Monday, August 5, 2013

Win a copy of Teaching Generation Text!

Jossey-Bass K-12 Education is celebrating Connected Educator Month with Facebook Giveaways!
There are many great books to be won including Teaching Generation Text.  Spread the news.

 Check out their post with the details here.

Friday, March 8, 2013

TodaysMeet Make Class Neat!

Mrs. Yeager's first hour biology class had a great discussion today that will continue once the bell rings.  They read an article on endangered species and then discussed whether they should be protected or not using a great site called TodaysMeet.  Check out the video here. Check out TodaysMeet here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Connecting With Parents Using Celly

Celly is a free mobile social network through group texting.  It is instant, private, and secure.  There is never an exchange of personal cell phone numbers, yet everyone is connected in the ways that work best depending on the need.   A cell is a mobile social network that works with any mobile phone or device. Members can join instantly with one text and exchange group messages, polls, reminders, and web alerts.  There is a record of all texts sent and received.  

Celly has made a positive improvement for my Parent Accountability Committee (PAC), as they are called in my district.  The PAC meets once per month.  Before Celly I found it frustrating to really provide a picture of what was happening in our school during a once a month meeting.  My solution was to invite them all to join my PAC Cell.  At a meeting I just shared the Celly number and Cell name.  It is so easy to join.  They got out their phones and in the first five minutes of the meeting it was in place.  At first they just responded with logistically input.  For example, it was really easy to set up a last minute Christmas potluck for our December meeting.   Now I send them a quick text almost every day.  I share progress regarding service learning projects, academic milestones, praises for students and staff, struggles, and needs for improvement.  They are welcome, and I sometimes ask them,  to respond and, if applicable, I resend the response text to the group.   We are all communicating often.  During the few seconds it takes me to send a single text they truly become part of the day to day happenings at DOS.  They have shared that this helps them do their job better, look more forward to meetings, and be able to truly advocate for our school.  I feel good about keeping my PAC up to date and informed with the praises, growth, and challenges of DOS.  Next year I plan to invite all parents to be part of a Cell.  I’m already in the habit of sending my PAC a “take-away” from each day.

For more on Teaching Generation Text, check out our book!  
Available through Amazon, Jossey-Bass, Wiley, Barnes 7 Nobel or for a signed copy just email

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Finally! We Have Proof that Students Use Cell Phones for LEARNING

      A new study is providing a reliable body of research which supports our premise that students use cell phones to learn, and also that schools are not acknowledging or supporting them fully, yet.  We remain hopeful and ask all of you innovative educators and true teachers of generation text to help us share this evidence in hopes of encouraging more schools to stop banning and start embracing student use of mobile devices at school.
      As we have been saying for a few years now, let the students lead.  We need to support students when they choose to use the devices they know, love, and prefer for learning.  Isn't it amazing that as we interact with a growing body of educators who embrace mobile devices for learning, education as a whole is still lagging behind.  Students whether allowed to use their devices in school or not, are moving forward and using them for homework.  You go kids!  
     We, the authors of Teaching Generation Text, are thrilled with the new, reliable research conducted by TRU (see below for methodology and TRU facts).  It was a great day when Layla Rafael sent us this exciting email, 

"Kids FINALLY have a case for why they really need mobile devices - smartphones, tablets, laptops - says the findings of a new, groundbreaking study conducted with middle school students by the Verizon Foundation. The survey is the first of its kind examining how this young age group is using mobile devices to do schoolwork, and reveals that these tools are actually helping kids learn math and science better, and increasing their confidence and motivation, despite the fact that most schools (88%) strictly forbid their use for learning.

Many parents and teachers see these devices as distracting to kids, but this national study proves that even this young age group, deserves more credit for how they're using them as 1 in 3 are using mobile device to complete homework and they're helping them learn better." 

Wow, just what Teaching Generation Text needed was the backup by reliable research for what WE ALL KNOW is already happening.  Here is the link to the full report and a quick list of the most exciting findings:
  • "An unexpected number of middle school students (from all ethnicities and incomes) say they are using mobile devices including smartphones and tablets to do their homework. Previous TRU research indicated that middle school students are using smartphones and tablets for communication and entertainment. However, this is the first TRU research that shows that middle school students are also using these mobile devices to complete homework assignments.
    • >  More than one out of three middle school students report they are using smartphones (39%) and tablets (31%) to do homework.
    • >  More than 1in 4 students ( 26 %) are using smartphones for their homework, weekly or more.
    • >  Interestingly, Hispanic and African American middle school students are using the smartphones for homework more than Caucasian students. Nearly one half of all Hispanic middle school students (49%) report using smartphones for homework. Smartphone use for homework also crosses income levels with nearly one in three (29%) of students from the lowest income households reporting smartphone usage to do their homework assignments.  (a quota was set to ensure a minimum of 200 respondents with a household income of $25,000 or less.)

