Phone Drama

Yesterday I drove to a town about 30 miles (if not more) to shop. I was tired of all the stores, crowds and traffic nearby. It was nice to be at Target and not run into 100 students! I was hunting for Lightning  McQueen wrapping paper and got stuck behind two teachers on the aisle.  I have a major problem eaves dropping on all conversations around me, so I was hearing their conversation.  They were annoyed because one of their student’s cell phone rang during their exam.  Yes I agree that is annoying! BUT their annoyances did not stop their.  They went on to discuss how phones should be band in  schools, never allowed out of lockers, etc, etc. These were not old teachers on the verge of retirement (you know the 20% you can never expect to change) but teachers not much older than I.  It took every ounce of self-control I had not to butt in and state MY opinion.  Those who know me, know that was a small Christmas miracle.    So now’s my chance.  Here is my oh so humble opinion!

Should phone be band in school? NO. Do I want my kids texting or the phone ringing during my class? NO to that too. What is a good balance?  What is my perfect situation? Why should they be allowed to have them?

What they CAN do with their phones: these phones are now mini computers! They are pretty powerful tools.  Here are few ways they can use them to enhance learning, ways I have used them in my classroom:

  1. Polleverywhere.com  when I taught math we would use this site to collect data when creating graphs and charts.  I would ask a question and kids would text their answers. Even as simple as favorite color of ice cream.  The students also did the typical sixth grade survey project using the site. They had to advertise their survey and get people to respond. VERY successful project.
  2. CAMERAS! most of my student’s phones have cameras on them. We only have 5 digital cameras in our school. A school with over a 100 classroom teachers and only 5 cameras. Not always available when needed.  Some of the phones even have video capabilities.  Why have to beg, borrow, and steal to get cameras when you can use the students’.  For $10 you can get a converter to be able to put pictures from the memory cards onto a computer.  Need ideas of how to use a digital camera in a classroom – here are a few ideas my coworkers at McAdory came up with http://technologyatmcadory.wikispaces.com/cameras
  3. Voki.com – my students LOVE these! You can call a number and record a 30 second message. You create an avatar that will speak your recording.  My students one year created ones to explain different types of weather. Here is an example a student made while having a free day in he lab http://mmsroom207.wikispaces.com/technology
  4. INTERNET – need I say more! Our school policy is that if they are on a portable device they have to use the school wireless not 3G this way they have filters.
  5. Calculators.  Do you own a calculator? I don’t.
  6. Calendars for assignments, I know I use my reminders to remind me when I have a project due.
  7. This list could go on and on couldn’t it?!

My perfect situation, the kids would walk in and put them on the corner of their desk for the class period. No texts under the table this way, when I see a kid text during my class I am supposed to take it up.  I do, I also read the texts. Just like if I take up a note being passed in class – in my mind, its the same.  Over half of the texts I read or sexual or mean.  I do not like that going on under my care. Also, if phones on desks, when it rings we don’t have the minute or two of searching for it to turn it off.

There are pros and cons to phones in schools I understand. But the purpose of school is learning. SO why can’t we use  these devices that are going to be there anyway as a learning tool.  Quit looking at phones as the enemy. annoying, yes, enemy, no.

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