Text Me!

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How can we use mobile phones for teaching?

Students love to ‘text message’. Give them half a chance and they’re on their mobile phones in a flash!

In a previous post, we looked at whether banning mobile phones was even worth the effort anymore. Research suggests that banning mobiles is fruitless and we should be trying to make them work to our advantage. So let’s do it – let them get on with it.

What we can do is play to what interests students and using SMS Generator might just get their attention. Okay, this might not be the real thing but it comes close and it tunes into a way of communicating that students are more at home with and familiar with so let’s use it.

Generate Some Text

SMS Generator comes from the excellent website www.classtools.net created by Russel Tarr, a site where you can create your own activities, games, quizzes and diagrams in moments. The SMS Generator allows students to create a text chat between two people, past or present using the icons provided. This activity is aimed at generating a fictional conversation between two historical figures or two fictional or real characters from today. The characters chosen could be from the same era or from different time periods.

(Image: www.classtools.net)

This is a very easy to use activity and can be up and running in seconds. The beauty of SMS Generator is that it fosters creativity and helps students to think in terms of what people might have said to each other in the past supposing mobiles were a part of daily life as they are now. Students can easily edit their chats and they also get a QR code or can embed their chat into a blog, website or wiki. It scores high on engagement!

The example on the website isn’t intended to be serious but it gives you an idea as to its value and use in other more formal contexts where content is more important.

(Image: www.classtools.net)

Signal Strength

SMS Generator is just one of many ways to engage students in their learning and a great way of improving their literacy. It might be fictional but not all fake news and fake chat is a bad thing if it gets students to step inside the shoes of famous people and make some history of their own.

You can also find other creative activities on the classtools site including creating a fictional social media profile in Fakebook where students can create a timeline of a person’s life, written in the first person and in the present tense. They can list ‘friends’ and even add video clips from YouTube. The site also includes a fake twitter site where students can create a fake tweet from a historical character.

Take a look at the templates on offer as there is something for everyone and something a bit different you might find works especially well for you and your students.

John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project manager, writer and editor. I am the teacher without a tongue. www.johndabell.com

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