  •  Despite the high numbers of middle school students using lap tops, smartphones and tablets for homework, very few are using these mobile devices in the classroom, particularly tablets and smartphones. A large gap exists between mobile technology use at home and in school.

    >   Where 39% of middle school students use smartphones for homework, only 6% report that they can use the smartphone in classroom for school work. There is also a gap in tablet use. Although 31% of middle school students say they use a tablet for homework, only 18% report using it in the classroom. 
  • 66% of students are not allowed to use a tablet for learning purposes in the classroom, and 88% are not allowed to use a phone.
  • Students also say using mobile devices like tablets makes them want to learn more."
As is already obvious I want to quote the study under the section "Significant Opportunity"

  • A significant opportunity appears to exist for middle schools to more deeply engage students by increasing their use of mobile devices in the classroom.

                          > Access to mobile devices at home is high among this group, and students are already turning to these 
                         devices to complete homework assignments. Therefore, it is only natural and highly beneficial for                 
                         students to extend this mobile device usage into the classroom. "

                           > Teacher education and training on the effective integration of mobile technologies into instruction may 
                            provide significant benefits for all. Mobile device usage in class appears to have the potential to 
                            sustain, if not increase interest in STEM subjects as students progress into high school."

There could not be a more powerful plug for Teaching Generation Text, so help us spread the word.  We would love to train the staff at your school on the wealth of ways to safely, ethically, and effectively utilize the power of mobile technology with your students for homework and IN the classroom.  As Rose Stuckey Kirk, president of the Verizon Foundation states, “Our research supports the fact that mobile technology can inspire and engage students today... We need to meet children where they are and leverage their use of mobile devices"

Want ideas for using cell phones for learning? Check out Teaching Generation Text: Using Cell Phones to Enhance Learning or contact the authors for on sight trainings, webinars, and our online class!

Survey Methodology
Verizon Foundation commissioned TRU to conduct quantitative research on middle school students’ use of technology.  TRU conducted 1,000 online interviews among sixth- to eighth-grade students, ages 11-14, yielding a margin of error of + 3.0 percentage points. The interviews were conducted from Oct. 4 through Oct. 12, 2012. The sample of 1,000 students was broken out as follows: 332 sixth graders (166 males and 166 females); 332 seventh graders (166 males and 166 females); and 336 eighth graders (167 males and 169 females).  A quota was also set to ensure a minimum of 200 respondents with a household income of $25,000 or less.  The final total for this quota is n=273.  Unless otherwise noted, all reported data is based on a statistically reliable base size of n=100 or greater.
About TRU
TRU is the global leader in youth research and insights, focusing on tweens, teens and twenty-somethings. For more than 25 years, TRU has provided the insights that have helped many of the world's most successful companies and organizations develop meaningful connections with young people. As an advocate for young people, TRU has provided critical direction for many of the nation’s most prominent and successful social-marketing campaigns, helping to keep young people safe and healthy. TRU’s work has made a difference – from being put to use at the grass-roots level to being presented at the very highest levels of government.
About the Verizon Foundation
The Verizon Foundation is focused on accelerating social change by using the company’s innovative technology to help solve pressing problems in education, health care and energy management. Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon’s employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.2 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities. For more information about Verizon’s philanthropic work, visit;or for regular updates, visit the Foundation on Facebook ( and Twitter (


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Using Cell Phone Friendly Social Networks for Global Benefits!

Start your Wednesday morning with the Global Education Conference
8:00 EST, 6:00 MT

Here is the link to our session:

Learn how to set the building blocks for success with cell phones. Empower students to connect globally through the integration of social networks. See how twitter, textnovel, and celly support students with global education networks. The authors of Teaching Generation Text: Using Cell Phones to Enhance Learning share their experiences and immediately applicable tools for leading students in making global connections with their cell phones, even in schools where they are banned.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

From Banning to Embracing Talk about progress...

by Willyn Webb

Just a year ago Teaching Generation Text:  Using Cell Phones to Enhance Learning, hit the market during a time when most schools still viewed cell phones as the enemy.  Many educators considered cell phones a discipline issue, a distraction, and a cheating tool.  Now, only a year later, many innovative educators and their students have paved the way, embracing the wealth of ways that cell phones support and enhance learning.  

Students have always been the most important and driving force of Teaching Generation Text.  Whether it was including students in developing responsible use policies, establishing classroom management practices, or in planning lessons using cell phones, making learning relevant and interesting has always been a goal of Teaching Generation Text.  

