Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cell Phones In My Civics Class = Parent Involvement

Image Credit: Flickr user thegloaming

This afternoon in my civics class we were discussing some of the citizens' initiative questions on this fall's ballot in Maine. At one point in the conversation I saw one of my students playing with her cell phone. In an attempt to make sure she was paying attention I asked this student what she was doing. She said that she just received a text from her mom telling her that she could stay after school. So I said, kind only half-seriously, ask your mom what she knows about Question 4. Another student said, "can I ask my mom too?" And in a matter of minutes more than half of my class had sent a text message to their parents asking them what they knew about Question 4.

The responses from parents were interesting in that many of the responses echoed the various messages that have been running on local television stations. After we had received all of the responses we talked about why some parents knew more than others about Question 4 and the role of television and radio advertising in influencing voters' positions. Those discussions took place on top of the original pro v. con conversation that had started prior to breaking-out the cell phones.

Cell phone use during the day is against the rules in my school so what I did today came as a bit of a surprise to my students and probably to their parents. Hopefully, the surprise factor will prompt some conversations between parents and students about today's class and lead to my students having conversations with their parents about this fall's ballot. My guess is there will also be conversations about the use of cell phones in school. I won't meet with my Civics class again until Thursday, I'll find out then if my hunch about conversations between students and parents is correct. Even if I'm wrong, at least for today's class I was able to bring in opinions from real voters in real time.