Cell Phone Use in the Classroom

Scared?

The cell phone can be a scary tool when mishandled. It can be used to derail a lesson or help a lesson run smoothly. There are two sides to this conversation; for the use of cell phones and against the use of cell phones within the classroom. There are many arguments supporting both sides. A paper produced in England in regards to cell phone use in classes showed. “Test scores were 6.41 percent higher at schools where cell phone use is prohibited.” and suggested “Although we know there are many benefits to mobile technology the distractions outweigh the benefits.” Any person who works with youth has encountered cell phones and having to police their use. Schools and youth programs are starting to come up with policies for cell phone use. Many of the policies allow for the cell phones to be used.

Personal experience with policy

I also work within the Cadet program and have watched that program develop different policies for cell phone use. Cadet’s started by trying to ban the cell phone. This did not go over well with the students or the administrators all of whom enjoy daily cell phone use. Overtime the policy was lessened to a graduated system where younger youth have less access and as the age goes up the level of responsibility goes up. The older ages are expected to have learned when it is appropriate to use their cell phones and are given more freedom to police themselves. This gave the cadets a chance to work up to policing their own cell phone use instead of having their leadership control it. When educators don’t allow any freedom when it comes to device use they are delaying when their students will learn that skill. Their students will need to learn when to use their phones eventually so doing it in the classroom is a safe environment.  While both sides of the argument have valid concerns I feel it is the duty of educators to help students learn how to use their technology effectively. Similar to the Cadets who needed to have some help learning when to use their phone and how; teachers need to facilitate that learning within their classes.

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Link to photo and more information like this

Reality

Teens have access to cellphones with or without the school’s blessing. The reality is that students will be fighting for jobs that deal with technology daily. They need to learn in school how to deport themselves while using technology. This skill is essential and should be learned before they have larger consequences. Cell phone use is part of our culture now and as such it has social rules and cues that need to be learned. Educators need to help students who have cellphones learn when and when not to use their phones, how they should be using their phones and skills to better make use of their device.

The chart above is from 2004 meaning the numbers have only gone up. More and more students have access daily to cellphones. Educators are not just teaching subjects, we are teaching social, societal and basic life skills. Beyond the need for educators to help teach these skills to students there are many ways to integrate cellphones into the classroom.

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Find out how to use cell phones as learning tools here!

Possibilities 

Cell phones can bring your class together in collaboration. Play games with your students such as Kahoot! or try Gamifying your room! Using cell phones for games and quizzes can help bring your class together. You can place students in groups and have them work through online quizzes together. You can gather your students and use the app Google Expeditions to take virtual tours and visit areas that wouldn’t be possible. Use your student’s cell phones to access a classroom Google Doc, where you can all simultaneously collaborate on documents. This is great for researching together, giving a voice to the normally more quiet students and encouraging everyone to participate. Cell phones don’t have to be a distraction to your students if you utilize them properly. If you see you students drifting into the land of their phones ask them to Google something, getting them to use their device to participate. For many more suggestions on how to use cell phones within your class check out this link.

kahoot-in-action

Find more about Kahoot! Here 

Execution 

A good way to introduce the idea of integrating more technology into your classroom is to create a classroom contract. According to the Teacher Toolkit “The Classroom Contract serves as a collaboratively created framework for behavior expectations in the classroom.” Collaboration between students and teacher will make the classroom more harmonious. If you allow students some choice they can start to take ownership for their decisions in the classroom. Discuss with your students what they think should happen with cell phone use during class time. Ask them what they should have to do if they don’t stay within the guidelines the class has created. Making this policy together will help involve the students and make it a more effective policy!

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Example of a cell phone policy 

You can do it!!

Cell phones can be used to collaborate with your students and your students with each other. Students are going to have access to cell phones and they need to learn how to use them appropriately. Embracing the technology within the classroom can help you create more innovative lessons which engage your students but also provide a valuable much needed life skill.

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