Saturday, March 3, 2012

My thoughts on cell phones in school...

As a teacher, students in my class were encouraged to use their cell phones as a tool to enhance the learning environment. (For the record, my first several years of teaching were very traditional in nature. It wasn't until my last two years that I explored alternative ways to increase student engagement and learning)

- Students kept their cell phones on their desk in plain sight for all to see. Do you hide your cell phone while at work so nobody sees it?

- Students used their cell phones to take notes, look up German words, and find answers to questions. Do you use your cell phone to find answers and get help?

- Students used their cell phones or music devices to listen to music while working. Do you enjoy music while you work?

- Students took pictures and video with their cell phones to use in their blogs and presentations. Do you enjoy taking pictures and/or video to archive for future use?  

- Students felt as if they could be themselves while in class and viewed class more like "real life," rather than a restrictive environment; students didn't have to "power down" when coming to my class. Isn't that the kind of environment you want to be a part of?

You are probably thinking...

Did any students ever abuse the freedom to use their cell phones? Yes, some did, but the number of students who misused their cell phones was no higher than the number of students who misused their paper, pencils and books.

What happened to the students who didn't have cell phones? Nothing, they got to work and share with others, or they simply did without. No students were penalized for not having a mobile device.

Did the "haves" and "have nots" become really evident in class? Yes, but that was already very evident because not every student had brand new $100 Jordans.

Did students become too reliant on using their cell phones to find answers? No, students learned just like you and I, when used properly and appropriately, cell phones can be an awesome resource to broaden and enhance learning opportunities.

Did your administration try to shut you down? No, my administration was very supportive and saw the value of utilizing outside resources to increase learning opportunities for students. They also saw the value of making schools more relevant and realistic when compared to the "real world."

- While thinking about this topic... consider, could you go an entire day without your cell phone? Try leaving your cell phone at home one day before going to work and then you will know how many of our students feel... 

- Also, if we don't teach kids how to appropriately use cell phone technology in a safe and proper way, then who will?

- What are your thoughts... how can we harness the power of cell phones in schools in a safe and appropriate manner?