Archive for December, 2009

2010: The Year of the Cell Phone Novel


“Keara, Ethan, wake up! Quick!” the urgent sound of their grandfather’s voice cause both Keara and Ethan to sit bolt upright.

“Why Grandpa Jim? Why did you wake us up? Is it morning?” Keara always full of questions peppered her grandfather with this series of questions.

Grandpa Jim was moving quickly around the room gathering clothes and shoes for each of them so they could dress quickly. Since Grandpa Jim usually moved at a slower pace, both children knew something important was happening.

“A fisherman from the village was just here, he found a whale tangled in a fishing net. If we cannot help the whale, it could die.” (Excerpt from “Set Me Free,” Said the Whale, a cell phone novel by: KJL)

If the Classics don’t seem to get your students excited about reading and writing, why not try a cell phone novel?

Recently while reading, “I ♥ Novels:Young women develop a genre for the cellular age”—a New Yorker article that discusses the rising popularity of the cell phone novel genre throughout Japan—I thought it would be fun to look for kid/teen-friendly English language cell phone novels…

My search quickly brought me to the kids section of the website textnovel—“a social network for authors and readers of serial fiction and the first English language cell phone novel website, allowing members to write and read fiction with their cell phones or computers, using text messaging, email and online tools”. What I like about the site is that it not only welcomes users to contribute stories, but that it encourages them to rate stories, become fans and leave comments—digital literacy skills that are increasingly important for students (and teachers) to cultivate in a hypermedia and social media age.

With a new year (and new decade) around the corner, how about teaching a cell phone novel in January?

If you’re looking for ideas on how to incorporate this new genre into your unit of studies, take a look at the m4Lit Project—a cell phone novel project and research study based out of South Africa that aims to support student leisure reading and writing in both English and isiXhosa and to understand whether cell phones can be used as effective tools for developing literacy and a love of reading amongst teens. While browsing through the project site, make sure to visit the cell phone story Kontax—“about the adventures of 4 cool teenagers”.

Happy texting!

Anna (@bon_education)

P.S. For more ideas on how to incorporate cell phones into your classroom, take a look at the post Using cell phones as teaching and learning tools.



10 Twitter Tools for Your Classroom


One of the things I love about using Twitter as an education tool is the ability to connect with passionate educators around the world, quickly identify trending topics in global education and measure what types of information resonate with the Bon Education and Curriki communities.

I’ve always thought of Twitter as a great tool for the Language Arts classroom because the application naturally encourages users to develop reading and summarization skills—i.e. there is only so much you can say with 140 characters! (See more classroom Twitter ideas in my past post “Using Twitter in and Out of the Classroom.”)

Beyond ELA, recently I’ve begun to see Twitter as a fantastic tool for teaching math, geography, anthropology, marketing, etc. Using Twitter applications such as Hootsuite and Klout, student tweeters can do countless calculations to study and analyze how memes (tweets) spread, where they spread, who are the major influencers/connectors on Twitter, when are the best times to tweet, how changing one word in a tweet can totally change its stickiness and more!

As you think about developing lessons for the New Year, why not try using Twitter as a tool for instruction? While brainstorming ideas, make sure to check out “10 Twitter Tools to Help you Track and Perform Better“–great tools for encouraging students to apply a bit of math and science to their tweets.

Happy Twitter Holidays!


Founder, Bon Education

Twitter: @bon_education


Digital Tools for Homework Help


Research shows again and again that parents have a have a huge impact on student achievement in school and throughout life (Becta 2009, Henderson and Mapp 2002, Simpson 2001). In their recent report, “A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement,” the Southwest Education Development Laboratory (2002) points out that regardless of demographics, children with involved parents are more likely to (1) pass their coursework and earn higher grades, (2) attend school regularly, (3) socialize more easily with their peers and (4) graduate and go onto university.

In the spirit of helping parents get involved during homework time, Bon Education created a Digital Tools for Homework Help group on Curriki to support educational resource exchange between educators and parents. The hope is that the resources shared within this group will help parents get excited during homework help time, as well as save time and stress.

Check out the group Curriculum tab to see a wealth of homework help resources including:

I welcome you to join the Digital Tools for Homework Help group and to invite other parents and teachers to join as well. Please feel free to add additional useful resource using the group Curriculum tab. You are also welcome to use the group Messages tab to contact other group members with questions and ideas!

As you think more about parent engagement, take a look at my last blog post that includes a great video about parent engagement by Henry Jenkins, Director of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Program.



Chief Education Officer

Bon Education



On Parent Participation


This month I am leading a number of digital literacy workshops for parents as part of Mom 2.0. While looking for some videos to include in my presentations, I came by this great talk on parent participation by Henry Jenkins, Director of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Program.

Prof. Jenkins reminds us that kids grow when:

  • Given a sense of responsibility.
  • Asked to exceed their own sense of limitations.
  • Allowed to pursue their own passions and interest.

Furthermore, he states:

In the same way that parents have gone and watched badly played little league games and the off key band concerts for decades because it was important for their kids, they now need to watch kids play World of Warcraft, understand fan fiction and understand how Wikipedia works because it is important for kids. And, their accomplishments in that space is important to them and will be foundational for their sense of themselves and their sense of the future.

As educators it is important that we take time to reach out to parents and help them understand ways in which to become meaningfully involved in their children’s digital lives. Take a moment to listen to Prof. Jenkin’s 5 minute talk and to share it, along with the other Edutopia videos, with a parent near you! For additional resources to help parents get involved in helping their children learn at home, visit Next Generation Learning.

As research points out again and again, a little parent involvement can go a long way!


Founder, Bon Education

Twitter: @bon_education


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