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Texting in Class: The Pros and Cons of Celly

Written by Jeremy Hyler
January 20, 2012

Since last year I have been trying to find a way to implement the use of cell phones into my classroom, a journey well worth taking.  More and more students today are using cell phones.  The humorous thing is, they don’t always use them to talk on.  Students love texting.  Last year as I began to slowly introduce cell phones into my classroom, I was missing a very valuable component, which was assessment.

This past summer I found a website called Celly.  Celly is a collaborative space where the teacher creates a “cell” and students sign up via their cell phone number and the teacher invites them to a cell. 

This year I use Celly once a week with my students.  It has the assessment piece that was missing for me and my students last year.  Now I can see the cell and read what the students have written.  As with any digital tool, there can be speed bumps.  Although there are pros and cons to Celly, I believe it to be a valuable tool to use for the 21st century classroom.


  1. Easy set-up.  It literally takes minutes to set-up
  2. Easy to use.  Students love Celly day and are always asking when we will be doing it again.
  3. Teachers can asses student writing in a more formative manner or be summative as well.
  4. Privacy.  Teachers do not need to exchange cell phone numbers with students.  Students can simply type them in at a computer and a teacher can approve their request to join a cell.
  5. Cell Options.  Teachers can have a curated chat where everything must be approved before being posted or they can have an open chat where everyone can respond to each other.

A typical cell with student responses


  1. Not all students have cell phones.  Being in a rural school, I have students who do not own a cell phone.  I have those students respond on my classroom wiki space in the discussion section.
  2. Students still like to use text lingo. In my classroom, I set the standard where students can’t use text lingo in my classroom.  I preach practicing formal writing.
  3. A plethora of text messages gets sent to student’s phones. If a teacher opens the cell, all posts from every student will go to all member’s phones.  If you don’t have unlimited texting on your phone, this can be a problem.
  4. Cell phone policy in Schools. If your district has a cell phone policy, you may run into a road block with your administrators.  The most important thing a teacher can do is show the student is getting assessed on their writing.

Overall, I have had very few technical issues with Celly. Celly has a great help cell and they are quick to respond. I encourage teachers to set solid guidelines when using Celly.  A parent letter home would be beneficial.  If you are a secondary teacher such as myself, try it with one class first, and then when you get the hang of it, start using it in all of your classes.  Celly is a 21st century tool that can help students write and communicate.


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