Can students truly multitask?

This digital_nation video was extremely interesting and discussed topics ranging from how technology is used in the classroom to how students in Korea have addiction problems. You should definitely take the time to watch the entire video! However, I am going to focus this post on Chapter 2 called What is it Doing to Their Brains? This chapter discusses multitasking and goes over a test given to Stanford students. This study was on multitaskers who are typically doing 5 or 6 different things at once, rather than 3 to 4 like a typical college student. While the students being tested strongly believed in their effectiveness at multitasking, the results showed otherwise. They may believe that they are getting things done, but it is at a slower rate, less actuate, and with many distractions. I can relate to this because I have considered myself a good multitasker, but when writing this blog post, I found myself drifting off onto various sites and texting friends, which got me very off task.

I can personally say that I am multitasking almost all the time. When on the web I am always switching over to Pinterest, Facebook, or checking emails while texting and watching a t.v. show all at the same time. Even when I am in class or completing homework I am usually doing some, if not all of these things. I can say that I still get everything done but multitasking definitely slows me down and affects the quality of my work. When thinking about my future as an elementary school teacher, I know that I will constantly be multitasking. A typical day could consist of running around the room, making sure the lesson is going well, making sure that the students are behaving and participating, organizing papers, checking emails, planning what to do next, all while answering questions at the same time (…and this is just a vague example.) It is obvious that multitasking will take place but it is also important to always be ahead, prepared, and organized to limit distractions and be able to fully focus on your instruction.

When thinking about how students will multitask in class when given technology, I get a little worried. Without technology, students have to give their full attention to the teacher. On the other hand, with technology there is a constant distraction and need to be connected. So it is obvious that multitasking is very evident in classrooms that use technology. The second that students get bored, the computer becomes a huge distraction. Even though schools put up firewalls, the students still find ways to get to social media sites or YouTube. Students always believe that they can multitask while doing work but as the study shows, they are not as effective as they think. Even though it is found that we cannot fully multitask, I believe that technology is too important to not use in the classroom. As teachers, we need to continuously grab student attention and keep them on topic. We must make sure that they are constantly engaged to avoid the many distractions of the worldwide web.

Just out of curiosity, please take this poll 🙂

#ED554

Since I have made my twitter for ED554, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of interesting and useful tweets! Here are three specific tweets that have stood out to me (I didn’t mean to post about two tweets from We Are Teachers– I guess you can say I’m their new #1 fan!)

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It is so great to be able to get lists of useful resources so easily! Tweets like these really open my mind to new teaching ideas and applications that I may have not thought of researching on Google. This list specifically shows ten digital reading tools that students can use. I will definitely be referring back to this list when I begin student teaching!

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This tweet linked to their Pinterest page which is full of awesome pins for educators! I am all over Pinterest and have just started using it for education. Now I have an entire new board to follow because of Twitter! It’s very cool how social media can intertwine.

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I had been wondering when I was going to find out about this change but it was very cool to find out about it through twitter! I find it very helpful to follow Fairfax County Public Schools so I can be updated on any important information they send out. Not only can I use twitter as an educational resource, but it is also a wonderful source for quick news updates!

Feel free to check out my Twitter on the sidebar —————>

Are We Wired For Mobile Learning?

Since I am a visual learner, I decided to look at Mobile Learning Explained Visually. The graphic features very interesting statistics and information on how connected 21st century learners are. The only problem with this graphic is that it refers to children as “digital natives.” As I discussed in my most recent blog post, not all children in this generation are as tech savvy as we assume they are. Every child is different and we need to take this into account when we are implementing technology into our classrooms.

My favorite quote found in this graphic is:

Digital Natives are “no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.”

-Mark Prensky

Students these days are discovering new ways to use technology and are able to expand their learning in so many more ways. Teachers who have been in the educational system for many years now may not be prepared for this change. The graphic shows how far education has come since the chalkboard and pencil. This is why we must always stay updated and current in our teaching techniques to be able to grow and learn with our students. While the graphic below is very humorous, it does shed some truth. Students do not need to learn from physical textbooks anymore because everything is assessable through technology. All you need is one computer, iPhone, or tablet to have access to endless textbooks and information on any topic. The amazing part is that students can further explore and research topics that they are either struggling with or are very interested in.

 

Although our students may not all be technology experts, it is important as teachers that we still implement technology into our curriculum because we are preparing them for jobs that don’t even exist yet. Students have different levels of mastery and interest in technology just like they do in any subject- this is normal! By getting to know our students, we will be able to see what types of technology they know best and enjoy most so we can use these applications in the classroom. It seems to me that social media is the most popular forms of technology that students use and want to use at school. I understand why many teachers see it is a huge distraction, but if used correctly, it can be very successful especially for collaboration and communication purposes.

