One school using phones and new technology to keep kids involved in class

NBC's Third Annual Education Nation Summit continued Tuesday in New York. It brings together a wide spectrum of experts to explore ways to improve education in America.

One of the many topics up for discussion is cell phones in the classroom.

High school students have been sneaking them into class for years now, and teachers have had the tough job of trying to compete with such distractions.

But in at least one Kentucky school, the tables have turned. Teachers are encouraging students to not only bring their phones to class, but also to use them as a new way to learn.

Teens using cell phones in class is something teachers see all too frequently. Teens are attempting to use their technology while the teachers are trying to teach.

Except now the teachers are the ones with their cell phones out, putting themselves in their students' shoes.

"Our students love to use their phones and if they're told you can get your phone out for this, that's just going to thrill them and make them more on task," says English Teacher Marina Burchett.

Teachers are being taught by their peers. Other teachers who have already started to use new programs and software.

"A lot of times when you learn something new it takes more work than it’s worth it seems like, or it takes a lot of work ahead of time to even get it implemented into your class, but this one is not like that," says Technology Resource Teacher Michelle Gattis.

Together they're learning how to use apps to track each student's progress, find out how well they're grasping the lesson, and how to manage assignments coming in from androids, iPhones, tablets and laptops.

But most teachers had the same lingering question.

"How can I control the use of that technology in my class?" asks Teacher Jim Whitaker.

There are a couple of things administrators want all teachers to do consistently. One is use the term "devices down" as a signal to students.

"Sometimes we'll just have them put their devices down and they'll put it face down on their desk and then you know they're not on it and are giving me their attention for things we're not using the devices for," explains Whitaker on the other way to get kids to put down the phones.

Most teachers leave feeling more prepared than when they arrive. But they're all aware that there are bound to be a few glitches once all of the devices actually show up.

"This is new and there's going to be a lot of things we just don't know and haven't encountered and will deal with them as they come up," says Whitaker.


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