It was a senior English class. The assignment was a group thing. They were to write a rhetorical précis based on some reading they had done.
At the bottom of the page was a list of twelve vocabulary words. (At the moment I can't recall what they were, but they were good words.) They were supposed to do their "usual" vocabulary assignment (something about boxes with definitions and pictures and sentences and such).
About half way through the period, a boy approached. He wondered if I'd let them look up the words on their phones as opposed to getting out the dictionaries.
Sigh. On the one hand, this doesn't bother me. They're using their phones for academic purposes (not Instagramming their activities in class or texting their friends about the weekend party). This is the wave of the future. There are so many things the students can do with their phones that support their learning.
But when he asked, I immediately flashed to the last time this subject had come up.
So, do I stick with the old guard and insist on dictionaries? Or do I realize that these 12th graders know the dictionary skills and let them get to the important part of the assignment--learning some new words?
(I let them use their phones. That's how they'll do the work in college, anyway.)
What do you think? Should I have insisted on dictionaries?