I just came across this neat piece by Cat Bordhi (of clever sock-knitting fame) about using knitting as a classroom management device. I'll just quote a little bit, and if you're interested you can read the longer article linked above.
In the second half of the commentary, Cat says
--When knitting is integrated into the curriculum (see lessons that follow) and integrated into the daily routine of class (for instance, when students are encouraged to take out their knitting projects during class discussions or other times when hands and eyes are free), an alert peacefulness arises in the room, opening a window for education. Many students told me that knitting had made them feel differently about school - it had become a haven instead of a burden. I watched tentative friendships develop between students from widely differing social groups, chronically inattentive students become intellectually engaged in class discussions, and marveled at the dramatic drop in classroom management. In my opinion, knitting is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to improve educational engagement and foster a positive social environment for learning that I have ever experienced.--