Smartphone Solutionseffective Curriculum Ideas

My three year-old daughter has rarely seen an old-school phone without a screen. Nevertheless, she still places any vaguely telephone-shaped object, such as a shoe, to her ear with a passionate, “HELLO”. Somehow, I find this more comforting than her blankly staring into the sole of the shoe numbly thudding away at pretend buttons in imitation of the way she’s mostly seen a phone used.

Children today live in the age of artificial intelligence. On average, US children tend to receive their first smartphone at age 10, and by age 12 over half of all children have their own social media account. Additionally, it's estimated that by 2022, there will be 58 million new jobs in the area of artificial intelligence. When I ask the students why they are so attached to their devices with the small (some aren't so small) screens, I invariably get the response, 'It's my life.' I just don't get it and probably never will, but here is my attempt at understanding. Top 3 Collaborative Learning Lesson Plans for Middle School Collaborative learning is the latest in a long string of education trends aimed at building teamwork skills among students. However, unlike group projects, collaborative learning doesn’t get students together to work toward creating a product or finishing a project. Smartphones are here to stay. For English teachers, that means we need to either ban iPhones, Androids, Blackberries, and whatever next flavor arrives, or we have to learn how to incorporate the use of smartphones into our routine. Sharing knowledge and ideas is the key to learning. You can’t learn on your own. You’re learning ideas from other people. Ideas in books, ideas from television, ideas from friends and family, ideas from your teachers and from your fellow students. You interact with those ideas and create your own.

If she was using her shoe as a smartphone, I might start to feel the first prickles of discomfort. Not a discomfort born from nostalgia for retro telecommunications devices, but from unease at my daughter’s early acquisition of our facile smartphone obsession. Virtually no modern setting is too sacred to escape the mobile telephone’s remorseless cacophony. Including schools. This is an issue because most adults have skills that help them balance their phone habits with the nuances of socialising and the need to prioritise their time. However, in young people – particularly in secondary and tertiary settings – we are seeing concerning trends related to phone use.

One study that followed the impact of schools banning mobile phones found that mobile phones can have a negative impact on learning through distraction and that their removal from the classroom can yield an improvement in student performance, especially for the most vulnerable. In a tertiary setting, Kuznekoff and Titsworth found that students who did not use smartphones while participating in a lecture wrote 62 per cent more information in their notes and were able to recall more information than their phone-using counterparts. A subsequent study by the same authors found similar results. This time, students who did not use their mobile phones, or used them for class-related content, earned higher grades and scored higher on information recall than students who used their phone for unrelated purposes.

Interviews with 628 high school students on their perceptions of mobile phones in the classroom revealed that, not only were the vast majority of them already using their phones at school, but also their views as a group were largely discrepant. Most students (70 per cent) could identify benefits associated with mobile phones in the classroom, such as increased engagement, motivation for learning, creativity and productivity. However, almost a third of the cohort reported concerns regarding disruption and misuse of mobile phones – particularly under exam conditions – and harmful activities such as cyber bullying and sexting. As for teacher attitudes towards mobile phone use, the research has been mixed, with some researchers demonstrating positive support for mobile phones in the classroom and others suggesting they should be left at home).

Anecdotal reports also reveal successful phone integration in the classroom. Today’s smartphones are microcomputers with the capacity to provide many of the advantages that technology can afford in terms of accessing a broad, deep and meaningful education. A plethora of phone apps have been encouraged by schools, particularly those that support wellbeing by building on relaxation skills and offering help seeking resources. Smartphones have endless possibilities as educational tools, which is why some schools tolerate them. Others ban them, or at least, attempt to do so.

Then there is the small matter of social skills. While smartphones do offer opportunities to connect with others and facilitate a sense of belonging and community, there is a time and place. I recently overheard a small child ask her mother why Daddy had an angry face. A subtle glance over at the next table revealed that “Daddy” was on his smartphone. There was no angry face, but rather a serious, engrossed-reading-face summoned from the undecorated monotropic concentration needed to focus on reading small font in a noisy cafe. These scenarios make me question whether smartphone use is helping or hindering the social development of children (not to mention the social abilities of the smartphone users themselves).

So what is the solution for schools and parents?

Ultimately, good sense must prevail as we harness the strengths of the technology and practice everything in moderation. Smartphone use will remain an ongoing issue for parents and schools, particularly in terms of content and what is considered suitable, and also how it should be managed. There will always be misuse as we have seen recently with students bring mobile phones into examination settings. Schools should be at the forefront of ensuring their mobile phone use policies and practice match current telecommunication technologies.

With problematic phone use now considered a risk behaviour alongside alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use, schools should ensure they are addressing the psychological, social and health issues associated with technology (e.g. a lack of sleep from late night phone use, cyber bullying, sexting) . By building some of the health-related implications of technology into the curriculum, we may be able to mitigate potential harm and promote the safe, controlled and productive use of mobile phones.

Both schools and parents have a role to play in boundary setting, providing guidance with appropriate and inappropriate phone use, and teaching self-regulation and self-control skills. Parents can and should serve as appropriate role models for telephone use. That’s not to say that parents should only use their smartphones in private but they should try to employ the same phone etiquette they are trying to teach their children.

