So, it happened again. Actually it happened twice.
I gave my students time to work on their post-lab questions during class. One of the questions was “Prior to its discovery on Earth, how did scientists know Helium existed in the sun?” Some students asked me questions trying to discover the answer and gave them the guidance to come up with it on their own. But there was one group of students all looking around one person’s paper and they hadn’t asked me a single question. I wandered over to find them intently reading something on one student’s phone. It turns out the reason they weren’t asking me any questions was because they simply googled the discovery of Helium. The article described the entire method of using a spectroscope to break down the light from the sun which is exactly what we were doing in class.
During the next period, my next class was presenting their Animoto videos for the element project. I always like to give a small award to the video voted best by the class. So, I passed out little strips of paper and had everyone write down their vote. As I am collecting the votes, one student says “Mr. S, why didn’t you just have us text our vote to polleverywhere?” I had them use their phones earlier in the month, but it never occurred to me to use them for this.
Today made something abundantly clear to me: give them the right tools and get out of their way.