? Quick or slow? Little effort or LOTS of effort?

Vary the number of straws and see whether it's easier or harder. Experiment with the angle of the straw.

The Science
When you suck on a straw, air is removed. This difference is air pressure brings the liquid level inside the straw up, eventually moving it all the way up to your mouth so you can swallow a swig.

You've got to have some serious lung power to remove enough air from the straw to make the beverage rise through four straws, though.  

This experiment came from Science Buddies, on Scientific American's website. Stop there for further extensions of this activity and more explanation of the science behind it.