Lots of folks (will, tom, danah) today are talking about mobile phones and use by students. I don't have a whole lot to add to his except to note that besides the Wii, the most sought after and received gift of upper elementary students at Lewis Elementary this holiday season was a mobile phone. Parents see them as a necessary tool in an age of latch key kids going home alone. Also I'm finding an increasing number of families that are going through domestic issues, where one parents buys a phone for their child as a way to keep in contact because of the domestic situation such as where the parents have split up.
One more story... Today a 5th grade student and her younger brother were out in front of the school after dismissal. I asked her if she was waiting for her mom. She said yes but that her mom had just sent her a text message saying she would be a few minutes late. One of my teachers observed this exchange and said she bet that I liked that, and I said yes I did.
I already have teachers using cell phones to call parents and or have students call parents regarding homework of forgotten band instruments. (This in a school where we have only 3 outside lines and none of them available from a teacher's classroom...) I think it is only a short time before my teachers realize that by using some pretty unobtrusive (email to SMS gateways...) tools they will be able to connect with their students/families to remind them of assignments or inform them of events related to class work. I must say I'm very proud of my staff. They embrace the change because many are parents themselves, and they see the benefit of this type of communication. Of course there will be issues and concerns, but there are with just about anything. Teach responsible use and deal with those that are irresponsible just as you would do with any other rule or procedural violation. I'm also proud of my students. To date we have not had any issues with inappropriate mobile phone use.
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