WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. - "You need to have your cell phones out and ready to text," said 11th and 12th grade Science teacher at Wiregrass Ranch High School, Mrs. Jill Lloyd. She begins her lesson on Ecology with that instruction.
Mrs. Lloyd is trying something new this school year. She is using texting as a learning tool in the classroom.
"It gives them an actual use for their cell phone," she said.
Mrs. Lloyd decided to use this new method of teaching after observing texting as a big distraction in the classroom in years past.
"It's definitely rude. When I'm trying to teach and they are not paying attention," Lloyd said.
A recent survey put out by free texting app textPlus shows 43% of teens 13-17 text during class, with 17% doing so constantly. Wiregrass Ranch High School Senior Zac Serota admitted he texts, "pretty much all times of the day."
Mrs. Lloyd got started on her texting in class experiment by downloaded a free program from polleverywhere.com . She poses questions to her students from the front of the class. A live discussion feed is generated behind Mrs. Lloyd on a projector screen, using text messages sent by students in the class.
Mrs. Lloyd is still in the early stages of testing the method, but she already feels it's working.
"I think it has helped. We've been able to get a more open discussion," she said.
Meanwhile, students like Zac Serota think it is an enjoyable way to learn.
"If I read something in a text book I might think about it for a minute, but if I am forced to type it out and think about it, then it helps me respond and form an opinion," Serota said. "It gets the whole class to participate. Instead of getting one kid to raise their hand and give an answer you get everyone's opinion. That way you can learn a lot from everyone."
Cell phone use is banned in Pasco County classroom unless authorized by a teacher. School leaders say 90% of Wiregrass Ranch High Schools have cell phones. If a child does not have a phone in Mrs. Lloyd's classroom, they simply share with a neighbor during lessons incorporating texting.
Mrs. Lloyd said she plans to expand her texting lessons beyond her science classes throughout the school year.
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