Cell Phones in School: Lesson enhancer or lesson distraction?

Published: Aug. 18, 2016 at 11:24 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 18, 2016 at 12:17 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Some of us think an iPhone would have absolutely no place in the classroom, but gone are the days of a child leaving their phones in their school lockers. Now teachers deal with the tension of those small screens being a lesson enhancer a lesson distraction.

According to the Pew Research Center more than 73% of American teens have smartphones and the number seems to be growing daily. With simple-to-use internet access, and education-friendly apps some teachers know the smartphones could help if they're used correctly!

Shawn Coughlon is a ninth year teacher at Coronado High School, he says "They do seem like this amazing tool and they can do so much. and we have to decide what ways we'll utilize that and harness the potential of the phone."

Inside the halls of Lubbock ISD's Coronado High School, Shawn Coughlon and Department Chair, Jamie Martinez two teachers have been watching the usage of cell phones evolve for years.

Thanks to changing technology there's plenty of reason for a teacher to let the students leave that phone on their desk. Martinez uses them in her room for a variety of interactive things, "Little quizzes, interactive games, interactive powerpoints, students participating live-time right while you're doing it."

But how do the adults know when the students are really paying attention?

"If they are doing something like the achieve 3000. There's not a lot of button pushing involved, its more scrolling you can tell what a student is doing based on the type of activity." says Coughlon.

Clever teachers keeping eyes on fingers and screens as they perform lessons. 

At this high school, the teacher decides when and where. Students at Coronado can use their cell phone before school, after school and during lunch but when they cross the threshold of the classroom, the teacher's in charge. Some teachers even have pouches where a student's phone sits as the student sits at the desk. So technically, yes, a student could walk around playing Pokemon GO, minutes before they take that algebra test.

Coughlon thinks it is important to for teachers to model those kinds of positive behaviors and making student understand that's part of growing up and part of the real world.

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