30 March 2015

5 Ways to Respond to a Students' Phone Being Out Besides Smashing It

You've seen this video like this, right?


I don't want to get on a high horse and pretend there hasn't been a time or two through the years that it hasn't been a dreamy proposition, but is this ever justifiable when you're awake, and of sober mind?

I had a Facebook friend propose this should happen to any student that has their phone out. Who does this help? Is there a follow-up to this video where the student whose phone was destroyed (or anyone else in the room for that matter) comes to see the errors of their ways and begins proselytizing in the name of luddites everywhere?

I had one of my "good" students in a class of several that cause me trouble who I caught FaceTiming with her friend. Was I frustrated? You bet. Does she need a consequence? Of course! But the only thing an over-reaction does (even a referral, I think) is take a student that is much more often than not an ally in the room and turn her against me. So I had her shut it down immediately when I found it, then as she was about to leave for lunch, I called her over to conference with her and asked her what she thought her consequence should be. (Believe it or not, I did not yet have one ready for "FaceTiming in class instead of working on guided practice" LOL)

So, I'm still working out what exactly this students' consequence will be for today, (although I'm leaning toward some kind of essay on appropriate tech use/PSA/fix all the iPads backgrounds back to normal work), but until then, here's a few other ideas. 



1. Treat it like you would if the student were your own child. Especially if its an isolated incident, do you best to laugh it off, tell them to put it away, and move on to the next battle.
This is easier if you actually ARE a parent, but teachers are great at empathy, so I'm sure you'll make due. Besides the fact that you probably would have had a hand in paying for that device (or the replacement), you would also have to parent and have a relationship with this teenager after your moment of phone-smashing passion. Its tough to recover from things you say/promise/or do in moments of frustration. 

2. Call/email home and let the parents know that their son or daughter is using class time to Insta-tweet-book instead of asking a question about the course content or getting in extra practice.
 If your student is obsessive about it in your room, their parents are probably equally annoyed by the behavior and they will no doubt have your back. Make sure you back up the threat, but in my experience, kids will do a lot to avoid an effective call/email home. 

3. Have a charging station in your room away from everyone's seat. 
I have a strip by my desk where kids can plug in their chargers and put it in a box.  Time/space to charge a device is a hot commodity in my buildings, and when its in the box, its not a student's desk, distracting them with notifications every 3 minutes. 

4. Give them something to do USING IT PRODUCTIVELY.
Recording audio notes, setting a reminder for homework, responding to a backchannel discussion, pulling up a video related to their work, sending them to a page like thatquiz.org with some readymade practice (math, science, and geography). Redirecting their thumb swiping to a positive activity is an easy redirect.

5. Start a conversation about your favorite educational/learning/productivity app.
Once I put the TED app on my class iPads, my favorite question has always been from students assuming it was related to a Seth McFarland movie by the same name. :) People don't know better until they know any better - maybe your student will delete one of their 5 messaging apps and make space for your recommendation. 

What else have you done effectively? Leave a comment!

19 March 2015

NCAA Tourney Simulation 2015

Following a process similar to last year's, I used the fan picks on Yahoo Fantasy Pick 'Em as a "true proportion," assigned integers according to those percentages for each team, and then used the randInt( function on my TI-84 to generate a number.

As an example, in the 2nd round game of Butler vs Texas, I assigned the numbers 1-60 to Butler (as the higher seed), and 61-100 to Texas. The number generated was between 1 and 60, so I chose Butler.


This year's simulation had Arizona upsetting Kentucky in the Final Four and Duke taking the championship in the final.

Here's the whole simulated bracket. Click the image for a larger view.


18 March 2015

Do Your Students DESERVE Technology?

"Well, its they fault for having iPads..."


This was a students' response a couple weeks ago when I told everyone we were putting their project on hiatus because someone in their class walked out with an iPad yesterday. (The day after someone walked out with the class fish to be "funny.")

"The school should have known they'd be stolen - this is the hood."

I'm not oblivious to my own white privilege, and my school is definitely not Pleasantville High, but to describe our setting as "the hood" is laughable at best and disrespectful to the students in cities who have to go to schools across the country where their safety IS obviously in question.

But... maybe my school is more authentically ghetto than I thought. In a real, Webster's Dictionary kind of way, many of  my students are at least CULTURALLY isolated and trapped. When I announced their class would be going back to worksheets, there were some kids who started making contingency plans to finish their project work after school or on their cellphones, but no one really expressed the same outrage at the injustice I was about to enact on this class as I was feeling myself. I wonder how aware they are of the creative, cool, relevant projects kids with more access to technology are doing every day in other schools?

Some of my students may have even been relieved - completing a worksheet requires much less of them than a student-paced, open-ended statistics project like we've been doing. Worksheets eventually go away because the teacher moves on to the next teacher-centered, teacher-directed activity. The sheeple can follow along.



When relevance is a CLASSROOM-SPECIFIC focus, it sends the message organizationally that its only something that happens in so-and-so's class. Something THAT TEACHER is doing extra. (I had a kid tell me today after he told me he couldn't enter his answers into a Google Form that he was going to just go to credit recovery so he could get a math class that doesn't use technology. His teacher last semester that he failed with was heavy on flipping the class and using Study Island for some assessment.) When student-centered, relevance-seeking technology use is only in pockets, students can escape (and slip through the cracks). Students can blame THAT TEACHER on bad experiences. When relevance is a school-level or district-level emphasis, it starts to shift the CULTURE, which can then change the students' mindsets.

So what did do the next day? I kept the iPads locked up for that class for several more days after the fact, but they're back out now. I don't want to manage two different lesson plans for the same course, nor do can I bear intentionally making the decision to leave the iPads in the cart. I believe the only thing to fight my students' ignorance is with knowledge and exposure, and the only way to ever know and expect better is to see and experience better.