Students will always give the excuse that they need to be able to receive emergency calls from home on their phones. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t but by sending a card home with the school/college number on and the assurance that any message will be passed on to the student immediately, you remove this excuse for needing to have a mobile phone in class.
This can only be used where the setting has no clear procedure regarding the use of phones. If clear rules are in place you obviously can’t be seen to openly abuse them; however if the issue is left up to you to sort out in your own way, you could consider offering students a few minutes at the end or middle of the lesson as a spontaneous reward for completing a task. The theory behind this is fairly obvious - a teacher who is fair and who tries to accommodate their students' wishes tends to enjoy more respect than one who is overly controlling.
Set up an agreement with students whereby they can have an early finish/extra break time/computer access/video show (insert reward of your choice) in return for losing five minutes of this preferred activity time every time a phone is heard/seen/used in class.
Mobile phones now have hundreds of applications that can be effectively used to enhance education. While most public schools don’t allow the devices because they’re considered distractions, some schools and teachers have started to put the technology to positive use and this (quite surprisingly) seems to have led to a decline in inappropriate phone use during lessons.
At the most basic level, a mobile phone can provide a basic suite of useful classroom tools. A class full of mobile phones means there is a full set of calculators and stopwatches right there that are able to be used without the need for explanation, and without much risk of any being stolen or lost.
Most phones have cameras and while in the past students always had to draw diagrams to show their scientific method and to record evidence, now they can take a picture instead. It gives them something that they can put straight into a report.
Text messaging provides a means of communication which is a) immediate, b) easy to use and c) preferred by students. Sending regular reminders to students by text message (SMS) will be better received and less likely to be viewed as ‘nagging’ than face to face instruction; some students prefer to communicate through text rather than face to face contact. If it will help engage a difficult student or encourage a shy one to participate, why not utilise the technology?
Timing experiments with the stopwatch feature
Photographing apparatus and results of experiments for reports
Photographing development of design models for e-portfolios
Photographing texts/whiteboards for future review
Bluetoothing project material between group members
Receiving SMS & email reminders from teachers
Recording a teacher reading a poem for revision
Creating short narrative films using video
Downloading, listening to and translating foreign language podcasts
Answering questions delivered via podcasts
Using GPS to identify locations
Transferring files between school and home
Translate information into ‘text speak’ (or have students translate information into Text Language as part of a review exercise)
Use text to pass on information for discussion
Use text to answer questions in a quiz – text the answer to an email or phone
Send random questions to class members
As an end-of-lesson review activity – students record by voice or text the key points learned and then save them in a suitable folder on their phones or text them to each other
Planning world domination (iPhone apps available for this one)