As we head into the summer and start getting ready to "do it again" in a month or two, I have a couple of questions concerning cell phone usage in the classroom. We have all heard the canned reasons they are not allowed, students cheat, texting, etc, but what if your students WERE allowed to use cell phones in the classroom, how would you structure your units to include them? What would those activities look like?
Second, what are your concerns about cell usage in the schools? What are possible solutions?
I ask these questions to hopefully start a dialog nationwide that NEEDS to take place. I will be doing a presentation in September for teachers, admin and IT and I want to start that dialog where I live and work. What are your thoughts?
I look forward to your responses.
Neil- I think that this is something schools are going to have to start dealing with. On a related note check out - BYOT Bring Your Own Technology started by Mitzi - I think that the two of you are looking for the same type of information.
What community members are in schools or districts where students are allowed to use their own cell phone or other form of technology? And what lessons, policies and key learning's do they have to share.
I hope to see this discussion unfold in the community because I think that there are a lot of members that could benefit. I also hope that you revisit and let us know after your presentation how the conversation goes in your area.
cell use is primarily meant to maintain communication with near and dear one at the time of need some time. it is the responsibility of the institutions to provide official communication facility to those needy staff and student to subsitute the possesions of cell phones by each student in classrooms or even in the school.
My district prohibits cell phones in the classroom. I spoke with my principal on the concept and proposed a "unique" pilot. I would invite students to use any technology tool they brought during science labs. This might include taking photos or videos, using a calculator, or timing events with a stopwatch. I made it clear to my principal that this means students might produce an "illegal cell phone" during class. I was very pleased when this project was approved. I had many students ask, after we began the pilot, if they could use their technology to ... (and added a use related to our class.) I gave permission and students used their tools effectively all year. I am afraid the district policy will not change and I may have to ask to start another pilot project next year .
I would like suggestions on how to approach the IT director and persuade him how useful student technology in the classroom will be. Please share your ideas with me.
Glen, have you ever had your IT director in your classroom when your kids were using the cell phones? If IT could actually see how you keep control of the phone, they might be more willing to allow them. Also, I would invite members of your governing board to see first hand how you handle things.
Hope that helps some.
Thanks for the suggestion to invite our IT director into my classroom. He has "dropped by" before but it was always when I did not have a class. I'm sure he would enjoy seeing the productive use of these technologies.
I tell my principal and all parents that my classroom has an "open door" policy. Anyone may drop in and visit unannounced. My only request is that they quietly move to the back of the classroom so class is disrupted as little as possible. Some parents along with all of my school's administration have taken advantage of this invitation.
Now you've given me a new idea ... I need suggestions on how to persuade our district administration along with the district school board to visit my classroom. Sing along with me now ... "I've got the power" ...
This is a very relevant question, Neil. There are certain realities that schools have to recognize or deal with. One is that nearly every student has and regularly uses a cell phone during the school day. So the question for me isn't really do we allow them, but how can we cultivate their use in a way that, 1, doesn't disrupt education, and, 2, actually supports it and helps us to engage students.
I did try out using cell phones at the end of this year for my yearbook class. My students did presentations promoting the yearbook and created a survey using http://www.polleverywhere.com/ This site allows for instant feedback through different media, including cell phones. It is one example of how we can use this technology with the students. They were highly engaged and motivated (the yearbook survey was on which photo was the favorite) and provided quick feedback. It obviously is adaptable to other purposes.
Some challenges: not all students have cell phones; reception in our building is spotty; students can get off-task quickly.
Regarding the last point, it is possible to have clear protocols about when and how the phones are used.
At any rate, those are my experiences and thoughts about cell phones at this point. I see that there is potential and that they likely will become standard ways of reaching/teaching students.
This is a very interesting conversation. I am wondering what age group are you referring to using cell phones in the classroom? Now is 2011, cell phones are in use by younger students K-5. Would they want the ability to use cell phones in the classroom too? Currently, our district has a no cell phone policy but technology is going to force us to make changes sooner or later.
I work with Middle School students. Our district's policy is relatively strict regarding "no cell phones at school." I, however, see students with them very regularly. It is also common for students to "share their cell phone" with a friend ... so texting can be done when parents will not allow a child to bring their own cell phone to school. Often the administration has to identify the true owner of a confiscated cell phone before it can be returned.
Looking at the big education picture ... should these elementary students be allowed to use cell phones in their classrooms? I think the bigger question would be can elementary teachers identify ways students can be engaged using cell phones in class. I do not think technology should be used "just because it can be." I also do not want to see technology "forced upon teachers" where it really does not work well.
Are there subjects that students should NEVER be allowed to use a cell phone in?
