Texting and Teachers Experimenting with Technology: 10 Resources

Part of the series: Teacher Development Reflections

Texting with refugeesIn a previous post, I mentioned how I was teaching refugees in Athens, Greece as part of my CELTA certification training. Luckily! I received my CELTA certification! Thanks again to my tutor, Marisa Constantinides. Marisa runs the CELTA center and encourages the educators taking the course to effectively integrate technology in their lesson plans.

For many educators, technology tools can be daunting. In my CELTA course, most of the educators were very new to technology. However, the teachers I worked with had a great attitude towards the technology. It isn’t that they embraced it with wide open arms. They recognized their time constraints. What I really admired is how many tried in their lessons to integrate different technologies when it wasn’t a requirement. They tried something new they admitted they feared. They were digital immigrants with very little technology experience in some cases, yet, they ventured forth and I admired them for their bravery.

Texting with Refugees

One example that really amazed me was when one of my colleagues taught our beginners how to create text messages in English. The topic was Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) which might seem tough to teach to our group of beginners. Our beginner group consisted of several refugee students who lacked reading and writing skills as well as English skills. They had struggles in their daily life with work, affording clothes, to eat, and so forth. Towards the end of the lesson, my colleague asked the students to raise their hands if they had a cellphone. Surprisingly, the majority did. I can only imagine that many people see cellphones as a staple.

Barriers That Chain Us to Our Comfort Zones

Sometimes, I think we imagine the barriers that prevent us from trying innovative practices are much bigger than they really are. During #EDChat, many educators often say they don’t try using technology due to equal access. Unfortunately, every student in the world will never have every resource we want to use. Schools just don’t work that way. The teacher in this case didn’t worry about the students not having the technology. Instead, she encouraged them to share resources. We worked with refugees who hardly have shelter and food but they shared the resources and enjoyed the lesson. When the teacher asked them if they owned computers at home, some replied they access the Internet at cafes. I think that many learners in the world do access the Internet at cafes, public libraries, or community centers. Lack of resources should never be an excuse when students can learn to collaborate and share the resources they do have. In my class of 10 we often share technology. We share one Iphone, one Macbook, and a few audio recording devices. The children learn how to collaborate and I have learned how to manage a small amount of resources. Each one has a role and I love having stations where they can use the various technology at the same time and I facilitate the learning. We don’t need 10 separate computers or Iphones. I think we should keep trying to find ways to implement the effective use of technology. We can all gain access to a few computers for students to share. Most students want to bring their laptops, smartphones, Ipods, and cellphones to school. We can all assign them roles and teach them how to collaborate and problem solve in groups using the technology.

Why Teach with ICTs?

Our students already enter a workforce in which they receive ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) to communicate with colleagues worldwide, yet many never have been trained to do this effectively. This will become more necessary in the future and we cannot prevent or change this. Change and the continuous advances in this technology revolution are constants. We may long for technologies of the past or a world of the past, but we cannot teach our students to live in this world we want. I hear from adults daily that text messaging ruins students writing or how students should play outside more instead of being on the computer or stuck to their video games. Yes, we can make our students aware of this but not teaching them how to effectively use the tools of their world means we aren’t doing our job. We aren’t preparing them for their world. We have to teach students to live in the world they will need to make responsible decisions.

I think many of the problems with the world are because schools don’t teach these important skills. They are stuck in teaching effective bubble test marking but when do we teach students about digital citizenship, ethics, collaborating worldwide, and applying their learning to finding worldwide solutions? We have wars due to the lack of ineffective communication worldwide. We have countries who treat immigrants and foreigners terribly because students hardly ever communicate with students worldwide. We have problems agreeing on an effective worldwide policy to save the environment because our world leaders cannot agree. Without this collaboration in schools, students continue to hold their stereotypes and misconceptions of others. We are raising students worldwide who only care about their own problems and are stuck in their own microcosms. They hold steadfastly to their beliefs and can’t understand another culture’s beliefs, religion, traditions, or way of life. They won’t even tolerate them. Do we really want to continue to be part of this problem or do we want to be part of the solution?

10 Texting Resources

  • Watch the video, which prevents both sides of the argument for students using cellphones in schools. Most students have cellphones so we can begin helping students collaborate and communicate with them. Here are a few more resources to help you along the way:

Challenge:

Find a way to get your students using ICTs to collaborate and problem solve!

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8 comments

  1. Dear Shelly,

    Thank you so much for your about myself and my centre, CELT Athens.I thoroughly enjoyed being your tutor and miss you very, very much.

    On the subject of your post:

    I think we did not exploit this potential as much as we could have, but I am very happy that your presence, your diligence and your dedication to using technology not just for the sake of it but for sound pedagogical reasons, inspired some of the other CELTA trainees following the course to go beyond their comfort zone of whiteboard and handout.

    They tried out so many things which they might otherwise have not even attempted!

    Congratulations on your great success and your wonderful CELTA grades, too!

    I would have you back as a trainee any time 🙂

    Marisa Constantinides
    CELT Athens

  2. Thanks for a very insightful post Shelly, which touched on many critical issues.
    I thought about your comment about the old excuse: “many educators often say they don’t try using technology due to equal access.” Waiting until we have a whole class set of gadgets seems a waste of time. We can learn so much with what we have, as with your one iPhone, one Macbook and some audio devices. A few years ago I stopped feeling so discouraged when I realised that (almost) every student in my class had a computer: it was just that it wasn’t at school, but in their homes. Your post reminds me that when collaboration, taking on roles and problem solving happen quite nicely when ICT hardware is thin on the ground.
    I love your reminder about the reason to teach with ICT: furthering global understanding and communication. I imagine the next generation will be more tolerant and understanding because through ICT a student has had opportunities to discover that another student is “just like me”.
    Shelly, thanks for all your online contributions – always enjoyable and give me something to think about.
    cheers
    brette

    • Brett,

      Thanks for your comment and sharing your own experience. I do believe it is important for students to discover those worldwide are just like them in ways. It is through this experience that students begin to realize that despite the differences there is common ground to work from which is important for problem solving and collaboration. When we can teach our students how to be better worldwide collaborators then we have really opened the way to solve many worldwide issues! Thanks again for your insight!

  3. […] Have an edtech workshop for parents and demonstrate what technologies you will use and ask them for their support. I provide snacks they wouldn’t usually get in Germany like my 7 layer dip as an incentive to show up. Then, ask parents if they would be willing to allow their children to bring in their mobile devices for a show and tell day. Basically, the child would show what their cellphone can do. This allows teachers to see what technology is available to nearly every learner in their classes and for parents to feel more comfortable with the students using the devices for learning. In many cases, I have found parents are comforted by their students using the cellphone for learning because a majority of the parents I deal with feel that cellphones damage their children’s intelligence. They let their children have them, though, because cellphones are considered staples in the majority of societies worldwide. I discovered this when working with refugees in Athens. The majority had cellphones. […]

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