Take a Walk on the “Cell” Side


At our school, we have been granted the opportunity to allow the students to use cell phones during instruction.  If you know me, you know that I was more than ready and excited to jump on board.

Where would I begin?

We received training by our district administrators at the beginning of the school year.  One session that I selected was on questioning and discussion techniques; this is an element of instruction that I feel that I can improve upon.

I teach A LOT of research skills with the hopes of guiding students towards independence and broadened knowledge about research.  First semester senior classes are beginning their required research papers and I came up with discussion questions for each segment.

How did it look?

My next lesson was on utilizing Twitter in order to keep abreast of trending issues related to the selected research topic.  I came up with three questions and developed a Padlet site (which is an electronic sticky wall program where students can link to the page (without logging in), double click, and type.)  My first question to them was to survey how many students had phones on them.  Any students that did not have phones were partnered with those that did.  My second step was to direct the students towards the Padlet wall and type in their name to ensure that they each understood the process.  Next, I was able to ask the questions: “How can we use Twitter for research?”; “How might using Twitter be an advantage over other resources?”; and lastly, “How would you contact an expert that you found on Twitter?”

How did we like it?

I liked the fact that this was a great pre-assessment to learn how much each class knew coming in.  One class surprised me with how well-versed they were using Twitter and how it could apply to the research process.  Another class surprised me that they needed more guidance than I had thought that they would.  Others were more in the middle.

The students told me that they liked using Padlet and would like to use it again.  I feel that it may have the “blog effect” to a certain degree – where students who may be too shy to verbally offer input may “speak up” and add to the conversation and it reduces the “one or two students offering all of the answers effect.”


Each time a new class would come in, I would delete the responses since we are currently only using one Padlet wall.  Our Padlet wall is currently empty, waiting readily for the next incorporation of sticky notes.  However, this link offers results of a YouTube search on using Padlet in the Classroom.

Good luck!  By the way, you do not need cell phones – you may use computers or other devices.

Respond!  How do you harness cell phones to improve instruction?

Photo citation:

“A cell phone displays an application designed by U.S. Airmen supporting Joint
Task Force-National Capital Region 130116-A-MZ229-001.” Wikimedia Commons.
N.p., 20 Jan. 2013. Web. 20 Sept. 2013. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/


4 thoughts on “Take a Walk on the “Cell” Side

  1. For an SMS check-in idea, you can go to http://www.polleverywhere.com and simply post your questions with answers. You do not need an account, and it is free! The website allows you to hide the answers through the “Hide Results” option that appears when hovering over the poll until everyone is done sending the text.

  2. Alyse Johnson says:

    Another super easy assessment tool I use to quickly grade quizzes is Quick Key. This was introduced to me by a fellow science teacher. Students fill in a bubble form when taking a quiz or other assessment and after downloading the app on an Apple device (iPhone, iPad, or iTouch) the app quickly scans, grades, and analyzes the students’ scores. You can very easily see the questions that gave the class the most difficulty. Here is the site: http://www.quickkeyapp.com

  3. […] Respond!  How do you harness cell phones to improve instruction? (Respond here) […]

  4. Bill Moczydlowski says:

    Thanks for sharing…I’m planning a similar project with 8th grade Careers classes for the spring. They’ll be utilizing social media to find out about emerging career fields. Your post was a great “How to Get Started” guide!

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