Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Dictionary App


It was the third time in two weeks that I'd covered the 11th grade English class at the continuation high school. This day, they were doing a first read of excerpts from "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman.

First up, I asked the class to define ten vocabulary words their teacher had left for them. They were allowed to use their phones to find the definitions.

(Having students look up definitions on their phones has become common practice in the last couple years. Before anyone gets "these kids today" about this, just think about how you'd rather find a definition or check spelling on a word. You're going to use your phone or a computer, right?)

The continuation high school has many students who have tuned out. They may attend class (although many rack up the absences), but they're there under protest, and they refuse to do anything. But nowadays, rather than spend a period antagonizing me, they spend the period glued to their phones--texting, Snapchatting, Instagramming, and watching videos.

(Depending on various factors, I may or may not choose to do battle over the phones.)

Jake is one of those. I think he has a phone addiction as much as that device is glued to his hand. So, I thought looking up words on it would be right up his alley...

"I don't want to go on Safari..." he whined.

He's glued to his phone, and he doesn't want to use his phone...? OMFG!

But, I had a solution. "You know, there are dictionary apps..."

A few minutes later, I noticed him texting. He explained he was waiting while the dictionary app downloaded. Sure enough, there was now a dictionary app on his phone. Hooray?

He even defined a couple of the words. (Although, not all ten...) Until he got bored of the whole endeavor and put his head down on his desk. Deep sigh.

30 comments:

  1. Makes you feel sorry for the Jakes you encounter. What their life is going to look like until they make changes to turn it around, hopefully sooner than later. I use Google for everything I'm searching for medical terms, medications I'm not familiar with, etc. I remember the "old days" where a transcriptionist would have a lot of reference books. Now within 10 seconds or less, I can get an answer to what I'm looking for. Makes sense to use an app for a dictionary, etc.

    betty

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  2. When you can't even entice them to use their phones, it's about hopeless at that point.
    I guess I just don't get the mindset. When I was in school and we were given an assignment, we just did it. Not doing it just didn't register as an option.

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  3. Phone addiction is some what now troubling in work force.
    Coffee is on

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    Replies
    1. Oh yeah. I think it'll take losing a job or two before some of them attempt to deal with the problem.

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  4. Well, you succeeded at least partially. I call that a win.

    I've read several articles on device dependence/addiction and how big a plague it is to the rising generation. They are given electronics before they've developed a sense of discipline and common sense, and thus the addiction starts WAY too young for them to truly combat it. I think if most parents were paying attention to that fact, there'd be few smart phones in the hands of kids until they were at least 16.

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  5. I'm with Alex. When I was in school doing your work wasn't an option, unless you wanted to get sent to the principal's office. I still think cell phones for kids is a bad idea.

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  6. I am almost wondering if the strap was a good thing back in my day....:) Whatever happened to the idea that when you are told to do something, you better do it or else?

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    Replies
    1. Oh, these kids would retaliate if someone tried to strap them. Some are gang bangers. They know all about retaliation...

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  7. It sure is a different time...kids being allowed to use their cell phones to look things up in class.

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    Replies
    1. It's kind of cool, actually. (And makes for some good blog posts...)

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  8. Everyone uses their cell phones these at work days, so it makes sense that kids be allowed to use them to look up words. Not that it means they'll actually do it, though.

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  9. You made dent! You got him to put that app on there. Now, be nice if you knew that he would chose to use it again in the future! I personally think that one of the down falls in the school now is the phone.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, the app is there for the future. Maybe it'll come in handy someday...

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  10. I would have been an early adopter of a dictionary app if I'd had that chance in school. Why not? Those Websters were heavy to haul around and not as quick to give me my answers.

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    Replies
    1. True. But dictionaries have adapted to the times. Have you seen Miriam-Webster's Twitter feed?

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  11. I remember my Freshman year of college we had to purchase a really big, expensive dictionary. LOL. UGh. I love my dictionary app on my phone!!

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    Replies
    1. Now all those words are on a device that's palm-sized. Don't you love living in the future?

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  12. I do have a giant dictionary that I do occasionally use, but yeah, for the most part I'm using the computer or whatever device is handy at the time.

    I can imagine constantly doing battle over phone use in school is exhaustion. I don't blame you for picking your battles.

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  13. Jake now has a dictionary app on his phone. Maybe he only defined a couple of words, but that’s still a life skill of sorts. I approve.

    What I don’t approve of is cell phones in the classroom, but there’s not much you can do about that.

    VR Barkowski

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  14. He downloaded the app and now knows how to look-up a word. Sounds like a win to me. He may not be "on task", but when he needs that skill, he'll have it. Besides, were the kids defining words for an actual purpose or was it just busy work?

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    Replies
    1. The teacher found 10 words the kiddos wouldn't know in the poem they were reading. They had 15 minutes to define the words, then we read "Song of Myself".

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  15. Hey Liz - just liquids till week 3 and it will be blended food then. Week 4 -FOOD.

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  16. I'm sorry. I just don't see where kids like this need to waste time accomplishing nothing in class. They either have problems in their lives they don't have coping skills for and/or they simple don't learn in a classroom setting. Better they were apprenticing in a trade they enjoyed, got to feel what accomplishment felt like. Sad, sad.
    Barbara from Life & Faith in Caneyhead

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  17. Hi Liz - gosh kids ... I am glad I can help myself by looking things up. Cheers Hilary

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  18. Well, I don't think a dictionary is as distracting as a phone. Except for certain nerds....yes, education is way different today, and I enjoy your glimpses into this different world. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Yes, true. But nowadays they whine and complain if you make them use a dictionary. It's pathetic, really.

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  19. I remember about thirty years ago a young apprentice at a place I worked at didn't know how to look up a telephone book. That was back in the days of telephone books. I wonder what your boy has against Safari.

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    1. Yeah, if he hates Safari so much, he can always download Google. Or something. It's a head scratcher.

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  20. You and your ilk are a national treasure. Seriously, I don't know how you do it or what would become of these kids without folks like you.

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    1. I see them a day here and there. It's the full time teachers that deserve your kudos.

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