Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cell Phone Management in the Classroom

One of the biggest struggles teachers face these days, is student distraction. Technology is often considered a tool for education, (I'm even getting my Masters degree in Education Technology!) but it can quickly become more of a nuisance than anything. I often hear from curriculum specialists an college professors that even cell phones can be used in the classroom as technological tools at a student's fingertips.. but teachers that are actually in the classroom tend see it differently. Because students have easy access to social media, photo & video capabilities, etc., cell phones have only really been a problem with my students. Some things that are often forgotten about when it comes to social media and cyber-safety, include texting, sexting, nudity and cyber-bullying. Teachers cannot control what their students get into outside of the classroom, but I find it an important thing to focus on while we do have them under our domain. In my classroom, we are lucky enough to have a Chromebook cart full of laptops for student use, so there is really no need for cell phones anyways, even if they can be seen as educational tools. Because of this, I do not allow cell phones out in class for any reason at all. Instead, I collect them and keep them out of student reach (for the time they're in class). In fact, I actually have students voluntarily give them to me during the period. Here's what I do to manage student cellphones in my classroom.

This, my friends, is a contraption I put together to collect student cell phones. At the beginning of the class period, students have 5 minutes to grab a seat and get started on their warm ups. During this time, I take attendance and roll this baby around to each student to collect phones. Numbers on the desks allow me to match up cell phones with students, because the desk numbers match the numbers on the cell phone pockets. I originally had index cards in each pocket, so students would take the index card out and replace it with their phone, then exchange the index card for their phone at the end of the period to get it back. One problem I saw with that was the tagging. SO MUCH TAGGING. Some kids had some pretty cool drawings, but the cards definitely got destroyed quickly. Since then, I've just removed the cards and found that numbering the desks was a better solution. I numbered the desks with a blue sharpie it the upper left corner of each desk. That way it's easier for me to get students matched up to their cell phone numbers and visually see that they're taking the right number. In addition, students are able to see which number belongs to them in the event that they either forget or I move them around in the seating chart. So what is this thing?

Well, that's a great question. Basically, I got this calculator holder, which is the red cloth full of pouches, and attached it to a clothes rack. The clothes rack is a really cheap on I found on Amazon, and it was worked pretty well for me. I originally bought "S" hooks to attach the two, but they didn't work well so I replaced them with zip ties. The zip ties were much tighter and much more secure, to the added weight of the cell phones in the pouches did not cause the holder to bunch together in the middle of the rack, or lean forward tipping phones (which was a problem with the S hooks). I'll link all of the pieces below if you're interested, but the great thing about using a clothes rack is that most of them have wheels. So I roll this around my classroom and have students slide their phones in the pouches during the first 5 minutes of class. In order to fit the cart between desks, I put my desks in 3 rows and spread the rows out quite a bit so theres enough room for student seats and the cart rolling through. I know you're probably wondering, do kids actually surrender their cell phones? Well, yes and no. In order to get students to surrender their phones, I provide incentives. I offer students participation points for surrendering their phones because I know that students who aren't playing on their phones during class are more likely to participate. Being at a continuation school, that doesn't seem to get a full buy in so I decided to take it a little further by changing the regular cell phone cart into a charging station. I bought some basic power strips and USB charging blocks on Amazon, and I instantly got more buy in.

Students hate it when their phones are dying, so when you offer to charge their phones they're all for it. I have students bring their own charging cords (because there are different cords for different phones) and I charge them while they sit in the cart behind my desk. In order to ensure students aren't trying to cheat the system by charging their phones in the outlets around the classroom, I ended up covering the other outlets. I had two open outlets on my walls that were easy access for them so I grabbed some blank printer paper, maybe 5 pieces each, and stapled those pieces over the outlets behind my streamers. Sometimes it's even hard to see them, so new kids are unaware that outlets even exist around the classroom! Since I get a lot of questions on it, I created a video to help you understand how I used this. If you have any other ideas for cell phone management in your classroom, please let me know! I'm always curious as to how other teachers manage their classrooms and especially cell phone management! Also, if you try it out, be sure to send you thoughts and photos of it in action! I hope you enjoy!

Phone Pouches

Clothing Racks + Charging

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