Over the years, when it comes to student cellphones in class, I’ve moved from outright hostility to begrudging acceptance to looking at them as an overall benefit (though not unreservedly)– at least, for English Language Learners and for my IB Theory of Knowledge classes. You can read more about my concerns at The Best Posts On Student Cellphone Use In Class — Please Contribute More.

Though they can be a huge help for English Language Learners, they can also be a distraction.

This week, because of its growing distraction, my colleague Alma Avalos and I had conversations with our Beginner and Intermediate ELLs.

After a reminder of the lesson we did earlier in the year about the famous Marshmallow Test, we wrote two columns on the board labeled “Yes” and “No.” We then asked students what cellphone use they thought would be appropriate and not appropriate in class.

As you can see from the two photos below (the first one was from Intermediates, the second from Beginners), students came up with good lists. Then, everyone agreed to follow the list and agreed that the phone should be taken away for the period if the agreement is violated.

The whole exercise only took about fifteen minutes. And, though I did have to take one cellphone away since the discussion, it’s been much less of a problem.

I hope it lasts!