Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cell Phones, Mobiles and Maths

In my math ed. class last Tuesday I asked my students to use the calculator function on their cell phones. In fact, I asked them to do this several times; it was even written on the class handout as directions for completing a series of activities. The topic of the class was how to teach decimals, or decimal fractions as I like to call them, in the elementary school classroom. We went over a number of  activities using Base Ten Blocks in which we constructed different decimals using different parts of the base ten blocks to represent the one, or whole to which the decimals referred. We modeled 365, then 36.5, then 3.65, then .365 to show the relative sizes of each number. We then started to compute with decimals which is when we need the calculator function of the cell phones. Since every student had one it was much easier to use them than passing out calculators.

This made me start thinking about what type of resources are available for using cell phones in the classroom. So I started "Googling" and discovered some interesting trends. The first thing I discovered was cellphonometry that appears to have been very popular some 4 to 5 years ago judging by the dates on the blogs and websites describing this phenomenon.  Interestingly, there are still cautionary discussions about the use of  cell phones and mobiles in the classroom while other schools are conducting pilot studies. There are also tips on how to use cell phones as educational tools. If you expand your search to include the British term 'mobiles' you'll find even more resources such as this  40 Ways to use your Mobile.

In fact, with all the apps available now and the fact that many cell phones are mini-computers some college professors such as professor Shadrick Paris at Ohio University are using cell phones as part of their
teaching strategy. It's neat that professor Paris says "I'm all about cell phones. If a student is using it for the wrong reasons they're just missing out on class". Teaching and learning are indeed based on trust.

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