by Kristin M. Woolums, M. Ed.
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Cell phones are everywhere…probably 95% of our students carry them (yes, even the little ones), and teachers are struggling to control the use of phones in the short time we have with our students. But instead of spinning our wheels by making the phones taboo, why not give in to them and embrace them as a new way of reaching our students?
IDEA ONE: Spelling List
One way is to use texting with weekly spelling lists. I’ve adapted R. Lynnette’s original idea into a math/spelling combo where the students “spell” the word on a telephone keypad as if they were texting it. Then I have them add up the value of the word. For example, for a spelling word texting, the corresponding keypad value would be 8398464 and the corresponding sum would be 42. My students enjoy this activity and giggle that I can find a way to bring math into any subject! Additionally, the spelling words could easily be adapted to any grade level, and you could use multiplication instead of addition for the math portion. If I were to choose to collect this for a grade, I can quickly see if I’ve got problem spellers or students struggling with the math portion of it. Click here for a printable worksheet version of this activity.
IDEA TWO: Spelling Modification for Struggling and Advanced Students
For struggling students, I might pair them up with a partner or give them a spelling list that’s more appropriate for them. For my challenge students, I usually include several bonus words for the week, and I might pick a ‘target’ number for the week and challenge them to use the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to get to that target number. For example, let’s say I have a target number of 76. Using the word texting, the value of is 8398464, so you could hit target number this way: (8 × 3 + 9 – 8) × 4 – (6 × 4). You could vary this by using square roots, any order, only addition/subtraction…whatever makes the most sense for your classroom. This is a great way to reinforce those basic math facts!
IDEA THREE: PollEverywhere.com
Another texting option would require each student to have a texting cell phone and be able to use it during class (gasp!). Using polleverywhere.com, you can very easily and quickly set up questions for your students, graphs that are updated real-time, and then be able to download the information to presentation or spreadsheet software. The students would simply text their response to a central number (much like American Idol), the data and graphs are updated as soon as the student hits ‘send,’ and you can display the results on a projector for all to see. The best part: it’s free! Visit polleverywhere.com for more information. (Thank you to Kathy Shields for this great suggestion!)
So instead of bucking the cellphone and texting trend, why don’t we embrace it as yet another way of connecting with our students so that we can more effectively present knowledge to our students? The students will think U R GR8!
Kristin M. Woolums, M. Ed., teaches fifth grade at a private school in Atlanta and works at The School Box at Southlake during the summer months.