For sometime now I’ve been thinking of a genuine reason to use SMS in the classroom to gather responses from a wider audience and today was the perfect oppurtunity. After reading a blog post from Andrew Douch who completed a similar activity in his class last week, I set out to introduce a version of the activity into my VCE Outdoor & Environmental Studies class.
At the moment we are learning about the different values people demonstrate towards nature. So with this in mind I got the students to choose 3 people who they could SMS who would be likely to respond quickly within our scheduled classtime. They then had 3 questions they needed to include in their SMS with only one question asked per person. Chatter soon picked up as students begun talking about who they would message. In no time at all the students had sent all 3 messages out to their targets and the answers started rolling back in. It was fantastic to see the students level of engagement in what could have simply been completed in a standard question and answer format on a piece of paper.
So why do I know for sure that this approach is better than the traditional. Here’s my thoughts;
- The students were thinking about who would be likely to help them complete their questions, which ultimately helped them identify their own Personal Learning Networks. Which is helpful for them establishing who they could contact for help in the future.
- As answers started rolling in, they were sharing their responses with each other, comparing them and taking notice of the similarities and differences among the responses. This lead to a great level of discussion about the concepts the activity was hoping to cover.
- The follow up discussion was much more richer than what had taken place in the past as I believe each of them was able to bring some sort of vested interest into the conversation
- The students were able to use SMS to collectively gather responses from a wide range of people from outside the school community. As a result the broad range of views enabled a more diverse range of discussions to take place.
- How else could we be able to gather 50+ responses within the course of an hour that represented the views of the general public.
- The engagement levels of the student group were through the roof.
After they had received all of their responses the students then added them one by one into a Google form so that we could view them as a complete list. The results were then feed into an activity that required the students to utilise the Flip cameras to act out and record a series of skits that will be uploaded to Youtube at a later stage.
So how could you use SMS with your students?