It is no secret that I am working on a book about cell phones. I will not go into a lot of details because I don’t want to give anything away. When one writes informational text, there is a certain amount of research that has to be done. I have been actively engaged in reading Teaching Generation Text: Using Cell Phones to Enhance Learning by Lisa Nielson and Willyn Webb and Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell hone to Education by Liz Kolb. Both Books are resourceful and cutting edge. While reading these books I stumbled across a website called booksinmyphone.com. The site is designed for a user to read books in your cell phone, a nice alternative to those students who don’t have a kindle, nook, or other e-reader. In addition, there isn’t any cost to download the books. Also, you can write your own book and upload it to their website. The website itself is easy to navigate. You can browse through books by title or author and there are is a page that walks you through how to get the books onto your phone. Now, I have not used this website/tool on my own phone and I have not had any students use it. I can, however, see how this could be used in my classroom or other classrooms.
First, I can see using this tool during my mythology unit. There are a few myths my students read in class and this could be a great tool to use along with Celly. The website has Beowulf, Aesop’s fables, Moby Dick, The Iliad, and The Odyssey. How I envision this for my class is to have my students read one of these tales or myths on their phone after they have downloaded it (the website claims it works on “dumb” phones). After they read the story, I would have students grouped into a “Cell” on Celly and have them collaboratively have a discussion about what they read as homework or each student could write an extension of the story from one of the character’s perspective. Google Docs is another possible tool to us here next to reading the book.
Besides looking at myths, there are a plethora of classics available for download. With the Common Core Standards (CCSS) pushing for the reading of more classic texts, this could be a tool that could enhance the language arts classroom. A Tale of Two Cities, Around the World in 80 Days, and Common Sense are just a few I came across looking at the website.
The downside here is creating an alternate activity/lesson for those students who don’t have cell phones. Students may have to have paper copies and post to the class Wiki space or call my Google phone number and leave a voice message in response to the reading. No matter what is chosen, there has to be an alternative to those without cell phones.
There are still critics out there viewing this as just another excuse to use cell phones in the classroom. In my opinion, this is another way to connect with my 21st century learners that I teach every day. Our students are engaged more with their devices, it is time to take advantage.