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.

1 comment:

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