Magazine article Techniques

Cell Phones in the Classroom

Magazine article Techniques

Cell Phones in the Classroom

Article excerpt

YOU HAVE WORKED HARD ON YOUR LESSON PLAN, and your students actually appear to be listening closely to your words of wisdom, when suddenly a cell phone starts playing one of the latest hip hop songs. It wouldn't really matter if it was Mozart; in either case, the spell you have cast over your students has been broken, and you will have to work to recapture their attention and get your lesson back on track.

Now picture this scenario. There has been an emergency situation at your school that requires police and medical attention. The first responders were notified immediately and given vital information by a student with a cell phone. The school's office lines are not jammed by calls from frantic parents because they have been able to reach their children on their cell phones.

Banning cell phones from school, which once seemed like a no-brainer, is no longer a simple black-and-white issue. The events of Columbine and 9/11 are what changed the policies in some states and communities--or created serious discussions about changing them.

Education Week reported in a July 12 article on the issues that arose in New York City when enforcement of the city's 18-year-old ban on cell phones was stepped up. Parents cited safety issues such as the long commutes on public transportation that many students must make and the difficulties in coordinating the schedules of several children. In New York, the parents' concerns unable to reach their children in the event of another terrorist attack are not easy to dismiss, but the logistics of collecting thousands of cell phones each day and then returning them again seem terribly difficult to manage. School officials in New York have concerns about teachers having to confront students in the classroom when phones go off, as well as the distractions that will cause.

Even in places where cell phones are not banned from school grounds, there are usually limits that are set--phones must be turned off during school hours or set to voice mail only. Some teachers have resorted to collecting cell phones at the beginning of the class and returning them at the end. Some just collect the ones that ring during class. One teacher even discovered a student, Chinese restaurant menu in hand, ordering lunch during class. …

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