District Administration June 2020 - 22

SCREEN SMARTS
binging on social media to see what classmates are doing. These activities guide
students in exploring ideas of self-identity
and self-value (see "Driving digital wellness," p. 24).
Some digital wellness lessons are
meant to take place at home. In one
activity, a family can watch a short video
clip about screen time and then discuss
how to balance computer use.
Of course, the district is hardly antiedtech. Teachers also encourage students
to innovate with digital tools, Pohlman
explains.
"We're teaching kids how to produce
projects by creating various forms of
media with tools on their iPads and the
apps we provide," he says. "We talk to
students and teachers a lot about not just
being consumers with their devices."
Students can disconnect
Can students survive an entire school day
without their phones? How about a whole
school year? The answer is a resounding
yes in at least two districts.
Six months of surveying the community-and of researching the links

PHONE FREE-A group of students at Forest Hills Central High School in
Michigan used hand-held recorders instead of their cell phones this year to
capture interviews for The Central Trend student news site.

between smartphone use and teen anxiety and depression-led administrators
at Kalispell Middle School in Montana to
require students to leave phones in their
lockers from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Students could previously check their

Creating a culture in classes and at home
Teachers and administrators should set guidelines when helping students-and
parents-navigate screens and the internet, says Thomas Arnett, a senior
research fellow in education at Clayton Christensen Institute, which studies
innovation.
Here are some tips:
* In class, students should only use
screens in a setting where others
can see what they're doing. "They
shouldn't be sitting in a corner where
the screen is facing the wall," Arnett
says. "When on a screen, students
should not be doing something that's
hidden."
* Educators must be clear about the
purpose of devices that are sent
home, so parents can help students
manage use. Problems can arise
when homes don't have the same

internet filters protecting students
that schools do. "I've heard from
parents who are concerned that
the school has given students free
access to the internet and the parents weren't ready for that," he says.
* But know that managing tech use
is not solely the job of educators.
"Some of that falls within parents'
domain," Arnett says. "School
shouldn't feel obligated to control
students' screen time away from
campus."

phones between classes and at lunch.
And teachers had discretion over whether
the devices could be used for research or
other class activities.
Since the rule change, homeroom
teachers are leading the school's screen
time reduction initiatives.
For example, they have held class
discussions about how cell phone use at
night-particularly when students listen
for the pings of social media posts-
leads to poor sleep that can affect memory, says Jeff Hornsby, assistant principal
at Kalispell, part of Kalispell Public
Schools.
Staff also report no longer seeing students glued silently to their phones in the
cafeteria. "I've had several students thank
me for adjusting the policy because now,
they have people they can actually talk to
during lunch," Hornsby says.
The 10,000 students attending Forest Hills Public Schools in Grand Rapids,
Michigan, were also told at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year to leave
phones in their lockers during the academic day.
Students, especially high schoolers, have said they have enjoyed the
time away from having to manage their

22 | June 2020DistrictAdministration.com


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District Administration June 2020

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District Administration June 2020 - Cover2
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