Friday, December 23, 2016


"Hurry, we have time!"

Dear Readers,

The scenario at approximately 7:15 AM this morning. Visualize.......

I stopped at Dunkin Donuts and got a pumpkin spice coffee and was on my way to my friend's house to pick her up to bring her to the airport. Flight was due to depart at 10:00 AM, airport is between a 20-30 minute drive, it was only 7:20 AM. We loaded the suitcase in the trunk and were on our way.

My friend is also a colleague, although she works in another building. (God Bless our kindergarten teachers!) We had not seen each other in a while and were chatting about school, students, holiday craziness, etc. We pulled up in front of the airport and it was EMPTY! I went to retrieve her suitcase from the trunk and she asked, "Is my phone in your car?"

Uh oh.........

To our chagrin, the phone was NOT in the car, bags, her pocket, etc. NOWHERE to be found. It was approximately 8:00 AM by this time. I said, "Come on, get in the car, we will go get it. We can make it." We jumped back in the car, drove back to her house (sure enough it was there) and made it back to the airport by 9:00 AM. I received a text that she was through security and at the gate by 9:30 AM.

Living in a Connected World

We reflected on this experience as we drove back to her house. We realized a few things.....

  • Her first instinct would have been to call me, but she did not have a phone.
  • If she asked to use a phone, she had no idea what my number was.
  • All her flight information was on her phone.
  • I would not have been able to go back, get the phone and bring it to her because I would not be allowed to pass through security.
  • We do not know anybody's phone number, they are just stored in devices. 

I realized the only phone number I know, is my Middle School Main Office. If I were in a situation where I needed to get a hold of someone, without my phone I would not be able to. It is interesting because growing up, we memorized everybody's numbers because we had to! I can still recall several of them.

Our Students

Working in middle school, pretty much everyone has a cell phone, especially in 7th and 8th grade. If we panic and stress when we forget our devices, why would we expect any less of our students? I actually allow them to charge their phones in my class. A student asked me yesterday if she could charge her phone and I have a spot behind my desk and everything. Sure enough, she forgot it and had to come back to get it. The teacher was kind enough to let her do that. It is reality! How many of us go to workshops or conferences and plug into a wall for a bit?

Just as we are connected to our devices, why do we sometimes feel we need to limit that connection for our students? My students are allowed to have their cell phones out and I allow them to use it as a calculator, find answers to questions, show me pictures (family, friends, pets) or videos and sometimes have them text a student who is absent to check in or deliver a message for me. On the rare occasions we are able to go outside, I have one be timekeeper and set an alarm for us so we know when to go back in. When working independently, I often let them listen to music through their ear buds if they have them.

It has never been a management issue (knock on wood) because I make them part of our classroom. I had a 6th grader ask me if he could check the text from his mom because she was letting him know where to go after school. Isn't that what we do as adults? Communicate important information?

Final Thoughts

Our learners are Digital Natives .

What does that mean to you?

Students have Expectations .

What do YOU think their expectations of us are?

Are we adapting to our digital learners or are we making them adapt to "traditional" instruction? How can we bring their worlds to our classrooms?

Want more ideas on how to bring your classroom into the 21st century? Check out Ditch that Textbook Digital Summit . It is a free online PD that will be available through the end of December. I highly recommend tuning in!