Ultimately, school is a microcosm of wider society. Just as using a smartphone may be unacceptable during a job interview, neither is it in the middle of a classroom. Knowing that certain behaviour is acceptable in some places, but not in others is at the crux of how young people can better use mobile phones responsibly and fruitfully at school.

Sharing knowledge and ideas is the key to learning. You can’t learn on your own. You’re learning ideas from other people. Ideas in books, ideas from television, ideas from friends and family, ideas from your teachers and from your fellow students. You interact with those ideas and create your own.

Because sharing ideas is so important, we need some brainstorming tools to support that. In this post I’ll go over a list of some amazing brainstorm tools.

Apps to support brainstorms and collaboration

1. iBrainstorm

Capturing and sharing a student’s creative mind has never been easier. iBrainstorm lets them brainstorm in the most easy way.

Students can write and add notes to the board. They can even invite up to three fellow students to participate in the brainstorm.

Students can start from scratch, or they can choose one of the 13 background templates. They can even brainstorm about how to put their football players on the field!

Image: Kristin Giorgio’s Professional Teaching Wiki

2. Padlet

Padlet can be used by students and by teachers. With padlet you can create an online board that you can share with every student or teacher you want. Just give them the link. Padlet allows you to insert ideas anonymously or with your name. It’s easy to use and very handy.

Whoever has the board open on its computer, tablet or smartphone, can see what’s on it and what everyone is writing. Students can use when collaborating on a teamwork and the teacher can use it to do some live brainstorming on a topic in class.

Smartphone

Collect your ideas when you find something interesting on the internet that you can use in your lessons. Simply save it to a Padlet board. Students can do the same.

Take a look at all these amazing things you can do with Padlet.

3. Google Docs

Google Docs is just like Word, but with a little (read gigantic) twist. You can work together in the same document at the same time from another device. No more sending files back and forth. No more figuring out which file was the latest.

Oh, another great thing for students: every change is saved automatically! Total disasters are not possible in Google Docs.

So why is this a brainstorm app? I’ve given Google Docs a place because its a collaboration tool and it’s very easy to use when brainstorming from home with other students over an assignment or a new project. Working together has never been so swift and easy.

Here’s a video to get a better view:

4. Popplet

Popplet is perhaps the simplest tool to capture and organize ideas. With a few clicks on your screen you can make “Popplets” (little squares) and add text and images. It’s easy to connect the Popplets, rearrange them, change their colour and even adjust their shape.

Popplet is great for learning in the classroom and at home. Students use Popplet to think and learn visually. Students learn to generate new ideas by capturing facts, thoughts, and images. They learn to make simple mind maps in just a few steps.

Image: Pinterest - Steve Lee

5. Trello

Trello gives you and your students a view over all the projects, assignments, etc. It’s actually an app for the business world, but I am convinced it can work in education too.

Trello lets you create boards with lists. You can name them and you can add different “cards” to the lists. Add documents, links, comments, checklists, etc., to these cards. You can invite your students to the boards with the lists. They can also add cards.

Sounds a bit confusing, doesn’t it? Take a look at this video below to see an example.

The ability for students to add cards and lists makes brainstorming easy. You can also create boards for teamwork and projects. As a teacher, you can monitor your students work via the lists they make and the cards they add. You can also use it for your lesson planning and creative ideas (like in the video).

There are so many ways to use Trello in your Classroom, so don’t stick to the video ideas. Use your imagination!

6. Miro

Miro is an endless virtual whiteboard to brainstorm and write down visual projects. You can add videos from YouTube and Vimeo and Google Docs from your Google Drive to the Whiteboard.

Students can collaborate on teamwork on different devices. They can add little memos and comment on them with the mini-chat.

The app looks a lot like iBrainstorm. However, it’s more advanced. iBrainstorm works better for younger students, Miro is perfect for the older ones who need more features.

Image: Miro Demo

7. Lucidchart

Lucidchart is a web based program which allows you to create plenty of different diagrams like flow charts, mind maps, wire frames and much more. Get started with a number of templates.

Why is it so good? Well, students can work together on these charts without sending new versions by email over and over again. Collaborate with others and work on diagrams together in real time.

Lucidchart provides free educational licenses that include all premium features to schools and universities.

Smartphone Solutionseffective Curriculum Ideas Examples

8. Brainstormer

Smartphone Solutionseffective Curriculum Ideas For Beginners

This app isn’t an app that helps you to collaborate on ideas and gives you a solution to brainstorm easily. This app gives you the idea.

Smartphone Solutionseffective Curriculum Ideas 4th Grade

Use Brainstormer in art lessons, and language lessons to give students an idea to start from. The app gives them inspiration to start with. Let them write a story, using the Brainstormer app. I’m very curious what the result will be!

Image: Google Play

So these were my top picks for brainstorming apps. I hope I’ve inspired you to teach more from your students' point of view and let them do the work. These apps are just right for that! Teamwork is also made easier with these apps. Nothing is stopping you now.