So today I decided to get students to use their phones for good instead of evil. The look of pure shock when I asked them all to take out their cellphones was thoroughly enjoyable. I was using the website PollEverywhere, which allows students to text in responses to a question, multiple choice or open-ended, to a number, and then those responses are displayed on a computer screen, or in my lucky case, a SMARTboard.

The purpose of this was to determine what kind of rubric they would like to see used on their imperialism project. We looked at three different rubrics, categorizing them by what each of them tended to focus on. Then, I asked them to select the one they preferred, and text the number of the rubric to me. Being no strangers to texts (the average teenager sends over 100 texts per day), they quickly responded. I however, was unprepared for the responses:

“rubric 1”
“hi david”
“rubric 2
“kyron is a loser”

Hmmm. I suppose I could attribute the off-topic responses to the fact that this was a completely new experience, and they wanted to test it out. Or perhaps it was too easy, and they quickly found it boring. Or perhaps they are simply teenagers.

My resolve, however, remains undeterred. Next up: a field trip, where we use the cameras on our phones to take images for an upcoming presentation…