Program uses smart phones to increase math scores

According to Kliewer, students are told that their phones can be monitored.

“They’re only allowed to use their phones for school-related conversations. IM is also restricted to students and teachers that are part of K-Nect. At any time, K-Nect teachers, school administrators, and even Shawn Gross [who manages the project] can look and see what a student is doing. Because students know this, they tend not to disobey the rules.”

Kliewer said there have only been a few minor infractions.

“The students consider it quite a privilege to be part of this project and are very respectful of the opportunity,” explained Evans. “They know that most kids don’t have the ability to use a smart phone within instruction in this way, and they don’t want to go back to classroom instruction the ‘old way.’ The learning environment facilitated by the devices—engaging, interactive, and self-directed—is therefore a very strong motivator for appropriate use; maybe the best motivator.”

Even though phone truancy is minimal, Kliewer’s school does not allow students to access their personal cell phones on campus.

“At first this was daunting to me, because I didn’t know how other teachers not part of K-Nect would react to students having smart phones,” said Kliewer. “But the other teachers and administrators have seen what the students can do as part of K-Nect and the educational benefits of phones, and they’ve been very receptive.”

In fact, Kliewer says that some teachers now use the K-Nect program model and let students use their personal phones to record videos and text answers, and more, during class as part of their classroom exercises.

Kliewer also has begun to allow students to use their personal phones as part of her non-K-Nect classes.

“If students don’t have video capability, or data plans, I just work around it,” she said. “Cell phones are infectious; they’re not going away, so we might as well use them.”

Kliewer’s school has just approved K-Nect for the upcoming school year, where Kliewer will teach Algebra I in the fall and AP calculus in the spring.

As the program continues through the years, more and more classes are being added as part of K-Nect to both high schools.

Great extras

Kliewer says it’s not just better scores that K-Nect has had an effect on; it’s teaching, too.

Meris Stansbury

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