A Good Class Discussion Is Just a Phone Call Away

A Pessimistic Colleague: So, what ya got goin’ on in class today, tech guy?
Me: Oh, just facilitating an awesome, 100%-engaged class discussion about rhetorical strategies found in famous speeches.
A Pessimistic Colleague: (sarcastically) Oh my, doesn’t that sound riveting! (sipping his coffee) 100% engagement? Uh huh. And how ya gonna do that? (taking another drink of coffee).
Me: Simple. They’ll use their smartphones to call each other in class.
A Pessimistic Colleague: (spitting out a bit of coffee due to pure astonishment) What? Ah, so you’re one of those, huh? You allow smartphones in your class? Nah, I don’t know… that to me is ridiculous, don’t ya think?
Me: (slowly and deliberately sipping my coffee to maintain my composure and to combat the thick, negative, and accusatory tone) Well… not really (pause). Now, you allow a watch on your wrist, right?
A Pessimistic Colleague: (glancing down at his silver Seiko) Yeah, but…
Me: (interrupting) And a car on the road to get you to work?
A Pessimistic Colleague: Ah, come on. That’s not…
Me: (with a slight smirk) That’s not what? Fair? Kind of like prohibiting the appropriate use of a valuable educational tool?
A Pessimistic Colleague: Well, students and their darned smartphones are ruining the classrooms…and education. (a sense of anger about to boil over) And, to be honest, teachers like you aren’t helpin’ the matter none.
Me: No. (pause) No, sir. I disagree. Quite vehemently, I might add. But if you’ll suspend any premeditated and erroneously conceived condemnations of smartphones, and the multitudes of talented students who own them, I’ll explain. You’ll see. It goes like this…

Can’t you imagine this activity working with nearly any assignment? Especially any assignment that involves, and demands, a collaborative discussion? And what if all of your students do not have smartphones and cannot participate? No worries. Simply have the would-be caller front his teammates in a blindfolded or closed-eyes manner while his opposite-facing assistant offers support by reading from the text and whispering suggestions.
You may be wondering, what about the pessimistic colleague? Well, I went by after school to tell him of our successful learning activity in Studio 113, but my effervescent zeal was rudely met with a wagging finger that instructed me to come back another time. Embarrassingly unbeknownst to me, he had his Jitterbug flip phone glued to his ear.
And he was definitely 100% engaged in a riveting conversation.
For more blogs by John Hardison and Studio 113, check out:

John Hardison

John Hardison is an interactive facilitator of learning and blended learning specialist at East Hall High School (Studio 113 & EPiCC).

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