Dealing With Digital Distraction in the Classroom
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Dealing With Digital Distraction in the Classroom

Say you come over to my house, and I ask you to take your shoes off at the door. Seems reasonable, you know. Keeps the floors clean. Right. Now what if instead, I just took away your shoes and locked them in a closet? What? I’d say, you had some kind of trust issue. Well think about how students feel when teachers take away their phones or schools say: No devices. Yeah, conflicts over phones really pitt students and teachers against each other. But you got to admit the phones are really distracting That’s why we need more balance. When it comes to kids’ devices in school Don’t make a ban – have a plan. That’s clever, but what would that actually look like? Okay, first off. Don’t use tech just for tech’s sake. Let kids use devices but give them meaningful things to do on them. Oh, so like instant research looking for answers on Google or Wikipedia. Maybe, but not really. Nowadays, if kids can just google the answer to a question, we’re probably not asking the right question. Oh, what about something like digital creation or helping kids collaborate online? Yes! Anything that promotes higher-level thinking is bound to keep students engaged. And along with that you’ve got to set appropriate boundaries for when and how kids use tech in your class. And be clear so they know what’s expected. Yeah, but how do you find the right middle ground between total freedom and an outright ban? Well, it’s not easy. You’ve got to find what’s right for you What about having different classroom modes for tech use? You could help students practice different expectations for each one Exactly! And with any plan, think about how you can also make accommodations for students with different needs. Seems like it’s all about empowering students to find their own balance for tech use. Totally. So speaking of students, I’ve got a tip. Plan lessons that have natural and predictable transitions between tech and non-tech activities. I like it! You can weave in tech-based activities where they fit best. One thing is, you’ve got to consider students equity and access to devices. Right. Not every kid has a smartphone and your school may not be one-to-one. But it’s still important to think about different ways to show kids what 21st century learning looks like. So there we go. Three ways to deal with device distraction. Make digital learning meaningful for kids. Set up boundaries for appropriate tech use in class. And plan lessons that model a balanced approach to learning with and without technology. And here’s one more for you. Just relax! Don’t make device distraction a bigger deal than it needs to be Go ahead you can take it. Nah, it can wait.

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