Students are hooked on their Smartphones. Just watch a group of teens – how many are typing or swiping something on their phones?
Realizing this phone-addicted reality, many educators are grappling with the idea of allowing students to use their phones for structured classroom projects. If they use phones outside of school, why not allow them to do so in school.
Channeling “Phone Urge”
The way we communicate and get our news is rapidly changing. A number of instructors are now adapting by using social media in their classrooms. Yes, certain sites, like Snapchat and Instagram, can be hard to monitor. However, integrating other social platforms into lesson plans can aids teachers in keeping students engaged. Plus, social media can help them keep up on what is trending to find “teachable moments.” It can also channel students away from using phones for non-instructional use.
Some instructors are now using Twitter to communicate with students and parents about homework, upcoming quizzes and important dates. Others are sending snap quizzes and discussion topics with a Tweet. Research is showing that engaging students via Twitter or other social media helps reduce their urge to become distracted by other platforms while in the classroom.
Teachers are also finding that using memes, GIFs and emojis allow students to express themselves and convey thoughts and feelings in papers and homework assignments that they may have trouble writing about.
There is growing evidence that incorporating smartphones and tablets during lessons can help energize student participation. Many educators are also finding that allowing technology in the classroom presents an opportunity to begin discussions about appropriate and inappropriate social media usage, and the associated dangers.
The NEA has numerous articles about the use of electronic devices and cellphones in schools.
Education Week blogger, Madeline Will, got great response after asking teachers about using social media and to share the memes and GIFS they’ve employed.
Edutopia has a useful article on 12 Ways Teachers are Using Social Media in the Classroom. It includes creating classroom blogs, sharing school work or news on YouTube, and connecting to other schools through various social media platforms.
For educators still a bit reticent about social media in the classroom, TeachThought has created a wonderful infographic and article about Six Ways Social Media Can Change your Classroom. This reinforces the ideas of learning what students are thinking, knowing what news and cultural things are trending, allowing for easier communication with parents, and globalizing the classroom.
Let’s face it, our world is getting more and more connected. How do you feel about mobile technology in your classroom? If you’ve embraced allowing smartphones in class, what worked and what didn’t? Let us know so that we can share with others.
Resources for this article:
Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22nd. This day is a great opportunity to discuss environmental concerns and promote environmental awareness with your students. Check out the following websites and activities for Earth Day resources to use in your classroom.
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Head over to epa.gov/earthday for a variety of Earth Day resources. Learn about the history of Earth Day, watch Earth Day videos, and find out how to be an eco-conscious consumer. Plus, explore classroom project resources and lessons.
Search a large range of free resources by grade level, subject, and resource type. PBSLearningMedia.org offers lesson plans, images, videos and more from popular PBS television series.
Find a collection of activities, quizzes and lessons at TeachingHistory.org. Students can explore the history of Earth Day, conservation, and other topics related to the environment.
Prepare for Earth Day using Science NetLinks lessons and resources. Find teacher-friendly lessons, printables, audio files, videos, interactive and hands-on materials. These resources cover a variety of topics like conservation, ecosystems, ecology, and more.
Host a Solar Cookout
Challenge students to make a solar oven, then have cookout together! Explore alternative energy sources using solar energy. This activity from Scholastic walks you through the process of hosting a solar picnic. You’ll find reading materials, instructions for building a solar oven, free printables, and other resources about solar energy.
Students track how much trash is thrown away in the school cafeteria. Using a simple data table, students will identify the types of items thrown away (plastic, foil, paper bags, bottles, banana peels, etc). This information can then be used to create posters to hang in the building encouraging staff and students to recycle or use re-usable lunch items. Take it a step further and start a composting project!
Comparing Light Bulbs
This lesson from Energy.gov asks students to compare compact fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs. Students will learn about energy efficiency through this experiment. Grab your light bulbs and thermometer!
50 Earth Day Activities for Kids
TinkerLab’s 50 Earth Day Activities describes kids activities using natural and recycled materials, and creating outdoor art. From building a Fairy Garden to Making Your Own Nature Journal, these Earth-inspired activities will encourage kids to be kind to the planet.
