Tell us about yourself!
I teach AP Government and Politics, Participation and Government, Economics, and Sociology at Haldane High School in Cold Spring, New York. I have been teaching for six years in both New York and Pennsylvania. I have experience teaching a variety of courses U.S. History (7th, 8th, and 11th grade), Economics, AP Government and Politics, Global II, Sociology, and U.S. History through Film. I earned a Bachelors Degree in Social Studies Education at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. While teaching full-time in both Geneva, NY and Trumansburg, NY I earned my Master’s Degree in Inclusive Special Education at the University of New England. My inspiration to become a teacher came from both my parents and the wonderful educators who made a difference in my life.
Tell us about your classroom.
I am passionate about establishing and fostering a learning environment that is student-centered, project-based, and infused with technology that can prepare all learners to succeed in the 21st century. My school is currently a bring your own device school, which fosters an environment of creativity and collaboration. About 90% of my high school seniors own smartphone or internet capable device. On a daily basis in my classroom my students will be using a variety of devices from kindles to laptops to smartphones to iPads. In addition to BYOD my school has iPads that can be used to enhance classroom learning and instruction.
How do you use Celly in your classroom?
With administrative and parental approval, I use Cel.ly to send text messages to my students with reminders, announcements, polls, questions, etc. Students could text me and ask a specific question such as “what is on the test tomorrow?” or ask “what did I miss in class?” when absent. One student named Meghan commented that she enjoyed using cel.ly because “I could ask you a question at anytime and you would always be there to answer it!” One activity in which I use Cel.ly is called “text a friend.” For example, my students text a family member or friend asking the question ”Did you vote in the last election? Why or why not?” I then have my students forward the responses to Cel.ly, which can be projected on the board. Through the responses our class received we were able to learn firsthand far more than just having the textbook or teacher’s perspective. Mobile devices truly bring the world into your classroom.
How has Celly changed your classroom? Were there any unexpected benefits or fun surprises?
I encouraged parents to join my text messaging cell classroom group. I was surprised by the results. Of my 55 US history students, 35 of their parents participated. Parents commented that they appreciated the text message reminders about homework & tests, updates about their child’s progress, and even enjoyed the in-class texting activities. Parents are now more informed about how their kids are doing and are better able to help their children with their schooling, which is key to student success.
What new features would you like to see in Celly?
I would like to see Cel.ly add a text message image option. That way I can have students incorporate pictures into classroom lessons and assignments.
What other emerging methods or tools are you using that have made a big impact in your classroom?
In addition to Cel.ly, infuse learning is another one of my favorite programs. Infuse Learning is a teacher-to-student program that helps instructors make classes interactive by allowing students to respond to questions through their mobile phones, tablets, PC computers, laptops, or ipod touches.This is wonderful for a quick assessment or review activity on the spot. My student’s love the draw something feature where I give them a vocabulary word and then they draw it and send it to my screen. I have done this with AP and regular US history, both courses had wonderful results. Besides being very user friendly, infuse learning offers a number of interesting features such as audio narration, translations, and image attachments. This program can be used with any grade level, and can even work for online courses. Infuse learning has so many possibilities to encourage student collaboration, creativity, and higher-achievement.
I enjoy using with my students is Evernote, which allows you to take notes, sync files across your devices, save webpages, capture inspiration, and share your ideas with friends and colleagues. There are so many wonderful ways to use Evernote for file sharing, lesson plans, digital portfolio, writing submission, notes. The ideas are endless!
My Big Campus is another tool that is essential to help my classroom run smoothly and effectively. It is an online learning environment where teachers can initiate class discussions and set up online learning activities for students. It is a secure social network designed specifically for educational purposes. All activity is carefully monitored at all times. Everything that is posted/created/uploaded is recorded and can be seen and printed at any time by system administrators and teachers.
As a member of the millennial generation, I grew up surrounded by mobile devices. I find it difficult to go to meetings with paper and pen, or store papers in a file cabinet, or even use a book for my lesson plans. My life is digital and I think it is time for educators to teach our students to become members of the 21st century. Our students need to be taught to use technology to adapt and THRIVE in this ever-changing world.
My hope is that I will teach my students to be responsible with mobile devices and encourage them to use their devices for more than just for social purposes. 21st century technology has the potential to encourage student growth, collaboration, research, and skills they can apply throughout their life. Schools across the country need to be more flexible with their policies. Mobile devices can enhance instruction and learning if done appropriately.
Find Melissa on Twitter @mseideman