September 11, 2019
Using Cell Phones in School: Good Idea or Not?

Education Week published an article recently titled “ Schools Say No to Cellphones in Class. But Is It a Smart Move? I am sure this is an issue that most school districts have been debating. This is one issue I am glad that Illinois champions “local control.”

My opinion on the subject is multifaceted. I believe that classrooms in which the teacher is truly intellectually engaging the students, cell phones would not be a problem. An analogy would be phone use by adults. If you or I were truly engaged in an activity, we would not be using our cell phones. For example, I do not use my cell phone when I golf, when I am reading, when I am speaking, when I am talking to my wife or children or grandchildren.

Another criticism of students having cell phones is that students could take pictures of quizzes or tests and text them to their friends. My answer to this problem is for teachers to have innovative ways to assess students. I Googled “innovative ways teachers can assess students ” and discovered these methods: 1) Infographic, 2) Gaming, 3) Living Museum, 4) Free Choice Project, 5) Illustrated Quote, 6) Merit Badges, 7) Community Service, 8) Podcast, 9) Class Anthology and 10) Shark Tank. You can read about these assessment strategies here .

Bullying using technology is also a criticism. Bullying is a major problem not only in schools but in the life of young people in general. Banning cell phones in school will not stop this problem.

The article referenced above relates to giving students a clean break from technology. Students are given the chance to decompress from the constant strain of being online. Really? For a few hours a day students will not use cell phones and it will give them relief. How about adults? Do they need breaks also?

My point is that I think the use of cell phones is a local decision. I like the idea that the teacher decides whether he/she will allow students to use or not use cell phones. Teachers who have respect and rapport with their students have no problems with students following their directions.

Student Note Taking

During a recent administrative academy the topic of student note taking was discussed. The academy topic was to use data-based decision making processes when discussing goal setting, strategic planning, etc. The first step in data-based decision making is to check what the research says. I read this article by Kenneth Kiewra entitled “ A seven-step guide to taking better notes .”

I have visited hundreds of classrooms in the last few years as I coach teacher evaluators. My judgment of student note taking, while not researched, is that students generally do not even take notes. I think ( and research backs this opinion) that students need to be taught proper note-taking strategies. The Kiewra article detailed these seven steps:

  1. Do take notes
  2. Take complete notes
  3. Take detailed notes
  4. Look for note-taking cues
  5. Revise your notes
  6. Replay lectures
  7. Take handwritten notes

Tip of the Week

Many of you know my favorite academy to present is about you as an individual taking care of yourself, getting balance between work and non-work activities (Essentialism) or, at least, planning for integration between work and non-work. Recently a participant at one of our data academies came up to me after the academy and thanked me for the changes he has made in his own life as a result of attending the Essentialism academy. Just a reminder to all of us--take time for self, family, friends and faith, and you will be a better person because of it.
For more information, please contact:

Dr. Richard Voltz
Associate Director
Professional Development/Induction-Mentoring
2648 Beechler Court
Springfield, IL 62703
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