Reporting Elizabeth Dinh
WYLIE (CBSDFW.COM) - Cell phones are banned from many classrooms, but a North Texas school district is not only welcoming the high-tech tool, they are encouraging students to use them during instruction. “I would’ve never thought that, in fifth grade, he would’ve had a cell phone,” said parent Crissy Stone. “But he does.”
It seems like everyone has a cell phone these days — even very young kids. The devices are capable of doing so much, from playing games to surfing the web to (believe it or not) making a simple phone call. Plus, during a time when school safety remains a high priority for parents, students having cell phones becomes added security. “If he’s at a friend’s house and I can’t get a hold of him,” Stone said, “it’s helpful.”
So, in the fall of 2011, the Wylie Independent School District kicked off its MyWyFi program. More than 8,000 students registered their devices with the district including cell phones, laptop computers and tablets. Throughout the schools, more than 3,000 users connect to a wireless network that filters out forbidden websites.
But that filtering does not prohibit fun. The popular game “Angry Birds” is played in the classroom. Kris Cravens uses it as a physics lesson, and will assign the game as schoolwork for his sixth-graders. “You need to get on and you need to play the game for five or six minutes,” the teacher said. “So now, when they play that game, they’re going to be thinking about the physics behind it.”
Times have changed, and the latest gadgets are taking education to the next level. Teaching while using technology can help explain things to kids in a way that is both fun and interactive. “We just used to use books,” remembered sixth-grade student Troy Rowe. “Now, laptops, and it’s a lot cooler. I didn’t think I would ever be able to use a laptop at school.”
And the Wylie ISD is not alone in this high-tech push. Students in the Frisco Independent School District are also allowed to bring smartphones and similar gadgets into classrooms for lessons.
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