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

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 😉


8 Responses to Texting- if you can’t beat ’em join ’em!

  1. Kyle Gardner says:

    I loved the post. I am with you 100% against this trend of banning highly useful technology’s in the classroom. I think we should view it more like recess. The kids need time to run and play when they are young and when they are old they need a way to socialize. Under the right circumstances both can be ok we don’t need to put an blanket ban on anything potentially harmful like social networks or the school yard game “tag”. Let’s face it the world is a social network and the tools we use to communicate are changing. Hopefully soon education will try to get on the front end of that change rather than watch it pass on by like it is now.

  2. Ferinannnd says:

    Отлично написано. Позитива конечно не хватает, но читал на одном дыхании

  3. Doug Butchy says:

    I couldn’t agree more. At the beginning of the year, I started a text subscription service for the students. I don’t even have to have their phone numbers. They can subscribe or un-subscribe as they like…all they have to do is send the key phrase to a certain 4-digit number and they are automatically subscribed. They are not able to send messages to anyone else, only receive. It has been great! I am able to send messages to the students via the web or from my cellphone. Announcements that I send this way are MUCH more reliable than newsletters, notes home, verbal announcements, and anything else you can think of!!

  4. […] Texting- if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em!–Owen Bradley has some fresh ideas about how to use texting as a communication tool with your students. (Digital Music Educator) […]

  5. Mary Beth says:

    What a wonderful idea to use texting for your trips and school functions. It seems like such a simple task, but yet I may not have thought of it. Particularly when working with large numbers of people like a high school band or chorus, it is very important to get a message around quickly.

    The first situation I thought of when reading your post was going to chorus competition at a near-by theme park. Of course all the students had to be with a supervising adult, but there were kids and chaperones scattered all over the place! Using the text feature is an awesome idea! It’s a great way of getting in touch with everyone to let them know exactly when to be at the platform for awards and when to load the bus to go home.

    Something else I thought of is whenever you discuss a new topic or are reviewing material, maybe make a “game show” out of it having the kids use their phones. For example, you can ask music trivia and they can use their text features as a “lifeline” or “shout-out.” Perhaps when discussing dynamics in middle school, have the students send a message asking “what does ‘crescendo’ mean in music?” and see who is the first to get a correct response. Or maybe when introducing a certain section of world music, see who can be the first to get a response from someone who is from or has visited the culture to give a jump-off topic for discussion. Or maybe, “who wrote the famous oratorio ‘Messiah’?” Or it could be something as simple as, “Okay, who can get me a parent volunteer for the concert next week? The first one gets a free concession on me.”

    I agree with you. We’ll never beat ’em, so we may as well join ’em.

  6. Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

  7. […] Texting- if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em! (digitalmusiceducator.wordpress.com) […]

  8. Couldent have put it any better my self, some points in this article is very accurate.

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