Even though most students have more technology in their pockets than we teachers do in our whole classrooms, it’s still a little scary to think of giving our students permission to use their own technology in class.
How do you control it? How do you keep them from using it when they’re not supposed to? And how to you work it to your (and your students’) advantage?
To maintain control, you must set up rules for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in your classroom. Some districts have included BYOD language in their annual internet access agreements which are sent home every year for families to sign so students may use the internet at school. Basic rules should include WHAT devices are acceptable and WHEN they may be used in class.
To keep students from using their BYOD when they’re not supposed to, you must set clearly stated, zero-tolerance rules for using a BYOD in class without permission. Then you must take the time to teach those rules to your class and their families (class time, flyers home, website information, etc.). When that first student tests the rules, you must be firm and set an example.
To work it to your advantage, you must give students opportunities which showcase the usefulness of cell phones, particularly smart phones. In my class, students are allowed to use their smart phones during “Got Done Early?” time to read a book (on their Nook, Kindle or other device/app) once they have shown me their work is done AND have asked permission to do so. Students with smart phones (and family permission) are the go-to students when we have a question that needs Googling (How long was Felix Baumgartner’s space jump?). Students have seen apps I’ve used in the classroom, downloaded them onto their devices, and started using them for classroom help in everything from multiplication practice to storytelling.
For even more ideas on how to use a cell phone in your classroom, including scavenger hunts, shooting video and creating & reading QR codes, check out “40 Creative Ways Teachers Are Using Cell Phones in the Classroom” on OnlineUniversities.com. There are some great ideas here which I intend to try in my own classroom.