Posts Tagged ‘Classroom Management’

The technology: Cellphones

My impression:

I’ll admit a bit of trepidation when I was considering this idea, but I’m glad that I finally decided to take the plunge. This little experiment has been, by far, the most well-received of my tech challenge. Almost all of my students have a smart phone, and those that don’t are very familiar with how to use them and were more than willing to share with a friend for the activities.

Classroom management with the phones was (and still is) a bit of an obstacle, but I’m going to stick with it because I can see the benefits and enthusiasm in the students.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

  • Students can use their cellphones to access websites like StudyBlue (you can read my review here). One activity that I tried this week was to have students create flashcards in StudyBlue for their friends on a concept that they had learned (I teach french and used this as review for grammar. Each student was responsible for one verb tense that they created flashcards for and shared with the other students). They then worked in small groups, reviewing the material together and using the flashcards to assess their knowledge.
  • I used PollEverywhere (look for the review on PollEverywhere next week when I’ve had a chance to really try it out) software during lessons to ask students a question about the material. They texted the answer and I could display the data right away, so I knew if they got it.
  • I haven’t had a chance to do this yet, but I think I might try and use voicethread next week for some digital storytelling, allowing the students to use their cellphones to comment on the material.

Where can I learn more?

Some of the ideas for this post came from this blog


5 stars. I’ll be doing this again and integrating it slowly with my other classes.


This week I’ve decided that I’m going to try things a bit differently. Since it’s the start of a new semester, it seems to me to be a great time to bring out some new rules…. so I decided to try allowing my students to use their cellphones in class (against school policy- shhh!). It’s entirely possible that I may get in a lot of trouble over this one. However, I’ve opted to live by the saying “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission” in this particular case because 1) it’s something that I’m willing to defend if confronted about it, and 2) I don’t think anyone will confront me about it anyway. I’m a bit of a rebel though, I’ve been letting my students listen to ipods for years (again- against school policy)

It’s very new ground to me, so I’ve had to establish some rules with my classes. I opted to start off with only one class to see how it goes, and so far it’s been going well. We’ve had a few little bumps along the road, but I’m generally happy with my decision and I think I might introduce the idea to another class next week.

Look for my full review of the experience on friday!

The technology: PlanbookEdu

My impression:

This was probably the easiest registration process I’ve undertaken in quite awhile, I think it took about 30 seconds.

Creating a plan book was easy and very customizable. You’re able to choose your start and end dates, as well as how many periods you teach daily. Once you’ve created the plan book everything is super simple and straight forward, much easier than all the headings that I usually find in online plan books.

I haven’t signed up the premium version yet (but I intend to soon), but the premium version is only $20 a year and comes with the added benefit of attaching documents to your plans, common core standards, the ability to embed your plans into your website, the ability to print directly from your browser, exporting to Word and PDF, and built in spell check. All of these features aren’t necessary, as the free version is perfectly functional, but would definitely make it easier to stay organized. You get a free 14 days of premium service when you sign up.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:This program doesn’t have direct applications in your lessons, but it’s usefulness to teachers is obvious. The fact that your lesson plans are stored online means that you will always have access to your lessons when you need them (as long as you have access to the internet). I’ve been looking for a good online planbook for awhile now (I HATE using a paper planbook), and this version does an excellent job of providing me with what I need.

Where can I learn more?

Rating: 5 stars

This is an interesting blog post about the use of cell phones in the classroom.

The post, though long, is definitely worth a read. It struck a chord with me, as cellphones are currently banned at my school, and I struggle with this a great deal.

I don’t believe that the best way to deal with the challenges presented by technology is to take that technology away. Due to the rules at my school, I don’t use a cellphone in my classroom, nor do I allow my students to do so. Since this is something that I’ve never experienced, I’m sure I don’t know what I’m missing. I also don’t know how I would deal with concerns over cheating or other inappropriate use of mobile technology.

As part of my challenge to myself beginning in the new year, I may decide to do a lesson involving a cell phone, but I will have to think long and hard about how to implement it.

Watch this space 🙂

I thought long and hard about what the first review that I posted would be, and ultimately I couldn’t have made any other decision. I have been using Termites Seating Plan software for years and it’s currently my favorite program for improving my own efficiency as a teacher.

The technology: Termites Seating Plan

My impression: I have been using this software for the past three years and I absolutely love it. It is very user-friendly and saves me a ton of time.

Students are input into the program, and assigned relationships with other students. For example, if John and Sally are in your class and don’t get along (or they get along too well and are disruptive to the progress of your lessons) you can give their relationship a negative value and the program will seat them apart from each other. You can also specify if a particular student should sit in the front or back of a class. Termites also has a new feature that allows you to assign each student an ability level so that if you want your weaker students to sit at the front of the room, or to sit together, you can do have the program do that for you as well.

After you’ve listed your students and their relationships, you lay out your classroom by indicating where your desks are. Click “Generate” and within seconds you have your seating plan. If you don’t like it, you can generate again until you do.

The primary concern that I have with this program is that it’s not readily apparent to my students which side of the seating plan chart is the front of the room and which is the back. That’s my biggest problem… and after explaining it to them once it’s really no problem at all. (Edited to add: An email from Richard from tinyrock has brought to my attention the fact that the new version specifies which side of the diagram is the front on the printout- solved my only complaint! I’ll have to download the newest version asap, Thanks Richard!)

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas: I think it’s pretty obvious what the uses of this program are in the classroom. I change my seating plan monthly, and it’s easy with this program. On the first day of the month the students know that when they come into the room there will be a new seating plan on the projector, and they automatically seat themselves accordingly.

Next month when I want to create a new seating plan I load my saved data file, change any relationships that I have to, and generate a new plan.

Pictures: (From the termites website linked below)

Add the names of the students in your class

Lay out your classroom

Ta da! Here's your seating plan. You can now save or print it as needed.

For more images see the Termites website.

Where can I learn more?

Rating: 4 stars

I highly recommend that you download the free trial and give it a whirl. If you’re still using a pencil and paper to do your seating plans I guarantee this will save you some time. The full version is $27.95 and with that you can download any new versions that come out.