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Cell Phones Ban in Schools

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Visualize this, a lockdown is taking place at the school and the criminal has cut all the landline connections, preventing staff and administrators from contacting the police department. Luckily the suspect is caught much faster than he/she could have ever expected, due to the use of a cellular device. A situation such as this would never be safely and effectively resolved without access to a cellular device from students and staff during school hours.

Board Members, parents, and students of Longwood Academy, I am writing to you because there is an issue that we need to address as a community. As many of you may know, my name is Principal Jean Huntington and I am writing to you to announce the Academy’s official policy regarding cell phone use during school hours.

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While many of you readers can attest to the numerous other educational institutes across the country that are issuing bans on cellular devices during school hours, I write on behalf of Longwood High School to confirm that the use of cellular devices will not be banned at our institute during operational hours. Along with my administrative team, I have decided to promote the use of digital mediums in our institute for the following reasons: cellphones can be utilized as tools in the event of an emergency, cellphones can be a beneficial learning tool in class, and finally cell phones aid in preparing students for future careers and the evolving digital age.

Firstly, cell phones will benefit all students and staff or administrators in the building in the case of an emergency. There a multitude of emergencies all differing in severity, whether a student has forgotten their essay at home, or there is an unwanted visitor in the building, the application of a cellular device could prevent a disaster from developing. Though Longwood Academy does not expect any sort of tragedy to take place, we must have the right precautions in place to prioritize the safety of all people in the building.

According to an article titled “How Cell Phones are Changing School Emergency Plans,” succeeding the tragic Chardon High School Shooting in early 2012, local police came forward to explain that students were using their phones to let their parents know that they were okay or to contact emergency services. Since that devastating incident, Chardon has considered implementing a system labeled ALICE to go alongside an already developed lockdown protocol. In the system known as Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate, cellphones play a vital role in guaranteeing the safety of students. ALICE has taken advantage of the potential of cell phones to be used positively. This is achieved by sending out mass texts to the students in the case of emergency, teachers or other staff could send out a school-wide message telling students and parents where the intruder is and where to convene or exit. Along with my administrative team, we have decided that ALICE will help to improve the overall safety of our students and staff while embracing the potential of cellular devices. By implementing this technological advancement, the Academy will be able to effectively handle a crisis, although we hope to never encounter it. With proper instruction, cell phones will serve as a vital tool in ensuring the safety of staff and students in the building. While cell phones pose as avail in the case of emergency in school, this factor is not the only benefit and reason for promoting cell phone access during school hours.

Secondly, cell phones are an exceptional learning tool for, not only the students but also teachers in the classroom. There is a time and place to browse Instagram, text your friends, or shop online, this time is not during school hours. By embracing more education-related applications of cell phones in the classroom, Longwood Academy can improve the overall learning experience and teach students digital responsibility.

While many parents reading this letter may argue that cell phones pose nothing but a distraction for students in the class, the reality is that even if students were banned from cell phone usage, they would find other distractions or feel the urge to break the rules. These distractions consist of urges that shaped our high school learning, such as passing notes or simply skipping class. In saying so, it is essential to incorporate digital platforms into lessons and direct more attention towards new learning techniques. Due to the many problems and distractions that cellphones cause during the time spent in the classroom, infuriated teachers have ordered that cellphones remain off during operational hours of school.

However, Dr. Elizabeth Hartnell-Young and her colleagues at the University of Nottingham believe that this ban must be reassessed. To support these claims, 331 students were instructed to use their phones for a wide range of educational purposes, including creating short movies, setting homework reminders, and other classroom-related activities over a nine-month period. Hartnell-Young concluded her study by saying, ‘Even students were often surprised at the thought that mobile phones could be used for learning,’ as well as ‘But after the hands-on experiment, almost all students said they enjoyed the project and felt more motivated.’

Given the research conducted by Hartnell-Young, the administrative team here at Longwood Academy believes it is time to utilize cell phones to engage and motivate students to directly interact with their learning. Teachers will begin to take advantage of the opportunities that cell phones present. This will be accomplished by providing students with material to research or explore a topic that was discussed in class. This can include videos, news stories, online discussion groups, or any other resource that will enable students to expand academic interest in an engaging manner. Allowing students to access these resources in class can help encourage participation and discussions with significant knowledge from outside sources.

We are entering an innovative and exciting period for education and it is essential that we follow the digital age rather than be left behind. These goals can be achieved using contemporary platforms such as Google Classroom and Khan Academy. While we welcome innovation with open arms, dwindling education budgets leave us limited, therefore the obvious practicality in putting those mini-computers to work as they walk through our school doors each morning. The article “Young teens in the U.S. use mobile devices for homework’’ states that more than one-third of teens in the United States use their cellular devices for homework and academic exploration. Through critically thinking about statistics alike, I began to realize that this same model of learning going beyond that classroom can be utilized to better learning experiences in class.

Rather than students wasting valuable work time lost in confusion, students will be able to access the same material and resources that they would be comfortable doing at home or out of school. While phones can be used in emergency circumstances and can also be integrated as learning tools in the classroom, the benefits of cell phones do not stop there.

Finally, by incorporating and introducing practical applications of technology, specifically cell phones, we can prepare our students for their future careers and the changes happening within the digital age. As educators, our priority is preparing our students for the future, and for this mentorship to be effective, we must incorporate digital platforms. Working with mobile mediums will not only be a part of the student’s everyday lives as they transition into working citizens, but it will also be a key component of many future jobs they may be involved in. Knowing how to properly activate and incorporate technology will be an essential skill to have in this increasingly connected world. Given the fact that all areas of work will be affected soon for our students, we must prepare them for the digital age as it quakes towards us.

To fulfill this goal, Longwood Academy will offer Artificial Exploration as an option course starting in the upcoming school year. This course will provide students with the opportunity to use artificial intelligence for good, become problem solvers, as well as create their own AI utilizing their own devices such as their smartphones. The contents of this course will allow students to be a part of AI as it becomes a part of our daily lives rather than be taken over by AI in their future careers. By bestowing all students with the freedom to experience, understand, and design Artificial Intelligence, Longwood will fuel innovation and provide all students with the skills and knowledge to prepare them for any change that AI may bring them as society enters a new era. It is most likely that in today’s day and age any working professional uses online tools such as Google Calendar, LinkedIn, or Dropbox. While programs such as these are suitable for the needs of contemporary professionals, we are only delving deeper and more diligently into a digital age. Therefore our students and citizens of tomorrow need to be equipped with the competencies required for keeping up with a digital and non-digital life to stay on top of deadlines, form relations, and stay organized.

To encourage appropriate engagements with technology and how to effectively integrate practical applications, students will also have the opportunity to learn more during flex sessions that will be offered weekly. The integration of technology and specifically smartphones is an exciting and innovative change that will undoubtedly improve the learning experience of not only students but also teachers. While these three main reasons were the driving force in choosing to promote cell phone usage at Longwood Academy, there are numerous other benefits for allowing students to embrace education-related uses of technology during school hours.

To conclude, I would firstly like to thank all Board Members, Parents, and Students of Longwood Academy for taking the time to read this letter regarding the intriguing changes coming to our school. Embracing cell phones during school hours will allow our students to be acquainted with multiple learning environments and discover the most effective learning pattern that suits them. Though there are numerous reasons for cell phone promotion, it is essential to consider the main points in welcoming the new policies. Cell phones will be a beneficial addition to the existing emergency protocol, cell phones will be an effective learning tool, and cell phones will prepare our students for their futures.   

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