Tanesha Dixon is a Middle School Social Studies teacher and Technology Integration Coach at Wheatley Education Campus in Northeast Washington, D.C. She is also an inaugural member of the Education Innovation Fellowship (EIF), a partnership of the CityBridge Foundation and NewSchools Venture Fund. As an EIF, Tanesha has spent a considerable amount of time exploring, designing and implementing innovations in blended and personalized learning in her classroom and school.
On a typical day, she balances small group instruction, a collaborative workstation where students work cooperatively to complete a task, and workstations where students work independently to complete asynchronous tasks. In order to respond to the misunderstandings and queries coming from these three different groups, and to hold the students accountable for what they are doing, she tracks their progress on a smart watch.
Students keep connected to the teacher, no matter what their location in the room via Bluetooth. ‘I know immediately if a student has not made adequate progress and can quickly either make note of it or address that student during small group instruction. Thus, instead of waiting until all of the papers are turned in at the end of class, I can immediately respond to student progress.’ Ms. Dixon says.
Ms. Dixon uses a Pebble Smart Watch and says ‘Teachers are great at multi-tasking, but it would be humanly impossible for me to conduct a small group and to answer questions that may arise. But with my Pebble, I can receive real-time questions from students (which I promptly answer on my mobile phone).’ Students use the message feature on their iPads or Apple computers to text questions. By simply going to the messaging app icon on their device and sending an iMessage to my mobile phone, we have established a virtual help desk that is both extremely fast and highly responsive to individual student needs.
Sometimes, the question warrants making a whole group announcement; other times, she can send a quick message to the student(s) to clarify an assignment or procedure. All of this is done without students getting out of their seats, interrupting the teacher working with a small group or disrupting the flow of their collaboration or independent work.
The ‘Pebble’ watch sells for around $200 and works with Both iPhones and Androids. However the ‘U Watch’ which will do the same things as the Pebble on Androids (but cannot display messages from iPhones), and is available on the Media-X eStore for only $60.