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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Cell phones in school

Cell phones in school

Related Tags: School Leadership
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52 Replies 3335 Views
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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Marie Wilson's picture
Marie Wilson
Pre-service secondary biology teacher

This was meant to be a reply to a previous comment, but I messed that up and now can't figure out how to delete this post - so I'll just reword what I was trying to say. When considering how I and other graduate students deal with class time, as adults, I can hardly imagine expecting teenagers to do just the opposite. I am constantly multi-tasking and get super anxious when I'm doing just one task at a time (especially listening to a lecture or watching a video). Since I love school and am a very hard worker, this says nothing of an inattention to or lack of care for the presented material. I think that it's much more just the way that we deal with the world today and we should take advantage of it rather than try to squelch it. While I am only 25, I did grow up without internet and iPods didn't come out until I was a senior in high school and nobody in middle school had cell phones, yet I find myself in the same situation a lot of the time that the students I'll be teaching have found themselves in since elementary school.

Doris Culton's picture
Doris Culton
Adult/Alternative ed

We went to an open cell phone policy in our school. Students are not allowed to text. We usually do not say anything as long as texting is not disruptive. On the positive side- Students are typing essays on their phones and using things like dictionary.com! This frees up limited computer space for E2020 and those students who do not have smart phones.

Doris Culton's picture
Doris Culton
Adult/Alternative ed

I agree. We need to focus on the real issues. We allow phones as long as they are used appropriately. We are teaching the correct use of cell phones. Also, the time I used to waste playing cell phone cop can go to learning.

lexi's picture

Personally, I believe that cellphones should not be allowed in school. They are big distractions and can cause more drama than the school already needs. Nobody really knows what the children do with their cellphones. They could be hiding them in their pocket and cheat on a test. As much as I want to say yes to cellphones, the best idea would be to ban them.
Alexis

Katy Foster's picture

Our official policy is off and away, but I challenge teachers to find ways to use cell phones in their classrooms. We're never going to beat them, so we may as well join 'em. I visited a class where a teacher was allowing the use for backchannel discussion while he was lecturing, and I've seen them used for cameras, recording devices and research. A useful tool that we should tap into.

Scott Fritz's picture
Scott Fritz
High School Principal

We had a very restrictive cell phone policy. However, in the upcoming school year we will be allowing students to use cell phones during passing and at lunch. Our staff will allow cell phones to be used during class only for instructional purposes. We polled our students and 97% of them have cell phones. Staff have been investigating websites and tools they can use with students to utilize phones in an appropriate manner... at the very least we can use the calendar to help organize tasks, due dates etc.... We figure if 97% of our students have phones, there is a greater likely hood they will be carrying that around to remind them of their responsibilities as opposed to a paper planner. Our new philosophy will be to teach them to use the technology to their advantage and not fight to ban it...

Jeanie Greenidge's picture

Acceptable use for sure. They can be such a useful tool for homework and research and to let teachers what worked with a lesson and what didn't. Find a happy medium. Banning is not the answer.

Deb F's picture
Deb F
Professional Development Provider

When I worked in a tech magnet program, we allowed cell phone use. My requirements: if we're not actively using them in class, they are in silent mode, sitting on the far corner of the desk. No sneaky texting or cheating - all could be seen in a quick glance. If there was an issue, the student lost it until the end of the day (either to me, if I could secure it; or to the office). It was rarely an issue.

One teacher used Tweetdeck. She'd ask an open-ended question and each student posted a comment or question - and all were on display for all to see via the projector. I believe they created classroom Twitter names (or used an app to do that) so their identities were known only to the teacher and the student. She used hashtags to follow specific questions. We also used the cell phones for polls, as others have indicated here.

I'm a firm believer that students need to be taught "context appropriate" behavior with ALL tech. We're doing a disservice to everyone when we leave it to the kids to figure out for themselves. A simple and clear acceptable use policy and staff commitment to follow the rules make a HUGE difference. Set the tone up front, and stick to it.

Bill Cheney's picture

I actually got permission at the beginning of the year to use cell phones in class, but then had it taken away. I think it is better for the students to be open about using their phone in class and using to use them responsibly. One way to handle it is that students have to take out their phones when they come in to class and put them on their desks with their screens down. When it is appropriate or their is a time to use their phones the teacher says, "Screens Up." If students are on their phones at the wrong time it is easy to see and you can address it. If staff members are afraid of students going off task, they have to ask, "What am I doing to not keep them engaged and made them think that their action was okay?"

Holly Willis's picture
Holly Willis
Former Social Media Marketing Assistant at Edutopia

Hi Joe,

Great question! We decided to open this question to our Facebook community as well and we received over 40 responses. See them here. Hope they're helpful :)

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