Quick vent: the district Moodle site has been down since Thursday. It is not the end of the world. The students were happy they could not take their Moodle quiz on Friday. I am having to get creative and re-visit some previous technologies in a practical, actually-going-to-apply them way.
I mentioned in a previous blog post that the districts new AUP includes cell phones as an acceptable technology. I think I am going to capitalize on this.
The local newspaper had an article yesterday, written by a high school senior, explaining why cell phones should be allowed. The best quote:
One of the many missions of the educational system in the United States is to prepare students for life as adults so they can be productive citizens in a vastly changing world. Technology has been around for decades and is only growing and advancing. So why are schools not informing students on how to use it safely and effectively?
So many times when articles praise cell phones as the alternative to 1 to 1 classroom, it makes the assumptions that students have data plans on their phones. Yes, 80% of high school students have a cell phone. However, how many of those students or their parents are going to be willing to pay double the price to add a data plan? Right now, that is not realistic, but who knows what the future (3 years, give or take 2 years) will bring.
I am going to create a day where phones with basic text message plans can be used. We are getting ready to read Patricia va a California. For the students to understand the cultural shock that Patricia is going to face – a girl from Guatemala who is going to study in California – I want to create a digital WebQuest. Instead of coming away from the WebQuest with a project, I want them to have a better understanding of Guatemala and the struggles and beauty the country has.
I created a survey in Google Docs to collect info from the students. As long as enough of them have cell phones with unlimited texting, we will try these out. Even students without cell phones will be able to participate using mini laptops. All the prompts will be done through a wiki – since Moodle has been unreliable recently. I will also be able to have the students add their finding/reactions directly on the wiki.
For general information/background on the country, I am going to have them text Google. This can be done for free from any cell phone (normal text message rates apply, so students would need to have unlimited). Google will send back answers on geography, definitions, translations, weather, money conversions, etc.
I have created a VoiceThread that includes a variety of images from Flickr that are all creative commons licensed. I think the pictures will help the students see many of the cultural differences between Guatemala and the United States. There is nothing too shocking, but their are many thought provoking images. I am going to have the students respond to the images either as written comments or they have the option to have VoiceThread call their cell phone. What they say will be recorded as a comment (it is very easy to do, but I will set it up for the students).