I’m pleased to report that my new text-me-your-homework experiment is working. My students have had three text assignments so far, and reading is up, homework turn-in is up, and better discussions are happening in class. There’s a good energy.
It’s been pretty easy, actually. I use SmashText to send out the questions and collect my students’ responses on Google Voice.
Doing that would be enough. But I’m also posting their responses (without any editing) on my class website, iseroma.com. Here’s an example. Each class, my students and I have taken a few minutes to look at the responses.
An interesting thing has occurred: The quality of the responses has improved (without any prompting). The texts are deeper and have fewer grammar errors. Is it possible that publishing their posts online has motivated my students to try harder? I hope so.
What I love about this texting experiment is how it’s not a big deal. It’s just one question. It takes just a minute of my students’ time. But it reminds them to stay consistent on their reading homework. It makes reading — which usually is invisible — more public.
In addition, it quickly and somewhat-unobtrusively lets me enter my students’ lives after school, when they want to tune out and turn off. For college-prep students, school can’t end at 3:30. You can’t go home and forget that you’re a student.
Yesterday, I asked my students what they thought about the texting assignment. The vote was unanimous; they like it. Several said the texts are combating their laziness. One student remarked, “Mr. Isero, you’re everywhere!”