1. Melissa Franko- Walley

    Well said. If the audience, whether it be a group of adults or students in a classroom, is not engaged, it’s time to reflect and evaluate the method in which the material is presented. Reflection is key!

  2. Andrew Campbell

    I’m also amused by the way the presumption is that if kids don’t have devices they aren’t distracted. Have these people never heard of passing notes? Is the response to passing notes that we remove paper and pencils from classrooms? Kids sometimes get distracted in class. Teachers use classroom management techniques to get them back on track. Devices don’t change this.

  3. Shaune Beatty

    I still believe in my “pockets of excellence” where there are classrooms where literally every students has a device yet no student opts for it due to the level of engagement in that class. There is an instructional leader who has planned his routines and lessons around this urge… in spite of this urge. The device is not in the student’s hand…. The students are in his hand.

    I have been to more than a few conferences where I have observed adults and leaders who should know better… but still without the engagement, their minds and fingers are elsewhere. If not engaged, could one not argue,”Is my time better spent elsewhere?”

    Technology is a wonderful tool. It has its advantageous… and it has its challenges. Effective and innovative teachers will find a way. They always have….

  4. Chris Wejr

    Hey buddy. Although I agree that we need to reflect on our level of engagement in our classrooms, we also need to consider that being distracted does not always equal boredom. Being distracted can come from the fact that the device is beeping or buzzing and someone wants to talk to you or left you a message. Being distracted can also come from our “addiction” to check our devices every few minutes.

    I have had many conversations with friends and family about how we act with our devices. Personally, i have lacked the self-control on many occasions to power down and be in the moment with those physically in front of us. I have been called on (and called others on this) when I have pulled out my phone at the table, on a date, with my kids, in a conversation with staff and/or students… did this mean I was bored or did this mean I was distracted… or both?

    So I completely agree that we cannot use “being distracted” as an excuse to not have devices in classes, I would add that we ALSO need to recognize that we need to reflect, model, and teach how to develop the self-control to put the device away when engaging in a focused face to face discussion. I, like you, struggle with pointing at kids when we are just as bad with this… that is why I really feel we need talk about this, teach this, and model this ourselves. When we are bored in a session, we become distracted and we need to recognize this; however, we also need to face the reality that having a device in our pockets can be very distracting so we must teach the self-control needed to engage in face to face dialogue without checking our devices every few minutes. So I do not disagree with you… just adding the teaching self-control piece that seems to often get lost in the “devices” conversation.

  5. Jim Dawson

    When students are engaged with what the teacher is doing, sharing, teaching, whatever, they not only learn more but are not prone to distractions or being a distraction. Just something I’ve learned after over 40 years in the classroom. When I started bored students didn’t grab an iPod or cell phone, it was probably a Mad magazine hidden in their desk. Regardless of the distraction, the point is the same, bored students will disengage themselves from whatever is happening in the class. Engaged students will not. Walk into any classroom and it only takes a few seconds to determine whether the students are engaged or not.

  6. Bradley Lands 

    George, I completely agree with you. The best behavior management is classroom instruction. If students are interested in the lesson, then they will be engaged. However, I think it is very difficult to engage “every” single student in the classroom, but this is the challenge that we teachers must strive to overcome. Here are some variables to consider when trying to keep students engaged everyday.

    Content: (can’t be too familiar, nor too unfamiliar)
    Challenge: (can’t be too easy, nor too difficult)
    Interest: (students should be interested)
    Curiosity: (students should be curious)
    Connection (students should connect with the lesson)
    Meaning: (students should perceive the lesson to be meaningful or purposeful)

    The challenging part about this is that students are all over the spectrum for each of these variables. So, it is our jobs as teachers to try to creatively reach all of our students. Student engagement should not be the objective. It should be the byproduct of great instruction!

    If students have all of these variables at ideal levels, then they will be engaged and will not get distracted easily. Moreover, if teachers allow students to use their devices to engage in these types of lessons, then students will be not only engaged, but will be using technology tools to interact with the lesson.

    Thank you for writing all of your blog posts, and thanks for entertaining my two cents!

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