Random Acts of Kindness Week is the third week of February, with February 17 designated as Random Acts of Kindness Day. Here are 10 ideas for teachers and students that can not only be fun, but help others to spread kindness:
- Create a kindness wall or bulletin board where students, teachers and staff can write various acts of kindness others can do and cross them off when they happen
- Fill a kindness jar with various random acts of kindness and have students and staff take one to do
- Put positive sticky notes on cubbies or lockers
- Start a bulletin board dedicated to acknowledging kindness students and staff have seen in the class and around the school
- Create and share a kindness calendar with a different act of kindness for every day of the month
- Begin a kindness coloring contest with students drawing examples of kindness
- Start staff meetings or the school day with an inspiring video such as this one featuring ALS patient Chris Rosati
- Have students write a positive story about another student
- Start a class or school fundraiser for a charity
- Remember to show appreciation to custodians and other support staff
Being kind is infectious; it will spread. Find all sorts of ideas for random acts of kindness you can incorporate into your classroom, school and your community at https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas/.
Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.
Have you ever heard of a classroom quiet zone? Want to learn more? We’ve outlined some important elements about using quiet zones in the classroom.
What is a Quiet Zone?
An area in the classroom dedicated to providing a calming, quiet, distraction-free zone. Students can use the quiet zone to work, read, or think. It can be a place for students to get caught up on work, take a test, draw, calm down, manage emotions, or just to be alone. The idea is to provide an area where students can get their emotions in check and return to the classroom ready to work.
What Does a Quiet Zone Look Like?
The quiet zone space should be well-defined. Use study carrels, curtains, tent, or shelves to keep visual distractions to a minimum. Provide a table or desk with chair or make it a more comfortable and inviting space with a small couch or large pillows. A rug completes the area and provides a clear outline for the space.
What Else Should Be In The Quiet Zone?
Provide basic supplies, like books, pencils, paper, coloring utensils, clipboard, etc. Stress relieving tools like a squishy balls, fidget toys, stuffed animals. To block out noise distraction, offer headphones, or noise-cancelling headphones.
What Rules Should The Quiet Zone Have?
Only one student at a time in the quiet zone. A time limit should be implemented; 5 minutes is the suggested time for a student taking a mental health break. Keep a timer in the quiet zone and teach students to operate it. When time is up, students should rejoin the class. If more time is needed, it may be a good idea to process with the student after their stay as there might be a deeper issue that needs to be addressed. A quiet zone is not a punishment and should not be treated as such. The quiet zone should not be a place for students to avoid work.
When Should A Student Go To The Quiet Zone?
When a student: feels overwhelmed, seems distracted, has trouble with a classmate, feels upset, or just needs a quick break from work. The reasons are truly endless. Don’t we all need a short break from time to time?
What Are The Benefits To Having A Quiet Zone in the Classroom?
The most obvious benefit of having a quiet zone is helping students learn to manage emotions. When students recognize something isn’t right, they can comfort themselves using the quiet zone. The quiet zone helps students control their behavior and emotions rather than acting out during class.
Check out some of these calming, classroom quiet zones:
By Lisa Mongold – from the blog “On The Sunny Side”
By Kayla Marston from the blog “The School Counselor Kind”
You’ve spent long hours preparing for your career in teaching. Research, studying, student teaching, creating lesson plans and interviewing can only prepare you for so much. Your biggest lessons will come from experience. We’ve gathered some tips to remember as you begin your teaching career.
Here are 10 things you need to know as a new teacher:
- Don’t wear your really cool clothes to school. You’re the teacher, not the cool teen trying to impress everyone.
- Make a connection with your students but realize not everyone will like you.
- Build professional relationships within your school. Watch others teach.
- You’re the adult in the room.
- Listen to advice and trust your gut.
- Expect to make mistakes.
- Empathize with your students
- Continue learning to better yourself
- Don’t let work overshadow your personal life.
- Always remember your motivation!
Being a new teacher will come with its ups and downs, but knowing that you are making a difference with your students is what makes up for it. You are going to do great!