In addressing the growing problem of student in-class texting, a middle school in New York state seems to be taking the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach. But with intriguing modifications.
According to CNN, Haverstraw Middle School has issued new cellphones to 75 5th graders in a pilot program this year. Here’s the catch: The phones, called “mobile learning devices” in the school, have texting and calling capabilities disabled. Instead, students can use the phones for note taking and research.
“It’s not really a phone, it’s their computer for class,” says social studies teacher Ronald Royster. “It has not taken the place of anything. It’s a resource the kids can use like a book or a notebook,” he says.
The phones do have limited access to the internet, so students can conduct research as on a personal computer. Students can also send in homework assignments to their teachers from the phone.
“The first week, my dad freaked out when he thought I was texting, but now he realizes it’s like keeping up with our generation,” 11-year-old Ryan Guzinski told CNN. Guzinski also said the phones made memorizing lessons easier for him.
Added fellow student Naya Rivera: “Now that I have this, it’s kind of more fun to go on the Internet on this and experiment with it at home instead of sitting there and texting all day, like doing nothing.”
If you’re interested in more information about the uses of cellphones in the classroom, Teacher hosted a free webinar last summer about cellphones as instructional tools.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.