New home for students' personal technology
Inza R. Wood Middle School decided it was time to crack down on inappropriate electronic use — like cellphones — in classrooms this year in an effort to engage more student learning.
"We spent a lot of time working with teachers in the end of summer and (into) fall on school culture," Principal Kelly Schmidt said. "Teachers felt like it was a distraction in the classroom."
The move to require students to secure their technology devices in lockers this year was partly due to the increase in locker availability. Last year there were about 850 students at Wood, but since the opening of the new Meridian Creek Middle School, the number of students at Wood has dropped to about 550.
"Now that we are a smaller school, all kids have lockers," Schmidt said, adding that in past years she believes kids had to share lockers so they were allowed to carry backpacks and cellphones with them.
Initially, several teachers had students use phones as instructional tools but since the 2014 Capital Bond Project, the school was able to purchase a large number of laptops — enough for every student in the classrooms.
But ultimately, it's up to the teacher whether they want kids to have access to their cellphones.
"Some teachers are having kids use phones for instructional tool (like) interactive game activities, (which is) totally appropriate," Schmidt said. "We are hoping for less cellphone use not for instructional purposes."
Rosemont Middle School allows students to use technology devices for instructional purposes as well for subjects like math and research, but they do not require students to leave their cellphones and other devices in lockers like Wood.
Schmidt added that although kids were hesitant and against the idea of no electronics during school time — except during lunch — the response has turned positive.
"Kids are reporting to us that they feel like there's less drama, which makes me believe that when they were able to use (cell phones) all day, (they were) feeling the need to check social media or respond to a text, so it takes that piece of it out," Schmidt said, adding that it encourages students to focus on what's happening in the classroom and not what's going on in their pocket.
"I think they understand this is something we need to do," Schmidt said.