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How You Can Use Your Cell Phone to Get Better Grades
It was 1999 and I had just been hired as a full-time high school biology teacher. As a reward for my hiring, I gave myself a gift, my first mobile phone. I was excited because it would allow me to communicate with my friends and family from virtually anywhere. I justified the purchase because my classroom did not have a telephone and my salary increase would allow me to assume some additional monthly expenses. Last year my nephew got his first phone. He was 8 years old and this was his reward for being promoted from 3rd to 4th grade. Things have definitely changed over the past 12 years.
In 2010, the Pew Research Center published that 75% of 12-17 year olds own a cell phone. This number increased by 45% in 2004 and probably represents more than three quarters of all students today. It won’t be long before every high school student in America brings their phones with them to school. Naturally, with so many students having access to cell phones, it makes sense that cell phones could be used to help students achieve better grades in school.
When students enter my classroom, they can search the whiteboard for announcements. They can see their upcoming assignments in addition to the dates of upcoming tests or projects. As part of my daily classroom routine, I call attention to these assignments at the start of class and remind my students to write their assignments in a diary or notebook.
Every day, my students write their homework. I go around the class and ask the students to show me that it is written. A common problem is that many students often forget or lose where they wrote their homework that night. Sometimes poor organizational skills cause students to misplace where their assignments were written. For the other students, they have a separate notebook for each class and write their homework in several places.
A simple solution to this dilemma is for students to write down their daily assignments on their phones. For a high school student, a phone is an essential good that accompanies him almost everywhere. While a student might leave a textbook or spiral notebook in a classroom and forget about it, chances are they won’t leave their phone.
Besides a student who always has his phone with him, he uses it constantly. The Pew Research Center found through its study that texting was the primary method of cell phone communication among teens. 88% of teenage mobile phone users send text messages as a form of communication and 54% text daily. The typical high school texter (14-17 years old) typically sends and receives 60 text messages a day.
The technology is now available for students to use a standard notepad function on their phone and type into an ever-building list what their evening homework is in each class. If their phone has a calendar option, upcoming tests and projects can also be entered. With most phone calendars, there is an option to set reminders about upcoming events. It’s so powerful for a student to get a reminder at 6:30 p.m. as a cue they need to study for tomorrow’s math test.
If the student has a Smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, Droid or Palm), then the sky is the limit as to how their phone can help keep track of all their assignments. Although the specific apps available are unique to each phone, they all have a free or very inexpensive “To-Do List” app. Awesome Note, Cozi, Evernote, and Lister all received positive reviews. The key is to find one that is available for your phone and works well for you. Every day I write my “To-Do List” with Lister on my Blackberry and categorize my entries as short-term, this week, or priority. Then, throughout the day, I refer to my list whenever I use my phone to call, text, email, or even check Facebook. This keeps me focused and I add to the list or check off items as needed.
If you have an iPhone, I highly recommend checking out the app called myHomework. It lets you set your class schedule, enter assignments and assignments, view upcoming assignments on the calendar feature, and even show reminders when you open your phone. With new apps constantly being developed, it’s only a matter of time before several apps are available specializing in school homework organization for all phones.
As we continue into the 21st century, it is important that we take advantage of available technology to increase student achievement. Just as computers in school have gone from a novelty to a necessity, cell phones are proving they can have a positive impact on student achievement. I encourage you (or your student for all parents reading this article) to explain to teachers at your school why using a cell phone to keep track of homework is better than the old fashioned way of writing it down in a notebook. Before long, I suspect bringing your phone to school will be as accepted as bringing a pencil.
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