If you can’t beat ’em…join ’em

Schools learn to work with cell phones in class

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110927/SCHOOLS/109270334/Schools-learn-to-work-with-cell-phones-in-class#ixzz1ZH35jjJg

Is this really headline worthy?

Are we really still at a place where using technology in the classroom is new/exciting/and newsworthy?

The answer is unfortunately yes…whether it is using cellphones/smartphones in class as a resource, accessing social media through school servers, or general attitudes towards technology at all.

“I don’t think any child should have a cellphone in school,” said Ray LaPointe, whose daughter is a junior at Clinton Township’s Chippewa Valley High School, which decided to allow cell phones in school this year. “I don’t know what they can learn by having a cellphone.

“We survived school without cellphones, so they could survive without them.”

The world has changed – education needs to evolve with it…the attitude of this parent is unfortunately more the rule than the exception. While the skill sets and abilities that today’s youth will require are drastically different than past generations – attitudes have remained largely the same.

In my ongoing quest for answers into the question of how “new” school needs to be done I came across this tweet:
Bud Hunt (@budtheteacher)
11-09-19 8:47 PM
So if you do school differently, but then have to follow all the same rules, regardless of purpose or intent, then what’s different?
It is not that educators do not know that change is required. Rather, we are too scared to make the changes necessary or too afraid of what the change will mean for our traditional ideals that nothing really changes.
I am not so negative to think that this is the case everywhere; but, we talk about making school work for the 21st century student, and yet, we want to do school the same way we learned.
It is one of the great issues in my mind regarding “changing school” – we are asking people to make change come alive in an institution that worked for a great majority of them. Teachers are generally people that were successful in a traditional school setting – they finished high school to train to come back to school never really experiencing much other than “education” – the insular nature of schools and teachers then – is that we do what we have known!
Are you able to “think outside the school box?” Can you affect real change in your building – as it relates to technology or otherwise?
If so, let me know how because I know school needs to be done different but I struggle to know how…

About mickpanko

New HS vice-principal...trying to figure it all out. I would like to wax poetic but it is more like leg waxing - I think.
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8 Responses to If you can’t beat ’em…join ’em

  1. Mick, first I have to say my son’s name is also Mickey. Much better than being called Mike don’t you think.
    I am with a very progressive district who is really on the cutting edge or trying to integrate technology into the classroom. Kindles, ipads, cell phones, blackberry’s, smart tech, epson brightlink etc. I find it a bit overwhelming trying to keep up with it all.
    Cell phones definitely have pros and cons. But we have come to the conclusion that no matter how hard we try to fight with the students and tell them they either have to keep it in their locker of have it turned off we are fighting a loosing battle. So instead if we allow them and show them how we want the to use them in the classroom as well as they must be visible for the teacher to see, compliance is usually the norm. I also think that it is up to the imagination as well as the courage of the teacher to implement technology in an appropriate, engaging way. I don’t think that tech is going away and I guess it is up to us to show students the right way (if there is such a thing) to use technology to get the biggest bang for their education.

  2. sjphipps says:

    I agree with the previous comment. In my school cell phones are allowed in back packs turned off and used for emergencies to and from school. However, I encourage my students to have them out, use them for calculators, listen to music during work periods and use the calendar as their day planner. The problem is when another teacher who isn’t as open to technology freaks out on my class and takes the electronics away! I am constatly finding myself defending technology and the functionality of it in my classroom. It’s hard to help change things.

  3. Mathew Fiedelleck says:

    Congrats on the blog Mick. I have enjoyed reading your insights and inquiries. Nice job.

  4. kjehman says:

    Hey Mick, my school division has yet to develop a standard high school policy but we have done some things as individual schools. We did Tech Tuesdays with our grade 9’s last year, where our teachers were challenged to incorporate the use of social media in some way into their lesson – texting answers to the teacher, or doing partner or group work from their desk via BBM messaging was met with great enthusiasm from the students and the teacher! The fact that it was a novelty meant there was little off task behaviour. To accompany this, we used the guidance and ethics classes to discuss digital citizenship, authentic messages, and private vs. public. One other school in our division has instituted brain breaks halfway through the class where students get 15 minutes to access their ipad, smartphones, or itouches for the purpose of answering a question or launching an investigation of inquiry – they can also check their messages and the time! The trade off has been met with mixed success, but I’ll keep you posted!! Unfortunately the biggest challenge with the WiFI devices is connectivity and user id’s – an issue we are frantically trying to rectify!

  5. Honni L says:

    Interesting blog posting Mick. As a Kindergarten teacher, the use of cell phones in the classroom is not a topic that comes up (and to be honest I hope I never have to deal with this in my classroom) but I can definitely see how phones can be of use in the classroom. The phone is something that the students always have with them, so if they are using it as their agenda in order to stay on top of their homework then this is a good use of technology. As is the many apps that they can have on their phone, such as calculators, dictionaries, maps, etc. The main issue that I can see arising with cell phone usage in the school would be the use of the cell phone on the play ground or texting during class. It is definitely something that is going to have be looked at in depth in school divisions soon. Like others have stated, if we teach them how to use the tools properly and not just for fun, the cell phone could be a very valuable educational tool.

  6. mickpanko says:

    Thank you all for the feedback – I am certain that as technology becomes more of a fixture in all of our student’s lives that we will need to figure it out – whatever that means. As my wife says – we want students to be engaged and take away something that has them completely engaged – simply put another form of literacy – I think :-S

  7. Hey Mick, great post. To echo what your wife said in your reply above I agree wholeheartedly. I replied in another blog that a speaker I once heard (back in 2003-04 at the U of C) challenged all educators to work with students and colleagues toward the appropriate implementation of technology in the classroom. He stated that most students are engaged and “plugged in” away from school and then when we get them at school our policies tend to “unplug” them. The challenge being plugging them in at school in a safe, productive and appropriate manner.

  8. mickpanko says:

    Thanks for all of the feedback – I certainly believe this to be a major challenge for all educators moving forward. My project is going to center around technology usage at schools and various policies that are in place from a variety of locations. If you are interested in being a part – drop me an email at mickpanko@hotmail.com or direct message me on twitter @mickpanko.

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