Saturday, October 25, 2014

Texting in the Classroom

I have written often about how pitiful the technology resources are at my school - not that administrators don't work to stretch every single resource and get as much usage as they can.  The county simply doesn't supply the needed resources.  We're on a list somewhere to be updated at some time, but in the meantime...  So often I have a lesson planned and can't get on Youtube or the Internet is down or whatever - seems like there are always more problems than solutions.  Our Media Specialist, who works tirelessly to keep everything going and helping us find solutions, is amazing, but the resources simply aren't there.  I do have four land computers that are old, but they work as student stations and a laptop for my desk. I am thankful for those.  However, I do not have wireless, so even though I have my own ipad, I can't get wireless and I'm really not allowed to use it anyway - rules about not using your own stuff, because...  there's a long list (most of it probably justifiable). 

Anyway, we have been struggling with ways to take anecdotal notes in Writing, Reading and Math and even Behavior with two teachers and a Special Education teacher all servicing the same students.  We've used lots of systems over the years - notebook (it's too inconvenient to keep one notebook for several teachers), sticky notes (they fall off over time and they still go into one notebook so you can't see the last note that was written), individual notebooks for each student at their desks (they get so ratty by the end of the year and there's really not enough room at their tables), stickers (they aren't  big enough for everything I want to write), and on and on and on.  Nothing has really been very efficient... until...  we found an app!

Although we can't get a signal on our iphones in much of our building, we are able to get a signal in our classroom because our room is on an outside wall, so one piece of technology that I can use is my iphone (although technically, I am not suppose to use personal devices).  For two years we have been using an app called Confer (we have had some recent syncing problems, but it was flawless for the first year, and I'm sure it will be again).  It was developed by a Nationally Board Certified Teacher - imagine that?!  A teacher with a solution! This app allows each of us to take notes during the day and then to sync at the end of the day and get each other's notes.  So, if I'm working with a child tomorrow, I will know that my co-teacher worked on conventions today during a writing conference or that the ESE teacher worked through a total melt down with a child yesterday in her room so I need to reinforce a specific behavior today.  We have very little time in our packed schedule to actually talk to each other about all the little conversations we have with children or all our noticings or wondering about specific children but this is a way we can keep in touch and keep a record of the progress students are making.

I never really thought to explain to the kids what I was doing while I was taking notes, so today one of the children asked me who I texted all day on my phone!  I wonder how many adults or other teachers have wondered through my class and asked the same question?!  I quickly pulled up my notes on this particular child so he could see what I was doing, but for anyone that has peeked into the classroom and seen us "texting," we really are taking notes!

Stop by.  I'd love to share what we are doing!  LOL!


Melanie Holtsman said...

Awesome! I would love to see the app in person! I'm coming to see :)

Suzanne said...

You crack me up. I never gave texting a thought because I knew what you were doing, but I wonder how many parents, from dinner table conversations, think you are a phone magnet?