Studies show that 49% of students are distracted by phones and other gadgets in class. Also, smartphone usage statistics show that students check their phones more than 11 times a day on average.
Smartphones can be a hard distraction to overcome in the classroom.
But since most students are accustomed to using phones for homework, socializing and other activities, teachers may be hesitant to limit their usage in class.
Here’s how teachers can deal with cell phones in the classroom.
Integrate apps and other digital platforms into lessons
Studies have shown that students spend about 20% of their time on social media sites. Educators can take advantage of this by working social media apps into their lessons. For example, Twitter polls can be a great way for educators and students to ask each other questions, while Twitter hashtags and message boards can make discussions on specific topics more engaging.
Students can also use the Pinterest app to create and share boards that display their artwork or projects.
Blog post platforms can be great tools for classroom activities as well. Students can make an account on a platform like WordPress, Squarespace, Tumblr, or Medium to add comments on class prompts or stay tuned with classroom updates, all on their phone.
Online games such as Kahoot or Jeopardy can be a fun way to turn cell phones into learning tools too.
Kahoot has many features designed to enhance classroom presentations. For example, teachers can integrate polls and/or trivia questions into slides and videos that students can respond to with their phones – making presentations more engaging.
Teachers can also use the jumble feature in Kahoot which allows students to unscramble words, sentences, dates of events, math equations and more.
Give students cell phone breaks
Another effective way of dealing with cell phones is to allow a three-minute “technology break” during class time where students can navigate their phones freely.
Teachers can do this a couple of times during the class period so students are less likely to pull out their phones during a lesson. A study done at Brock University tested the effectiveness of technology breaks during lectures.
One group was given a three-minute break on two separate occasions while the other group had no breaks. Both groups had 35 students and were taught by the same person.
The results showed there were “no statistically significant differences between the groups for level of classroom participation, test results, or instructor year-end evaluations.”
Since there is no clear evidence that cell phone breaks are academically harmful to students, they may be worth implementing and could even be helpful – particularly to students who tend to fidget or struggle to maintain focus during lessons. Cell phone breaks can be a quick way for students to recharge during long lessons, helping them to maintain focus.
Store phones in a cell phone locker
In certain circumstances, using a durable cell phone and tablet locker may be the best way to manage students’ cell phones.
Cell phone lockers work particularly well for test taking or learning activities that demand constant focus – like science experiments or shop work that involves dangerous machinery. In these cases, storing cell phones in a locker can help keep students safe, as it ensures they won’t be distracted by calls, texts or other notifications while handling hazardous materials.
Some cell phone lockers have metal number plates to keep each locker organized. For convenience, teachers can assign each of their students a locker number. A locker also assures students that their phones won’t be taken accidentally or lost during class.
While some students may benefit from cell phone breaks, others may benefit from having their phone locked away completely. It’s up to educators to decide which method is best.
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