In a place like school, where learning is the number one priority, it only makes sense to give students access to every possible resource. That is what Palo Alto is terrific at: giving their kids every opportunity to better themselves as both a student and a person.
Be it a $36 million gym, a $55 million theatre, countless tutors or one of the best teaching staffs in America, there is no shortage of tools to help guide students towards success.
But despite Paly’s efforts to help students reach their fullest potential, they are not perfect. There are areas in which Paly can improve our education system, and resources which could be better utilized. One of these resources is cell phones.
Cell phones are given a bad rap, deemed to be objects that can do nothing but harm to a student’s educational endeavors. And this is true. The way our school system is currently configured, cell phones have no place. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Cell phones are an incredibly powerful tool, with the ability to connect students to virtually any resource they could possibly need.
Yet rather than take advantage of this, teachers often demand that students cram their mobile devices into their backpacks and refrain from so much as thinking about them until the bell rings, marking the end of the period.
One way cell phones could be integrated into the classroom is by encouraging students to take notes on them.
Students who are often on their phones typing to one another have developed a strong affinity for typing on their mobile devices, allowing them to take notes on their phone much faster than they could on paper or on their computers.
In addition, students can take pictures of important visuals and, with consent, record their teacher demonstrating concepts or speaking. Students will then be able to refer back to these notes at any time throughout the day and will not have to worry about missing important notifications whilst in class, since their phone will be on and in their hands.
But since they are preoccupied with note taking, they will be unable to go off task and partake in matters unrelated to their schooling.
Another way phones can be used in class is with music. While it may sound counterproductive to have students listening to something other than the teacher during class, there are a lot of students for whom listening to music helps to keep them present. The addition of music will help keep their minds from wandering from the topic at hand.
Also, there are large portions of class time where students are doing classwork and music can be used to drown out the off-topic banter of their classmates.
Moreover, phones can be used during lecture to ensure that students are staying engaged.
There are websites that allow students to tune into a game-like, interactive activity with the teacher’s presentation where they have to answer questions based on the content in the lecture or material covered in the homework.
These activities allow teachers can keep tabs on students throughout their lecture and see who is paying attention and who is not.
In addition to this, teachers can use quiz games, like Kahoot!, to test how much of the lecture students understood and to incentivize them to pay attention and learn the material.
Furthermore, classes that allow phone use help students learn a skill that is often overlooked in the classroom setting: responsibility.
Students are guided throughout their time in high school with teachers watching them at every turn, making sure that they are constantly on task.
If students were allowed to use their cell phones in class, they would be forced to make the correct decision and pay attention on their own.
They would essentially be given the option to succeed or fail based on whether or not they are able to control their urge to go off task.
This skill is becoming increasingly important in our modern world where cell phone use is often deemed acceptable so long as the individual in question is able to monitor their own use and complete tasks required of them.
Using these tactics, Palo Alto High School can help revolutionize the way cell phones are used in academia and simultaneously create a world where students are able to learn to be responsible and differentiate between when it is appropriate or inappropriate to use their phone, a skill that is required in our cell phone-centric world.