My 6th grade girls were just not getting the meaning of the word purpose so I asked them to text someone they knew and have them explain the meaning of purpose. They were very excited and it felt contest-like. We continued our lesson and as the responses came back, the girls shared. The discussion became more enlightening and similarities and differences in the responses were noted. Everyone learned, not only the meaning of purpose, but a new learning skill.
As educators it is our duty not to ban cell phones, but instead to TEACH students that cell phones are a link, not only to an active social life, but to a world of experts. Tools such as Google SMS, ChaCha, and Twitter provide students instant access to a world of experts. It is powerful to simply encourage students to use the phone to call on some good contacts and empower them to develop and connect to their own personal learning network of past teachers, relatives, and friends. Once we decide to embrace cell phones for the tool that they are, students will never have an excuse for getting stuck on their work again. Empower your students with their cell phones so they can connect with the experts that are everywhere today! Banned or not, this can be done.
For more information on how to do this, see the 5 Step Plan for Harnessing the Power of Cells in Ed (even when they are banned) in Teaching Generation Text.