Bean's Books and Beyond

Sharing thoughts on books–and sometimes on education and life

Phones in the classroom January 23, 2018

Filed under: Articles and Issues — Bean's Book Blog: books and beyond @ 3:32 am
Tags: , ,

I’m back on educational technology, and specifically phones in the classroom.  I’ll get back to book reviews soon (I’m reading a great wolf book and can’t wait to blog about it), but I saw this article posted by former colleague and Latin teacher extraordinaire, Steve Prince: How to Eliminate Cell Phone Use in the Classroom.

We just need to be done with phones in the classroom for several reasons:

  1.  Our students are addicted to their phones–literally addicted.  Students are anxious if they have to go an hour (or 5 minutes) without checking updates–whether that be social media, texts, or even news.
  2. They’re a distraction to learning.  Even when students are not using/have access to a phone, they’re thinking about it–which means they’re not thinking about whatever task they should be engaged with.
  3. They’ve come to think of any moment of “down time” in the classroom—even a 30 second break to stretch, talk to another student, notice the sunshine streaming in the windows—as “legit” time to check their phone. So they miss a conversation with a classmate, they miss the sunshine, they miss an opportunity to give their bodies, minds, and eyes a needed break. So much learning can happen through casual conversation, but currently, if there is no specific task using every minute, students go straight to their phone.
  4. We do not need them as learning tools.  Can they be helpful at times? Yes. Quicker than a computer for simple tasks? Yes.  But as soon as we give in to this, it’s one blurry line. And when the yes/no cell phone policy is a blurry one, teachers will say “please put your phone away” over and over and over every day. Simply counting the number of times we either say this to an individual student, remind the whole class, or actually ask a student for his/her phone would likely yield surprising results in lost learning time.
  5. As long as schools have a policy of “classroom by classroom,” there will never be a clear expectation for student behavior. I used to be a fan of letting each teacher decide what works best in his/her classroom, but I’m over that. I’m tired of monitoring, tired of politely reminding, and tired of watching student anxiety levels increase. We have to set the limits for them because they cannot do this on their own.

Have thoughts? Please share them.


Technology in the Classroom November 25, 2017

Filed under: Articles and Issues — Bean's Book Blog: books and beyond @ 6:46 pm

I continue to ponder every day the use of technology in the classroom.  Yes, there are distinct advantages, ways in which technology has enabled my writing students to access information/websites that offer strategies for improving their writing. Much of this technology I would use of my own accord simply because I try to stay abreast of best practice methodology.  We produce digital stories and podcasts, we collaborate on Google Docs, we offer snippets of writing through a discussion panel where students can comment, and we make use of quick access to student and professional writing models as a way of improving our own pieces. But when technology feels forced on us, and we’re constantly asked how, when, and where we’re using it, I continue to wonder who’s driving this bus? The number of edtech jobs seems to be exponentially increasing.  On a limited school budget, each time we add yet another technology consultant, administrator, or IT support person,  it seems that our class sizes get bigger.  Job security means shoving more tech requirements at us at the very same time we’re also reading about the negative side of technology, both in and out of the classroom.  Here are three recent articles that address some issues we should all be thinking about: A NYT article from a few days ago Laptops are Great.  But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting; another recent article showing the infiltration of edtech companies How Silicon Valley Plans to Conquer the Classroom; and an article recently sent to our staff from our VP The Distracted Student Mind: Enhancing its Focus and Attention.

Our students need breaks from technology.  Yet we’re never asked “How often are your students engaging in non-tech activities? How often and for how long are they asked to focus deeply and think critically without a screen?”  I have never been asked either of those questions.  I’m only asked how often and in how many different ways I am engaging students in technology. Perhaps down the road, when more research comes in, will someone ask about tech breaks instead of tech use.




%d bloggers like this: