I’ve been utilizing cell phones in my classroom for so long that I had forgotten some teachers are still putting up the good fight to control cell phone use in their classrooms. Back in 2010, my school implemented the “If you can’t beat them, join them” mentality and started encouraging teachers to put cell phones to use in their classrooms rather than to try in vain to keep them out. The results have been tremendous. Basically, each teacher has the freedom to implement their own cell phone policy, and I can tell you that the ones who try to integrate cell phones in their lessons have fewer issues than the ones who don’t. If students know that they will get to use their smartphones at least once during a lesson, then it seems to ease that itch to check it at inappropriate times. Also, this teaches a KEY life lesson: Cellphone Etiquette. Smartphones can make us more efficient, eliminate paper waste, and help our brains engage, but not being consumed with a phone at inappropriate times is a lesson that must be taught. There are respectful, life-long learning benefits of smartphones, and I want my students to learn these lessons.
If you are worried that using smartphones in the classroom will highlight the have and the have-nots, then think about some solutions rather than skipping out on these powerful learning tools altogether. Most of us have two or three old phones around the house. Our friends and family could add at least 10 more. Once the pictures and messages have been deleted, they can serve as spare smartphones in your classroom. They won’t have the phone service, but once connected to the internet, students will be able to use them for all of the activities listed below. Another solution is to always make sure those without cell phones are paired with someone who has one.
***FUN ALERT*** Another not-so-obvious way to utilize the Remind app even further is a little game I like to call “Quick Draw Paws” where you play a review game based on who has the quickest texting “paws.” You can play this by putting students into groups (making sure at least one of the group members is signed up for your remind). Then, you start a chat with each team leader. Now, the chat should be open so that after you ask a review question, the answer that comes back to your chat the quickest wins the round.
*** FUN ALERT #2*** I figured out another awesome way to use Remind this week when I had my students use Snapchat to interpret The Canterbury Tales. Instead of my having to follow them, I had them take screen shots of the snaps then send them to me in Remind. It worked perfectly and was actually fun to grade! Ha! If you happen to teach The Canterbury Tales, you can find our more about that lesson here: The Canterbury Tales meet Snapchat Stories
7. Music: Speaking of music, why not go with their desire to have their earbuds in at all times and design a lesson that incorporates their love of music? My history teacher husband uses this lesson with his middle schoolers for each world history lesson he teaches, and his 7th graders never get tired of it…never. Music is their lifeblood.