Axel, thanks for the feedback. I agree with the challenges we face as we move forward, but I also realize we are at the beginning of the journey. I just hope we don't fall behind while trying to figure this out. :-) I do feel there needs to be very clear protocols in place and I also wonder if these questions need or should be debated at the local level or the state level? Some standardization may be necessary, but I'm not sure about this one as each community is different and there are differing levels of connectivity available.
As a teacher and parent--I'm wondering at the cost of cell phones. In our famly we currently have three phones, one for me, my wife and my mom. We do not do texting and my two high school kids do not have cell phones. I'm seeing the need for them to be able to manipulate this technology, especially the texting function. But, can families afford to do this? Iin order to add my kids our service will jump around $60 a month. I don't know that I can justify this. Any suggestions out there as to cell phone plans. We pay for three phones around $70 a month-with the additions it will be around $130. In this economy--I don't know how we can do it. Any suggestions?
I appreciate your concern regarding cell phone costs. This, in my opinion, is one of the major points that must be considered by schools and districts considering allowing cell phone use in the classroom. I think most parents would be frustrated and upset if their "plan minutes" were used for schoolwork. What should schools and districts do to ensure this does not happen? How will classes use cell phones if not everyone is capable of this technology?
Having a cell phone in a classroom , will destroy the teaching learning environment , even though if it is allowed ask the students to keep it off , while attending the class and lecture, and during the exam ,don't bring cell phone in the classroom.We can make the students realize that you come to the classroom to make your concepts clear about the topic to be taught, so if you will use the cell phone in the classroom understanding and learning will not be there.
I agree that you want students focused in the classroom - but I don't think that cell phones are the only thing that distracts them.
I do agree that many students -and some adults don't have cell phone etiquette - using their phone for the wrong reasons at the wrong time. But if you are going to allow them in your classroom you need to work with them and set up some ground rules.
Many kids - my son included uses the calendar, the calculator, notes - tools that are built in and come at no charge with most cell phones and I think that they can be used without taking away from the learning in the classroom.
So I don't think that cell phone use in the classroom will destroy the teaching/learning environment but I do think that as educators we need to communicate policy and expectations for our classroom - and if that means keeping them off then students need to understand that.
You bring out an important point. There can and often are MANY distractions in a classroom. One of my best students this past year would ignore any teacher directions if her friend was trying to get her attention. It did not matter where her friend sat nor what her friend wanted. When the young lady and I spoke with a vice principal about the situation it became apparent. This young lady stated "she had to be a good friend FIRST and meet her friend's needs before anything else." Nothing that I nor the vice principal said convinced the young lady that she should participate and pay attention in class. As you can imagine, no change occurred and the young lady struggled throughout the year.
Despite my best efforts, I was unable to engage this young lady every day. I'm interested in suggestions on how to solve similar problems. These problems may become more evident if cell phones are allowed in all classrooms.
Farzana and Aiman, you have very strong feelings about cell phone usage in the classroom and I can appreciate that. But, having said that, what types of tools would you suggest for other teachers who share your feelings. Also, if, after using a cell phone and the students are required to turn them off, how does the phone cause the distraction? This is one of the things I am looking for with this discussion-how do cell phones cause distractions and other than turning them off, how should we deal with them?
I do appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for sharing.
Like Farzana and Aiman, I have seen cell phones be a distraction in my classroom. Students text with the phone in their pocket, between their legs, or under the table. When caught, they do not seem to understand they are violating a school and district policy. Students often try to communicate with their cell phone in my classroom, but become frustrated because they need to stop and use their hands for a science activity. (Yes I am of the opinion that the best defense is usually a good offense!)
IF cell phones are to be allowed in schools there must be implicit instructions given on when use is appropriate. Students should also be aware of situations where their cell phone should NEVER be used. I, however, think there are some youth who will intentionally use cell phones inappropriately. Plans must be prepared to deal with such behaviors.
I wonder if we can come to consensus on the following:
Nancy, I appreciate your comment: "clear, consistent guidelines for both teachers and staff." Too often I think teachers and other staff members think they have a "right" to use their cell phone, but expect all students to never use their cell phones. I inform students if there is a reason I may need my cell phone during class (e.g. I may need to talk to a principal about our student teacher's possible job.) Rarely do I take any calls or texts during class time.
How do you think we may influence district decisions on what these "clear, consistent guidelines" will be?
Cell phones can really be annoying, and they can also be a huge asset! There are so many useful apps for band class--tuners, metronomes, voice/video recorders. It is amazing what they can do, and it's one less metronome or tuner the school or band boosters has to purchase. It is still important to have alternative tools available for students to use. It's just icing on the cake if they already have a device and a free app to take care of their practice needs.