Here are 5 tips and tricks for managing cell phones in your classroom.
1) Have a visual that signals whether cell phone use will be part of the day's lesson. I have a green piece of paper and a red piece of paper. On the green piece is a picture of a cell phone. On the red piece is a cell phone inside the typical prohibited circle with the slash through it.
2) Have a designated place for students to put their cell phones when they are not involved in the lesson. I bought a pocket chart on Amazon that was meant for storing calculators. I assign each student a number on the first day of school and I give them a round sticker with that number to place on their folder or notebook. They place them in the designated pocket as they come into class and they get them when the lesson is over. If I see a student with a cell phone in class on a red day, I take it and place it in the appropriate pocket.
Some teachers choose to offer extra credit each day a student gives up their phone. To me, it is an expectation, not a reason for extra credit, but it may help students to buy into the system if they are hesitant.
4) If only part of your lesson requires the use of cell phones, simply flip your sign from red to green and allow students to get them and flip the sign back at the end of the activity.
5) Have clear consequences for violating the red/green policy that are in accordance with your school's rules. For example, perhaps the first violation you take the phone and place it in the pocket chart. If I have to place the phone in the pocket instead of the student, then they are the last one to get their phone back out at the end of class. If this happens more then once, I will take the phone down to the office where the student can retrieve it at the end of the day. I have rarely had it go farther than this if the consequences are given out consistently.
NOTE: Some districts advise against teachers putting themselves in a position where they are responsible for student property. The system here definitely works, but please consider your own feelings as well as the feelings of administration before implementing it in your classroom.
What tricks do you use to manage cell phones in your classroom? Leave us a comment below.