A View from the Field: Why Cell Phones Make Sense for Learning

vickyStriving Readers’ technology grant allowed Bate Middle School (BMS) to step-up their instructional rigor and the motivational level of many students.  Due to the financing we could not purchase iPod Touches, Response Systems or Interactive White Boards for every room.  I was researching innovative 21st century best practices.  I found several articles, and the book “Toys to Tools,”  was mentioned in several articles.  I ordered the book and it was everything the articles claimed.  It was a very practical resource that contained many lessons for a variety of subjects.  The goal of the book was to encourage educators to introduce cell phones to students as potential learning tools and lifelong professional tool, rather than viewing them solely as a social toy. Here’s the Top Ten List of “take-aways” from the book, plus the cell phone user agreement and letter sent home to parents:

  • Cell phones are not just toys; rather, they’re essential tools students use to communicate with the world around them.
  • Using a multiple literacy approach to classroom instruction enables students to understand, use, and critically evaluate the multi-modal tests of the 21st century.
  • In the 21st Century, part of an educator’s job is to help students navigate and stay safe in a world overflowing with technology and information.
  • For students to be successful in the future they must learn how to use different literacy tools in various knowledge-building communities.
  • The M-generation has the ability to multitask with a variety of media devices at one time.
  • Students enjoy using their cell phones and they are highly motivated to interact with their cell phones during class.
  • Most students have their cell phone with them.
  • Students are growing up in a technology-enhanced community outside of school.  If students develop their own communication and community through their media “toys,” educators need to bring those toys into educational activities so students can learn to use them as “tools of knowledge.”
  • An educator’s job includes helping the students navigate and stay safe in their media world.  It is of utmost importance for the teachers to have a routine and take control of the procedures of usage.  This can be done through teaching them cell phone etiquette, social agreement signed by student and parent, informing parents, and consistent policies through put the school.
  • For those students who do not have a phone or permission from their parents you will need alternative method or assignment.

Bate Middle School cell phone User Agreement

Cell phone letter home

vicky cell phone agreement


vicky cell phone agreement 2



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