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Cell phones in school

Cell phones in school

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I'm planning on talking to my building leadership team about changing our policy on student cell phones. Currently students are to have their cell phones off and placed in their lockers when they enter the building. Guess what? Probably 99.9% of the student body has his or her own cell phone. This is what brought me to this possible policy change. There has to be something more productive and exciting to do with this technology. Has anyone taken this step to embrace the cell phones in their school by incorporating them into certain content areas / lessons- and if so would you mind sharing some ideas that you've found to be successful or unsuccessful.

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Comments (52)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Bruce Cook's picture
Bruce Cook
Principal at Brunswick High School, Brunswick, Maine

Thanks for your comments. Do all students have the technology? If not, does your school provide? I like the website that you included and would like to know more about how classroom teachers use it for assessment purposes. Our current policy addresses when use (unrelated to classroom instruction) is allowed, but does not include how the technology can be used. Any and all comments appreciated.

Melody Gray's picture
Melody Gray
Special Education Teacher from Georgia

This is definitely a hot issue. I know some consideration has been given to allow students to use cell phones between classes at the high school level. If constructive ways of using them for learning are available, so be it. Otherwise, I think it's our responsibility to teach them through words and actions the when and where that phones should be used. Maybe some of the adults in our world could learn that as well!

John Robinson's picture

I want to work toward focusing on a policy that redirects toward teaching students the constructive and mannerly use of cell phones rather than an outright ban. If a student has a cell, no problem. If a student is talking on a cell phone between classes, no problem. If a student is texting while standing and waiting until the bell rings to go to the next class, no problem. If a student is cheating using a cell phone, the problem is cheating not the cell phone, we have a problem. If a student is texting instead of working on an assignment, it's an off-task problem not a cell phone problem. In other words, focus on the real problems.

Mike OConnor's picture
Mike OConnor
Associate Principal/ Oconomowoc High School

At our school, we used to have a very strict policy on cell phones. They were not to be used at any point during the school day and were not to be seen under any circumstances. This led to many pointless confrontations between students and staff and consequently unpleasant interactions with parents, as well.

This past year we decided to embrace the technology our students possess. They are now free to use their devices during passing periods and lunch time. In the classroom, students may only use them when the teacher allows it for instructional purposes. Some of our more tech-savy teachers have discovered www.polleverywhere.com as well as some other online resources. This coming year, we will be using Twitter as a school and expect cell phones to be a large part of that campaign.

Bruce Cook's picture
Bruce Cook
Principal at Brunswick High School, Brunswick, Maine

The when of cellphone usage is addressed through our existing policy and provides for usage before and after school, as well as during lunch, while in the cafeteria. Enforcement is inconsistent and leads to confusion as well as playing one teacher against another. With Smartphones, social networking, PLN's, and the value of Web 2.0, the how is so very important. The thoughts that you have expressed are of benefit. Do any of you provide the same technology to all students as not all have the same access? Is this a topic of discussion in your districts? Thanks!

Steve Reynolds's picture
Steve Reynolds
Biology & Earth Science teacher, advisor, and Lead Teacher/hh coordination

Glad this discussion is happening...PUSD is considering revising the cell phone policy. I spent time last week researching; comments here at this discussion will be of help. I'd like to see allowance made for cell phone/electronic device use by students with teacher/principal/director approval.

Betty Ray's picture
Betty Ray
Director of Programming and Innovation


A great article discovered by facilitator Eric Sheninger. Here's an excerpt:

Drivers may not be allowed to hold a cell phone and chatter while wheeling through a school zone, but at least two area districts have decided to welcome the mobile devices indoors for students to use for educational purposes.

While most area school districts maintain policies that ban students from using cell phones on campus, a few districts are breaking the mold and beginning to admit smart phones into the classroom as an educational tool on a par with a classroom computer.

Though some may think the change will invite distraction, inappropriate texting or cyber bullying into study sessions, others see the move as a way to teach technological skills while addressing those negative issues head-on.

Thomas Flynn's picture
Thomas Flynn

Our school adopted a new policy last school year of permitting student use of cell phones between classes, during lunch (closed campus)before and afer school. Cell phones must be turned off and not seen during class (including study hall) teacher sees it out in class - they take it until the end of that school day.

Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)'s picture
Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)
Senior Manager of Video Programming, Production, & Curation at Edutopia

Here are a few Edutopia articles that can hopefully help provide some fuel for your argument:

Making the Case for Cell Phones in Class (http://www.edutopia.org/cellphonesinclass)

Learn2luvcell: A Powerful Multipurpose Mechanism for Learning (http://www.edutopia.org/cell-phones-classroom-education)

Become a Ringleader: Teaching with Text Messaging (http://www.edutopia.org/ringing)

Best of luck to you!

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