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Cell phones in class?  Yes!

WATKINS GLEN—Watkins Glen will encourage fifth and seventh graders to use cell phones in school come the spring semester.
Superintendent Tom Phillips said Watkins Glen Central School District is working with GoKnow! to bring special cell phones into the classroom that students in fifth and seventh grades will actually do work on. He added that Watkins will be the first school in New York state to do this. He said the program is already being used in several other states, including Texas, Ohio, and Michigan. Phillips explained that the phones will have pre-set applications, limited Internet access, and not be able to make calls or texts, except for between the students and the teacher.
He said that the school found out about the program when Verizon came to the school to upgrade the telephone system. Phillips added Verizon showed the school how the phones can be used in class. He said he met with the teachers prior to this school year starting and told them it was their decision. Their answer was unanimously “yes.” Teacher training for using the cell phones in class will be in October.
Phillips said the phones will definitely be used in the primary courses and by the special education teacher, but possibly other courses as well. However, he added this is just a pilot program so far. Phillips explained Watkins Glen is working with BOCES on the program and BOCES will be paying 71 percent of the cost.
“Kids are coming to us with mobile technology that, quite frankly, has more power than computers,” said Phillips. He said that teachers will be able to use the cell phones to give students prompts, students will be able to do research, and complete assignments. The phones will also be able to connect with computers so students can do work on them if they wish.
“What better way to show kids the proper way to use technology, than to use it as a learning device,” he said.
Phillips said the current policy for regular cell phones is that students must keep them put away, like in lockers.

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