Monday, June 20, 2016

By Opening the Door to Cell Phones, Are Schools Also Feeding an Addiction?

By Opening the Door to Cell Phones, Are Schools Also Feeding an Addiction?:

By Opening the Door to Cell Phones, Are Schools Also Feeding an Addiction?

cell phones in the classroom
When the Glendale Unified School District loosened cell phone use restrictions a few years ago, Chris Davis welcomed the change for two reasons. First, as a history and journalism teacher at Clark Magnet School, he looked forward to not spending an inordinate amount of his time chasing down wayward students with their ever-present smartphones.
“If the school tried to impose a ban, that’s how I would spend my day. What a waste of time and energy,” Davis says.
But Davis recognizes mobile devices as more than what some consider the “new chewing gum”—a nuisance more than an offense and one very difficult to enforce. He believes that as long as each of his students has access to a cell phone, and the parameters around their use are clearly defined, the classroom rewards outweigh the risks of a more open policy.
Sure, some students in other schools spend class time staring at their devices, texting, sharing, communicating through sites like Snapchat—generally presenting an ongoing classroom management provocation. But these are not major issues with Davis’ students. Accommodating cell phones in the classroom, he believes, doesn’t amount to a deal with the devil.
Clark Magnet has a science and technology focus, which makes it ideally suited for a wider use of smartphone applications. But even in Davis’ history and journalism class, he encourages students to use the devices for oral histories. When using Google Docs/Drive, Davis finds that some students find typing and editing on a smartphone easier than the relatively bulky Chromebooks they also have access to in class.
“All the teachers are aware of the classroom management challenges, but it’s just a more realistic approach. When used carefully and with limitations, it is a very useful learning tool.”
Before New York City lifted its ban on cell phones in schools, many students had to pay a dollar to check their devices at a van before school. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Before New York City lifted its ban on cell phones in schools, many students had to pay a dollar to check their devices at a van before school. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Realistic. This is how many teachers describe their acceptance, if not embrace, of how the hyper-connected, media-saturated world of their students has gained a foothold in their classrooms. George Summerhill, a middle school teacher in Reno, Nev., calls it the “new reality,” one that he concedes he is ambivalent about. But Summerhill also doesn’t want to be trapped in what he views as myopic thinking about the looming dangers of classroom technology. Now in his 12th year of teaching at Cold Springs Middle School, Summerhill made adjustments, started small, and so far likes what he sees. He may sound a little resigned, but “cell phones aren’t going away so why not use them?” he By Opening the Door to Cell Phones, Are Schools Also Feeding an Addiction?:


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