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I recently assigned another project. I’m so pleased with how much effort the majority of my students put into their learning. This time they’re convincing their classmates to join them in volunteering for their selected service organization. The assessment comes from the textbook’s website, but I’ve tweaked it, as usual, to suit my students.

While working on this project last Thursday, a couple of sets of students asked for a pass to the library so they could research their organizations on the school computers. I sent them on their way. In the time it took them to walk to the library, another group whipped out an iPhone and began investigating their organization immediately. No muss, and no fuss from me. If all of my students had a device with that ability, which many do, I’d never have to reserve a lab again.

Last week in class a student was texting during a partner activity. Half-joking, I asked her if she was phoning a friend for help. She was! She was doing the same thing I do when I don’t know how to say something in Spanish–I text or email a native speaker for immediate clarification.

I use cell phones sporadically in class. For a warm-up I’ll post a question on Poll Everywhere that students answer as they come in. A couple of weeks ago I posted the survey on Twitter where other teachers and Spanish speakers respond, which created several authentic models for students to see.

I know that there is a clear divide between those of us who prohibit cell phones in class and others who embrace them. Part of my job as a parent and teacher is overtly teaching when and how to use cell phones for good. I currently have an extra credit assignment posted on my wiki (inspired by Sherry Amorocho) that encourages students to use the camera in their cell phone (or a digital camera) to photograph vocabulary words. I can’t wait to see how many take me up on the offer.

By the way, if you’re in the Loveland area next month, don’t miss Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation where Noah Geisel will be leading a session on Cell Phone Solutions.

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