Examples of applications that have worked:                                                                                                                                                           The graphic shows how successful Twitter was when implemented in a class on Italian. 90% of the students agreed that posting tweets helped build their confidence in writing Italian. It was also very cool to see how iPhones helped ESL students in the classroom. By recording their voices, they were able to hear themselves and correct their own mistakes in minutes.

The graphic also mentions the usefulness of apps that can be used in education. If apps are used in the classroom, students with technology at home will be able to access information and classwork outside of school. “Thanks to mobile technology, our current location can always be transformed into a classroom.” This way students can extend their learning outside of school, and especially over the summer. There are endless apps out there that can be used but it is up to the teacher to find them.

What I took away from this graphic is that children these days are using technology at much higher rates than adults ever have and as teachers we must find effective ways to implement forms of technology that our students enjoy without bringing in distractions. I am not sure what the exact solution for this would be, but I do believe that there needs to be rules, trust, and expectations in place to effectively implement applications such as social media or texting into the curriculum. Not only do teachers need to stay current in their teaching, but they must fully understand what they are implementing for it to be used correctly and effective.

The Digital Learning Spectrum

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While there are numerous myths and personal beliefs about how technology is used by individuals in each generation, we need to understand that there are many differences between how students today utilize digital resources to support their learning. The term “digital natives,” that has also been discussed in my ED554 class, does not accurately define our students today. While I understand why people may assume that children and teens these days are technology pros, we should know and understand that everyone is different. One size does not fit all when it comes to the use of technology and The New Digital Learning Playbook shows and explains reasons why.

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The Speak Up 2013 National Findings provided in this article reveal that students have different applications and aspirations when it comes to technology use. The reports and discussions were based on how K-12 students are currently using digital tools to support and enable school activities as well as their aspirations for using these digital tools within learning environments.

I believe that a large reason for these differences isn’t initially based on gender or grade, but is based on if the student has technology that is readily accessible from home or not. I am assuming that students who consider themselves “advanced tech users” not only have computers, cell phones, and/or tablets at home but are also able to use and explore them on a regular basis. In comparison, students who do not have any technology at home begin at a disadvantage. Because of this, I think it is wonderful how several Title 1 schools are funding classroom technology to introduce these students to digital learning and its benefits. Interest is extremely important to encourage so that students have a desire to use technology and continue to explore the applications of it in their learning.

Another difference I found very interesting is that girls use technology at a higher rate than boys. Even though it may be because of the social aspect, we should be furthering this interest. Instead, the rates of girls interest in technology decreases as they get older. We need to be sure that we are not being biased and turning them away from technology and the STEM fields just because boys tend to be “better” at these subjects. Speak Up found that students’ self-assessment of technology skills are correlated with their interest in STEM careers, which is why there is such a large gap between boys and girls and their strong interest in a STEM career by high school. To help fill this gap, we should take a new approach for engaging girls in STEM fields by helping them explore and learn more about these careers in a social aspect. As a future elementary school teacher, I would like to find ways to encourage girls to explore this field at an earlier age. Immediately, Goldie Blox popped into my head. It is a company that creates toys to inspire the next generation of female engineers. The toys are visually pleasing to girls and allow them to create and build very cool things. Resources like these need to be found and introduced to girls to show them that boys aren’t the only ones who can work in the STEM fields.

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One of the biggest conflicts is that students want social media and greater website access while at school. Administration, teachers, and parents see certain websites and social media sites as a distraction, which is why they are banned, but this article states that they can be used for educational purposes and especially collaboration. On top of this many students would like to use their own phones while in school. I know that cell phones and many websites can be a huge distraction to learning, but I also understand the desire for alignment between out of school and in school learning. As a teacher I would test this out by setting rules, expectations, and times that phones and websites can be accessed to be sure that students are not getting off topic and using them appropriately.

The article states that the ultimate school for today’s student is one where learning is:

  • socially‐based through their ability to access social media tools and online classes,
  • un‐tethered from traditional print and location based resources via schoolwide Internet access and mobile technologies, and
  • digitally rich, to add context and relevancy to the learning process through the use of digital creation tools and interactive online content.

Ability to use a personal mobile device at school, digital games, and access to text messaging all rank much higher on the students’ top ten list than the lists of parents and educators. Although adults may have a different vision of the ultimate school (for valid reasons), it is important that us as educators continue to shift to also meet the needs and desires of our students. This way we can allow them to develop interest and succeed in their coursework by using the tools they enjoy. By tailoring curriculum to meet student interest, we allow them to make meaning of course content and develop a desire to learn more. The student quotes throughout the article emphasize that many students use these forms of technology to further their education and curiosity inside and outside of the classroom. If our ultimate goal is to turn our students into lifelong learners, then why not reinforce the use of technology to help them do so?

Let’s Escape Education’s Death Valley

Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk about his view on education is spot on. I agree with the main ideas in his speech and believe that there is much that can be done to continue to improve our educational system. He focuses in on three motivations that can cause human life and education to flourish: diversity, curiosity, and creativity.

