Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Smart Phones in Class? What do you do?

A friend of mine is a high school teacher, which means he lives in a world that can be very different than mine. Some of our job is the same- educating students- but I'm constantly fascinated by the differences between the high school issues and elementary school issues.

This past weekend on Facebook he had a series of posts that really got me wondering. The first was simply a link to a news article noting that a popular game for smart phones was going to be pulled off line. (As an elementary school teacher I had never even heard of this game). The comments on his post seemed to be from other teachers who were relieved at the news because they could stop trying to compete with the game when they were teaching.

Ack- definitely something I don't have to deal with in elementary school. That would drive me CRAZY. But what do you do about it in high school? Not being in high school I don't know what the rules and regulations are, but I'm inferring from the fact that this is a problem many teachers have that there isn't a simple "turn your phone off or X happens" rule.

His next post was reaching out to former students to see what their teachers in college do about cell phones. He wanted to know the cell phone policy for different classes and what works at actually keeping phones away. I was fascinated by the comment chain. Some students talked about using apps on their phone that let them respond to group questions, while others talked about ways phones were discouraged. I found myself going back to read the comments because I wanted to see if anyone came up with a better answer that could be applied in a high school class.

His third post was asking other educators about how they incorporate twitter into their classrooms. Again, these answers made me realize just how different the worlds between high school and elementary school are. It was interesting to read about how educators opened up lines of communication with parents and students through twitter, but the question of "do you follow your students back?" came up. Do you want to know what they are posting? Does that make you liable for any of the poor choices they make outside of school?

So what about you- if you work in high school or middle school- what do you do about cell phones? Do you have school set consequences for texting/game playing in class? Are you able to momentarily confiscate phones when they are being used inappropriately? Do you need to find ways to get students to use their phones in class to keep them on task?

My world is so different I don't even know where I would begin to handle this one.

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