Thursday, February 24, 2011

How to Handle the Haves and Have Nots

What do you do with students who don’t have cell phones? This question comes up quite often when I talk to educators about implementing cell phones in the classroom.  When parents ask, they can sometimes be rude—especially if their child comes home with a permission slip to participate in cell phone activities and they don’t own a cell phone.  To address this very valid concern, I would suggest trying the following:
  1. Be clear and upfront with students when going over cell phone expectations-- put-downs should not be tolerated.
  2. Design lessons and activities that require students to work in pairs or trios (no more than three).  
  3. Design activities that use cell phones outside of the classroom. For example, have students post a blog response to a question via text message. They can borrow their parent’s cell phone.
  4. Ask a local cell phone provider to donate a few cell phones for your class.  The calendar, calculator, stop-watch and camera functions can be used without active service.
  5. Use one cell phone as a center/small group learning activity.
  6. Look for mini-grants or ask your PTA to purchase a few pay-as-you-go cell phones (TracFones). 
I would also suggest monitoring interactions between students during the activities and address any issues immediately--just as you would if they were sharing crayons or markers :-)

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