Skip to main content

Join the Community

or Close

Search

It's More than Just a Phone.

I spent the better part of my day today as a participant in a Dell Education Think Tank conversation on Teacher Effectiveness and Next Generation Learning here in Raleigh.  It was a remarkable conversation that I'm sure I'll be writing about for the next few weeks.

For tonight, though, I wanted to share a fantastic image that Greg Gersch -- the graphic artist that was capturing our thoughts -- developed during our conversation:

(View image credits on Flickr here)

 

Greg's image was built around an interaction that Bruce Friend had with a student several years back.

While facilitating a conversation around the use of technology in schools, a student participant pulled out his phone and asked the adults in the conversation what they saw.

"Your phone," they all answered simultaneously.

The student's response:  "That's where you're wrong.  You see this as my phone.  I see it as my learning device.  And when you take it away from me when I walk in the door, you lose me as a learner."

#ouch

______________

Related Radical Reads:

Cell Phones are Disrupting the Learning Environment

Using Cell Phones in Schools

Lessons Learned on Cell Phones in Schools

 

 

6 Comments

Marsha Ratzel commented on May 14, 2014 at 7:30am:

Phones are almost ubiquitous

I couldn't agree with you more Bill.  The "go-to" in my room is the phone...whether it's recording homework by adding it to the calendar or taking a picture of something that I've drawn on the board; using it for a calculator; using it to look up something or texting their parent to ask if they can stay late.  Rarely do they "talk" on their phone.

I'm still working on managing my own nerves when they're on the phone....trying not to imagine they are doing inappropriate things during school when in my room.  I do think that's my own anxiety about having to answer a parent's accusation about why they sent an email during class or were playing a game.

Overall, I've almost totally adopted it's your learning device attitude.  We have so few computers or access to computer labs, out of desparation I've really embraced them.  My hold out is still during testing because I've just seen kids cheating too much....and I realize that my tests need to adapt to the presence of phones.  If you walked by my room, these devices are out and busy.

Deidra Gammill commented on May 14, 2014 at 10:07pm:

Here There Be Dragons

Marsha, you wrote: "I'm still working on managing my own nerves when they're on the phone....trying not to imagine they are doing inappropriate things during school when in my room. I do think that's my own anxiety about having to answer a parent's accusation about why they sent an email during class or were playing a game."

I have to wonder … did our fear of punitive repercussions start with NCLB? Why do we live under the shadow of a fire-breathing accountability dragon, breaking out into a cold sweat each time it begins lazily circling overhead? Perhaps we’re afraid of being prey or being burned?

Why do we allow fear to drive our decision-making? And what can we do to change?

I know this sounds very ivory tower-ish and unrealistic. After all, we’re just teachers. What can we do about that dragon? But as I read your comment, I was struck by my own tendency to make decisions based on the fear that I will get in trouble, will displease my administrator, will be criticized by a colleague, will be shredded by a parent. And it made me angry. Maybe it’s my current immersion in civil rights era presentations. Maybe my Tolkien nerdiness needs an outlet. Maybe my subconscious is looking for any way to avoid grading that stack of poorly written essays. Whatever the reason, I’m angry. I’m tired of being afraid. And I’m tired of my colleagues being afraid. It’s time to vanquish the dragon.

I don’t know how to change the way things are for so many in our profession. And I’m no statistician. But we outnumber administrators and politicians by the thousands. That’s got to count for something.

Maybe we should turn our students loose with a word problem and their phones:

A group of committed, intelligent, and resourceful villagers is ready to put a stop to the fire-breathing dragon that terrorizes their community; the dragon is seemingly invincible with his impenetrable scales, his massive wing span, and his eerie resemblance to a flame-thrower. But he is alone. The villagers are many in number but lack fire-proof clothing and weapons capable of piercing a dragon’s hide.

Using any real-life materials available to the average person (in other words, no nukes or ray guns), formulate a strategy that will help these villagers vanquish the dragon.

“Even dragons have their endings.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Bill Ferriter Bill Ferriter commented on May 15, 2014 at 7:05pm:

Deidra wrote:

Deidra wrote:

But as I read your comment, I was struck by my own tendency to make decisions based on the fear that I will get in trouble, will displease my administrator, will be criticized by a colleague, will be shredded by a parent.

___________________

This is me to a T, Deidra.  While it bothers me that I have to constantly worry about getting in trouble, it is the sad truth of working at the bottom of such a traditional organization.  

It hinders me.  It frightens me. And it just plain pisses me off. 

No wonder so many great educators quit.  

#sheeshchat

Bill

Bill Ferriter Bill Ferriter commented on May 15, 2014 at 7:02pm:

Marsha wrote:

Marsha wrote:

 

We have so few computers or access to computer labs, out of desparation I've really embraced them.

-----------------

This is such an important point, Marsha.  It drives me nuts when schools complain about not having enough cash to buy devices for kids while simultaneously preventing kids from bringing their own devices to school with them.  That's just plain lunacy, in my opinion.  

Glad you work in a place where you have the choice to make phones a learning tool in your classroom.  That's not always a given, either.  Some schools have blanket policies that prevent phones from ever making an appearance in class.

Hope you're well, by the way!
Bill

 

Sarah Alley commented on May 18, 2014 at 9:49am:

The Dragon has lost some scales!

What a great metaphor for what we face in an ever changing world with technology and the ability not to use it to the best possible way in our classrooms for fear of the Dragon. My system did a pilot of 1 to 1 with iPads starting in January. They chose only one team. I started advocating for this and pleaded for my team to be chosen. It was! In four short months, we have convinced the administration, community, and town to back us up with implementing the 1 to 1 for grades 3-12. My students became rock stars of technology. I did much research and dove in head first. I threw away my textbook and used only the ipad to teach my 8th grade History. It was amazing. My students have presented at Superintendent advisories, the Kiwanis club, West Star(a group of industries and businesses that support our schools), and open houses at our schools. When the community saw the products my students created from knowledge we learned in class, they were amazed and now we are preparing to go 1 to 1 in our small town. So the Dragon has lost some scales here! Were there bumps in our 1 to 1. Yes of course, but it was a learning process for me as well as the students. As for standardized testing, I'm waiting to see how my students faired against the non-pilot team. I do think standardized testing on the scale it is used now is ridiculous. I teach my students for content not a test. If 77% say there is too much testing, we need to find our voices and advocate change. I hate that decisions are based on test and teachers judged on those. Who will be our MLKj, Ghandi, or Mandela to start this change? I know there is one out there! It's time we take back our profession from politicians. 

Kris Giere commented on May 19, 2014 at 5:09pm:

Phones as disruptors

I promise not to make this into a Star Trek metaphor, though the idea is tempting since often times people seem to think that phones disintegrate the learning envirnoment with as little as a tap of the finger.

But even all the worry about the destructive force these pocket-sized "deathrays" carry with them cannot obscure the immense learning power they possess.  Everyday, multiple upon multiple times per day, I use my phone to look up something: phone numbers, e-mail addresses, facts, physical addresses, name spellings, directions, opinions, start times of events, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  All of which were once things that I once-upon-a-time had to memorize.  I now can devote that brain power to problem solving, reflection, & critical thinking.  And I haven't even gotten into classroom applications of this power yet.  The uses of the phone in the classroom are as many if not multiple times more than the uses we have for it in our daily lives.

The smart phone is not a disruptor;it is as the student Bill quotes says "my learning device."

Join the Conversation!

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Subscribe to Blogs by Bill Ferriter

Stay Informed

Sign up to receive the latest news and events through email!

Sign Up