Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cell Phone Jail

My kiddos started state assessments this morning-that means a full week of testing and vainly attempting to keep them quiet. I came to school loaded down with a tote bag full of hard candies to keep them quiet and stacks of word searches, crosswords and mazes to distract them after the test.
 Massive bag of candy-purchased and paid for by me! Thank a teacher for all they buy for your students during the year. I've spent about $500.00 already this year!
 Things to keep them entertained!

Keeping them off their cell phones is SUPER important during the test-and I knew if I let them keep their cell phones in their pockets they would be tempted to sneak a peek at Instagram or Snapchat during the test. That's a huge violation of testing security and makes BIG problems for the teacher. Last year a colleague had a student ANSWER his cell phone in the middle of the test-apparently it was his mom and he couldn't ignore a call from his mom! It caused a huge mess for sure :)

I set up a cell phone jail for my students-simply a plastic tub where they were required to place their cell phones before the test. They put a Post-It with their name on it on their device, turned the device off and left it in the tub. I warned my kids ahead of time that we would be doing this (so I didn't have the inevitable fights) and it went smoothly. I didn't have ONE problem with the kids giving up their devices! It was amazing :)
Cell phone jail!

It was amazing to watch the transformation in my kiddos as well-they are usually glued to their devices if they have time. We have the daily struggle to keep kids engaged in the lesson and keep them off their phones. I often catch students scrolling mindlessly through Facebook when they are supposed to be working. The kids get in trouble for their addiction to their devices, but I'm no better-I'm often checking e-mail or looking at Facebook if I have a few spare moments.

Everyone finished the first section of their test and we had about 20 minutes left in the testing session. I told the kids it was okay to chat and expected a rush to get their phones! No one came to get their phone (and a few kids even forgot their phones when they left class). It was neat to watch my students work together to solve a word search, draw a picture together, play tic tac toe or just chat with a friend with no distractions. It was a great reminder to put down the technology and truly live. It was great to see how easy it was for them to let go of the phones (and to be fair I put mine in jail too). Without their phones they were still able to entertain themselves quite easily-a skill we often forget we have.

Some of my students commented that they didn't miss their phone or that we should have technology free days again! It was amazing to see my students who are of the tech generation truly live in the moment-and not be chronicling every second for Instagram. My students had more real conversations in that 20 minutes than we've had all year! Some students were even talking to kids they don't usually talk to which was amazing. When technology is removed you are forced to connect with the humans around you-which is a good thing!

What a good reminder to put down the cell phone and live! Tonight I'll be putting away the cell phone and the iPad and enjoying my husband and my dog without snapping one picture for Facebook or checking my e-mail. I'll focus on living and creating memories rather than chronicling memories to share with everyone. DH and I are going to have technology free days at least once a week-hopefully more! I'm also going to do a weekly technology free day in my classroom this year and next year! Let's learn how to live without technology distracting us! I challenge you to put down the phone and really live in the moment-you will be richly rewarded.

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