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Managing cellphone use in the classroom

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2015 11:01 AM

Teachers are all-too-familiar with the many ways that cellphones interrupt class time. When a student receives a call or text and doesn't have his or her volume off, the noises or vibrations are distracting. Plus, many students use their phones to communicate with one another all day long even when they should be paying attention. Here are some ways to better manage cellphone use in class to limit interruptions:

Collect all devices
Some teachers have gone as far as to gather each student's phone in a basket before class. The kids can't get their devices back until the class is over. This can be helpful, but always make sure each child turns his or her phone off or to silent mode before tossing it in the bin. Otherwise, you may have to stop teaching to address a ringing or buzzing cellphone.

Create a warning system
You'll likely find there are one or two kids in your class who just don't seem to follow the cellphone rules. These individuals text and check Facebook on their phones while you teach and may even do so out in the open where you can easily see. Create a three-step warning system to deal with these students. Every time they use their phones in class, give a warning. Once a student disobeys the cellphone rules three times, he or she has to turn in his or her phone to the principal or administrative office. Work with your school's leaders to get them on board to create a school-wide program using three warnings. If teachers turn a phone in to the office because a student was using it in class, don't let him or her get the device back until his or her parents pick it up. This way, you get parents involved and make students less likely to use phones in school.

Use cellphones productively
Many educators see cellphones as a productivity tool instead of a distraction. These teachers have students use personal phones for classwork. Many instructors offer time for students to use helpful apps to further their language or math skills. Some have students use the school portal to work on homework and complete multimedia assignments with the help of their mobile devices. Seeing phones in this new light may help you nix the stigma of these devices as distracting and provide helpful opportunities to further your students' learning.