In Teaching Generation Text we shared ways to use basic, text enabled cell phones to support learning and enhance good teaching strategies.  That was just the tip of the iceberg and a way to open educators’ thinking to stop fighting and start embracing cell phones.  Now it is time to give students the support they need to take the tool they love and use it to address a need or problem in their school and community with an app!  

Today, we are excited to share how innovative educators can get teams of students together to participate in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.

The challenge invites students themselves to create these apps are and they sure to help lead educators down the path of using cell phones for learning.  What excites the TGT authors most about this initiative is that it puts students in charge of demonstrating how they can use the tools they know and love.  

According to the Verizon Foundation, students are challenged, “ use their STEM knowledge, their ingenuity, and their creativity to come up with an original mobile app concept that incorporates STEM and addresses a need or problem in their school or community.”  Finally, students will stop hearing things like, “Give me your phone, Quit texting, Put the phone away, Cell phones are banned here,” and start being respected for their use of a viable learning tool, for their ability to acknowledge a need or problem, and use their creativity and thinking skills to develop solutions USING THEIR PHONE!   
Here are 3 Steps to Get Going with the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.

1.  Establish Teamwork
Teamwork is an attitude that starts with the you, your administration, parents, and the staff in your school.  You may be in schools with various levels of acceptance for cell phones.  Here are some ideas.
  • If cell phones are still banned in your school, you’ll need to check out our 6 Part Plan to Break the Ban in the appendix of Teaching Generation Text.  Working with administrators is key and this Verizon App Challenge may be the perfect avenue for a pilot program (step 5).
  • If cell phones are allowed, establish teamwork with parents and students while paving the way for success by making sure the Building Blocks for Success with Cell Phones are in place with parent/student agreements, safety and etiquette practices, responsible use policies, and classroom management procedures.  
  • Teamwork needs team spirit!  Use social media to get students awareness and excitement going!  @verizongiving hashtag #VZAppChallenge on Twitter and @ tag Verizon Foundation on Facebook

2.  Build Momentum
Success breeds success.  By using cell phone technology from basic texting to the many wonderful educational apps already available, educators and students will experience how their learning can benefit, and the ideas for new and needed apps will start to flow.  Build on the strengths for learning and cell phone success that you are already experiencing.

  • Establish great communication from the get go.  Set up group texting with a service such as Celly for each of the teams participating in the competition.

3.  Make a Difference
When students view their learning as real, relevant, and applicable for more than just a standardized test, their creativity, interest, thinking, and commitment are ignited.  Students want to make the world a better place, we just have to listen, which is what this challenge does, to the tune of $10,000 prizes and Samsung Galaxy Tabs for all winners!  
  • Use social media to focus on the real audience of this project.  When students see their learning as making a difference in their school, community, or the world it becomes more than just school, but life.  When students are up to date with the challenge through Facebook and Twitter it keeps it real!
  • Open doors for their future with personal learning networks today.  Cell phones are a perfect tool for establishing relationships on a global level that will assist students in the competition in seeing needs, addressing problems, and creating their apps.  Rather than being teacher-experts lecturing and leading, innovative educators want students using cell phones and all technology to make these connections and establish habits that will open doors for them during this challenge and throughout their education and life.
  • Let the students lead.  It was being in touch with and truly caring for our students that led the Teaching Generation Text authors into paving the way for cell phones for learning.  If students prefered a method of communication or a learning tool, we were ready to value it as well, because we value them.  Our favorite part of this initiative is that it makes sense.  Students should be valued as experts because they are.  They know what they need, what works, and what technology can do.  The apps that result from this challenge will be amazing!

We would like to salute the folks at Verizon for this awesome initiative.  As educators who value students ability to take charge of their learning, use technology effectively, and make the world a better place, we want to encourage educators across the nation to share their initiative with students, form teams, and take the challenge.  This project-based learning experience will enhance the educational environment of the entire school.  We will be featuring the winners on our blogs.  

Spread the word and get going.  For more information go to or visit them on Twitter at @verizongiving or via hashtag #VZAppChallenge. You can visit Verizon Foundation on Facebook.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Verizon Foundation National Education App Challenge!

Teaching Generation Text featured as part of the Verizon Foundation National Education App Challenge@verizongiving
On Saturday, October 27, please visit
or tweets from @verizongiving to learn about the National App Challenge and how cell phones become viable educational devices.  We share how mobile devices support learning through social media connections such as Facebook and Twitter.  With effective building blocks in place, mobile phones open a new world of educational opportunities.  Read up on the building blocks, team up with students to brainstorm ideas, and take the app challenge.