Connecting with Students Through Texting
Willyn Webb is a teacher,
administrator, and licensed
in Colorado. She has five
published books, teaches
online classes for educators
using mobile technology, is
a mother of three girls, and
has developed an innovative
alternative high school.
obile phones are a terrific tool to support student engagement and achievement in reading and
writing. In fact, “Children who are heavy users of mobile phone text abbreviations . . . are unlikely
to be problem spellers and readers, a study funded by the British Academy has found. The research,
carried out on a sample of 8–12-year-olds over an academic year, revealed that levels of “textism” use
could even be used to predict reading ability and phonological awareness in each pupil by the end of the year”
(Plester Wood, 2009). Also, “a new study from California State University researchers has found that texting can
improve teens’ writing in informal essays and many other writing assignments” (Miners, 2009).
Through the ease and time-saving means of group texting, educators can connect with groups of students for
many literacy activities, such as vocabulary development, questions about assigned readings, polls, or summaries. Tools like Celly provide a code for students to text in and become part of a group: No personal numbers are
shared. All texts sent and received are documented on the website, which adds structure and documentation to
communicating with students. As an English teacher, these are my favorite uses of Celly!
To encourage homework reading, I send out a critical thinking question to the students in the evening, then read
their responses the next day (by phone or on the computer) and record grades.
I like to put students in Celly-specific cooperative learning groups and have them interact and discuss questions
through an open group chat. I get to be a part of every group, and every student has a voice.
“Through the ease and time-saving means of group texting, educators can connect with groups of students for many literacy activities.”
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