Saturday, November 12, 2011

10 Talking Points for Texting (let's lift the bans on cell phones)

By opening up conversations with the powers that be, you will begin the process necessary to eventually lift bans on cell phones, create acceptable use agreements, and change school policy. 

Use this  "10 Talking Points Worksheet" designed to be customized for your particular situation.  If you are talking with (or happen to be) your building principal, your district administration, your school board, a policy review committee, or any combination of these; you will want to be prepared.  By taking the time to insert data from your school or district that will support the main points for cell phone use, you will present a convincing case.   Even if you do not have the time to compile the data or copy the suggested handouts, the points are still valuable to go forward and start the discussion.  

Ten Talking Points to Lift The Ban and Begin Using Cell Phones for Learning
  1. Harness the power of the tools already in student's pockets

The ubiquitous use of cell phones by our students illustrates the reason why we should allow cell phones, with an acceptable use agreement, and utilize the tools available on them for learning purposes inside and outside the classroom. Students are motivated to use them! The majority of our secondary students are sitting in classrooms with cell phones in their pockets regardless of the ban.  Integrating cell phones is a student desired educational enhancement, making it very likely to be successful due to the bottom-up approach.
[Insert your school's teacher/student/parent cell phone survey results here.  Example survey forms for students, teachers, and parents are included in the special materials section of this chapter.]
  1. Cell phones have educational capabilities built in

Cell phones have many educational capabilities: Calculator, Clock, Calendar, Picture/Video, Stop Watch, Text Messaging for Communication/writing, Internet, Polling... Cell phones are used to support and enhance current research-based instructional strategies. 
[Insert examples from this book that you personally feel will be valuable for the students in your classroom, school, and/or district.]
  1. Save money for your school

Using student cell phone capabilities as educational tools is FREE, no hardware or software purchases required.
[Insert your school’s/district’s technology budget from previous years and projections/cuts, which cell phones do not require.
  1. Little to no learning curve

Most educators already own and are familiar with cell phone technologies, thus integration would not require a large amount of time consuming and costly training. All it would take is an open mind. Students can teach educators how the tools can be used for learning.
[Insert your school's/district's training, inservice, workshop expenditures from previous years and projections/cuts, which cell phone use will not require.]
  1. Decrease discipline issues

Utilizing cell phones for educational purposes should reduce phone-related discipline issues. Working with students to establish appropriate and inappropriate uses is useful in developing proper etiquette for use both at school and in the community. It teaches self control, boundaries, and compliance.
[Insert your school’s statistics on referrals, detentions, etc. from cell phones, which can be reduced through acceptance of use and establishment of protocols.]
  1. Reduce cheating with cell phones

With acceptance of cell phones in classrooms and established policies and protocols in place, students will know what is acceptable. During assessment students and teachers will have established if cell phones should be out on their desks, under their desk, collected in a basket, or, just maybe, used as part of assessment. Consideration: If the answer is already available in a student's pocket, on demand, are we really assessing what is relevant in the 21st century?
[Provide a sample of classroom procedures addressing cell phones during testing such as the example feature in the special materials of Chapter 6]
  1. Cell phones can be used to support research-based strategies

Cell phones can support research-based educational strategies while engaging learners and enhancing instruction.  As we shared in Chapter 3 of this book, there are numerous research-based instructional strategies that can be enhanced with the use of cell phones.
[Provide some examples from Chapter 3 of this book.]
  1. Help your school go green with the tools students already own

Cell phones and text message communication are environmentally friendly and fit the trend of many schools to decrease paper.  There are even a few schools across the nation that have become paperless (add reference).
[Insert your school's/district's paper/copy machine budget from previous years and projections/cuts, which can be positively affected by cell phone use.]
  1. Establish a positive educational environment

An acceptable use agreement developed with the educators and students and shared with the school community can help establish a positive educational climate.
[Provide a sample agreement like the ones in Chapter 4.]
  1. Many educators are already having success with cell phones in their classrooms

Use some of the examples given throughout this blog and in "Teaching Generation Text" of teachers who are having success with cell phones in the classroom.   
[Tell a few of your own touching or motivating success stories. Use the results of your pilot program here!] 

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