1. Diversity: Robinson states that human beings are naturally different and diverse. Every single child is different. No Child Left Behind isn’t based on a diverse education- it’s based on conformity. As STEM education has become more and more popular, I believe that it is still important to have student learn about all subjects. Robinson mentions that he believes ADHD is over diagnosed and the reason many of them are fidgeting in their seats is because they aren’t being challenged or simply because they are suffering from “childhood.” He said that they prosper best with a broad curriculum and I agree with that. It is obvious that individuals will favor certain subjects more than others because they find them more interesting or have more skill in that area, but this enjoyment in one or two areas may not have been found if they were not exposed to them all.

2. Curiosity: Children are natural learners and will learn without any further assistance if their curiosity is sparked. Teaching is also a creative profession. As a teacher you are not only passing along information, but you also have to mentor, stimulate, and engage your students. No Child Left Behind has shifted the education paradigm from learning to testing. Testing is a great form of assessment but should not be the main focus. It is important that testing should support learning, not obstruct it. We want our students to become lifelong learners and they will not be able to explore their curiosity if they are too focused on cramming for the big test.

3. Creativity: Human life is naturally creative. As teachers we want to awaken our students and develop creativity. Other countries, such as Finland, have an education system that is not focused on standardized testing and where teaching and learning is individualized. There isn’t a dropout rate like there is in the United States. They are constantly supporting teachers and professional development because teaching is an extremely important career and with this help, teachers can educate their students in the best way. We have alternative education programs that are designed to get kids back into education. These programs are very personalized, have strong support for teachers, close links to the community, a broad and diverse curriculum, and programs that involve students inside and outside of school. This shouldn’t be an alternative- other countries have shown us that this works. These are aspects that No Child Left Behind should focus on.

Lastly, Robinson ends with a sense of hope and a push for a revolution. Death Valley is the hottest, driest place in America and nothing grows there, until the right conditions come along. Death Valley isn’t dead- its dormant. There are seeds of possibility waiting for these conditions, which they can flourish under. We need to be sure to find the right conditions under which learning is most effective so that our educational system can flourish.

“All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.” -Benjamin Franklin

“I don’t teach English, I teach students”

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While looking around EdReach there were all kinds of podcasts that I found interesting but The EdAdmin Minute 327: Kids Before Content caught my eye. This was my first time listening to a podcast from an educational standpoint. Personally, I enjoy videos more because I am more of a visual learner but I enjoyed this podcast because it was nice and short. It was about Sean McComb who won National Teacher of the Year for 2014. There was an article posted about him called Putting Kids Before Content because McComb makes sure that he gets to know each of his students and he really sees something in them that they don’t always see in themselves. He states that his students actually give the best recommendations. My favorite quote by him is, “I don’t teach English, I teach students.” We are educating the whole child, not just teaching content, and he has mastered this. Although this is about all that the podcast mentioned, I decided to look into Sean McComb’s teaching style and watched a video on him in the classroom (you should check it out!) His relationships with his students truly warms my heart. He has had such a huge impact on their lives inside and outside of the classroom and I can only hope that one day I can do the same. McComb is a true inspiration and I can clearly see why he has won such a wonderful and honorable award.

I hope to listen to more podcasts during my free time to keep up to date and learn more about how to improve myself as a future educator. While they can be useful for personal use, I am very excited to learn how podcasts can also be implemented in the classroom. I have heard of teachers who send home podcasts and videos for their students to hear and watch to continue learning at home. This is a very interesting concept and I look forward to researching the benefits and outcomes of using these resources in a high school classroom versus an elementary school classroom.

Classroom Inspiration

We created a twitter account for ED554 to introduce us to endless resources for teachers. I had a personal twitter that I used in the past but didn’t take advantage of it. Now that I have a new professional twitter and follow many other educators, I am able to constantly stay connected and informed.

While exploring my twitter feed, I noticed a tweet about classroom resources from @WeAreTeachers. They posted a link that sent me to their website. The page was full of free printables for teachers to use in the classroom or for personal use. There are many infographics that are visually stimulating and full of information on diverse topics in education. One of the infographics that caught my eye was about the digital classroom from the 2013-2014 school year. It is full of charts, graphics, and information to debate which device will be used for 1-to-1. Will it be a laptop or a tablet? There may not be a universal answer, but this infographic provides us with great points as well as the pros and cons of each so you can decide what is best for your classroom.

This website also provides teachers with classroom posters and handouts. Here is one of the many cute images that I would love to use in my future classroom.

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Lastly, this site has graphics for comic relief and teacher inspiration. After the endless researching and preparation necessary in the education field, who doesn’t enjoy some motivation or giggles? I know I do! Here’s a funny graphic that relates to our discussion of the use of social media in the classroom.

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Be sure to check out this awesome site– it is full of helpful information and useful resources!