Lessons Learned on Cell Phones in School

Extremely interesting post by Bill Ferriter at The Tempered Radical about utilizing his middle school students’ cellphones (texting, specifically) for formative assessment, using a service called Poll Everywhere—which I am going to have to check out for myself!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been conducting a bit of a mini-experiment on using student-owned cell phones—a tool that I believe are disrupting the learning environment—as responders [e.g., eInstruction, iClicker, etc.] in my sixth grade classroom. 

Specifically, I’m using Poll Everywhere—a service that provides free educator accounts—to gather, sort and report student responses on a few quick formative assessments. […]

In the end, I believe my experiment was successful primarily because student cell phones paired with Poll Everywhere made it possible to collect instant formative assessment data on my classes. 

I was able to quickly identify skills that they had mastered and skills that they were still struggling with—and to tailor my lessons based on tangible evidence collected automatically.

Typically, that process is a data nightmare for me.

While it would be great if our school had multiple sets of student responders—making it possible to collect results at the individual level and eliminating the need to worry about whether or not I was going to have enough devices every day—we don’t.

And considering how tight budgets are, my guess is that we won’t—at least until the economy recovers.

Which means tinkering with student-owned cell phones as response systems is a logical step that is just plain worth taking.


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