Many students enjoy texting as a social activity, but what if they could use it for learning? As mobile devices have the power to connect students to their friends, they can also to connect students to any educational resource in the world. Primary resources and historical accounts are at students’ fingertips, and technology helps bring them to life through interactive experiences.
Although none of us can travel back in time to a specific historical period, we can simulate experiences to help us understand important past events or relationships. Erin Klein of Kleinspiration practices this idea with her students through asking students to “create conversations between fictional characters, historical figures, and famous people we study.” Check out this great conversation between Lewis and Clark!
Taking part in such conversations places students in historical or literary figures’ shoes, and helps them to experience the story lines they are studying. Students can think critically and ask themselves, “What would I have done in this situation?” Characters are also brought into the 21st century—and students can simultaneously develop good digital citizenship skills!
Safe texting for schools
Bringing text messaging into your classroom presents two issues of safety. First, personal contact information is recorded, and second, individuals can delete message history, leaving it open for inappropriate use. Remind Chat, a service to engage in safe, simple conversations with students and parents, counters these issues and allows you to safely message your class. In addition, flagging features allow teachers, students, and parents to report any inappropriate use.
Although Chat can be used on a daily basis to send individual students and parents reminders, provide tutoring, or answer questions, it’s also a great tool for students to practice digital citizenship and engage in meaningful conversations related to content. Try out this activity with students in your classroom:
Tie conversation to content
Assign each student, or a small group of students, a historical or literary figure related to your unit. Start by asking students, What do you know about this figure? How would you describe your figure’s personality? What was your figure’s biggest challenge? What do you like about your figure? What would you like to know about you figure? Etc.
Create the conversation
Give each student, or small group of students, a specific event or predicament that is relevant to their figure. Ask them to brainstorm how that figure would respond, what feelings they might have, and what actions they might take. Students can write a journal entry in the figure’s voice (first person) reflecting on the event/predicament.
Get in their shoes
Ask students to log into their Remind accounts on any mobile device (mobile phone, tablet, or ChromeBook) either inside or outside of class. Open a Chat with each student’s account, and act as an interviewer of that student’s assigned figure. The interviewer, you, the teacher, can can converse as an anonymous third party or as an important figure that has a relationship with the student’s figure. Students can either respond individually, or work in groups around one device to respond.
Students will begin to use their knowledge of their character, as well as overall previous knowledge of the content setting. It’s also fun to project these Chat conversations on the board for the class to watch and stop for questions, or use it as a form of assessment when students to respond individually.
Digital citizenship in the 21st century
Although students are practicing conversations inspired by the past, they will see how technology can be used as a fun, interactive tool for learning. They’ll also understand how all conversations are recorded, and the importance of thinking through messages before making them a part of their digital footprint.
March is Women’s History Month, and this activity is an engaging way to discuss the struggles and accomplishments of many women in history.
Be sure to get on the Chat wait list to get first access to this new feature in your classroom! Also, check out the following resources to use Remind to teach digital citizenship:
- Digital Citizenship Toolkit in partnership with Common Sense Media
- Remind Chat: Building Relationships and Digital Citizenship by Tasha Candela
- Developing Digital Citizenship though Mobile Communication by Matthew Soeth