Texting- if you can’t beat ’em join ’em!

May 23, 2009

If your school is like mine we fight a daily war on the frontlines of technology- namely trying to keep students off their mobile devices long enough to pay attention in class. Those of you who are frequent readers of my blog have heard me talking about how we need to teach students how to use their technology appropriately rather than “banning” it altogether.

Recently three events have captured my thinking about how to utilize texting as a tool rather than an annoyance in class. The first event was caving in and getting unlimited texting for my family wireless plan. This made me father of the year with my champion texter daughter, but also allowed me to fully explore the possibilities it afforded on my Blackberry. All I can say is…wow.

I now understand the attraction teenagers have to this communication format- it allows you to respond while multitasking and allows you time to edit your respnse to “just the facts” with the limited space of 140 characters.

The second event was hosting state band festival at my school again this year- when our 8 year old radios did not hold a charge any more and were not working properly we immediately switched to running the event via texting. I made a group in my Blackberry of all the workers and student workers so that I could broadcast a message if needed or I could contact each person individually. The “aha” moment came when the first rush at the concession stand hit and I group texted “all available help to conc stand we are swamped!” It was surreal to see an army of students run to the stand to help while my blackberry was going crazy with responses like “k” or “on my way”. Magic- we never looked back! Anyone interested in used walkie talkies?

The final experience was our spring band trip to the Smoky Mountain Music Festival earlier this month. Again I made groups for texting- one for all, one for students only, one for chaperones only, and one for my chaperone group.

Again- I was able to run the entire event this way easily! The big test came when there was a tornado watch and severe storms one morning and I was able to just text “stay in your rooms until u hear frm me severe weather” everyone appreciated the fact that we did not have to pass the word the old fashioned way or take forever with phone calls.

These days texting gets a bad rap- I for one have certainly embraced this wonderful tool and will be using it often. By the way- I’m posting this from my trusty Blackberry 😉