10 ways I use my iphone in the classroom

iPhone 4s Casemate "Barely There" Case
Image used under creative commons licence

Hello my name is Stephanie and I’m an iphone addict.

I use my iphone in conferences, in meetings and *gasp* even in the classroom but I’m not using it to play angry birds.

Here’s 10 ways I use my iphone to make my teaching more effective:

1. Video – capturing learning as it happens

The main reason I got an iphone was for the video capabilities  I’ll often walk around my classroom with my phone capturing student learning. Video can be used for students to check in on what they actually did versus what they really did. For instance, do students give each other time to talk or do they butt into conversations? I will frequently  use interviews as an alternative for pencil and paper tests making assessment far less intrusive on the student.  Moreover video is an effective way to put friends, family and sometimes even parliamentarians right into our classroom.  Using an iphone means footage can be edited on the spot and then shared potentially with the whole world in a few minutes.

2. Posting pictures to the cloud 

I’ve easily taken thousands of photos this year of my class. Some of them are the generic photos of kids at school events and on field trips but I also use the photo function as way to capture student learning and thinking. What makes the iphone awesome is that these photos can then be easily be shared even if I’m away on camp. I use flickr as my cloud storage of choice and will sometimes email stand-out pictures to students families.

3. Texting parents

You don’t need a fancy phone for sms and so this hardly seems worth mentioning. Nevertheless, I’ve found the best way to engage with my previously hard to reach parents, parents who don’t have email or might work odd hours, has been through text messaging. 160 characters keeps communication short and to the point. The asynchronous nature of text messaging also gives the parent time to think and then respond at a time  that suits them.

4. Professional learning

I’ve got twitter, feedly, diggo, facebook, pinterest all on my phone. I often use my commute in the morning or my lunchtimes to scan my social network feeds for readings and ideas in the classroom. Professional learning for me isn’t a once a week meeting, it pretty much happens from the minute the alarm goes off on my phone.

5. Timers and reminders

The phone has a handy stopwatch and timer available. I’ve used my phone to time students speeches and also a countdown for tidying things up at the end of the day.If you are a bit like me and are so engrossed in teaching that you forget that your student needs to go over to the teacher aide room or need a prompt to photocopy something for class when you arrive at school, the iphone will send you reminder at a certain time or place.

6. Kindle

Although I much prefer paperbooks to the electronic version. If I’m desperate for a book and New Zealand shops don’t stock it I’ll make a quick trip to Amazon and hey presto the book was there on my phone. Granted it’s a bit tough on the eyes and I wouldn’t recommend reading the entire of Moby Dick on your phone, but if a student is borrowing my ipad and I want to read a passage from a book, the  iphone is great second option.

7. Broadcasting

You are watching a news story with a reading group about kid’s school lunches. One of the students pipes up,” hey why don’t we see what things are like in our class?” The student takes photos of a quick survey, which is then posted to your blog and then let the journalist know via your class twitter account all from your iphone.  No more mucking around waiting for the computer to load and finding the right cords for the camera, the sharing is seamless and the ability of my classroom to connect with the outside word is so much simpler.

8. Anecdotal note taker

If you are conferencing with a student or group of students, instead of writing down the conversation or taking a bulky laptop, you can use your phone to quickly record that conversation. I use Evernote which is an easy way to sort each child into folders and the app also has a nifty audio feature. When I’m talking about a child’s reading progress with another teacher, that teacher can hear the child read. The  notes  I make on Evernote are easily accessible from any device I’ve got the programme installed.

9. What the heck is that?

When I was out on duty when a group of kids spotted a rather interesting looking spider. I had no idea what the said spider was so I whipped out my phone a quick google confirmed the species of the spider and that it wasn’t dangerous to even if poisonous spiders aren’t exactly a huge problem in New Zealand. Point is we can access the information right then and there

10. Augmented reality

One of the most awesome features of the phone is augmented reality. Apps like wikitude, skyview etc. give kids a heads up display of what they are seeing in front  of them. If you are on field trip you can learn point your phone in front of  a building or a landmark and get a detailed history from wikipedia. Better yet, get the kids to start entering details for their area or make artwork come alive with aursama.

No limits

In reality there are hundreds of ways to use your iphone in teaching. What I love about my phone is that I mostly use it for a specific job and then *gasp* put it down again. It is the quick functionality of the phone, the unobtrusive nature of recording, the  seamless sharing between channels and the fact it is small enough that I can put it back in my pocket when I am done which makes the iphone an indispensable teaching tool.

Moreover the ipod touch is the most common device students in my class own. Through using my phone, I better know how to help my kids learn effectively with the technology that in too many classrooms is at best sitting in a student’s pocket at worst outright banned from school.

So the next time you see a  teacher hunched over their iphone in the staffroom, ask them how they are using it in their teaching and learning.

Whoops I better go, my phone is ringing.

How do you use your mobile device as a teaching tool?

13 thoughts on “10 ways I use my iphone in the classroom

Add yours

  1. I use the Confer app to keep track of anecdotal notes – but I like the idea of using Evernote. I’ll try that!

    I’ve also been known to take pictures of student work. Sometimes I hand out iTouches so that students can take pictures of work.

    I use the iPhone for classroom book checkout. If a student takes a book home, I take a picture of him/her with the book. When the book is returned, the picture is erased.

    SMART phones are really quite smart :).


  2. Hi Stephanie – I’ve got a privacy question for you… When you are recording and interviewing your class work and students how is permission sought and then given? Is this part of a school wide policy or just somethng you are doing?

    As for apps for teaching and learning – I love the use of Educreations and Doceri. Allowing students to create mini lessons on thier understanding, recording it and thne having the potential to share it with others for cross collaboration is amazing!

    Great work as always Stephanie!!


  3. I found your blog while looking for blended learning materials. I made a Learnist board that I’m using for some articles and a project. I included you. This is great. We don’t have a BYOD policy in my school yet, and I’m trying to show successful use. Thanks!


  4. Reblogged this on Childs Teaching Journey and commented:
    Through out all of my career in not only at day care but any employment I have ever had. It was always listed in the staff hand book that phones were not permitted while on the clock. I’m just wondering what are your views after reading this post from Stephanie at traintheteacher.wordpress.com? Do you think that this is taking ICTs too far? Or is it the way of the future?


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