Teaching urban teenagers is no easy task these days given the millisecond attention spans that directly clash with old world board of education policies on technology. Student handbook says "no electronics" in the classroom. This technically means that, as the beloved teacher, I should role model putting it all away and confiscate any violating devices. It's a grim role and one that I don't serve very well since I learn as much from my students about fun gadgo toys as they learn from me about English. Here's the top three things that I have learned from my "gangsta" "ghetto" friends:
1. Don't leave anything APPLE on the teacher's desk because it will be coveted and stolen in a twinkling of the teacher's eye, then maybe not even sold until well used first by the thief. This is an area of opportunity for APPLE...they really should build in some kind of homing device specific to the device owner. These kids and their hard working parents would definitely pay for that.
2. Any music app on any APPLE device helps my teenagers learn. It seems that all those i-tune downloads calm the surley edge when they have to buckle down and focus on writing or even reading for that matter. It really does not intrude on their cognitive abilities, at least by my anecdotal observations. Honestly, as much as I love the toys, I can't keep track of all the kids' different makes and models of i-pods, i-phones, etc. But I do know the apps that they love: texting (with one thumb, not looking, device hidden in their pockets) and music including the ring tones that act like tatoos of their identity before they can actually go and get that tat.
3. To be an adult (that is over age 20 in their eyes) and to speak in APPLE ease makes you instantly hip, but better yet listened to and that's what I like. For these kids, if you can speak in current trend language about anything APPLE (among other techno favorites like YOU TUBE and FACEBOOK), then you're in. Here's another opportunity for APPLE designers...get a lingo app that helps the older generation keep up. I'm thinking of the lionshare of teachers, parents and grandparents that want any "in" to the teenager world but find themselves still miserably behind the learning curve. As an English teacher, I know the power of words, and speaking in APPLE ease opens doors. Teenagers let you right into their expanding universe and that's better than any APPLE, I mean fruit, for this teacher.