doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Whatever happened to …

… passing notes?

Photo by Nathália Rosa on Unsplash

A very good friend of mine sent me this video.

I’ll just leave the link there and hopefully, you can click through to see it. Believe me, it’s worth the three minutes to watch. It’s sparked family discussion around here and made a bunch of us more reflective on our use of technology.

I go back to when we had 1 or 2 computers in the classroom and we had to schedule time for students to be able to use the technology. We just so wanted to predict the day when we were able to provide a computer for every student.

Even today, those institutions that do that are still very few. In many cases, parents are purchasing computers and probably even more likely, a smartphone for students. After all, who wants to be called to the office to answer a phone call from mom or dad? Let them do it in the middle of Mathematics class. They’re easily connected to the school’s wireless which gives all kinds of other connected opportunities.

It does bring a smile when I think back to my days of passing notes in class and getting caught.

Mr. Peterson, please read to the class what’s on the note?

The cool thing was that we didn’t have to use notes before and after school – we just talked with friends.

I can still remember being in the audience of speakers who held up one of the first smartphones and declared that he had more power in his hand than the computer that helped land the first man on the moon. I was always impressed that the power was there, and when I got my own smartphone, they had enough battery life to do it.

Back to the smartphone in the student’s hands. We now have enough power for all students to create digital content. Teachers too! But, if you watch the video, you know that there are so many alternatives to actually working on these devices. On the radio, yesterday morning, one of the dial-in questions was about what we did for 10 minutes a day five years ago that we now do at least 3 hours a day. Yep, use our current version of the phone.

This form of technology provides all kinds of opportunities and challenges for today’s classroom. It doesn’t take much of a stretch to see the stories mentioned in the video in real life.

So, your thoughts for today.

  • do you allow students to use smartphones in your class?
  • are they able to use a smartphone as productively as they might use a computer?
  • do you see students distracted as described in the video?
  • does being connected in this manner create other issues? bullying, for example
  • is passing notes still a thing in class still a thing or does everyone text these days?
  • would you ever consider having a student read a texting conversation to the class?
  • do you ever wonder about the future when those that will form it walk in a bunch together after school like we did but are all using their devices instead of talking to each other?
  • do you have family rules about the use of technology at home?

I’d love to read your thoughts. Please do so in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning post around here. You can read all the previous posts here.

This was posted to If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original


3 responses to “Whatever happened to …”

  1. When I taught Grades 5 and 6, I let kids use phones in class. They were amazingly productive on them. Texting can be an issue. But look at adults — we text all the time when we probably shouldn’t. Are we as forgiving to kids as we are to ourselves? This is something that I think about a lot.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] Whatever happened to … – doug — off the record […]


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