As a teacher, it may feel natural to view cellphones in the classroom as a distraction for students. "What do they even need it for?", you may ask. If you think about it, students can be distracted by anything. Phones, specifically smartphones, are a concern that we cannot just run away from by banning in the classroom.
Instead we should use this opportunity to teach students how to utilize technology in productive ways as opposed to being passive consumers, teach responsibility and etiquette for using technology and break the stigma that phones are only a distraction.
"Real life" Smartphones are a valuable tool for productivity. We use them in our everyday lives for a variety of tasks. In the classroom, smartphones can be used to enhance learning and develop marketable skills.
Engagement Instead of banning phones, causing students to leave the classroom in order to check their phones, incorporate it into your lessons to help them understand how to use phones appropriately and keep them engaged in their learning.
Easier/Faster Student's often comment on how they can type faster on their phones. By downloading the Google Drive Apps (Docs, Sheets or Slides) they can edit their documents directly on their phone. They can also do quick research without needing to pull out their Chromebooks.
Tools Smartphones now replaces the need for a calculator, measuring tools, leveling tools, dictionary, camera, audio/video recorder, agenda, timer/stopwatch, and more. Utilize these resources in your class and teach students how to use their phones as a tool instead of a distraction.
Poll Quickly Use sites like Poll Everywhere to quickly gather data from your students. They can text their response to an autogenerated SMS number instead of having to log on to a Chromebook and website.
SMS Reminders You can use apps like Remind to send your students mass text messages without revealing your own number.
Document Learning Creating and documenting is a great way for students to showcase their understanding of concepts. You can have students take pictures, videos or audio recordings along their learning process or to present what they've learned.
Translate Use the Google Translate app to translate anything from a picture, handwriting, or even a conversation between 2 different languages.
QR Codes Now that smartphones have built in QR code readers in the camera, QR codes are a quick way to get students to a resource.
AR & VR As Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technology evolves, you can use smartphones to take VR Field Trips, use VR Labs, or make VR/AR projects such as in Google Tour Creator.