Cell Phones and Student Distraction in NYC Public Schools

Ellen Dupree ENL Teacher

MS 324 Patria Mirabal Campus





In todays society, cell phone technology has advanced to incredible heights. Many educators agree that cell phones can be a very powerful tool for learning. However, in most instances they can also have a negative impact in the instructional environment.







Parents and families have opposed the ban on cell phones stating that there is a need to have access to their children in cases of emergency. However, because students focus and interest is mainly on texting, taking selfies, music, and social media, cell phones have become a huge distraction to students in the classroom.




Students will be placed into groups of four for this Public Policy Analyst (PPA) project. As a group, students will be required to create a group presentation that illustrates the advantages and disadvantages of cell phone usage in school. Student choice for this project may be presented as one of the following:

1) a poster (key points should be bulleted)

2) a public service announcement (PSA).

3) Power point presentation (8 12 slides that include visuals)

*Please include the information listed below in your project submission:

  Facts and statistics concerning cellphone usage in NYC public schools

  Current rules, regulations, and or policies regarding cell phone usage in NYC public schools

  List some advantages and some disadvantages of having cell phones in school

  Examples of student distraction caused by cell phone usage in school

  Develop a strategy, policy, and/or solution that could help resolve the issue of student distraction by cell phone in school.




1.     Students are to follow Public Policy Analyst format and complete PPA worksheets 1-6 as follows:

       Step 1: Define the problem Cell phones distract students in the school environment.  Worksheet 1

       Step 2: Gather evidence of the problem: Find sources and data that supports the claim that cell phones are a distraction in school. Worksheet 2

       Step 3: Identify causes of the problem: Cellphone usage and accessibility for students. Worksheet 3

       Step 4: Evaluate a policy: Examine the Regulation of the Chancellor regarding cell phone policy in public schools.  Worksheet 4

       Step 5: Develop your own solutions: Develop new ideas that may help to resolve the issue. Worksheet 5

       Step 6: Select the best (most effective & most feasible) solution: Worksheet 6


2.   Now work collaboratively (with your group) to create your final project poster, public service announcement or Power point presentation.

3.   Your group will participate in a 3-5 minute presentation to the class.


*Use the following Internet websites to help you in your research:













PPA format: Cell Phones Distractions in School






PPA worksheets

All worksheets are completed.

Most worksheets are completed.

Some worksheets are completed.

Less than half of worksheets are completed.


Poster includes all information and graphics with key ideas with bullet pointed.

Poster includes most information and graphics with key ideas with bullet pointed.

Poster includes little information and/or graphics. Key ideas may or may not be bullet pointed.

Poster includes no information and/or graphics. Key ideas are not bullet pointed.


The PSA is correct, thoughtful and professional.  An audience member learns something a lot watching the PSA.


The PSA is mostly correct, thoughtful and professional.  An audience member learns something from watching the PSA.

The PSA is somewhat correct, thoughtful and professional.  An audience member learns a few facts from watching the PSA.

The PSA is inaccurate or inappropriate.  An audience member learns little from watching the PSA.

Power Point

PowerPoint includes 8-10 (12) slides.

PowerPoint includes 7-9 slides.

PowerPoint includes 5-7 slides.

PowerPoint includes less than 8 slides OR more than 12 slides.

Spelling and Grammar

Presentation has no misspellings or grammatical errors.

Presentation has 1-2 misspellings, but no grammatical errors.

Presentation has 1-2 grammatical errors but no misspellings.

Presentation has more than 2 grammatical and/or spelling errors.


Presentation shows considerable originality and inventiveness. The content and ideas are presented in a unique and interesting way.

Presentation shows some originality and inventiveness. The content and ideas are presented in an interesting way.

Presentation shows an attempt at originality and inventiveness.

Presentation is a rehash of other people's ideas and/or graphics and shows very little attempt at original thought.




Fantastic! Now that you have completed your WebQuest project using the Public Policy Analyst (PPA) format you should have gained some insight into the steps used to examine a social problem and how to create possible solutions. With this new awareness, you should be able to understand both negative and positive aspects of students using cell phones in public schools. Please, use this information to make responsible choices regarding your cell phone in class.




Common Core ELA Standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.1 - Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.1.A - Introduce claim(s) acknowledge alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.1.B - Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.1.c - Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), reasons, and evidence. 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.8 - Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.


New York State P-12 Science Learning Standards


RI.PK.10 With prompting and support, actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding. (P-PS1-1),(P-PS2-1),(P-PS4-1)


W.PK.8 With guidance and support, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question. (P-PS1-1),(P-PS2-1),(PPS4-1)