Here's how I use them:
1. Calling 911 - This is one of my favorite role play exercises. One kid is the victim, and the other is the phone caller. I am the 911 operator. The students have to push 9-1-1, tell me what's going, answer my questions, and depending on their level, their address and such. Even the lowest kids can learn to say "mom sick". The kids LOVE doing this! Everyone wants their turn being the victim and most don't even want suggestions on their injury. They are such good actors and actresses!
2. Calling in sick - I make my higher kids call themselves in sick when they are not going to come to school. I have cleared this with parents, and I do send a quick text to mom or dad on a couple of them. It's a great life skill for them to learn. Someday, if they get a job, they will need to know how to call in if they are not going to make it that day. We practice on the phones how to give a brief explanation. "Hi, this is Bob, I will not be coming in today because I am sick". I inform them that nobody wants to hear about liquids that may be coming out of them and to keep it short and to the point. The person answering the phone, has work to do.
3. Making appointments - We practice this a few times a year. Again, they call me and I try to set them up an appointment that they need. It goes something like this:
me: Good morning, Dr. Smiths office
them: Hi, I need to make an appointment
me: What do you need to be seen for (or I transfer them)
You get the gist. We take turns, so everyone is getting to hear the others and after each one we talk about what they did right and what they could do differently.
4. Taking messages - This is an important skill for them to learn. I have fake message pads and even send them home and encourage the parents to allow them to practice. I let the kids pretend call each other and leave messages for someone who is not there.
5. Last but not least, we practice basic phone etiquette. How to answer, how to be polite, how to tell them to hold while you get someone (immediately), how to tell them someone is not home, and especially how not to take over the conversation when the call was not for you, which is really hard for a few of my kids.
Enjoy your weekend!