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Cell Phones in School – How Texting Can Find a Place in Your Class

by Neil Finney

In a world where texting and Twitter have exploded, it is clear that we love to send short messages. But as with most technologies, our schools, and specifically, your Intermediate

Cell phones do not need to be banned from class. As with any other tool, they can be harnessed and wielded for the powers of good – and maybe even help raise your teaching game. With these three simple guidelines, your intermediate students will learn to text each other in a controlled and positive way:classroom, may have become a place for students to act, without thought, and use, without etiquette. How do we ensure that cell phones and texting can co-exist with our programming while maintaining a positive classroom environment? The key is in your approach.

  1. Develop a class plan with your students – How are cell phones allowed to be used in class? Brainstorm, as a group, how phones could play a part in your lessons.
  2. Give the phones a prominent role (especially in the beginning) – You will have more success in establishing a system if you focus on it at the start. Show students that you are as excited as they are to do this.
  3. Be a Facilitator, Not a Dictator – Students will buy in to rules and consequences they have helped to create. So, spend time co-creating the rules for cell phone use and also the consequences of misuse. Post these rules.

There is a tremendous amount of potential for integrating cell phone technology in a way that supports our programming and captures student interest. Cell phones open up a new frontier of communication in our classroom that offer accommodations for oral language and reluctant speakers. Welcoming this opportunity in a purposeful way is a step in the right direction to engage our 21st century learners.

How do you invite cell phone use in your classroom? In what other ways could cell phones support our students with special needs?


During Neilʼs 9 years of teaching experience, he has taught in London, England; Ontario; public and private schools; elementary and secondary; junior; intermediate; core french; developmental skills; and now junior gifted (grades 4,5,6). He is a Reading Specialist that has been incorporating technology in his practice consistently throughout his career. Neil has recently published his first book entitled “Ignite. Incite. Inspire.” – Examining 21st Century Issues in Education, which is a collection of teaching articles and posts written from January to December 2011.


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  • http://adunsiger.com Aviva (@avivaloca)

    Neil, this post really resonated with me! Until this year, I never used cell phones in the classroom, but lots of my students have cell phones, and they’ve used them well in class as other devices to access the Internet for both researching and blogging. The amazing thing that happened though was when one of my students that’s a selective mute started using her cell phone in class. She now has a “voice” in the classroom. While she won’t talk to other students, she dominates many of our backchannel discussions by sharing thoughts and asking questions both with her peers and with me. In the past, she’s never interacted with the teacher at school, but thanks to the Internet and her cell phone, she will. It’s amazing what a powerful tool this mobile device can be!