The ESL Commando

Top Secret Tips for English Success

The ESL Commando

Top Secret Tips for English Success

How to deal with cellphones in the classroom


Smartphones are an amazing tool that benefits us in so many ways, but sometimes they can be a distraction for our students.  I am trying to incorporate more technology in the classroom, but I find that in an ESL setting, we also need times when students are writing with their pen to the paper.  (I actually prefer the use of laptops over smartphones in my ESL classroom, due to the fact that they offer the collaborative benefits of a smartphone without the texting/messaging distractions.)

I find that unless I have a scheduled task in which technology (cell phones) is used, they tend to become more of a distraction than a help.

For that reason, I have started using the system in the picture below to stow cell phones during class. Note: This system could also just be used on certain tasks like tests and major assignments in which cell phones are not necessary.

cellphone box organizerI don’t claim to be the first to use this method. I saw it on a meme site recently and thought it was a great idea.  Here I would like to also tell you how I use the system.

At the beginning of a session,  I tell all students that stowing their cell phones will be the policy at the beginning of every class. I also have them put names on their slots so that I can take attendance. No cell phone in the slot, no credit for attendance.
In addition, students know that if I see them pull out an additional cell or iPod during class, they are already in the wrong and will lose participation credit. If it is a test, they will get an automatic zero and an academic dishonesty write up.
Now, students simply drop their cell phones in without question every class. No arguing, no constant reminders or unpleasant exchanges between the students and myself.  They just know to put them in at the beginning of class.
These shoe organizers can be purchased through Amazon through the link below or at your local department store for $10 or less.

To the reader, please remember that I am in an ESL setting where students need to learn the English writing system, and I am in no way condemning the use of cell phones in the class for FOCUSED activities. However, cheating, plagiarizing, and taking pictures of secure testing materials has caused me to rethink just how lax I want to be in allowing cell phones during general class time.

I hope that this solution will help some of you in your quest to balance the use of technology with traditional instruction.
Let me know your thoughts on this issue.  I know that my opinion is evolving.

“Do you think we should fully embrace the use of cell phones in the class? Should we do so but cautiously?  Should we fully reject their use and stick to traditional methods of instruction?”

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