Cell phones, considered a nuisance or worse in many schools, are welcome at Passage. At least eight teachers are using them for a range of lessons, from reports to quizzes in English, social studies, science and math classes.
Tony Neeley's science classroom, is just one example. A question popped onto the screen in front of class. Neeley gave the students a six-digit number and said, "Go." Instantly thumbs began dancing over cell phone keypads. Within seconds, phones trilled the signal that a text message had been sent. At the same time, answers began dropping into view on the screen, one answer for each group of students, identified by a student's cell phone screen name.
How cell phones get top marks in this classrooms?
Kipp D. Rogers, his faculty and the students have developed an acceptable use policy. They are not to send text messages to anyone outside the building during class hours. They are not to take photos. They are not allowed to upload anything to YouTube or other Internet sites not approved by the school. Principal asserts that for the most part students respect the rules.
But students do not abide by the rules per se. The first round of exercises students learn is how to use Google to find information with their phones. Using key words, students can look up definitions, download weather, get directions, search for information about a location or object, translate a word or phrase into Spanish or French or receive the latest sports scores for their favorite teams.
How many public schools or even those so differenciated Blue Ribbon Schools will follow suit? Do not wait for Duncan's reforms, just do it by yourselves in each Board of Education.
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