California Educator

December 2014

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S O M E E D U C AT O R S I N S I S T students "keep 'em in the backpack" or threaten to confiscate them. Others see them as a "learning tool" that helps students stay engaged and focused. We're talking cellphones, of course, and their usage in schools. Dialed in on the issue (remember those days?) are two CTA members with opposing views on the subject. Cellphones are a huge distraction at school. Because they're always on social media, kids don't interact anymore; they just text each other. Even if they're sitting together at a table, they're on their phones. Because of cellphones, kids lack social skills and can't converse with one another. Shy kids stay shy because of cellphones. And if you're always on your phone, you aren't pushed to go outside of your comfort zone. I think they can be a learning tool, but I don't think they should be used as a classroom learning tool. It's too hard to monitor what students are doing on their phones. It's too tempting for a student to switch over from doing something educational to texting or putting something on Twitter. Students should pay attention to the teacher, eyes in front, and it's hard to do that when you've got your phone out. Our school has a "no cellphone" rule during in- structional time. Even if kids leave class to go to the restroom, they're not allowed to be on their phones. Sometimes we'll take their phones away and put them in the office until after school. At the end of the day, there are lots of cellphones in the office. Cellphones at school can be used for bullying. I've had girls take pictures of other girls in the locker room and post them on social media, which is horrible. Kids post things on Twitter or Tumblr or Facebook to spread rumors. And sending provocative photos out to others is another distraction we don't need at school, in my opinion. Cellphones can also be used for cheating. Kids will take pictures of a test and send to their friends in the next period. And cellphones are hurting students' gram- mar, because thanks to texting, students can't spell "you are." It's always "ur." I'm tech-savvy. I know parents need to communicate with their children before and after school. But other than that, there's no reason for students to have their cellphones out during the school day. CAROL PEEK, Ventura Education Support Professionals Association, is a Buena High School campus supervisor. Technology is a whirlwind that is sweep- ing through education, and arguments against the use of cellphones in the classroom are already passé. Students no longer have "cell- phones." They have smartphones (minicomputers!) they carry with them everywhere. These devices have become an integral part of adolescent life, and rather than trying to stem the tide, we should welcome the energy they can capture and use them to invigorate our classrooms. Last year I was part of a pilot for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) on my campus. Student use of cellphones has always been part of my repertoire despite "no cellphones allowed" policies. With BYOD, however, smartphone use has become the rule instead of the exception. My students suddenly have access to all the tools that many professionals take for granted. Their smartphones have become their go-to device for research. Google Cal- endar replaces the school planner for recording homework. Students can easily record data with a click of their camera. Instantaneous answers to questions during class discussion are possible with a "Will someone Google that, please?" My classroom use of smartphones also saves money and resources as the number of paper copies have dropped. Stu- dents just check the "Google Doc" or download the PDF. Another benefit I have noticed is that inappropriate classroom use (i.e., texting) is less of a problem as kids find positive uses for their "toys." There are ways to use that shiny new S5 that won't get them in trouble. My students don't want to risk losing this privilege. Smartphones have become more than just a link to social media and instant messaging, and if the phones are out for some specific purpose, illegitimate use becomes more obvious and easier to prevent. Smartphones are another tool that students have access to, and one that many of them have already mastered. There are a multitude of apps and sites available that help students become responsible for their own learning. Maybe the question shouldn't be "Are smartphones allowed?" but rather "What new device is going to replace them?" TOD CRITCHLOW, Vista Teachers Association, is a Madison Middle School science teacher. YES NO Should cellphones be allowed in class? Point/Counterpoint Perspectives 24

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