As part of my ongoing commitment to taking one day per week away from the Calculus curriculum, I spent yesterday playing the game of set and 2048 with my students in Calc BC yesterday. My afternoon class was fully engaged in set offering different answers and we found another site which gives you more than one game of set per day. The I opened up 2048. I became aware of this game int he past week due to constant twitter references. I played it some Wednesday night and shared it yesterday. Well, for about ten minutes or so the entire class was engaged tossing out advice and arguing moves. Then the class started to get more and more quiet. What happened was that my students started pulling out their phones and playing the game for themselves. I like the fact that they were interested enough to make sure that they had the game for themselves. I was disappointed that what felt like a great community conversation devolved into individual focus and lack of communication.
I mentioned this and two students told interesting stories. One girl told me that she and her friends recently received free dessert at a restaurant because the server (or maybe the manager) commented on the fact that none of her friends spent dinner on their phone, they were engaged with each other. A boy told me that his friends have a standing challenge sometimes when they dine. Everyone puts their phone in the middle of the table and if someone breaks down and picks up their phone they get to pick up the tab.
It’s interesting that each of these stories was told in a way that made me feel that the student was aware that their technology sometimes gets in the way of interactions. I wonder how much saying that out loud affects their behavior?