Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Differentiating Through Texting

Texting Education

Sandy Riggs asked her 24 freshmen biology students to text her what they thought DNA precipitation meant during a recent class.

What she got was a flood of text messages — one after the other.

“I never see this with hands,” Riggs said. “This is awesome.”

Riggs doesn’t always give her students assignments involving text messaging.

But the 35-year-old Collegiate High School teacher allows her students to text her about homework, absences, or just life questions and concerns.

Riggs said using texting as an education tool has increased her students’ access to her, their confidence and ultimately gained their trust.

“They know I care. They are going to be more responsive,” she said.

Riggs teaches college level classes as part of the Corpus Christi Independent School District’s Collegiate High School, located in Del Mar College East Campus’ St. Clair Building.

Damien Cisneros, 15, said he has texted Riggs to get help on homework assignments he didn’t understand or to clarify what assignment to work on.

He said in middle school, students can’t use their phones to text their teacher and it has helped him become a better student to know he can get in touch with his teacher outside of class quickly by texting.

“It gives us more security that she’s there for us,” he said.

Maria Rodriguez, 14, said she gets in touch with Riggs through texting at least twice a week usually with questions about homework. She said she appreciates Riggs making herself accessible to her students in that way because without that option she’d have trouble keeping up in class.

“I would be here after school probably every day,” she said.

Collegiate High School Principal Tracie Rodriguez said the science and English departments use texting the most with class assignments. Teachers can choose whether they want students to text them. The trend began with a student asking if it would be OK for them to text their teacher, she said.

She said at one time students were coming to class with incomplete assignments and texting was a way for the students to feel comfortable with getting in touch with teachers outside of class, she said.

“It’s very short and concise,” Rodriguez said. “The students have a greater understanding when it is to the point.”

She said at the school staff also communicate with each other through texting because some are spread out about the campus.

The school does still enforce a rule that cell phones can’t be used in class unless approved beforehand as part of a class assignment or in an emergency, she said.

In addition, parents haven’t expressed concerns about their student’s cell phone bills or texting charges, she said.

Rodriguez said she hopes the school can continue using technology in innovative ways.

“It’s the new age,” she said.

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