ED. Tech Debate #5

I think this was the debate that shifted my thinking the most. The topic, cell phones should be banned in classrooms. As a primary elementary teacher I have little experience with students in my classroom carrying a cell phone or using one for educational purposes. It just wasn’t something that my students had access to. So as a teacher I never really thought of the benefits to having a cell phone in my students hands during class time. I know how easily my phone can distract me so I figured the same would go for them. I found it easy to relate to the agreeing side of this argument. What I did not expect was my shift in thinking. Both sides did a great job of highlighting their sides and these are a few takeaways I had.

Jill and Tarina shared a great video full of facts and other short clips emphasising why cell phones should be banned in the classroom. I found the segment on the tally collection of notifications during a 30 minute time frame shocking. It is no wonder kids these days are spending a significant amount of time on their phones and on social media if their phones are going off that often. I know for myself personally I struggle with leaving notifications on my phone. If I have my hands full or I am doing something that is keeping me busy I will leave it but for the most part I need to look and see what caused my phone to buzz. I can only imagine a lot of students would be the same way.

The video Jill and Tarina shared built off of this point. It talked about physical seperation from the phone being the only way to really avoid the distraction. You have to check it out for yourself!

Source

The video also mentioned students could use the cell phones to cheat on tests or use them for cyberbullying during classtime. If that happens then everyone will be sneaking a peak at their device to follow the latest drama.

Another point in favour of banning cell phones in class was the common theme of digital divide. Not everyone has a cell phone let alone a smart phone. If teachers are requiring students to use their cell phone in class for educational purposes that it is putting pressure on parents to provide a device for theirs kids. For some this is an added stress they do not need. Instead of using cell phones, they argued that school divisions are spending more money on technology so that classrooms have enough chromebooks or laptops for students to use. I liked how they mentioned that cooperation skills, team building and many other skills are developed by students when they are required to share a textbook or a computer for an assignment. I think this is a very important point to think about because so often students struggle with this. Not to mention they are lacking communication skills since a majority of kids conversations are through the use of technology nowadays. Overall, I felt that they made a lot of great points and I still felt cell phones did not belong in the classroom.

Skyler and Alyssa made some strong counter arguments in favour of cell phones in the classroom. Some students rely on their cellphones for medical reasons like those that test their glucose levels using the cell phone. Also students with disabilities may use them as a means of communication. They talked about how if you have a classroom with a high level of students with cell phone devices you may as we use them to your advantage. Incorporate phones into your lessons. They provided an article that had 20 apps that students can use in a positive way. I really appreciated that. I will be checking these out for sure. Teach about the expectations of cell phone use in the classroom and create a plan with your students. One example that was provided was the stoplight approach. I liked this idea because it allows the students to use their phones but it also teaches them self-control and when they need to be ignoring their phones.

I think the group discussion is where I felt the shift in what I believed. I am still not completely sold but I think it is the reality and I need to accept it. A lot of classmates shared their own experiences and that helped open my eyes to the possibility of positive experiences in the classroom. Mike mentioned how his students use the phones as a second screen when working in the computer. I can see this as I often do it too when I am working on something. This is why I like the stop light approach. If students follow it they are using the phones at appropriate times and then put them away when they do not need the distraction. Of course they may still check social media but for the most part they will manage work and play in an appropriate manner.

Of course I still am a bit apprehensive because not everything goes as planned. You will still have those students that take advantage of this or they will use the phones inappropriately. This is just like anything in our schools. Sherrie mentioned how the camera’s can be used in a negative way. This was also a concern of mine. Like I mentioned previously, I don’t have much experience with my students having access to a cell phone. However, now that I am working in middle years we have had a few students bring their phone to school. They are not supposed to have them in the classroom or outside at lunch or recess. Of course they do not listen all the time. On multiple occassions we have had students making a Tik Tok or taking a snapchat of other students or even of the teacher while they are teaching and without their permission. This concerns me. I feel this may be one of the reasons I was not in favour of phones in the classroom. They can easily be made to make fun of peers.

At the end of the debate I felt my mind had shifted. I am still a little apprenhensive of phones in an elementary classroom. However, I do see some of the advantages to allowing them in the classroom. Guidelines need to be in place and a level of cooperation from both the teacher and the students is required to make it successful. I do know that I like to have my phone on my desk in case daycare calls or even to use for teaching purposes. I try and model self-control and avoid using it for personal reasons. Like Skyler and Alyssa said….. Don’t make a BAN…have a PLAN!

5 thoughts on “ED. Tech Debate #5

  1. Jill McLeod

    You have some great insights from that debate Jocelyn. Something that sticks with me from a personal experience as a student connects to your comment about schools requiring students to use their cell phones for instructional purposes. When I was in grade 6, we were asked to pay $5 for our school agendas. We were not allowed to use another agenda. I remember my mom saying that if the school expects us to use something they should provide it at no extra cost. Cell phones are not on the school supply list and schools do provide the necessary tech. Additionally, a parent might not want their child downloading all these extra apps, or using their phone to access different websites when a parent is paying for the phone plan. And to further agree with your digital divide point, many students have hand-me down phones that are older models and may not have space to download, or have current enough operating systems to use them in the way that the teacher wants. I like that you pointed out the idea of having guidelines in place to use cell phones. This would be a good way to balance using school tech, and incorporating cell phone use when needed.

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    1. I remember a similar comment made by my mom. That is a good point about parents not wanting their children using a phone and all those apps. I never really thought of that. Buying and paying for the phone may not be the only reason parents do not provide their child with one. That also got me thinking. With the increasing use of technology in our schools, think how different it must be teaching at schools that are part of a colony. Lots to think about. Thanks for the great reply.

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  2. I appreciate the fact that these debates are challenging us in many ways. You make many interesting points and I also appreciate you perspective from younger grades. My own kids really didn’t have access to their own smart phone until about grade 7 (now almost done high school) and it looks like the entry point continues to get lower. Having a plan is super important and if we can help them self regulate at a longer age with these devices it might become more of the norm rather than the exception. Do you think this too?

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    1. I didn’t get my first cell phone until University and that was only because I was on the road every weekend with sports. So for kids to be getting them in elementary school now makes me wonder at what age will it be “normal” for kids to get a cellphone by the time my daughter enters school. Great question! I hope it doesn’t get too young. I see the reasons for getting a young child one but I hope it isn’t too soon. Whenever my kids do get a phone I hope I can teach them to use self-regulation and moderation of use. Thanks for challenging my thinking with that!

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