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Become a Ringleader: Teaching with Text Messaging

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When I started experimenting with text messaging, I would text this student or that student, usually one or two at a time. Once I got all my seniors' numbers, though, I decided to try a broadcast. During my class, second period, I talked with the seniors about a variety of topics, so I thought I would follow up on one topic in a text message to all of them.

During third period, I thought of some points I wanted to make, so I gave them a blast. It turns out that the coordinator of our academy has all the seniors during third period. Around the midpoint of her class, every student's cell phone went off, almost simultaneously! She cried out, "The ringing! The ringing!"

After she climbed down from the ceiling, she called my classroom and gave me a dressing down. By the end of the period, though, when she came over to my classroom, she had been thinking about the potential of being able to contact every student at once. To her credit, instead of chewing me out, she walked in with lots of questions about how it worked.

Now, I regularly "ping" our students with updates on schedules, assignment reminders, even wake-up calls, and they answer with questions of their own. They even send me messages regularly to let me know what they are up to. My phone vibrates, though, so I never get "the ringing!"

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Sean's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I'm a Senior in New Castle, Indiana at New Castle Chrysler High School. I am writing a paper for my english class on this very subject. I personally think that cell phones should be allowed during lunch and passing periods and study hall if the teacher permits it. The parents and students should also be made to sign a Cell Phone Acceptance Use Policy just like we have to for the internet and computers. As of right now we are not allowed to carry our phones on us during the school day only before and after school hours. I still text during class though. It's not hard to do.

Jennifer Meneses's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Keeping up with technology is very important. Today's youth especailly teenagers are always on there cell phones or texting. What a wonderful idea! I cant think of any better way to reach your students all at once. Wake up calls, Homework asignments, due date reminders using text messages to connect with your students is an ideal way to keep track of them and keep them on their toes. Most cell phone carriers have free incoming messages and I believe all provide a specail package for unlimited messages. I wish we had this when I was in highschool. They have no excuses. I am currently in college as an education major, I wonder how can I get my professors to use this technology? Using text messages is a great tool for teachers to use.

Nancy Doolittle's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Ron,

I would love to be able to do this with my students. I was wondering what service you use to send the "blast" to your students at one time. I can't imagine trying to do this one at a time.


Mr. Fitz's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

With a title like that you might wonder what my allegiance actually is. Well I don't want to leave any grey area; I am 100% an advocate of using technology in the classroom.

I am a relatively young teacher (23) with a lot of technology experience. Currently I am studying to get my Masters Degree in Education, and just recently focused my thesis on incorporating Small, Personal Electronic Devices in High-School classrooms. The initial results have been fantastic.

My school population is currently more than 78% free and reduced lunch with a very culturally and ethnically diverse population. Even though this school has such a high poverty rate almost every one of my students carries a cell phone (if you want to know more about the reasoning behind this please take a look at the works of Ruby Payne).

Online you can find several sites that allow you to pose questions to your students and get immediate replies via text messages that you can correlate to individuals. You can cross reference each question and determine how each student is replying in each situation. Imagine a set of clickers that is free and that allow your students to communicate in full sentences.

Students can also send text questions to google and other web-based services that will reply with definitions and examples. Phones with built in browsers have access to the internet at the touch of a button.

The question is not if we should let them use it, because they will regardless, but should we take the time to teach our future generations how to use the technology that they have responsibly?

We are all guilt of saying "If only I had the technology." Well, your students have it, why not let them use it!

If you have questions about how to integrate this technology in your classroom please let me know and I will help in anyway I can.

Mr. Fitz

Ashley's picture

I happen to be a senior this year. I live in a very rural community and it seems like everyone has cell phones these days. The faculty of my highschool can try to ban cell phones all they want but they wont be able to stop teenagers from texting in class. I personally feel that during class time teens should not b texting. But during lunch or in between classes i do not see a problem. They are not disrupting class or anything.

joni avery's picture

Draft, revise, rehearse and perform - thats what I would like to happen & I feel the chance of achieving this by recording their work on the cellphone is high- but can anyone suggest ways to upload to me - to put on our classweb site. I don't have a cell phone - presume they all produce mp3 files. Know we could use video but was trying to start small, building confidence and then - hopefully the sky is the limit.
Look forward to hearing any suggestions you have.

Tara Groth's picture

I definitely agree with you 97% on this, Ron. I am a Spanish Education college student currently, and I will be teaching a lesson to my colleagues about this very topic. All of the comments that have been posted have given me great insight on using texting in the classroom! The 3% of my hesitancy would be because I'm still learning all the aspects to this new idea, and many viable questions have been brought to my attention. Though, in the past 4.5 years since you wrote this, technology has sky-rocketed. I do look forward to incorporating technology in different forms into my high school Spanish classroom. There are certainly a LOT of great sites out there that allow the type of learning we're looking for. Thank you for posting about this, and I'll continue to look for any other posts you have on the topic!

Susan's picture
Parent of three wonderful kids, love life and to grow with it.

I love to read about how you implemented technology in your daily work.
I am inspired by your ideas. The kids I teach for now, are a bit too young, but I have three of my own and I love to keep track of my oldest when he's not showing up in time. Beth gave us a link to a cell phone lookup. I am not sure why, but if you read my profile, you'll notice I am dedicated discussing children and security. Here's a good resource if you find an unknown number on your kids cell phone. You can do a reverse cell phone lookup on any cell number. On a good day I love this world we live in but on a bad day, I wonder where we are going...If you have a look at my profile you'll understand what I mean. Have a great day.

Francis Salenga's picture

I don't think it is possible to teach with text messaging. There are some other people trying to ruin the teaching by sending other text messages and it will only show a phone number. This however will be possible if you are trying some services that help you track who owns that phone number. Studies show that Free Reverse Cell Phone Lookup Directory Helps Verify Mobile Calls. with this advent of technology, teaching with text messaging might be possible.

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