Monday, August 17, 2009

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Back to School Cell Phone Craze is Booming

When students and parents start their shopping list for the new school year one item on the top of their list is a cell phone. How times have changed. The idea of searching for paper and pencils is taking a back seat to modern technology. The cell phone companies have caught on and they are releasing so many new cell phones each month that it is hard for anyone to catch up. Cell phones have reached epidemic proportions throughout American society. You cannot go to a city or countryside road without finding someone who is using a cell phone.

A growing phenomenon among parents and students is text messaging. The ringing of the phone has been silenced by the tapping of alphabetic keys. Messages between cell phones can be transferred instantaneously. Students are using text messaging to respond to each other and to communicate with their parents. Abbreviations are often used when text messages are sent. It represents a form of communication that has broad implications for society. Text messaging can take up time that a student would normally spend studying. At the same time students can send a reminder that a homework assignment is due. It has become a two edged sword that allows parents to pick up a child from football practice or to plan a trip to a movie.

Communicating fast has become an even faster way of keeping parents in touch with their student. Parents realize that when their son/daughter goes back to school putting down the cell phone to focus will require real discipline. Students are too easily disrupted by the buzz of their cell phones. The speed at which a student communicates can cause a chain reaction of positive or negative results for a student who has a test on the next day. Peer pressure can even occur when one student yields to the temptation to respond to a cell phone call rather than study.

Communication by way of the cell phone is here to stay. School districts are forced to come up with strong statements about when the cell phone may be used during the school day. Students try to find creative ways to ignore the rules. Parents are frustrated when they must go to school to retrieve their son/daughters cell phone. Learning by way of the cell phone has been a challenge for most schools. Cell phone use is not easily incorporated into class instruction like an actual computer. Some professionals have found ways to download papers to the cell phone and read them while they are traveling but this is not a priority for students.

Some students are using their cell phones to discuss assignments and presentations they are giving. Students can save some of the major points of their presentation on their cell phone. Students can send a reminder that a quiz is occurring tomorrow to a friend. Messages like it’s time to get prepared. Some students put reminders in their cell phone and the phone makes a funny noise to remind them to start preparation for a major test. The calendar can also be used as a way to manage time.

During the twenty first century technology will continue to influence the back to school journey. Schools that use laptop computers to educate students are already springing up all over the country. Cell phones do offer news, television and the internet but most students do not have access to these services. Moving forward bringing the cost down and increasing the services will make the versatility of the cell phone a total learning experience. It is apparent that going back to school will never be the same. Dr. Stephen Jones is author of a new book the Ultimate scholarship, Seven Secrets of How to Study and the Parent’s Ultimate Education Guide” and the “Ultimate Scholarship Guide.” Dr. Jones can be contacted at 610-842-3843.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How to Motivate Students: Strategies that Work

Increasingly parents who send their children to school and those who home school are asking the same question. How can I motivate my child to learn when 21st century technology is influencing their every thought? It seems that children are learning how to multi-task but it is affecting their ability to focus. The very electronics that were purchased to entertain in the home have become the center of their attention. There are cell phones, flat screen televisions in every room, hundreds of cable stations, wireless laptops and IPods. Students say that they cannot live with out there technology devices.

What’s a parent to do? Did you know that each of these items can become another method to increase learning and communication? There are things that you can do to use these items as learning tools. Why not send your son/daughter a text message of the day. Getting the question right helps them to accumulate points toward some reward. Students can download MP# recordings from informative internet radio programs, record notes on a digital recorder and purchase math software for their computer. Some schools are using scientific calculators to teach math.

Innovation in the home learning environment involves making the student a part of the learning process. We do this when children are in elementary school. Parents and teachers constantly think of creative was get children charged up about learning. Somehow we’re convinced that creative learning is for children and not middle and high school students. It’s time to ask the children how they can use the technology to learn. They probably have ideas that they have not considered because they are so focused on communicating with other teens.

Parents and teachers can be a catalyst that demonstrates how learning occurs through daily experiences. Why not visit a local business to find out how they use technology to make their company function. Go to an entertainment company and discover how the use sound affects and technology to change the visible images that people see during a performance.

Did you know that an IPod can be used as a learning tool? Students can down load information from math and science websites. If they are studying volcanoes they can go the websites and get a recording that they can listen to any where at home and while they travel. Learning should occur inside and outside of the classroom. Ask your student what they are listening to every week. There is always an opportunity to reinforce the information that they are learning. Students need to know that you are interested in how they are learning. A few words of encouragement can go a long way.

It’s a whole new world that students are exploring. Parents and teachers must take time to raise their awareness of the technology trends that dominate their student’s lives. For example online tutoring is a growing resource for many families. Schools are loading teacher information on secure school websites. Students can review their teacher’s notes online. It is another innovative way to help your student to learn from a different perspective.

Today learning at all levels must be an adventure that captures the student’s attention and perceptions. Seizing the opportunity to explore how to integrate technology into learning is essential. There’s a wealth of experiences that can make any school assignment a source of academic growth.