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Student Cell Phones: Beat 'Em or Join 'Em?

Those who follow me regularly know that when it comes to students, I subscribe to the "Join 'Em" philosophy more often than not. Not just digitally, either. Walk into my classroom and you may see me sitting on the floor working a problem, or checking out a student's YouTube channel after school. Education is about students getting what they need for their lives. My life and my schooling is already outdated and irrelevant.

When it comes to cell phones in class, though, the issue extends far beyond "beating 'em vs. joining 'em." I truly believe in the transformative powers of technology. Not only does technology have magical powers for increasing student engagement, but it also possesses the ability to create individualized learning experiences for our students. All that we dream of when imagining the ideal classroom (students working collaboratively on authentic, creative, meaningful projects) is possible through the device students carry in their pockets.

I am fortunate to work in a school and district that recognizes this, and teachers are encouraged to capitalize on the digital capacities students bring. With "Bring Your Own Device" policies being so new, teachers and students are bound to face several frustrations. Student wireless is often slow and overly restrictive. Some students don't have a device, so lessons must be designed with this in mind. Many educational games and programs use Flash and can't be accessed through phones. Cell phone batteries tend to die quickly, especially with students who text often and flood their memory with music and apps.

Our school librarian/media specialist offers a great solution for dying batteries!

The sign lets the students know - this is a place where technology is accepted and embraced!

I love how inviting this feels for studying, reading, or collaboration! 21st century learning right here!


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