Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education, by Liz Kolb

Book Summary

Toys to Tools: Connecting Student Cell Phones to Education, by Liz Kolb, is a practical manual on how to take a popular tool, cell phones, and make them a useful part of the classroom. Despite the fact that cell phones are one of the most prevalent pieces of technology in the modern world, many schools persist in banning them from the classroom or campus. However, Kolb makes the research-supported argument that not only will students be more motivated to learn if they are allowed to use their cell phones, but since most students already have a cell phone, then schools can utilize them without a high cost. Also, Kolb makes a convincing argument that allowing students to use phones would give teachers an opportunity to discuss proper etiquette and safety when using a cell phone.

After discussing the reasons to utilize cell phones in the classroom and addressing concerns about those phones, Kolb goes on to describe some of the capabilities of cell phones and to suggest ways they can be used in the classroom and detailed lesson plans for implementation. She also includes annotated lists of various websites that can be utilized by the teacher in conjunction with cell phones. In fact, most of the activities described in the book could be done with the cell phones only being used off-campus and the support sites being used in the classroom, so that teachers can still adhere to their school's cell phone policy.

Overall, this book provides a brief and succinct argument for using cell phones in schools in conjunction with many ready-to-use lesson plans and resources for the teacher. It is applicable to teachers across all grade levels and subject areas. My only concern is that with a publication date of 2007, it is becoming obsolete already. Kolb has a blog at http://www.cellphonesinlearning.com/ that includes links to some newer sites and has discussions on the cell phone issue and suggestions for integrating cell phones into the classroom.